Understanding the Oneworld Alliance

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Do you want to fly around the world on a single ticket? Because of airline alliances like the Oneworld Alliance you can. Airline alliances can provide a seamless travel experience when you have to take multiple flights to reach your destination. 

Do you have airline miles with American Airlines and looking to redeem them for a trip to London? Would you prefer to fly British Airways on the non-stop from Denver to London to avoid a layover? Well, you can. And it’s because of airline alliances.  

oneworld alliance

Flying the Oneworld alliance makes it easier to redeem your miles.

United Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Airlines are known as legacy carriers. Most legacy carriers are affiliated with other legacy carriers (for example British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, and Thai Airways, to name a few). These affiliations are known as alliances, which means you can fly one airline and have the option to earn and redeem miles on another. This makes using American Airline AAdvantage miles to fly British Airways across the pond possible, or vice versa.

There are three major alliances: Oneworld Alliance, Star Alliance, and SkyTeam Alliance. Let’s take a look at the OneWorld Alliance.

A Brief History of the Oneworld Alliance

Oneworld Alliance was launched and become operational February 1, 1999. The Oneworld Management Company is HQ in New York City, New York. It was established in Vancouver, Canada in May 2000 and was the first of the major alliances to establish a central management unit.

Member and Affiliate Airlines

There are 14 member airlines of Oneworld alliance: Airberlin, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LATAM, Qatar Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, SriLankan Airlines, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines.

There are currently 22 affiliate airlines of oneworld alliance: Niki, American Eagle, BA Cityflyer, BS Limited, Comair, OpenSkies and SUN-AIR of Scandinavia, Cathay Dragon, Nordic Regional Airlines, Iberia Regional Air Nostrum, Iberia Express, J0Air and Japan Transocean Air, LATAM Airlines Argentina, LATAM Airlines Brazil, LATAM Airlines Colombia, LATAM Airlines Ecuador, LATAM Airlines Express, LATAM Airlines Peru, QantasLink and Jetconnect, and Globus, LLC

And then member and affiliate airlines may operate flights by other airlines:

  • Member airline airberlin may operate flights by TUIfly, LGW Walter or Belair
  • Affiliate airline, American Eagle may operate flights by Air Wisconsin, Compass Airlines, Envoy Air, ExpressJet, Mesa Airlines, Piedmont Airlines, PSA Airlines, Republic Airlines, SkyWest Airlines and Trans States Airlines.
  • Affiliate airline, QuantasLink may operate flights by Airlink, Eastern Australia Airlines, National Jet Systems, Network Aviation, and Sunstate Airlines

Looking at all the number of member and affiliate airlines, it’s easy to think that the Oneworld Alliance is the largest global alliance there is.  But, it isn’t. Oneworld Alliance is actually the smallest global alliance behind SkyTeam and Star Alliance in terms of passenger travel.

Frequent Flyer Program Benefits of Oneworld Alliance

Oneworld Alliance does not have its own frequent flyer program but membership in any of the member airline’s frequent flyer programs will you give you similar benefits across all oneworld airline networks. This makes accessing lounges, priority check-in, fast tracking through security and boarding processes for elite status passengers similar to what they are accustomed to when traveling abroad. There are three tier level benefits, Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald and status in one member frequent flyer program (like American Airlines) will give you Oneworld frequent flyer privileges. For example:

  • A member of American AAdvantage Gold status would be a Oneworld Ruby member. Ruby privileges include access to business class priority check in, access to preferred or pre-reserved seating (where offered) and priority on waitlists and when on standby (where offered).
  • A member of American AAdvantage Platinum and Platinum Pro status would be a Oneworld Sapphire member. Sapphire privileges include ruby privileges plus priority boarding, access to more than 650 airport lounges (with one guest) while traveling internationally, regardless of the class of service flown that day, extra baggage allowance and priority baggage handling.
  • A member of American AAdvantage Executive Platinum and Concierge Key would be a Oneworld Emerald member. Emerald privileges include ruby and sapphire privileges plus access to first class or business class priority check-in and fast track through security at some airports.

Using Frequent Flyer Miles to fly on Oneworld Member Airlines

If you have frequent flyer miles in any Oneworld member airline (like British Airways Avios) you can book an award on another Oneworld member flight (like American Airlines). The flight award redemption rules are specific to the airline where the frequent flyer miles are.  For example, if you have British Airways Avios and want to book an award flight on American Airlines between Dallas and Los Angeles, you would need to follow the program rules of British Airways Avios and confirm your booking through their program.  British Airways would issue you a ticket for American Airlines, and you would have a booking code with British Airways and a confirmation number with American Airlines for your flight. Unfortunately, if you’re looking to upgrade your American Airlines flight between Dallas and Los Angeles using your British Airways Avios, it won’t happen. Oneworld Alliance member airlines only offer upgrade awards on flights operated by their own carriers.

Benefits of Oneworld Alliance Fares

By extending the members network to include code-sharing agreements, booking, and connections between flights become more efficient.  This reduces the operational costs to the airlines. As a result, Oneworld Alliance has several special fares for round-the-world travelers. The Oneworld Explorer prices a ticket on any of the Oneworld carriers based on the class of travel and the number of countries visited, instead of the distance of the trip. This keeps travel planning as simple as possible. The Global Explorer is based on the distance flown and covers more destinations with other airlines like Aer Lingus, Alaska Airlines, Air Tahiti Nui and South African Airlines to name a few. The Circle Explorer does not require travel to South or North America, so you don’t have to circumnavigate the world, halfway around the globe and back works fine. Oneworld offers Multi-content fares (Circle Atlantic, Circle Pacific, Circle Trip Explorer, Circle Asia and South West Pacific) and single-content fares Visit Passes. You can search for your trip on the Oneworld website.

Search for your trip on the Oneworld website.

Bottom Line on the Oneworld Alliance

Airline alliances have provided us with an extended network making booking and travel connections easier and more efficient. Alliance fares benefit us, travelers, while reducing costs for the airlines which makes it a win-win. Elite status passengers are able to enjoy a similar travel experience abroad as a result of the alliance recognizing their frequent flyer status. And award points can be utilized more conveniently. Consider the airline alliance you are flying next and make sure you are maximizing the benefits that are available to you.  

Geoff Whitmore

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Understanding the Oneworld Alliance
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About the Author

Geoff Whitmore

Geoff writes about how to book travel with award miles & points, reviews top travel credit cards, and basic rewards news.

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