Contributor: David Bernard
Continuing on with our series of first posts, today we talk about partnerships and alliances in the travel industry and the many ways that they can benefit you…
Last week when we looked into frequent flyer programs, we mentioned briefly something about partnerships that exist within the travel community. For most companies, several partnerships and deals exist between them that help travelers have a more enhanced experience overall. One of the most notable concepts however is that of the airline alliance. Currently there are three major alliances in the airline industry today. SkyTeam, the Star Alliance, and the Oneworld Alliance together dominate most of the market. They include most of the major and legacy carriers and as a team they have helped travelers with more convenient options and more favorable routing across their members. The biggest benefit to this concept by far is the fact that you no longer fly with a single airline, but now you fly with a team, which provides many more options for routing and flight times without sacrificing other frequent flyer benefits and earnings. Member airlines can choose to earn their points and miles across the entire team and deposit them into a single account of their choosing.
For example, a customer who lives in Indianapolis and wants to travel to Gothenburg, Sweden is certainly not going to find any nonstop flights. However, through an alliance there are many more options now. One option available is to first fly to New York City on Delta, and then take one of several flights on either KLM or Delta to Amsterdam, and then connect in Amsterdam onto a KLM regional flight to Gothenburg. Voila, the customer has now been able to reach his destination with fewer layover hours, less hassle (as usually bags transfer as well), and one streamlined experiences thanks to all of these segments being booked on one ticket.
Let’s look at the three major teams:
All of the sudden, the possibilities for itineraries seems to have just grown exponentially…
When alliances first started up just a few decades ago, they were revolutionary. Airlines relied much more heavily on “direct” flights (aka: a flight number that may make a stop but is considered to be one flight path from end to end) where passengers could continue on one flight for many stops until eventually reaching their destination. Sometimes passengers had to book several tickets and hope that their flight was on time, others chose to drive or travel first many miles to a more direct flight option in order to save the hassle. Either way, now the system is different and streamlined itineraries have never been more available or easy to manage. Since they’re all connected, they each work with you too in case of delays or missed connections.
Another fairly helpful benefit of flying an alliance airline is that flyers who have earned frequent flyer elite status with one member airline get to also have the equivalent level of status with all other member airlines as well. United Premier silver status would mean that if you fly a reservation with Lufthansa you would also have the benefits of a Miles and More Silver member. This makes travelling abroad so much easier and even more cost effective if your status tier can save you from checked bag fees or pre-assigned seat fees. Not to mention that any miles you earn with the foreign airline will deposit into your account with your regular airline, further helping one re-qualify for status or build their award miles.
Having become so accustomed to this system today, it’s hard to imagine what the industry was like just a few decades ago. Being a firm user of these alliances myself, I could not imagine them not being an option. They have surely made travel and having airline variety much more easily obtainable. It’s really just one more way to use the system to your advantage. Alliances can be a truly helpful asset, as well as many other single airline partners that most seem to have. Aer Lingus partners with United for example, even though Aer Lingus isn’t in the Star Alliance. These connections of course are still highly beneficial however. Any help is better than no help. There are too many partnerships out there to name them all, but if you’re interested in learning more information then I recommend doing a little research with your local airlines, because what you find may just surprise you.
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