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ONEWORLD: Upgrades program, Oman Air, Fiji Airways membership confirmed

ONEWORLD: Upgrades program, Oman Air, Fiji Airways membership confirmed

It’s just been the IATA (International Air Transport Association) annual get-together, and although not much actual news is emerging, we are getting some confirmation of some action around the OneWorld airlines alliance. Lets walk through some confirmations, some news and some rumours.

a seat in an airplane
Oman Air Business Class on an A330, Kuala Lumpur to Muscat in 2023 [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Oman Air 2024 membership confirmed

Announced back in 2022, confirmed in February 2024, and now further confirmed by the OneWorld CEO at the June 2024 IATA annual general meeting in Dubai that Oman Air is on track to join the alliance in the coming months. I’m travelling with them soonish, so I hope it will be earlier rather than as predicted, later.

There were questions over the progress of their application, given that Oman Air is undergoing a restructuring, which involved a cutback in routes and the elimination of their A330 aircraft. That cutback in aircraft had me travelling between Zurich and Muscat for nine-plus hours in a 737! They are also slashing destinations. That Zurich route is gone.

Oman Air is a fantastic airline with amazing Business Class APEX suites, wonderful service, and an impressive lounge at their home airport in Muscat.

They currently partner with Thai Airways and Malaysian Airlines for flights from Australia to European destinations via Muscat. You will endure two layovers, or more positively, you will get one of the best Business Class cabins in the sky, the opportunity to visit Oman, and some very competitive airfares.

a seat in a plane
Fiji Airwasy A330 Interior 2019 [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Fiji Airways to become a full OneWorld member in 2025

At the same IATA meeting, the OneWorld CEO confirmed that Fiji Airlines will move from its current status as a ‘OneWorld Connect’ member of the alliance to full membership.

This will mean that flyers on Fiji Airways will be able to access any Oneworld lounge when flying Fiji Airways. That will include codeshare flights with other Oneworld members. You will need to be travelling in Business Class or above or have an appropriate OneWorld status.

If you’re flying out of Sydney or Melbourne on Fiji Airways and hold Qantas Platinum or above status and are flying on a Fiji Airways boarding pass, you can access the Qantas First Lounge.

You will also get the full benefits of OneWorld membership, including earning and redeeming miles, earning status points, using priority check-in and boarding and OneWorld member lounge access.

two women in uniform in an airplane
Hawaiian Airlines Business Class A330 [Hawaiian Airlines]

OneWorld Alliance upgrades

OneWorld has been talking about this for a while, but I have always thought that it sounded like the luckless task of herding cats. Imagine trying to get 13 and then 16 members to agree on an alliance-wide loyalty scheme for upgrades.

It looks like I was right. However, OneWorld is trying and is encouraging its members to work on reciprocal agreements with other members. The IAG group, that’s British Airways and Iberia, are working on an arrangement, as is Qantas. Qantas already has this style of arrangement with American Airlines through its AAdvantage program, whereby AA members can upgrade on Qantas flights. It hasn’t worked in reverse, but that is about to change later this year, with Qantas Frequent Flyers able to upgrade on American Airlines.

The road to alliance-wide upgrades, let alone a OneWorld-type redemption currency, is going to be rocky and long.

Hawaiian Airlines to join OneWorld?

This is much more speculative. Hawaiian Airlines is slated to become part of the Alaska Airlines group, although there are a bunch of practical and regulatory hurdles to overcome before that happens. With Alaskan already being a OneWorld member, Hawaiian is expected to join the alliance. The best call is that this will happen after Fiji joins as a full member sometime in 2025 and the acquisition of Hawaiian by Alaska if completed. Realistically, that probably puts it in the 2026 basket.

a glass of wine on a table in a room with large windows
My view in the Qantas First Lounge, Sydney [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

2PAXfly Takeout

These three additions to OneWorld will strengthen the alliance, giving it greater destination coverage and raising membership from 13 to 16.

The one real hole in the alliance is now South America since LATAM left in May 2020 due to Delta Airlines taking a 20% interest in the airline. Qantas still maintains a partnership with LATAM, so Australians loyal to the OneWorld alliance can still benefit from that. LATAM also has a partnership with Virgin Australia, which doesn’t help flyers with OneWorld status but does benefit Australians with Velocity membership.

Personally, I can’t wait for these new OneWorld members to complete the process and become full members. I look forward to travelling to the Pacific with Fiji Airways and starting my journey at the Qantas First Lounge in Sydney.

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