I wrote a post in my Facebook group about Airline alliances and it’s a good overview to share here as well.
You may have been made aware of these airline alliances from your own previous surprise when for example, you’ve booked a flight to Paris on Delta’s website and ended up flying on Air France or you’ve booked a flight to Toronto on United’s website and ended up flying on Air Canada. These alliances allow you to more easily use one airline’s miles to book on a partner airline’s flights which provides flexibility and often significant savings when you book a trip using points and miles.
There are three main alliances:
1) Delta and its partners are in SkyTeam. The main partners to be aware of are Air France/KLM, Korean Air, and AeroMexico. There are a lot of other small airlines in the alliance, but another important thing to remember is that both Delta and Air France/KLM also partner with Virgin Atlantic.
When you book an overseas trip with SkyMiles, it often takes fewer miles to book with a partner airline than with Delta. Moreover, Air France/KLM’s Flying Blue program is a transfer partner for almost every credit card points program (including Chase, Amex, Citi, CapOne) and can sometimes be a better value than booking with SkyMiles.
2) American and its partners are in OneWorld. The main partners to be aware of are Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and Iberia. There are a few others as well, but these are the ones that have the best redemption possibilities. Some of the best possible redemptions are using American Airlines miles to book QSuites business class or Japan Airlines First Class. Also, the Avios points currency can now be used for British Airways, Qatar Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus, which adds additional flexibility to these points. American Airlines miles are tough to earn as only Bilt and Marriott have the ability to transfer to this program. Other programs like British Airways allow transfers from multiple credit card programs.
3) United and its partners are in Star Alliance. The main partners to be aware of are Lufthansa/Swiss/Austrian, ANA, Air Canada, Singapore Airlines, Avianca and Turkish Airlines. Star Alliance probably has the widest variety of options for international flights with some of the most aspirational redemptions like Singapore First Class, ANA Business/First Class and Lufthansa First Class. For most of us, Avianca LifeMiles and Air Canada Aeroplan provide the best way to book many of these flights. Most of the credit card points programs transfer to LifeMiles and Aeroplan. Chase and Bilt also allow transfers to United.
In many cases, your US airline status will provide some benefits on alliance partners. For example, as a Platinum with Delta, I can get lounge access on international flights (even in economy) on SkyTeam partners (and Virgin Atlantic).
There are also non-alliance partnerships. I already mentioned Virgin Atlantic, who also partner with ANA. Etihad flights can be booked with American miles. Emirates flights can be booked with Japan Airlines miles. There are many examples like this, but redemption rates change often, so always double-check before booking or transferring flexible points from your credit card program.
This is far from a complete rundown of all airline alliances, but hopefully you now have some information that can help next time you book a trip with points and miles. Make sure you know which airlines partner with each credit card points program and their partner booking options.
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