Alaska & Air France-KLM Are Cutting Ties As Of April 30, 2018

This comes as no surprise whatsoever, and is something I predicted last week, when Alaska’s latest commercial about their partner airlines conveniently had Air France-KLM missing from the lineup.

Alaska Airlines and Air France-KLM will be cutting ties as of April 30, 2018. Here’s what Alaska says about the partnership change:

Our partnership with Air France is ending on April 30th, 2018.

Effective April 30th, 2018, the partnership between Air France and Alaska Airlines will end. Our other global partners serve all of the top destinations members have earned miles to in the past with Air France, but we recognize that this change leaves a gap in coverage to some small European destinations. Europe continues to be a key focus area, served by partners including British Airways, Icelandair, Condor, and Finnair, and we’ll continue to evaluate additional partnerships to serve your needs both to and within Europe.

In recognition of some people having already booked tickets:

  • Those who booked tickets through December 5, 2017, for travel over any dates can still earn miles
  • Those who booked tickets starting December 6, 2017, can earn miles for travel through April 30, 2018
  • Those who booked tickets starting December 6, 2017, won’t earn miles for travel as of May 1, 2018

Unfortunately this partnership ending comes as no surprise, as clearly Delta is behind this. Alaska and Delta discontinued their partnership as of May 2017, and Delta certainly exerts quite a bit of control over their partners. Keep in mind that in this case Delta is even buying a 10% stake in Air France-KLM, so they’ll have an equity stake.

Something similar happened with Aeromexico — Aeromexico and Delta formed a joint venture a while back, and a few months ago it was announced that Aeromexico and Alaska are cutting ties.

This is an unfortunate change, and while Air France and KLM are great airlines, they were never the best Alaska Mileage Plan partners anyway. They rarely made award space available to Mileage Plan, and also the mileage earning rates weren’t great, especially compared to Alaska’s other partner airlines.

This is still an unfortunate development, though…

(Tip of the hat to Sourav Sarkar)

Comments

  1. I will miss the AF but not KLM. Had some great flights on AF but as you wrote their space has been slim to none in the past few years. And yes Delta is behind this. What will be interesting to see how all this evolves in the next 18 to 24 months with the single operating certificate issued for Alaska and Virgin. I have a sense of something to come. AS is my “main squeeze” domestically I just passed through my 100th flight this year with them.

  2. True and lifelong Washingtonians fly Alaska. Transplant Tech and Amazon employees seem to be loyal to Delta in Seattle.

  3. How early can I access oneworld Lou ges in Bangkok? I WANT to enjoy the free food and drinks before a flight.
    Anyone?

  4. It’s fortunate we already have an adequate supply of KLM’s Delft Blue houses. It’s disappointing to lose those flight options for AS flyers like us though.

  5. if only AS would actually add the redemption charts for the partners they already have (SQ, et al). It seems AS is totally overwhelmed and is dropping the ball on more than a few things

  6. Alaska seems pretty weak in terms of redeeming to Europe – what is the best program for US to Europe redemptions nowadays? United?

  7. @keitherson: My sentiments exactly. “Here, fly this quasi-LCCs instead! It’s totally the same, guys! Pinky swear!”

    @Anthony: I was lamenting this to my partner the other day. The only real “full service airline” option anymore is BA but then you’re paying exorbitant taxes which kind of negates the award ticket in the first place. And being based in California, there are rarely the great J fares to Europe that we see out of EWR or JFK or other East Coast cities.

  8. So now… Iberia and Aer Lingus? Both fly to SFO, Aer Lingus will operate SEA soon, and its basically an extension of the BA partnership.
    Not too sure what other o/w or nonaligned carriers they can pick up.

  9. Alaska has huge problems with their international partners
    Using Alaska miles I tried to book BA London to Berlin with a First Class flight on American originating from the US and was told this was not allowed
    Tried to book it on BA originating from the US and told can’t go further than London 🙁
    I tried to book ithe lhr to Dublin as a seperate ticket and was told not allowed
    I tried to book To Sydney Australia on Emirates Alaska said not allowed
    Tried to book Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong in First no seats available (ok so perhaps no availability with any partner
    And now no KLM or Air France 🙁
    Love Alaska.but despite a good program and excellent customer service they have gaping holes in their program for Internatioal partners ugh

  10. It would definitely be a nice addition to be able to use multiple partners on a single award. That being said, their award chart is still one of the best out there, especially considering the free stopovers. Just booked Seattle to Buenos Aires on LAN business class for 45k pp ow with two week stopover in santiago.

