Oneworld Launches Exciting Alliance Program Upgrade

Oneworld, a prominent airline alliance, is poised to offer cross-alliance upgrades later this year, enabling passengers to use loyalty points from one airline for upgrades on another within the alliance. This innovative program will initially involve a select few member airlines, allowing upgrades to higher travel classes such as premium economy, business, and first class. For instance, travellers could potentially use Qantas Points for an upgrade on Cathay Pacific or use Avios for a higher class on Japan Airlines.

One World airlines

Gerhard Girkinger, Oneworld’s Head of Customer Experience provided insights about this much-anticipated initiative. According to Girkinger, the alliance is currently finalising the program’s launch details. Girkinger emphasised technology integration among member airlines is a critical aspect of this rollout and that the program will initially start on a smaller scale, gradually expanding its scope.

Significant Impact with Wide-Reaching Effect

The introduction of this program is expected to have a significant impact, especially if it includes major players like British Airways, Finnair, Iberia, and Qatar Airways using the Avios currency, along with American Airlines and Cathay Pacific. This would ensure a wide-reaching effect even in its early stages.

One notable example of the program’s potential benefits is the ability to use Qantas Points for upgrades on flights like Qatar Airways. However, Girkinger clarified that there are no plans to create a unified Oneworld currency like ‘Oneworld Miles’ or ‘Oneworld Points.’ Instead, the alliance will provide the necessary framework, while each airline will determine its own exchange rates for upgrades, similar to current practices for redemption.

The integration of different frequent flyer programs and the determination of eligible fare types for upgrades present complex challenges. Policies vary among airlines, with some offering instant upgrade confirmations and others requiring waitlisting. Additionally, there’s the issue of balancing available reward seats between an airline’s own customers and those from other airlines in the alliance.

Another aspect under consideration is the eligibility criteria for fare types for alliance-based upgrades. For instance, Star Alliance, a competitor network, requires bookings in a full-fare flexible economy for business class upgrades. Qantas has previously explored options like setting a minimum points threshold for upgrades, focusing on standard and flexible economy fares.

More Thrilling Developments in the Pipeline

The pandemic has impacted the pace of development of this program, which is part of Oneworld’s broader initiative, including the opening of a second branded lounge. As Oneworld approaches its 25th anniversary, Girkinger hints at more exciting developments in the pipeline, suggesting that the alliance’s upgrade program could surpass those offered by other alliances.

As other alliance programs scramble to keep pace with these incredible changes it has become clear that, more than ever, keeping up-to-date with industry trends is paramount for the frequent flyer.  For those that would like to stay updated with industry news as it happens click on the “keep me posted” button below.