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Fresh off of news that its partnership with LATAM is on the rocks, American Airlines is investing heavier in another region: Australia. American and Qantas, the flag carrier of Australia, doubled down this week on a loyalty partnership to better reward frequent flyers on both sides of the aisle.
Both carriers are already members of the Oneworld alliance, an international group of airlines that participates in a range of codeshare, loyalty, and operating partnerships. But like many relationships in the alliance, loyalty between the two airlines is complicated. Until this week, it wasn’t possible for a frequent flyer on one carrier to fly on the other and earn full elite qualifying miles across all classes of service. Now American and Qantas are announcing that for every mile flown on the other carrier, passengers will earn elite qualifying miles on a 1:1 basis.
Improvements have also been made for those flying in business class on partner flights. In some cases, passengers in international First or Business cabins will earn up to four times more award miles while elite qualifying mile bonuses in many cases will double.
Beyond the frequent flyer benefits announced in this week, there are also codeshare launches coming down the line. Qantas is now letting American codeshare on five new flights between North America and Australia. This comes on top of 27 routes on which the two carriers are collaborating in between the two continents. American, moreover, is allowing Qantas to codeshare on 28 additional domestic routes, expanding the Australian airline’s official reach in the United States to over 100 destinations.
Full details of the upcoming changes are available on the American-Qantas earning page updated this week by American Airlines, but notably, in no scenario will a frequent flyer earn fewer award or elite miles moving forward. The earning improvements also curiously contradict a move made in 2017 to cut earnings for frequent flyers between the carriers. At that time, some speculated that the carriers made that decision to illustrate the value of the partnership between American and Qantas and its impact on travelers.
Indeed, much of this relationship is a product of a new joint venture forged between American and Qantas. After several years in the backwaters of the American legal system, the joint venture proposed by American and Qantas finally got tentative approval earlier this summer. The deal went through in July.
As part of that approval, the Department of Transportation has asked American and Qantas to evaluate whether the partnership is adversely affecting the competitive market between North America and Australia. But that evaluation comes only after seven years. In the meantime, frequent flyers can hopefully reap the benefits.
Grant Martin [firstname.lastname@example.org] curates the Skift Business of Loyalty newsletter. He is also a director of product marketing at TripActions. Skift emails the newsletter every Monday.