Getting Started: Airline Alliances

Getting Started: Airline Alliances

I got some airlines miles!! Now, how do I use them?…In order to get the most value out of your airline miles it is important to first understand how the different airlines are set up and grouped.  For this post we will focus on US carriers and how they relate to the bigger network of airlines.
First of all, there are domestic carriers that fly only in the USA and some locations in the rest of North America/Central America/Caribbean and then there are the US based international carriers which fly all over the world.  Below are the names of the major airlines in each group:
Major USA Domestic/North American Carriers
  • Frontier_airlines_logo14JetBlue
  • Southwest/AirTran (Merged)
  • Frontier
  • Allegiant
  • Spirit Airlines
USA Based International Carriers
  • Delta Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • American Airlines/US Airways (Currently Merging)
Of course there are a few other small domestic airlines and many many more international airlines that are not based in the USA.  Between these airlines you can get almost anywhere in the USA and most places in the world.  But how do you get to ALL places in the world that major airlines fly without collecting miles from every airline?!  This is where the airline Alliances come in!
Each of the above USA international carriers is a member of an airline group composed of airlines from around the world that work together to get you around the world.  By utilizing this alliance you are able to fly multiple airlines on a single award ticket.  In turn, if you purchased a ticket for an international flight you can also credit your miles from say Air France to the USA member of the alliance, in this case Delta.  Because of these alliances you are able to consolidate your miles (if you want to) and fly anywhere in the world using miles.  I will list the 3 major alliances below with their USA partner in BOLD:
OneWorld Alliance
  • American Airlines /US Airways
  • AirBerlinOneworld-logo-300x275
  • British Airways
  • Iberia Airlines
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Finnair
  • Japan Airlines
  • LAN
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qatar Airways
  • Qantas
  • S7
  • Royal Jordanian
  • SriLanken Airlines
  • TAM


Star Alliance

  • United Airlines220px-Logo_Star_Alliance
  • Adria
  • Aegean
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air New Zealand
  • Air India
  • ANA
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Austrian
  • Brussles Airlines
  • Avianca/Taca
  • Copa
  • Croatia AIrlines
  • EgyptAir
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • EVA Air
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)
  • Shenzhen Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • TAP
  • THAI
  • Turkish Airlines


  • Delta Airlines75-48735SkyTeam_280x260
  • Aeroflot
  • Aerolineas Argentinas
  • AeroMexico
  • AirEuropa
  • Air France
  • Alitalia
  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern
  • Czech Airlines
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Kenya Airways
  • KLM
  • Korean Air
  • Middle Eastern Airlines
  • Saudia
  • XiamenAir
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Tarom

As you can see there are some very large partnerships that each cover the entire globe to some extent.  By having these alliances in place you are able to use you miles to fly on multiple airlines to either get to new places in the world or simple try a new airline!

For example, if I wanted to fly from St. Louis to Doha (in Qatar), with American Airline miles I could use one ticket to fly from St. Louis to Washington, DC on American Airlines, then Washington, DC to London on British Airways before finally making my way from London to Doha on Qatar Airlines.

These partner award may not be as straight forward on some airlines website but add tremendous value and opportunity.  Later posts will focus on leveraging these partners once you have the basics down.  Any questions?

2 Comments on “Getting Started: Airline Alliances

  1. Joe-

    This site is freaking addicting,well done! Quick question on this topic:

    What sort of steps would you have to talk in order to get the most out of your miles? For instance, if you wanted to use your American Airlines Points (acquired over the past X years, flying domestically) to fly on a British Airways flight. Where would you input those miles? Or will the site automatically adjust do to the alliance? I feel as though they would not want to make that easy for you, or do they?


    • Alex,

      Thanks man! Glad you like it! Do you have AA miles? Basically if you want to use your AA miles on a OneWorld carrier it’s an easy process. If you want to fly internationally, look for the award availability on (you’ll need to make a British Airways account if you haven’t already). They’re one of the better OneWorld airlines at showing availability. Then, for example, you see that Qatar Airlines (oneworld member) has availability on their DFW-DOH flight in business class. From there, you’d simply call American Airlines (partner flights like that can only be booked over the phone – don’t worry they’ll waive the fee) and tell them the flight you want to be on. Easy day. They’ll tell you the taxes/fees (which are minimal as long as you avoid flying British Airways) and the miles you owe. Sorry for the long answer – email us at if you want to follow up or have any more questions!

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