Delta Miles Take a Step Towards Becoming More Valuable

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…

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. So… how long do us OneWorld FF’ers have till we can no longer redeem on JAL? Till the end of 2010? Immediately?

  2. It may be a moot point if JAL cuts their long-haul service as part of the bankruptcy, which is also being rumored. The domestic feed and slots will be great assets but if the long routes disappear the value to DL would be much less.

  3. According to the Japanese newspapers the earliest (if at all)for JL to join Skyteam would be in April 2011! The restructure will begin in earnest on the 19th so any news before that on who JL are choosing etc. is mere conjecture! The GOJ will decide in due course via EITIC and the major Japanese bank groups which are being strong armed into funding the reconstruction!

  4. Should AA redemptions be allowed on BA US-UK flights, it will represent a MAJOR devaluation of BA Miles. Most serious BA Miles collectors use the ‘2 for 1’ AmEx credit card voucher when redeeming, but this is valid ONLY on BA metal. Even if total redemption capacity across AA and BA remained the same, every AA member who chooses a BA plane would make it harder for a BA collector with an Amex voucher.

  5. @Rob Burgess

    Where can i find info about the ‘2 for 1′ AmEx credit card voucher you mention in your post?
    thank you.

  6. I prefer the OneWorld airlines, but park most of my miles with Star Alliance for the very reason that you mention of BA not allowing AA mileage redemption on transatlantic US-UK routes.

    When I fly to Asia, I very much prefer flying transatlantic vs. transpacific because I am located on the E. Coast and I like flying home west so that I don’t really have any jet leg when I get home.

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