The battle over Japan Air Lines has changed the rules in airline alliances, writes travel columnist David Grossman. For the first time, rival alliances are publicly fighting a high-stakes membership battle, in contrast to the kind of quiet, behind-the-scenes jockeying that has traditionally prevailed. "If airlines and alliances are now offering cash incentives for recruiting new members, could similar bidding wars for other airlines break out when an alliance is locked out of a strategically important part of the world?" Grossman wonders.

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