Airline miles aren't just good to book flights on that airline. Thanks to airline alliances and partnerships, you can use Delta SkyMiles to fly a dozen partner airlines for nearly free, and American AAdvantage miles to fly on even more carriers. At least until those partnerships start to crumble.
And that's what's happening with American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. View from the Wing broke the news that, effective March 1, 2020, you'll no longer be able to use American miles to book Alaska Airlines awards – or use Alaska Mileage Plan miles to fly on American.
The two airlines aren't completely decimating their relationship – you'll still be able to earn Alaska miles on select American flights, and vice versa, for example.
But this stings the most for travelers on the West Coast – particularly the Pacific Northwest, where American doesn't have many flights. Booking flights on Alaska Airlines using American miles was an elegant solution.
It's also detrimental to some international trips that require connecting flights within the U.S. For example, our Thrifty Traveler Premium flight deal analyst Jon recently flew from Tokyo-Narita (NRT) to Seattle (SEA) and onward to Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) using American miles. American doesn't fly between Seattle and Minneapolis, so that final segment was on Alaska Airlines.
Come March, that award routing will no longer be possible.
American executives argue that it's a good move, saying that more Alaska Mileage Plan members were redeeming flights on American than the reverse. Now, they say, more flights will be available to AAdvantage members looking to use their miles.
This comes just days after American lost another partner airline – LATAM. Delta bought a huge stake in Latin America's largest airline, snatching the carrier away from American and the Oneworld alliance.
Another day, another downgrade for American AAdvantage miles. While this change goes both ways, something tells me it's a bigger negative for AAdvantage members than the reverse.