Mixing Airlines On Mileage Award Tickets — What’s Allowed?

Reader ASAS asked a question on my post about the two upcoming award tickets I booked to the Middle East.

Basically I booked airberlin and Etihad Airways on one award, and then Jet Airways and Qatar Airways on another award. In both cases, one carrier is a member of oneworld, while the other carrier is an AAdvantage partner airline that isn’t part of oneworld.

So ASAS asked if I could write a post about the general rules of mixing carriers on award tickets across the major mileage programs.

Just to clarify, the general premise here is that many airlines belong to one of the three “big” alliances — Star Alliance, oneworld, and SkyTeam — but also have partner airlines on the side which don’t belong to those alliances.

In almost all cases, when an airline belongs to an alliance you can combine multiple of their alliance partners on a single award. However, in many cases you can’t mix them with non-alliance partner carriers on the same award.

So here is a snapshot of the policies of a few of the major programs, and then I’ll go into more detail below:

AirlineMix Alliance and Non-Alliance Partners?
Alaska Mileage PlanNo - single partner carrier only.
American AAdvantageYes.
ANA Mileage ClubNo. Mix within Alliance, or single partner carrier only.
British Airways Executive ClubYes - Distance based.
Delta SkyMilesYes.
Korean Air SkyPassNo. Mix within Alliance, or single partner carrier only.
United MileagePlusYes.
US Airways Dividend MilesNo. Mix oneworld, or mix Star Alliance.

Alaska Mileage Plan Partner Airlines

Even though Alaska has partner airlines that belong to multiple alliances, they don’t belong to an alliance themselves. They also won’t let you mix partner airlines on a single award. The one exception is Air France/KLM, as those are considered to be a single carrier for the purposes of Mileage Plan awards.

You can, however, fly Alaska Airlines to the gateway city of a partner carrier on the same award. You just can’t mix multiple partner airlines.

Alaska’s partner airlines include:

American AirlinesDelta Air LinesKorean Air
AeromexicoEmiratesLAN
Air FranceEra AlaskaPenAir
British AirwaysFiji AirwaysQantas
Cathay PacificKLM

Fortunately Alaska now allows one-way Mileage Plan awards at half the cost of a roundtrip (and even allows a stopover on a one-way) on most of their partners, so you’re at least not committed to a single partner for an entire roundtrip anymore.

Alaska-Mileage-Plan

American AAdvantage Partner Airlines

American will let you combine their oneworld airline partners with their non-oneworld airline partners on a single award. These non oneworld partner carriers include:

Air Tahiti NuiEtihad AirwaysHawaiian Airlines
Alaska AirlinesFiji AirwaysJet Airways
El AlGulf Air

American-AAdvantage

ANA Mileage Club Partner Airlines

ANA belongs to the Star Alliance, but also has several airline partners outside of the Star Alliance, including:

Air MacauHawaiian AirlinesTAM
Etihad AirwaysJet AirwaysVirgin Atlantic
Garuda IndonesiaQatar Airways

ANA will not let you mix non-Star Alliance partners with Star Alliance partners on an award ticket. Furthermore, if you book an award ticket on one of their non-Star Alliance partner airlines then you have to fly that airline for the whole award.

ANA-Mileage-Club

British Airways Executive Club Partner Airlines

British Airways charges for award tickets on a per segment basis, so you can basically build any itinerary with any number of partner airlines that you’d like. So there’s no problem mixing partners, since you’re paying for the tickets on a per segment basis.

British Airways’ non-oneworld airline partners include:

Aer LingusAlaska Airlines

British-Airways-Executive-Club

Delta SkyMiles Partner Airlines

Delta belongs to SkyTeam, though also partners with a few non-SkyTeam airlines, including:

Air Tahiti NuiVirgin AtlanticVirgin Australia
Alaska Airlines

In all cases, Delta lets you mix SkyTeam and non-SkyTeam partner airlines on a single award.

Korean Air SkyPass Partner Airlines

Korean belongs to SkyTeam, though also partners with a few non-SkyTeam airlines, including:

Alaska AirlinesEtihad AirwaysHawaiian Airlines
Emirates

Not only does award travel on those airlines come with a separate award chart, but they don’t let you mix carriers when traveling on those partners.

United MileagePlus Partner Airlines

You can mix Star Alliance and non-Star Alliance partner airlines on an award. These partner carriers include:

Aer LingusHawaiian Airlines (inter-island flights only)Jet Airways

The one exception is Hawaiian. While you can add them to an award with other partners, they will charge you an extra 5,000 miles per inter-island flight.

US Airways Dividend Miles Partner Airlines

US Airways has both a oneworld award chart and non-oneworld partner airline award chart. The rates are identical, though you can’t mix oneworld airlines with non-oneworld airlines on a single award.

Since US Airways just transitioned from Star Alliance to oneworld, they’re still temporarily partnering with some Star Alliance airlines.

Their current non-oneworld partnerships include:

Aegean AirlinesShenzhen AirlinesTAP Portugal
Air ChinaSingapore AirlinesTurkish Airlines
Jet AirwaysSouth African Airways
* Avianca
(through May 31, 2014)
* Air New Zealand
(through June 29, 2014)
* Hawaiian Airlines
(inter-island and South Pacific flights only)

Bottom line

Understanding the policies of combining airlines on an award ticket can save you lots of miles, and it helps to know what the restrictions are when deciding which carrier to book through.

