MilesTalk University: How to use one airline’s miles to fly on another airline
A question I get a lot involves the three airline alliances (OneWorld, Star Alliance, and SkyTeam) and how you use your miles on one airline to book a an award flight on another. There are also “redemption partners” – which are airlines that have a special agreement for their members to be able to redeem awards on the other airline.
For the purposes of this article, they are all the same. If you fly one of the big three airlines in America, you have a range of redemption partners. Let’s look at your options for each of the Big Three.
American Airlines: Part of OneWorld which includes: airberlin, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian Airlines, S7 Airlines (Russia), SriLankan Airlines, and TAM Airlines.
Beyond OneWorld, you can *also* redeem your American AAdvantage miles on Air Tahiti Nui, Alaska Airlines, Cape Air, Etihad Airways, Fiji Airways, Gulf Air, Hawaiian Airlines (Inter-Island only for redemptions), Seaborne Airlines (Puerto Rico)
Delta: Part of SkyTeam which includes: Aeroflot, Aerolineas Argentinas, Aeromexico, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Czech Airlines, Kenya Airways, KLM, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, Saudia Airlines, TAROM, Vietnam Airlines and Xiamen Airlines.
Delta’s non-Skyteam partners are: Air Tahiti Nui, Alaska Airlines (ending April 30, 2017), GOL Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia.
United Airlines: Part of the Star Alliance which includes: ADRIA Airways, Aegean Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana, Austrian, Avianca, Brussels Airlines, Copa Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Airways, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, SAS, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, SWISS, TAP Portugal, THAI, Turkish Airlines
Now that you understand that if you collect miles in one (or more!) of the big three those entire alliances and transfer partners are options for your miles redemptions, you’ve opened up a world of new possibilities.
But here’s the very important thing to know: Not all partners will show up on an airline’s online award booking – and the Big Three have some of the worst availability of Saver (low) level awards of any airlines. So your best bet to maximize their value is on partner airlines. Which means you need to know how.
Based on the Alliance that your airline is in, here are the sites to use to check availability:
OneWorld: BA.com (the British Airways website)
SkyTeam: Air France and Delta
Star Alliance: Air Canada (or United.com)
Singapore / Etihad – directly on their websites
I’ve made a short video to help guide you through the next part – how to search for availability and then make the booking with the airline on which you have miles.
Note that there may be cases where availability simply cannot be checked online. There are more advanced tools for that, like Expert Flyer, but this is an intro-level post.
Still have questions? Ask away below! Telling me what you want to know more about will shape my future posts and videos.