Simple Mile Life

What’s an Airline Alliance?

There are 3 different Airline Alliances: Star Alliance, One World, and Sky Team. These alliances allow airlines to offer passengers a wider range of locations to travel more efficiently. By partnering together, airlines can lower costs and offer more affordable ticket prices in many cases. It also allows customers to collect miles for their preferred airline when flying on partner flights. Below I will explain the current Airline Alliances and why it matters for people collecting frequent flyer miles.



Star Alliance

The Star Alliance was the first alliance to be formed back in 1997. It aimed to provide passengers with efficient access to major cities across the world. Since then, it has grown to 27 Airlines that fly to over 1300 airports all over the world. Star Alliance includes the following airlines:

  • Adria Airways, Slovenia
  • Aegean Airlines, Greece
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air India
  • Air New Zealand
  • All Nippon Airways, Japan
  • Asiana Airlines, South Korea
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Avianca, Colombia
  • Brussels Airlines, Belgium
  • Copa Airlines, Panama
  • Croatia Airlines
  • EgyptAir
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • EVA Air, Taiwan
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Lufthansa, Germany
  • Scandinavian Airlines
  • Shenzhen Airlines, China
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • Swiss International Airlines
  • TAP Portugal
  • Thai Airways
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United Airlines, United States

One World

The One World Alliance was formed in 1999. It also was created to form a more efficient way to allow passengers to travel and to help airlines compete for passengers. It currently has 15 airline partners, and flies to just under 1000 airports world wide. The members include:

  • Air Berlin, Germany
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong
  • Finnair, Finland
  • Iberia, Spain
  • Japan Airlines
  • LATAM Airlines Chile
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas, Australia
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7 Airlines, Russia
  • SriLankan Airlines
  • TAM Airlines, Brazil

Sky Team

Sky Team was formed in 2000, with a focus on partners that operate in “travel hot spots”. It has grown since then to include 20 airlines that fly to over 1060 different airports world wide. Travelers have the chance to fly with Sky Team on the following partner airlines:

  • Aeroflot, Russia
  • Aerolineas Argentinas
  • Aeromexico
  • Air Europa, Spain
  • Air France
  • Alitalia, Italy
  • China Airlines, Taiwan
  • China Eastern Airlines, China
  • China Southern Airlines, China
  • Czech Airlines
  • Delta Airlines, United States
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Kenya Airways
  • KLM, Netherlands
  • Korean Air, South Korea
  • Middle East Airlines, Lebanon
  • Saudia, Saudi Arabia
  • TAROM, Romania
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Xiamen Airlines, China

Other Major Airlines

While Airline Alliances have found it beneficial for operating and flying passengers as members of the same team, there are also airlines that exist that prefer to operate on their own. These airlines have different advantages, such as routes or low costs, that allow them to fly without receiving a large benefit from a partnership. Many low cost carriers (LCC) that attract passengers with their extremely low prices, such as Air Asia or Ryan Air, chose not to join alliances because of the niche market. The following airlines in the US are currently not a partner of any alliance:

  • AirTran Airways
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • JetBlue
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Spirit Airlines
  • Virgin America

Why do alliances matter for earning and spending miles?

The most obvious reason is that travelers can collect miles from various partners for their preferred airline. For example, if you fly United regularly, but find that you need to fly ANA instead, it is still possible to earn United mileage for your ANA flight.

It is also possible to book award travel on partner flights with your miles. For example, if you have collected United miles, you can book flights on partner airlines like Air Canada or Asiana Airways through the United website. This is very convenient, especially if you are planning on flying internationally.

It is also important to understand that not all miles are as valuable or as easy to spend. This is important when thinking about which miles to collect. For example, an international flight from the USA to Europe may only cost 25,000 miles for a round trip from New York to Dublin with British Airways miles, which charge based on distance. This same flight may cost you 35,000-50,000 with other airline miles. So it is important to some respect to know where you want to fly when you start to collect miles.