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Airline Alliances: Why it matters

Airline Alliances: Why it matters.
By Mary Lewis

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Simply put, airline alliances are nothing more than a pact between airline companies. The first major airline alliance happened in 1997 and nowadays, new alliances with smaller, regional carriers are being introduced daily.

TP 201905 feature 03So, why this is relevant to you?

Airline alliances allow each traveller to access cheaper flights, get better deals and travel even to far-flung destinations using streamlined connected flights at any given moment.

 

The Basics

With airline alliances, one airline gets to tap into the wider network of flights, conveniences and even rewards offered by other airlines on the same alliance. This expands the flexibility of choice and itinerary of travellers, especially those who are travelling internationally.

TP 201905 feature 04So even without you knowing it, your international flight is part of an airline alliance. Of course, it would be best to be aware of this fact, so you can maximize the perks that come with the alliance, depending on your membership status. The special advantages include:

 

- More departure times from any given route
- More destinations within easy reach
- Wider range of business-class and even first-class airport lounges
- More generous allowance for checked baggage
- Earning frequent flyer points and status credits for the airline of your choice when traveling on another airline in the same alliance
- Round-the-world tickets at a lower price

 

While global airline alliance seems to be very beneficial, especially for frequent flyers, the member airlines also acquire the advantage of getting to pool resources, so they can compete better against other airlines which exist outside of the alliance.

 

Biggest alliances today

In this article, we feature the three largest airline alliances. Combined, they offer 44% of all tickets available per a year. With their scope and membership, you get to understand their significance in making flights available across the planet. The biggest alliances are:

 

1. Star Alliance: 728 million passengers per year

TP 201905 feature 05Why is it the best? Simply because it is the biggest alliance. They operate within 1,300 destinations in 193 countries with a combined fleet of 4,500 aircraft. All 32 members present in this alliance work towards the promise to 鈥渢ake passengers to every major city on earth鈥.

 

1. Adria
2. Adria Airways JP
3. Aegean Airlines A3
4. Lufthansa LH
5. South African Airways SA
6. SWISS LX
7. Air Canada AC
8. Turkish Airlines TK
9. Avianca AV
10. Brussels Airlines SN
11. Copa Airlines CM
12. Croatia Airlines OU
13. Scandinavian Airlines SK
14. Shenzhen Airlines ZH
15. Singapore Airlines SQ
16. Air China CA
17. Air New Zealand NZ
18. ANA NH
19. Asiana Airlines OZ
20. Austrian OS
21. LOT Polish Airlines LO
22. TAM Airlines JJ
23. EGYPTAIR MS
24. Ethiopian Airlines ET
25. EVA Air BR
26. TAP Portugal TP
27. THAI TG
28. United UA
29. US Airways US

 

Star Alliance is an excellent choice for flyers who need an extensive network of travel options or those wanting to board a flight to hard-to-reach destinations. Members under the Gold elite frequent flyer scheme get the maximum benefit from the alliance (including access to over 1,000 loungers) and priority security clearance.

 

Search the flights using: Lufthansa, ANAs search tool, United.com, and ExpertFlyer.com.

 

2. Sky team: 730 million passengers per a year

TP 201905 feature 06This alliance is the second-largest on the planet. With 19 members (Uzbekistan Airways, Hunnu Air, Jet Airways and Virgin Atlantics will be added soon) it provides tickets for 730 million travellers per year. They serve 1,064 destinations. Some of the largest airliners are members of this alliance: Air France, Air Europe, and airliners from China.

 

Members of this alliance feature a unique advantage. Their miles will be yours as long as you need them. Basically, there is no expiration date. Overall, they are treated as a mid-size alliance with great coverage and great benefits. Although, some speculate that they will soon become the number one alliance given its progressive way of adding new members. Members of the alliance are:

 

1. Aeroflot
2. Aerol铆neas Argentinas
3. Aeromexico
4. Air Europa
5. Air France
6. Alitalia
7. China Airlines
8. China Eastern
9. China Southern
10. Czech Airlines
11. Delta Air Lines
12. Garuda Indonesia
13. Kenya Airways
14. KLM
15. Korean Air
16. Middle East Airlines
17. Saudia
18. TAROM
19. Vietnam Airlines
20. XiamenAir

 

Search the flights using: ExpertFlyer.com and Air France search tool. This alliance is the most popular and has the main role in Asia, especially in China and Korea.

 

3. Oneworld: 527.9 million passengers per a year

TP 201905 feature 07Despite the fact that this is the smallest alliance on the list, it is one of the most popular across the planet. While it presently has 14 full members, it serves 527.9 million people per year. Even more impressive is the fact they provide flights to 1,012 destinations across the world with a fleet size of 3,553.

 

On its 20th anniversary, Oneworld introduced a one-stop-shop app for all its airlines, so travellers can simply check-in, select seats, obtain a digital boarding pass, pay for extra bags, receive flight updates and see which lounges or priority lanes they can use. Later this year, Oneworld is gearing to open its global branded lounges in cities like London, Seoul, Beijing and S茫o Paulo for its business, first-class and priority pass holders.

 

This alliance is the most common choice for frequent travellers, since it includes the world鈥檚 biggest single airline, American Airlines, along with LATAM (which is the biggest in Latin America) and Australia (Qantas). Many even claim that Oneworld is founded for this purpose specifically.

 

Among Oneworld Full Members are:

 

1. American Airlines
2. British Airways
3. Cathay Pacific
4. Finnair
5. Iberia
6. Japan Airlines
7. LATAM
8. Malaysia Airlines
9. Qantas
10. Qatar Airways
11. Royal Jordanian
12. SriLankan Airways
13. S7 Airlines
14. Royal Air Maroc
15. Fiji Airways

 

Search the fly Oneworld app available in iOS and Android.

 

Final thoughts

Making travel easier is the main purpose of establishing airline alliances. At the heart of it all, both the traveller and the airline gets to win whenever they make the flights more affordable, more seamless even to farther destinations, and more rewarding.

 

Airline alliance is hinged on the power of leverage, which, at any moment, can be gained by the traveller in choosing among the many options available.

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