Alaska is launching a loyalty partnership with yet another outlying international air carrier. At this rate, it doesn't need to fully join an airline alliance.
Two black sheep in the airline loyalty game are teaming up to create a new loyalty link between the United States and Israel. On Monday, Seattle-based Alaska Airlines and El Al, the flag carrier of Israel announced a new frequent flyer partnership on top of a current codeshare agreement between the two airlines.
For years, Alaska has resisted entering into a formal airline alliance such as Oneworld or Star, instead choosing to partner with carriers on an ad-hoc basis. Right now, it’s possible to earn Alaska miles across a mishmash of carriers ranging from Icelandair to Emirates to Ravn Alaska to American Airlines — but it’s not possible to earn them across an entire traditional alliance.
El Al, too, has its own unique take on loyalty programs. Participation in the Matmid Club comes with membership dues and it’s only possible to earn points on El Al and a handful of airline partners including Aeroméxico, Qantas, South African, and Sun D’Or.
Together, however, the two carriers boast access to a broad, combined network. As part of the codeshare agreement between the two carriers it’s possible to fly El Al across the Atlantic and connect through much of the United States on Alaska’s network, while eastbound passengers can also now reach far past Tel Aviv.
According to the announcement, it’s also now possible for loyalty members to earn elite and award miles on each other’s flights. For Mileage Plan members, Alaska Airlines published its award chart on Friday; economy passengers earn from 25 percent — 100 percent of base miles on each flight while those in business class earn full mileage with a 25 percent — 100 percent bonus. Alaska has a similar arrangement with other international carriers.
Indeed, with the addition of El Al to its partner and loyalty network, members of Alaska’s Mileage Plan have a broad, if somewhat scattered, range of potential carriers to now choose from. In addition to the carriers mentioned above, Alaska passengers can now earn and spend points on Aer Lingus, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Condor, Fiji Airways, Finnair, Hainan, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, LATAM, PenAir, and Singapore Airlines. Alaska also is apparently considering joining the Oneworld Alliance as a “connect” partner, eschewing the rules of traditional alliance membership. With the addition of El Al in the mix and all of the current partners in play, however, Mileage Plan members may no longer need an alliance to call home.
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Photo credit: El Al aircraft in Los Angeles on October 9, 2012 317042 / 317042