Last week I wrote an introduction to airline alliances, which gave an overview of each of the alliances and how they can benefit you and the airlines. This week we’ll dive into the first of the 3 major airline alliances: Oneworld.
Oneworld was founded in 1999 by 4 airlines: American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Qantas. Other airlines have since joined and/or left the alliance, currently leaving Oneworld with 15 airlines and about 30 affiliate airlines. It is the smallest of the 3 major alliances in terms of airlines and passenger traffic.
Oneworld’s numbers include 14,000 daily flights to over 1,000 destinations. American Airlines, the largest of the group, accounts for almost half of the daily flights and 1/3 of the destinations. To see a full list of destinations, check out Oneworld’s “where we fly” page.
Below is a table of the airlines that are a part of the Oneworld alliance. Included in this table are the major airlines and their affiliate (or subsidiary) airlines. All of these airlines are part of the alliance, but only the major airlines are recognized because technically they own the subsidiary airlines.
|Airline (Year Joined Oneworld)||Frequent Flyer Program||Hubs||Partner Airlines|
|1) Airberlin (2012)|
Palma de Mallorca
Air Seychelles (Vanilla Alliance)
Etihad & Etihad Regional
|2) American Airlines (1999)|
affiliate: American Eagle
|Air Tahiti Nui
Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air
|3) British Airways (1999)|
SUN-AIR of Scandinavia
|Executive Club||London-Heathrow||Aer Lingus
|4) Cathay Pacific (1999)|
|Marco Polo Club||Hong Kong||Aer Lingus
Air New Zealand (Star Alliance)
China Eastern Airlines (Skyteam)
|5) Finnair (1999)|
affiliate: Nordic Regional Airlines
|6) Iberia (1999)|
Iberia Regional Air Nostrum
|Iberia Plus||Madrid||Avianca (Star Alliance)
Royal Air Maroc
|7) Japan Airlines (2007)|
Japan Transocean Air
|Air France (Skyteam)
China Eastern (Skyteam)
|8) LAN (2000)|
|9) Malaysia Airlines (2013)||Enrich||Kuala Lumpur||Air France (Skyteam)
|10) Qantas (1999)|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||Sydney|
China Eastern (Skyteam)
|11) Qatar Airways (2013)||Privilege Club||Doha||Asiana Airlines (Star Alliance)
Middle East Airlines (Skyteam)
Royal Air Maroc
|12) Royal Jordanian (2007)||Royal Plus||Amman||Gulf Air
Middle East Airlines (Skyteam)
Turkish Airlines (Star Alliance)
|13) S7 Airlines (2010)|
affiliate: Globus Airlines
|14) SriLankan Airlines (2014)||FlySmiLes||Colombo||Cinnamon Air
|15) TAM (2014)||LATAM Fidelidade||Sao Paulo|
Rio de Janeiro
Note: Aer Lingus is slated to rejoin Oneworld at a date TBD. With it, it will bring Aer Lingus Regional as an affiliate.
Note: LAN and TAM are in the process of merging. For now, they remain 2 separate airlines with 2 separate frequent flyer programs.
Earning & Redeeming Miles within Oneworld
One of the great things about airline alliances is that you can earn miles across a wide range of airlines. For example, if you are an American Airlines AAdvantage member, you can earn American Airlines miles even when you fly on British Airways, Finnair, etc. All you have to do is add your American Airlines frequent flyer number to that reservation and you’ll get credit for those miles.
Not every airline and class of service will earn you the same amount of miles, though, so make sure to check with your airline to see how many miles you will receive. Each airline publishes fares that are represented by a single letter booking code (such as F, C, Y, O, etc.). That booking code signifies the class you are flying in (first, business, economy) and what type of fare it was (full fare, discount, deep discount). This is important because these booking codes dictate how many miles you will receive on your flight. Let’s look at an example.
If flying on British Airways and your booking code is H (full fare economy), you can expect to receive 100% of the miles flown. If your booking code is O (deep discount economy), you will only receive 25% of the actual miles flown. So if two people are on the same round trip flight from Seattle to London, the one with code H will get about 9,600 AAdvantage miles, whereas the one with code O will get about 2,400 miles. Crazy, right?!
Not only do booking codes differ within a single airline, the earning structure differs across multiple airlines. Now looking at Royal Jordanian, if you fly on that airline with code H (discount economy), you can still expect 100% of miles flow. However, looking at code O on Royal Jordanian, you will get no mileage credit!
So, while it’s awesome that you can earn miles across multiple airlines, make sure you understand the booking code and how many miles you can expect to get. You can typically find that code in the flight details before you book a flight, or in the confirmation email details after you book a flight.
