The Oneworld alliance with its purple spherical logo and white font can be seen on airlines’ signage and aircraft around the globe. Founded by five airlines across four continents, the alliance was started in 1999 to allow passengers a better experience when traveling anywhere in the world.
With 13 members today, the alliance has grown steadily to be the third largest alliance in the world. In the past 19 years, the alliance has had three member airlines cease operations and one leave due to a merger with Air Canada, a member of Star Alliance.
Today the alliance has a presence on five continents. This includes British Airways, Finnair, Iberia, and S7 Airlines in Europe. Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, Royal Jordanian, Qatar Airways, SriLankan Airlines, and Japan Airlines in Asia. Additionally, Qantas in Australia, LATAM in South America, and American Airlines for North America. While the airline does not have any airlines in Africa, several member airlines offer direct flights from hub airports in their respective continents. In 2017, oneworld flew to 1,012 cities across 158 countries carrying approximately 528 million passengers.
The primary benefits for passengers in the oneworld alliance include a large network of destinations with a single ticket, smoother transfers when traveling on member airlines, cooperation across frequent flyer programs, and a wide offering of benefits and lounges to elite status fliers. Unlike Star Alliance and SkyTeam, the oneworld alliance operates a three-tier elite status system named after gemstones.
With each airline’s frequent flier program having different level names and requirements, the oneworld alliance created a system designed to clarify which benefits an elite traveler is entitled to when at the airport as well as flying on partner members. The highest tier, Emerald includes superior benefits like access to first and business class lounges regardless of the class of service being flown for international travel. The middle tier, Sapphire provides priority baggage handling and boarding as well as business class lounge access on international travel and an increased luggage allowance. The lowest tier, Ruby is the most limited with primarily priority check-in and standby when wait-listing.
Like the two other large alliances, a notable benefit with “oneworld is the ability to book award travel with miles on partner airlines. If your travel is mainly domestic in the United States on American Airlines, you may use AAdvantage miles for an award redemption on Cathay Pacific to Asia.
With an expansion route network and some of the top airlines being among the membership, many types of international travelers benefit from the “oneworld alliance. As the airline industry continues to transform and grow, expect the alliance to add new members and offer more opportunities to visit new locations.
Next time at the airport, glance out at the airline logos, you will occasionally see the “oneworld alliance logo and may even spot a mostly white plane with ““oneworld” written in large purple letters on the side.