Yesterday, Alaska Airlines officially joined the oneworld alliance. While Alaska has long had a partnership with British Airways that predates its decision to join oneworld, British Avios award tickets for travel on Alaska airlines have long required calling British Airways to book. That changed yesterday: Alaska Airlines award tickets are now bookable on BA.com. That’s great news for those with Avios who are hoping to book tickets on Alaska, particularly from the west coast to Hawaii or on very short economy class flights where they sometimes offer fantastic value in economy class.
This is a great development for those looking to use Avios for Alaska flights as it will eliminate the need to call and wait on hold provided that the British Airways website shows availability accurately. Keep in mind that the British Airways website doesn’t always show all available flights, so you may want to use AA.com to cross-reference availability. If you see something bookable via American Airlines that you don’t see on the BA website, you should potentially still be able to book that over the phone.
However, removing phone resistance for many bookings obviously has its downsides as well. Some of the best deals in miles and points persist because they require effort to book. Competition for these seats will be more difficult than ever when they are easily bookable online via British Airways.
Note that while the British Airways partner award chart offers great value for short economy class flights (itineraries up to 651 miles should could just 7,500 Avios and those up to 1,151 miles should cost 9,000 Avios), business class costs approximately triple economy. For example, Seattle to Maui as shown above costs 13,000 miles in economy class, but business class is 38,750 Avios for the same route.
That is less compelling in many cases.
Overall, this is a positive development in terms of time savings and ease of booking awards. Using Avios for Alaska flights means excellent flexibility since cancellations theoretically only require forfeiting the $5.60 in taxes on a domestic flight (and in practice I’ve had the taxes refunded) and we sometimes see excellent transfer bonuses to Avios that could make trips on Alaska an even better deal yet. Hopefully we’ll see online booking at Iberia.com as well since there are sometimes advantages to booking via Iberia.