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There’s a hidden benefit to Alaska Airlines buying Hawaiian Airlines, and you’ll love it

Frequent flyers will definitely benefit

Alaska Airlines Planes at Sunset
zeelichsheng / Shutterstock / Shutterstock

Earlier this week, Alaska Airlines announced its intention to acquire Hawaiian Airlines in a deal valued at $1.9 billion. This acquisition is poised to fortify Alaska Airlines’ presence in Hawaii and expand Hawaiian Airlines’ reach beyond its primary markets in inter-island and the West Coast.

This deal has the potential to change air travel as we know it and can be even more useful for frequent flyers. While the individual brand identities would be maintained, both airlines would operate under a shared air operator’s certificate (AOC), and their loyalty programs would be integrated.

Oneworld alliance airlines to include Hawaiian

As a part of the merger, Hawaiian Airlines would join the Oneworld alliance, which Alaska Airlines has been a part of since 2021. With this combined loyalty program, customers will now be able to travel and redeem miles on over 25 global partner airlines. Before, members of HawaiianMiles could only redeem rewards from the airline’s flights to, from, and within Hawaii.

Members of the HawaiianMiles program will be matched to an equivalent level when the two programs merge. However, it is still unclear how the different tiers will match up. For instance, there is a notable difference in the mileage requirements for the highest status levels – 100,000 miles for Gold status in Oneworld’s Mileage Plan compared to 40,000 miles for Pualani Platinum status with Hawaiian Miles. How such variations will be reconciled is a question that remains unanswered. 

Hawaiian airlines plane flying at sunset
Minh K Tran / Shutterstock / Shutterstock

How Hawaiian Airlines benefits from this plan

Although it is notable that current members with elite status with any of the 13 Oneworld member airlines will now be able to enjoy different perks when flying with Hawaiian, most of the benefits will be seen by members of HawaiianMiles. Most members of HawaiianMiles are currently only able to delight in benefits when flying to and from the Aloha State.

When the airlines merge, members of HawaiianMiles will be able to utilize perks when traveling to dozens of different locations. “Hawaiian’s member base includes significant loyalty amongst residents of Hawaii, all of whom will enjoy the increased attractiveness and utility of our combined network, as well as the entire suite of our airline partners, including access to seamless travel and redemption across Oneworld,” Alaska Airlines’ chief financial officer Shane Tackett said on Sunday.

When will these changes take place?

So when can you expect to see these new perks in action? The deal is expected to receive pushback from President Biden’s Justice Department in an effort to ensure that there is still competition in the aviation industry. Therefore, the deal is not expected to be finalized for another 12 to 18 months.

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