For example, if you redeem American miles for travel on Etihad, you can include any of their other partner airlines on the award as well. Meanwhile if you booked Etihad through ANA, you would have to fly Etihad for the entire award.

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

More articles by lucky »

Comments

  1. How do you add partners or alliance members? For example, AAdvantage allows you to add a partner. Do the partner options come up on the American website when you search for a miles award flight or do you have to arrange it some other way?

  2. You might want to caveat your comment about AA allowing oneworld mixing. I just got off the line with Aadvantage and you aren’t allowed to have Qatar (or other non-Asian alliance partners) on a US-Asia award. I was trying to use their HAN-BKK tag flight. The computer forces a second award, in this case.

  3. Have USAirways miles and want to visit Paris, Gran Canaria, Spain, and Duoro, Portugal . . . anyway to book all 3 stops on ONE award ticket?

  4. Lucky: the part about being able to mix Hawaiian Airlines with United is a bit misleading because you have to pay an extra 5000 miles to add any intra-Hawaiian segment on Hawaiian (even if there’s no stopover). So while you’re technically correct that you can mix Hawaiian with United, you do have to add an additional 5000 miles.

  5. Lucky,
    I think you need to clarify the BA Executive Club information about mixing partners. Yes, you can mix whatever you like, but there are two different award charts, one for BA+maximum of one partner (OW,EI,AS), charged per segment and one for any other combination of airlines, which is charged by total distance travelled and is far more expensive. The pricing is only the same for multiple partners if you book seperate itineraries.
    For instance, DUB-JFK-DFW (EI then AA) would price up more expensively in terms of Avios than LHR-JFK-DFW (BA then AA). It’s quite an important issue for those of us in the UK for whom BA miles are a main currency rather than something just to be used for 9000 mile awards 🙂

  6. Meridiana Club as of May 16th announced that it is now a partner of British Airways and Iberia and in its guidelines states ” The
    members of the British Executive and Iberia Plus Clubs can use their Avios to fly Meridiana.” Your last note of British Airways’ Non One World partners listed Aer Lingus and Alaska Airlines which allows awards to be made by BA with AVIOS; Will Meridiana awards be handled the same way. Is there any site that will show Meridiana award availability?

  7. The formatting is really off for the iphone. The partners go off the page. Not sure if that’s normal or not.

  8. Lucky — a slight correction on Alaska: On a round trip award, you are allowed to mix Delta one-way with another carrier going the other way. This is important because it’s the only way to get one way on Delta metal without paying double.

  9. When AA still had the explorer award – I thought you were limited to 1 partner plus AA on one award – any more and they pushed you to the Explorer award.

    What is the limit on partners on one ticket now that the explorer award is gone. So not withstanding the filed fare limitation could you do something like: JL:JFK-NRT;CX:NRT-HKG;FJ:HKG-NAN?

  10. @ matt — Not all of American’s partners show up online (not even all of their oneworld partners). So sometimes you have to search using those partner websites, and then call American to make the actual booking.

  11. @ Andrew — That definitely doesn’t sound right to me and shouldn’t be the policy. May I ask what the overall routing was?

  12. @ BFD — Nope, you’re allowed one stopover or one open jaw, so best you could do is get two of them on one award.

  13. @ Mike — Nope, don’t think that was ever a rule. No limit to the number of partners, as long as the routing is legal.

  14. Hi all. I have been an Alaska MVP for multiple years and perhaps some clarification on the mixing of awards. Most of my award redemption is on Alaska within the US, but when I travel internationally, I use multiple carriers. Alaska does allow on a round trip award to mix carriers with some stipulations. A simple example is SEA to LHR. Outbound could be on British Airways and return could be on Delta. Each way is a non-stop on that specific carrier. This way, the award ticket is only charged for the proper amount of miles for round trip travel.

  15. @ Frugalintentionaltraveler — You’re allowed one stopover and two open jaws on an international longhaul United award.

    Air Canada does impose fuel surcharges on many of their partner carriers, yes.

  16. @ Frugalintentionaltraveler — Two open jaws roundtrip. You can try to do it online, but website tends to get buggy with complex itineraries.

  17. My friend actually help build the new Doha airport. It really is opening today. They had a soft opening last month. The lounges are not opened yet I don’t think. I hope you enjoy you time there.

  18. Thanks for reply . . .. Could I make Paris Stopover, Gran Canaria Destination AND then book a RT award Gran Canaria-Porto-Gran Canaria, BUT
    on the return leg which would be on Iberia drop the final leg of Madrid back to Gran Canaria and just head home to New Orleans from Madrid?

    Have never done that, but sure hate going back to GC to go back to Madrid to begin return!

  19. @ BFD — If you skip any segment, the remainder of the ticket will be canceled, so I would advise against doing that.

  20. Thanks for this helpful post, Ben! Just referenced the post while booking an AA award on AA/JL/CX/CX/MH (SFO–ORD–NRT–HKG–KUL–HAN). Interestingly (and similar to Andrew’s situation), when requesting KUL–BKK on MH and BKK–HAN on QR, the AA agent told me the computer threw an error about being unable to include Qatar on the award and that the ticket was being priced as two awards. It’d be amazing to fly QR on this award.

    What’s your latest intel on including QR on US–Asia itineraries? What are the chances of getting another agent to change our flight to KUL–BKK–HAN with the BKK–HAN leg on QR?

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