The Daily Yomiuri reports that Delta and Japan Airlines “reached a basic agreement on a comprehensive tie-up” that will mean JAL moving from oneworld to Skyteam.
Japan Airlines has historically offered pretty good premium cabin award availability.
I was on record saying that despite reports that Japan Airlines would jump ship from partnering with American and oneworld, that I still believed that was mostly posturing for a better deal from their existing partners. The news coverage now suggests I was mistaken, and that American will be losing an important partner and oneworld will be shrinking.
Delta and Japan Airlines will become the dominant carrier in the US-Japan market, followed by United and All Nippon. (And in the Skyteam case, Korean also flies Los Angeles – Narita, and in the latter case Singapore also flies Los Angeles – Narita as well.) American offers Tokyo flights from four airports, but won’t have nearly the lift of its rivals.
With the impending loss of transpacific partner JAL from American’s oneworld stable, I’ll renew my call for American and British Airways to tighten their partnership and allow mileage redemption on transatlantic flights between the US and London on each others’ carriers. Currently there’s no American mileage redemption on British Airways from the US to Britain (and vice versa). That’s a huge disadvantage for American frequent flyers, since BA tends to offer excellent premium cabin availability (which American presumably doesn’t want to pay for). Of course, one can fly to London via Canada, Mexico, or the Carribean and use American miles on British Airways, but one would really not have to use this workaround. And really, losing JAL they need to do something to make the remaining partnerships more valuable.
Update: BP888 provides a link in the comments where the reports in Japanese media that this is a done deal are being denied. So we’ll still have to wait and see. I have three reactions:
(1) Good, my previous written predictions that JAL would stay with American might still be validated!
(2) Hah! I suppose it’s still possible that Skypesos won’t be worth much, I should always bet on that outcome I suppose
(3) American and British Airways should still relax restrictions on transatlantic partner redemptions, either way…