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ONEWORLD: Alliance wide upgrades available in 2024 on a limited number of airline members

ONEWORLD: Alliance wide upgrades available in 2024 on a limited number of airline members

According to an interview between Oneworld’s Customer Experience chief Gerhard Girkinger and ET on the sidelines of the opening of the new OneWorld Seoul Lounge, alliance-wide upgrades using points will be introduced this year. No more specific date or month is foreshadowed. In fact, the report is very thin on any other detail.

Just a few to start

Don’t expect them to be truly ‘alliance-wide’ initially, though. He is flagging a ‘handful’ of airline members to start with. And don’t expect there to be a uniformity of points across airlines for the same route, either. Airlines will set their own exchange rate with each other OneWorld airline member.

a couple of glasses of wine
Melbourne, Qantas First Lounge [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Fares for upgrade

We are no wiser as to what types of fares will qualify for upgrades. Will it be any – from discount to fully flexible? Questions as to availability – when and how many are also up in the air. OneWorld members have different rules and practices for all these things. So, you can see that Mr Girkinger has a job that will not be unlike herding cats.

The tasks are not simple, although OneWorld will only provide the ‘framework and the infrastructure’ for the alliance-wide upgrade scheme. Each airline currently runs a different scheme with different rules and rates of earning and redemption, and timings of when upgrades are awarded, and the rules in qualifying and priority for those upgrades. It’s no surprise that working out the logistics, let alone implementing that to a user-friendly web resource, has taken time. Although the pandemic had its impact, this scheme has been in the works since 2019.

The most obvious and ‘easiest’ solution, you would think, is some kind of OneWorld virtual currency – ‘OneWorld Miles’ perhaps, but Girkinger puts the kybosh on that idea.

Questions as to priority – will the airlines advantage their own frequent flyers over other airlines? OneWorld members currently have different guidelines, so maybe each airline will decide for itself.

Who’s in at the outset?

We don’t know. Let’s hope its some of the senior founders of the alliance, like American Airlines, British Airways and Qantas. Having and ‘Avios’ airline user might encourage all of them to be in the first tranche. That would bring in British Airways, Finnair, Iberia and Qatar Airways, which would be a pretty nice collection to greet the starting gun. That’s pressing that Qantas was an initial participant.

a bar in a plane
Qatar A380 Lounge [Qatar Airways]

2PAXfly Takeout

Being able to use points from one OneWorld member to upgrade a flight on another member will be a great innovation. Other alliances like Star Alliance already have this facility, albeit limited to fully flexible fare categories.

The devil will be in the detail, as they say. If the scheme is like that of Star Alliance, then it won’t be that useful to the majority of travellers. If, at launch, it is limited to a few airlines and not Qantas, then it will have little benefit for Australia-based travellers. If the launch participants included, say, American Airlines (Advantage), Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles) , Qantas and Qatar (Privilege Club), then we would have winner, winner, chicken dinner!

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