Oneworld Tier Status
Much like individual airlines have their own frequent flyer elite status, Oneworld alliance as a whole has its own status. The alliance has 3 levels: Emerald, Sapphire, and Ruby. American Airlines Platinum Status equates to Oneworld Sapphire status. To find out what your airline status equates to, check out My Oneworld Tier Status.
The reason alliances do this is because individual airlines all have unique membership levels and names. American Airlines Gold, Finnair Silver, and Japan Airlines Crystal all equate to Oneworld Ruby. In order to fully understand what benefits are afforded to you across the alliance, having an “alliance status” makes it easy to figure all that out.
Some of the benefits include early boarding, access to Business/First Class lounges, and extra luggage allowance. To see all the benefits for each tier, check out the tier status chart.
As I mentioned in the introduction to airline alliances, a round the world ticket can be a huge benefit of an airline alliance. Currently, all 3 of the major alliances offer such a ticket. However, Oneworld offers a host of options depending on your itinerary, to include:
- Oneworld Explorer: book flights across the globe using Oneworld alliance airlines and their affiliates.
- Global Explorer: same as Oneworld Explorer with the addition of partner airlines such as Alaska Airlines, Jetstar, WestJet, and more.
- Multi-continent fare: also called circle fares, you can circle certain regions without booking flights across the world. Examples include:
- Circle Atlantic – continents that border the Atlantic Ocean
- Circle Pacific – continents that border the Pacific Ocean
- Circle Trip Explorer – Africa, Asia, Europe/Middle East, South West Pacific
- Circle Asia & South West Pacific
- Single-continent fare: more than just single continents, this fare extends to several sub-regions and single countries as well.
How it works. For Oneworld, you can plan and save your itinerary using the round the world booking tool. Your total fare is based on a couple factors:
- How many miles you fly. There are 4 tiers that factor in to the overall price. Tier 1 is if your itinerary is up to 26,000 miles; Tier 2 is up to 29,000 miles; Tier 3 is up to 34,000 miles; Tier 4 is up to 39,000 miles.
- Class of service. You can book this trip in first, business, or economy. If first or business aren’t offered on a particular leg, you will be bumped down to the next class.
In addition, there are several key rules to keep in mind while planning/booking such a ticket:
- You must travel in the same direction the whole time. You can backtrack within a particular region, but you can’t cross the same ocean more than once. When using the booking tool, once you choose a destination across the Atlantic or Pacific, it will automatically eliminate any backtracking possibilities.
- You have a maximum of 16 flight segments. This includes layovers, so if you plan on maxing this out, try to choose nonstop flights.
- You can choose surface transportation as an option. For example, if you want to fly in to Paris and then see more of Europe without having to come back to Paris, you can do that. When booking your itinerary, you can fly in to Paris and then out of Athens (as an example)…you would just choose “surface transportation” which signifies that you are responsible from getting from Paris to Athens. Just know that surface transportation still counts as 1 flight segment, even if you don’t fly between the two city pairs.
- Round the world tickets can be booked for a minimum of 10 days and a maximum of 12 months.
- The only date that needs to be definite on your itinerary is your first flight out. The rest of the flights can be left open, or changed at any point during the trip, as long as the city pairs do not change.
- You must begin and end in the same country of origin. So your trip could begin in New York and end in Dallas, just as long as you end up in the same country where you started.
Sounds like a lot to remember, but as you’re using the trip builder tool, you will be notified if you’re not following one or more of the rules.
I’ve never gone all the way through the booking process on one of these round the world tickets, but I am always building a sample itinerary just to play around with it. I recommend at least trying out the tool…you might get inspired to travel while playing with it!
If you do end up booking a round the world ticket, you will also be earning miles for each flight based on the mileage earning chart of your preferred airline.
As with the other major alliances, Oneworld is constantly changing. Alliance members don’t change all that often, but partner airlines come and go, and mileage earning charts are constantly being updated.
It’s always a good idea to check your airline to see how many miles you can earn on any one of its alliance or partner airlines. The easiest way to do that is to go to that airline’s frequent flyer program (links provided in the table above) and click on “Earn Miles” or something similar.
Once you earn status with one of the airlines in Oneworld, you will gain access to a whole host of benefits across the alliance. My personal favorite is the lounge access. As a Oneworld Sapphire member, I’ve been able to enjoy lounge access at multiple airports, my favorite of which has been the British Airways lounge at London-Heathrow. For anyone that’s flown through London, especially terminal 5, you know what a zoo that place can become, so being able to escape in to the lounge before a flight is a great benefit to have.
Now that you know a little bit about Oneworld, stay tuned for future write-ups on Star Alliance and Skyteam.