Airline alliances are important to understand. When you purchase a ticket for one airline, it may contain several or all flight segments operated by a completely different airline.
In the example below, American Airlines sells a ticket with an American Airlines flight number but operated solely by their OneWorld Alliance partner British Airways.
Alliances also allow you to earn your preferred airline miles when flying a different airline. Plus, many people don’t know that you can redeem one airlines miles on a different airline if they are in that airline’s alliance.
What is an Airline Alliance?
An airline alliance is an agreement between a group of airlines to work together, share resources, and create a worldwide route network to get you anywhere in the world.
You have probably booked a flight that utilized an airline alliance partnership.
You may have flown American Airlines, Delta, or United to Europe or Asia, and then connected on one of their alliance partners to a smaller city.
Benefits of Airline Alliances
One of the biggest benefits of airline alliances is the ability to earn and redeem points on other airlines.
For example, you can earn and redeem United Airlines miles on 25 other airlines in the Star Alliance including ANA, Air Canada, EVA, Lufthansa, and Turkish Airlines.
This is great because it allows you to earn points in your preferred airline when you fly an airline you may only fly once or twice in your lifetime.
It also gives you the flexibility to redeem miles on anywhere in the world and the ability to fly some amazing airlines within an airline alliance.
For example, you can redeem American Airlines miles to fly Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, or Japan Airlines. You could also use Delta SkyMiles to fly Air France, KLM, China Airlines, or Korean Air.
Airlines alliances also allows frequent fliers to get some of their elite benefits on partner airlines and allows checked bags to be transferred easily between airlines.
The Star Alliance currently has 26 member airlines with United Airlines and Air Canada in North America. Overall, it is my favorite airline alliance.
It is very strong in Europe with Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, SWISS, and Austrian Airlines, and in Asia with ANA, Asiana, EVA, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways.
Plus, if you are traveling to Africa, the Star Alliance has the most options with Ethiopian Airlines, EgyptAir, and South African.
|Star Alliance Airlines|
|Air China||Air India|
|Air New Zealand||ANA|
|Asiana Airlines||Austrian Airlines|
|Copa Airlines||Croatia Airlines|
|EVA Air||LOT Polish|
|TAP Portugal||Thai Airways|
|Turkish Airlines||United Airlines|
The OneWorld Alliance currently has 13 members but they will be adding Alaska Airlines in late 2020.
Qatar Airways is the #1 airline in the world and is a great option for transiting between the U.S./Europe and East Africa, India, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia.
OneWorld is also strongest in Australia due to Qantas, and a good option for visting Europe with British Airways, Iberia, and Finnair.
|OneWorld Alliance Airlines|
|Alaska Airlines||American Airlines|
|British Airways||Cathay Pacific|
|Japan Airlines||Malaysia Airlines|
|Royal Air Maroc||Royal Jordanian|
SkyTeam Alliance is the newest alliance with 19 member airlines headlined by Delta Airlines.
The SkyTeam is the weakest alliance because outside of Air France, KLM, and Korean Air, the remaining airlines are either fairly small or have lackluster flight experiences (i.e. China Eastern).
|China Airlines||China Eastern|
|Garuda Indonesia||Kenya Airways|
|Middle East Airlines||Saudia|
Some airlines are not apart of an airline alliance and instead create their own partnerships with several individual airlines.
The airlines with the largest number of partnerships are the two Middle Eastern airlines Emirates and Etihad Airways, but JetBlue and Hawaiian Airlines also have partnerships with a few airlines.
Southwest, Frontier, Allegiant, and Spirit
Airlines alliances are a key aspect of the aviation industry.
It expands the options for customers to earn and redeem points and provide easy connections between flights.