Three Days To Go: The Heat Will Soon Turn Up In Seattle

In three days, Alaska Airlines will unlock a host of new benefits that will turn up the heat at its largest hub. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) is the largest hub for Alaska Airlines. Over the last few years, Delta Air Lines has turned from an Alaska Airlines partner into a rival, building up a Seattle hub focusing on transpacific connections, something Alaska did not offer. Now, just three days to go until Alaska officially joins the oneworld alliance, Seattle could be in for a sizzling market of air competition.

Alaska A321neo
Just three days to go before Alaska Airlines becomes a full-fledged member of the oneworld alliance. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Three days until Alaska joins oneworld

In three days, Alaska Airlines will become the newest member of the oneworld alliance. Announced over a year ago, it instantly became clear that Seattle was going to become a hotbed of air activity.

American Airlines, currently the only US carrier in the oneworld alliance, announced right off the bat that it would be capitalizing on Alaska’s Seattle position to expand its presence in the city. The carrier is planning on launching two new long-haul routes, including to Bangalore and London-Heathrow.

Alaska and American
Alaska Airlines is moving to partner much more closely with American Airlines. Photo: Getty Images

American and Alaska announced an enhanced partnership at the same time when Alaska announced it wanted to join the oneworld alliance. The enhanced partnership will see the carriers expand their domestic codeshares and broaden them to international routes, including American’s new long-hauls out of Seattle.

American and Alaska vs. Delta

In Seattle, a major fight is starting to brew. With American and Alaska on one side and Delta on another, these carriers will battle it out for dominance and success in Seattle.

Delta is the smaller airline in Seattle compared to the American and Alaska presence in the city. Used mainly as a transpacific gateway, Delta immediately sought to defend some of its international territories and announced a new London-Heathrow flight out of Seattle to combat the new American flight.

Delta Getty
Delta has also shown it is willing to defend its Seattle hub. Photo: Getty Images

Alaska Airlines has capitalized on its legacy position in Seattle to fuel its recent expansion. Passengers can fly to over 100 destinations from Seattle on a nonstop or one-stop itinerary when they book with Alaska Airlines, so the carrier has much of the US covered with air service.

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Alaska Airlines still has plenty of room to grow, and joining the oneworld alliance could make many of those flights viable. The airline could also leverage its new partnership to add new frequencies on its existing services.

Alaska Boeing 737
Alaska Airlines is still the largest carrier at SEA. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Why the oneworld membership will aid Alaska Airlines

Joining an alliance has some costs, but there are plenty of benefits for an airline like Alaska. As a primarily short- and medium-haul carrier, Alaska Airlines cannot cater to the passengers that want to fly abroad, to places like Tokyo, Shanghai, Sydney, Johannesburg, Frankfurt, London, and so many more places.

As a member of the oneworld alliance, Alaska Airlines will have a much better relationship with those airlines and sell tickets to a wider array of destinations. Other carriers are also likely to add their own services to Seattle to get feed to and from Alaska’s network.

Alaska A321neo
Alaska Airlines will get access to a host of new customers, leading to another expansion wave out of Seattle. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

On top of that, Alaska will also be able to tap into new customer bases. A loyal American Airlines passenger who would traditionally fly from, say, Charleston, South Carolina, to Seattle via Dallas or Chicago could choose to pay a little more and fly nonstop on Alaska because they will get added perks from any elite status they may have.

Alaska currently seems keen on maintaining its other existing partnerships with non-aligned carriers like Icelandair and Emirates for as long as those partnerships are “mutually beneficial.” However, there may be some pressure from Alaska’s new oneworld partners like Qatar Airways to back away from some of those partnerships as those carriers add their own new flights to Seattle.

Alaska Getty
The oneworld membership will also help the airline retain a more loyal band of travelers that need to fly internationally. Photo: Getty Images

Once in the oneworld alliance, Alaska Airlines’ team can monitor how and where its new passengers want to fly. As airlines like Qatar Airways add new frequencies and the carrier examines its large Boeing 737 MAX order book, the airline could be on the verge of another burst of expansion out of Seattle and finally be able to tackle Delta’s encroachment on its home turf.

With three days to go, are you excited for Alaska to join oneworld? What are you most looking forward to with Alaska’s impending oneworld entry? Let us know in the comments!