This guide takes a look at the oneworld alliance, a global airline alliance founded in 1999, focusing specifically on its carriers that fly into Australia and their respective frequent flyer programs.
What is oneworld?
The oneworld alliance is one of three major global airline alliances, alongside Star Alliance and the SkyTeam alliance. It’s the smallest of the three, but arguably boasts a top-notch selection of partners.
The alliance currently includes 13 member airlines, 8 of which fly into Australia and are highlighted in bold:
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Japan Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Air Maroc
- Royal Jordanian
- S7 Airlines
- SriLankan Airlines
Alaska Airlines will also join as a 14th member by the end of 2020. Oneworld also launched oneworld connect in 2018 as a way for smaller airlines to join the alliance. Currently, only Fiji Airways is the member.
Frequent flyers of oneworld member airlines are able to earn points/miles and status credits when flying with other oneworld airlines. The alliance spans more than 1,050 destinations in 181 countries, so there are plenty of opportunities to earn and redeem within the alliance.
What is oneworld Priority?
Elite members of each oneworld frequent flyer program enjoy standardised premium benefits across the board, called ‘oneworld Priority’. There are three common tiers across oneworld member airlines, which correspond to a particular status level with the respective carrier.
The consistency of benefits (in this case Priority Boarding) is shown in the video below.
Represented by coloured ovals, the three oneworld tiers are:
- oneworld Ruby
- oneworld Sapphire
- oneworld Emerald
For example, with Qantas Frequent Flyer, Ruby corresponds to the Silver status level, Sapphire to the Gold status level, and Emerald to Platinum and Platinum One status levels. These vary by airline, and the oneworld tier corresponding to other oneworld airlines can be found at here.
With oneworld Priority, eligible frequent flyers are able to access the following benefits when travelling with any oneworld alliance airline in any travel class. These include:
Oneworld Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald members
- Access to priority Business Class check-in
- Access to preferred or pre-reserved seating
- Priority on waitlists or on standby
Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members
- Priority boarding
- Priority baggage handling
- Extra baggage allowance
- Access to International Business Class lounges (and domestic Qantas Clubs)
Oneworld Emerald members
- Access to priority First Class check-in
- Fast track at security lines
- Access to International First Class lounges (and domestic Qantas Business Lounges)
Further information can be found here.
There is no universal ‘oneworld frequent flyer program’ — to enjoy the benefits of oneworld-wide perks, you will need to join a member airline’s individual program, such as Qantas Frequent Flyer.
What are the best oneworld lounges?
Both Star Alliance and SkyTeam operate combined lounges in some airports around the world. They tend to be where none of their member airlines has hubs. An example is the Star Alliance Lounge in Rome and the SkyTeam Lounge in Sydney.
In oneworld, each member airline runs its own lounges, and in some cases, join forces to run a combined lounge, such as the oneworld Business Lounge at LAX. However, Oneworld is introducing alliance-wide lounges soon, with Moscow Domodedovo being the first location slated for 2020.
Here are some of the best oneworld member airline lounges out there.
Qantas International First Lounge, Sydney
Considered not just one of the best lounges in Australia but one of the best in the world, the Qantas International First Lounge in Sydney is available to all oneworld First Class passengers, in addition to Platinum One, Platinum and oneworld Emerald frequent flyers.
Further details can be found in our Sydney Qantas International First Lounge review.
Oneworld Los Angeles Business Lounge, Los Angeles
This lounge is operated by Qantas in partnership with British Airways and Cathay Pacific and is most useful for Australia-based travellers returning from the US or The Americas on a Qantas, American Airlines or other oneworld flight.
Cathay Pacific The Pier Business Class Lounge, Hong Kong
This is definitely a must-visit lounge if are in Hong Kong and are lucky enough to have access. The stylish lounge comes equipped with a full bar, shower suites, spa and yoga and meditation space.
Further details can be found in our Cathay Pacific The Pier Business Class Lounge review.
American Airlines Flagship Lounge, Miami
Flagship Lounges are American Airlines top-range lounges, being a step up from the traditional Admirals Club lounges after having been refurbished in recent years. The lounge includes a great range of hot food and salads, a self-service bar and ultra-fast wifi.
Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge, Doha
One of the most picturesque lounges in the world, this lounge is so large that you might need to ask staff for assistance just to get to where you want to go! With the vastness in space, along with incredibly high ceilings, this definitely makes it a unique lounge in the world and well worth checking out for this reason alone.
However, it’s not a ‘true’ oneworld lounge in the sense that by special arrangement, oneworld Emerald frequent flyers travelling in Economy or Premium Economy don’t have access to this lounge — the doorlist is restricted to those with First Class tickets on an oneworld member airline such as Qatar Airways or British Airways.
Further details can be found in our Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge review.
How to earn oneworld points?
Points or miles can be earned directly with any oneworld member airline through flying or their respective air and ground partners. Once earned, those points can be redeemed for a flight on other oneworld partner airlines.
A few oneworld airlines offer you the ability to indirectly earn miles through utilising flexible rewards programs such as American Express and Marriott Bonvoy. These include Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and Malaysia Airlines Enrich.
Of the nine oneworld airlines that fly to Australia, only Qantas offers direct-earn credit cards. This means you can directly earn a number of Qantas Points per dollar spent on the card.
Which are the best
oneworld frequent flyer programs for Australia-based travellers?
Different oneworld frequent flyer programs that can offer exceptional value depending on which route you are looking to redeem on. Make sure to take note of the different expiration policies for each oneworld program, some of which can be found here.
Qantas Frequent Flyer
It should be no surprise that Qantas Frequent Flyer would be on the top of this list, given it is Australia’s flag carrier and the airline offering the most flights in and out of Australia, in addition to its extensive domestic network.
American Airlines AAdvantage
American Airlines’ AAdvantage program offers excellent redemption value for domestic and Trans-Tasman Business Class redemptions on Qantas, Business Class to Fiji on Fiji Airways, or to Asia on oneworld partners.
The easiest way to earn AAdvantage miles is through purchasing miles during bonus points promotions, which occur frequently.
British Airways Executive Club
British Airways Avios can be handy frequent flyer program to have, as it provides fantastic value for short- and medium-haul Business Class redemptions. That includes Qantas within Australia, American Airlines within the US, and Business Class on Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines intra-Asia.
The easiest way to earn Avios miles is through purchasing miles during bonus points promotions, which occur frequently.
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles can also prove to offer better value than Qantas Frequent Flyer on certain Qantas-operated routes, so this could also be a good program to enrol in.
Also, note that both Qantas and Asia Miles offer competitive oneworld round-the-world (RTW) reward tickets. Further information for RTW award redemptions can be found here for Qantas and here for Asia Miles.
How to search for oneworld availability
Qantas’ website can be used to search for availability on Qantas and its oneworld partners, including American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways, in addition to its other partner airlines such as Jetstar, Emirates and Fiji Airways.
British Airways is also another reliable source for finding seats on most oneworld airlines. For further information on finding award flights, click here. If you want to start from a city that does not appear on the Qantas website, check out our guide here.
oneworld is the natural alliance for Australia-based travellers given the membership of Qantas. However, it may pay to be in a number of oneworld frequent flyer programs in order to take advantage of excellent pricing on specific routes from certain oneworld programs.
A strength of oneworld is that it offers a number of airlines where points or miles can be easily earned through non-airline partners such as hotel chains and financial lenders. These include Qantas, Cathay Pacific and Malaysia Airlines, with the former being so dominant in the Australian market, you can even earn points in your sleep!.
Featured image courtesy of oneworld. Royal Air Maroc Business Class cabin image courtesy of oneworld.