An airline alliance is when two or more airlines agree to cooperate to help travelers make inter-airline code-share connections. A code-share agreement is when a flight operated by one airline is jointly marketed as a flight by one or more other airlines. Passengers on board these flights can get frequent flyer program miles, elite qualifying miles and other perks (e.g., priority check in) based on either airline. Code-share agreements generally occur within an alliance – but not always.
- Note: A code-share a agreement is different from an interline agreement, which allows passengers to book multiple segments on multiple airlines, and their baggage will move from flight to flight with them and when they check in for the first flight, it means they’ve also checked in for all the flights. With an interline agreement passengers do not collect frequent flyer rewards except on the segments flown on the airline for which they are a points collector.
The advantages of airline alliances to companies include decreased redundancies, wider options for travellers, and other efficiencies.
The advantages of airline alliances to passengers include:
- extended network through code sharing agreements;
- makes booking and moving between connections easier;
- reduces flight times;
- reduces operational costs (and theoretically – ticket prices);
- frequent flier rewards can be accumulated across airlines within the same alliance but not with the same rate of return;
- increases efficiency in obtaining frequent flyer rewards to meet your goals; and,
- no matter what type of points/miles you have, being in an alliance increases your options for redeeming them.
For example you can fly Air Canada, and earn miles on Lufthansa (both members of Star Alliance). When you go to redeem your miles, you can often use your Lufthansa miles to fly on any number of other airlines in the same alliance, for example Turkish Airlines.
A few key points to keep in mind:
- with a few exceptions you can’t transfer points/miles from one airline to another;
- collect points/miles in only one or two key programs in your alliance(s) of choice; and,
- you can redeem on the various alliance partners, but have to follow the rules and award chart of the reward program in which you have points/miles (e.g. Aeroplan, American Express Membership Rewards, Alaska Mileage Plan).
Airline alliances are constantly changing (e.g., due to mergers, new partnerships).
Current airline alliances and key airlines that are not in an alliance, but have partnerships with other airlines
STAR ALLIANCE currently has 27 members including:(JP) Adria Airways; (A3) Aegean Airlines; (AC) Air Canada, (CA) Air China; (AI) Air India; (NZ) Air New Zealand; (NH) All Nippon Airways; (OZ) Asiana Airlines; (OS) Austrian Airlines; (AV) Avianca; (SN) Brussels Airlines; (CM) Copa Airlines; (OU) Croatia Airlines; (MS) EgyptAir; (ET) Ethiopian Airlines; (BR) EVA Air; (LO) LOT Polish Airlines; (LH) Lufthansa; (SK) Scandinavian Airlines; (ZH) Shenzhen Airlines; (SQ) Singapore Airlines; (SA) South African Airways; (LX) Swiss International Air Lines; (TP) TAP Portugal; (TG) Thai Airways International; (TK) Turkish Airlines; (UA) United Airlines
Unlike their southern neighbours, Canadians have only one major airline option for domestic travel that is a member of a major international airline alliance – Air Canada.
ONEWORLD currently has 13 members including: (AA) American Airlines; (BA) British Airways; (CX) Cathay Pacific; (AY) Finnair; (IB) Iberia Airlines; (JL) Japan Airlines; (LA/JJ) LATAM Chile; LATAM Brasil; (MH) Malaysia Airlines; (QF) Qantas; (QR) Qatar Airways; (RJ) Royal Jordanian; (UL) SriLankan Airlines; (S7) S7 Airlines.
SKYTEAM currently has 20 members: (SU) Aeroflot, 2006; (AR) Aerolíneas Argentinas; (AM) Aeroméxico; (UX) Air Europa; (AF) Air France; (AZ) Alitalia; (CI) China Airlines; (MU) China Eastern; Airlines; (CZ) China Southern Airlines;(OK) Czech Airlines;(DL) Delta Air Lines;(GA) Garuda Indonesia;(KQ) Kenya Airways;(KL) KLM;(KE) Korean Air;(ME) Middle East Airlines;(SV) Saudia;(RO) TAROM;(VN) Vietnam Airlines;(MF) XiamenAir.
VANILLA ALLIANCE currently has 5 members: (UU)Air Austral; (MD) Air Madagascar; (MK) Air Mauritius; (HM) Air Seychelles; (I7) Int’Air Îles.
U-FLY ALLIANCE currently has 5 members: (UO) HK Express; (8L) Lucky Air; (UQ) Urumqi Air; (PN) West Air; (ZE) Eastar Jet.
VALUE ALLIANCE currently has 8 members: (5J) Cebu Pacific; (DG) Cebgo; (7C) Jeju Air; (DD) Nok Air; (XW) NokScoot; (TR) Scoot; (TT) Tigerair Australia; (JW) Vanilla Ai.
OTHER KEY AIRLINES that are not in an alliance, but have partnerships with other airlines, some of which are in alliances: Aer Lingus; Air Dolomiti; Air India; Air Malta; Air Tahiti Nui; Alaska Airlines; Bangkok Airways; Condor; Emirates; Etihad, Hawaiian Airlines; Jet Airways; Luxair; Virgin America; Atlantic; Virgin Australia, WestJet
- For example WestJet, Canada’s second bigget airline has codeshare agreements with: Aeromexico, Air France, American Airlines (ends July 31, 2018), Cathay PacificChina Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Japan Airlines, KLM, Korean Air, LATAM Brazil, LATAM Peru, Philippine Airlines, Quanta
An airline alliance is basically two or more airlines scratching each other’s backs, with the traveller benefiting.