  11. It’s sad to see that AS lost another European Partner due to the strong influence of DL. I wonder if EW/4U might be a suitable alternative beside EI. As they fly to a lot of destinations within Europe and the US (including SEA Tac and JFK), plus they are not in an alliance as of now.

    What do you guys think?

  12. Anyone heard when AS will post the redemption rates for Finnair? The Alaska web site says “Fall” – tic tic. I wonder if they are working up a new arrangement given the loss of AF/KLM and the unattractive charges associated with BA.

  13. It looks like they need to start talking to Iberia and Aer Lingus to help fill the gap AF/KLM will leave. Also Korean Airlines will probably be next so they need to start talking to Asiana or maybe EVA because China Airlines will probably be off limits since Delta will probably gobble them up too.

  14. I agree with all of the comments but the bigger issue with Alaska Mileage plan is the fact that it is getting harder to earn on partners. KLM & AF often had inexpensive business class fares – less than $2000 return to Europe and at that price point I would often pay rather than us miles at about 1.7 ish cents and earn miles and status.

    But as others agree this also slightly hurts on redemption to as the few business class awards on those airlines are now gone too.

  15. Thank goodness we already booked our 2 business class award tickets on KLM from VIE-AMS-SLC. Excited to try the New World Business Class on the B787!

    And I agree with limited award space being available in general — ExpertFlyer thankfully alerted me to AMS-SLC coming available and I jumped on it right away. For some strange reason, YYC-AMS seems to be available with some frequency, but only YYC…

  16. So what is the deadline to redeem Alaska miles for Air France? Do I have to fly or redeem for an award ticket by April 30th? Is it too late all together?

  17. It’s going to be lot harder now to get to French Polynesia. For the LAX-PPT leg on AF, I could never find availability using Delta Skymiles, but Alaska showed availability. Maybe Flying Blue is a decent option now, but that comes with considerably higher taxes.

  18. @Dwondermeant I’m a little confused by some of the things you say you “can’t” do. I just recently booked BA from SEA-LHR-VCE, one first and one business class seat directly from the AS website. Maybe there’s something specific to Berlin but I see plenty of options to major airports Italy, France and Germany all through LHR. Often times is a mix of business and first depending on your dates but it’s certainly possible.

    I’ve also used Cathay Pacific to Asia although it wasn’t Hong Kong using AS miles.

  19. I was confused as to why the Paris article in this month’s in flight magazine said to get there on partner BA… makes sense now.

  20. @Dwondermeant –

    “Using Alaska miles I tried to book BA London to Berlin with a First Class flight on American originating from the US and was told this was not allowed” – as you’re probably aware now, you can only use a single partner in each direction, plus flights on Alaska.

    “Tried to book it on BA originating from the US and told can’t go further than London ” – my guess is this is an availability issue – in principle, there shouldn’t be a problem with this.

    “I tried to book ithe lhr to Dublin as a seperate ticket and was told not allowed” – if you check the Europe to Europe award chart, you’ll see that AF/KL are currently the only partner. Hopefully this will change.

    “I tried to book To Sydney Australia on Emirates Alaska said not allowed”
    Again, this appears on the award chart, so if there’s availability, this should be bookable – you can search Emirates awards on alaskaair.com, so determining availability should be straightforward.

    Tried to book Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong in First no seats available (ok so perhaps no availability with any partner) – yes, Cathay Pacific F seats are notoriously difficult to find. Typically seats open up for partners within about a week of departure.

  21. @dwondermeant . . .

    You wrote, and @Tonei replied:
    “I tried to book To Sydney Australia on Emirates Alaska said not allowed”
    “Again, this appears on the award chart, so if there’s availability, this should be bookable – you can search Emirates awards on alaskaair.com, so determining availability should be straightforward.”

    Alaska has stated on their website, “Many Emirates award bookings, particularly in Business and First Class, are not confirming even though the flights appear available when shopping at alaskaair.com. We are aware of this issue and are working with Emirates to resolve it.”

    The best way to book any flight on EK using AS miles is by phone, NOT via the website.

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