Airline Alliances – 0neworld
There are three different airline alliances – oneworld, Star Alliance, and SkyTeam. Today I’m going to go through the basics of the oneworld Alliance.
American Airlines is the only U.S. based airline that is part of the Oneworld Alliance. Some of the international airlines that are part of the alliance are: British Airways, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, and LAN. With LAN being one of the largest airlines in Latin America along with it upcoming merger with TAM, I think it’s one of the biggest benefits of the Oneworld Alliance. The merged company has not yet chosen an alliance, however, so they could leave Oneworld to join TAM’s Star Alliance.
Oneworld has three status tiers: Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald. For AA elite members, Gold is a Oneworld Ruby member, Platinum is a Sapphire member, and Executive Platinum is an Emerald member. If you’re not an AA elite member, but are an elite at another Oneworld airline, you can see your Oneworld elite status. All elite levels get access to priority check-in, Sapphire elites and above get access to Business Class lounges as well as priority boarding, and Emerald elites get access to first class lounges as well as first-class check-in.
One of the best uses of British Airways Avios points is flying AA domestically. Since the Avios program is distance based, domestic awards can be had for as little as 4,500 points each way compared with the typical 12,500 that AA charges. Here, I’ll walk you through how to book an AA flight using the Avios points you’ve built up.
The easiest way to find availability is by using American’s own website instead of British Airways’. Here I’ve put in a search for Boston to Chicago on American’s site and it shows me that there is availability on my selected dates of January 26 to January 30:
Now that I know that there is indeed availability, there are two options: I can either call British Airways to book the flight or I can go to their website. Their website can be a bit finicky at times and does not always show all the availability. However, for the purposes of this post, I’ll go to their website.
First off, get into the award search tool:
Then click on the “Book Flights with Avios” link on the left hand side:
Now, enter the cities and dates for your travel. For some reason, British Airways doesn’t automatically look for partner flights, meaning we get this screen telling us that British Airways does not fly between Boston and Chicago:
Simply click the Include Partners button and the website will search for partner flights. If we’re lucky, British Airways will find availability for the specific days that we are looking for. In this case they did:
Pick the specific flights wanted and click continue to see the price of the award ticket:
In this case, it is 15,000 Avios points roundtrip. By using the Oneworld Alliance, we’ve just saved ourselves 10,000 miles by not using American miles since it would normally cost us 25,000 AA miles for the exact same flights! This is yet another reason how alliances can make traveling better.
Finally, remember that you don’t have to credit the miles you earn to the airline that you’re flying. Since British Airways and American are in the same alliance, you can fly British Airways, but credit the miles you earn to your American Airlines account – or to any of the other Oneworld members if you’d prefer that. When booking the reservation, the specific airline will usually ask you which airline you’d like to credit the miles to and what your member number is. Simply put your American Airlines account number in here and it’ll get credited!
However, despite the close ties that many alliance members have with each other you won’t be able to combine balances across different airlines to buy a ticket. For example, if a ticket costs 50,000 American miles and you have 30,000 American and 20,000 Cathay Pacific, you won’t be able to afford that ticket. You’ll need 50,000 American miles to book it. Moreover, each airline’s award tickets do not cost the same amount. If you’re looking to save up for a specific flight, it might make sense to shift your earning to an airline that has the lowest cost for that specific flight. However, I generally stick to earning on the domestic airlines to keep it simple. This is where having Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, or Starwood Preferred Guest points can come in useful since they’re able to transfer to multiple airlines!
Next week, we’ll talk about the Star Alliance and tell you how to get free bags and access to lounges by taking advantage of its international airlines!
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