Alaska Airlines and Icelandair have renewed their partnership.
The two airlines partnered up until June 2013. Speculation at the time was that the partnership crumbled either because:
- Icelandair was starting Anchorage – Reykjavik service, although I’d think that the twice-weekly seasonal service would enhance rather than detract from the service.
- Icelandair was selling miles super cheap, and had a dirt cheap award chart for travel on Alaska Airlines. They eventually raised redemption prices though not enough, and a ton of award space on premium routes like Hawaii were being booked in first class for ~ $350.
The Icelandair program isn’t very good, it isn’t even a good deal for flying to Iceland. In fact the only good deal I’ve seen is using Icelandair’s points for inflight duty free shopping.
It’s usually best to buy tickets to Iceland rather than using miles. (And not even just when there’s a mistake fare.) Delta’s flight is almost always too many miles. Other frequent flyer programs mean a lot of extra flying via Europe. And the flights themselves can price reasonably.
Here’s what we know the partnership will consist of:
- Codesharing starting November 1
- Reciprocal points-earning starting October 1 (earn Alaska miles – including elite qualifying miles — on Icelandair flights, and less useful earn Icelandair points on Alaska flights)
- Reciprocal club lounge access for elites effective October 1, no club membership required.
MVP Gold and Gold 75K members will receive complimentary access to Icelandair’s Saga Lounge at Keflavik International Airport in Reykjavik and Icelandair Saga Gold and Silver members will enjoy complimentary access to Alaska Board Room lounges in Seattle, Portland, Anchorage and Los Angeles.
- Alaska is running a double miles promotion for travel on Icelandair through December 15.
- Reciprocal redemption “later this year”
Alaska of course has one of the best frequent flyer programs at the moment. They offer one way awards that allow a free stopover. They partner with airlines like Cathay Pacific and Emirates. And their award chart is reasonable in most cases.
So the ability to:
- Earn Alaska miles when traveling to Iceland on a paid ticket is really useful
- Redeem miles for non-stop flights to Iceland could be a good deal (depending on pricing)
- Redeem Icelandair miles for something valuable — consider their award chart is extortionately expensive for travel on their own flights as well as Finnair — would be nice given that the airline has a history of selling miles cheap. One imagines though that the partnership learned from last time and won’t make cheap awards available the way they did before.
There remain open questions on this one, but it’s certainly a net positive for frequent flyers if it only gives us the ability to earn useful (Alaska) miles when traveling on a paid ticket on Icelandair.