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Your Guide to the Oneworld Alliance

Oct. 30, 2019
Loyalty Programs, Travel
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The Oneworld alliance was founded in 1999 and has since grown to 13 airlines serving 1,000 destinations worldwide. You may be familiar with Oneworld because of its most prominent member, American Airlines, but there’s a lot more to it than that.

If you want to know more about the Oneworld alliance, how you can get elite status and use your partner airline points for maximum value, we have you covered.

Airlines in the Oneworld alliance

The Oneworld alliance currently has 13 full airline members. Royal Air Maroc is set to join the alliance in mid-2020, making it the alliance’s first African member. Meanwhile, LATAM announced its intention to leave the alliance, following a 20% acquisition by SkyTeam member Delta Air Lines.

  • American Airlines.
  • British Airways.
  • Cathay Pacific.
  • Finnair.
  • Iberia.
  • Japan Airlines.
  • LATAM.
  • Malaysia Airlines.
  • Qantas.
  • Qatar.
  • Royal Jordanian.
  • S7.
  • Sri Lankan.

While not a full member, Fiji Airlines is currently a Oneworld Connect partner. That means the airline provides limited benefits to Oneworld elite members. Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members receive priority check-in and boarding on Fiji Airways, while Oneworld Ruby members only get priority check-in.

Passengers flying on one of Fiji Airways’ sponsor airlines (American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qantas) receive extra benefits, per the Oneworld website:

  • Through check-in of passengers and their baggage for itineraries including connections with a Oneworld sponsor.
  • Earn and redeem frequent flyer and elite-qualifying miles for eligible flights.
  • Access to select airport lounges for elite members or first and business class passengers.

» Learn more: American Airlines AAdvantage program: The complete guide

Elite status

The Oneworld alliance has three elite tiers, Emerald, Sapphire and Ruby, which are awarded based on status earned with a member airline. For example, if you’re a frequent traveler on American Airlines, your Oneworld status will be determined by your AAdvantage status. Below is a breakdown of how your AAdvantage status converts to Oneworld and how much you have to fly in a calendar year to earn it:

AAdvantage Executive Platinum = Oneworld Emerald

  • 100,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs).
  • 120 Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs).
  • $15,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs).

AAdvantage Platinum Pro = Oneworld Sapphire

  • 75,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs).
  • 90 Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs).
  • $9,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs).

AAdvantage Platinum = Oneworld Sapphire

  • 50,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs).
  • 60 Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs).
  • $6,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs).

AAdvantage Gold = Oneworld Ruby

  • 25,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs).
  • 30 Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs).
  • $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs).

Oneworld Emerald benefits

Once you achieve elite status with your chosen member airline, you can enjoy the following Oneworld benefits:

  • Business and first class lounge access.
  • Priority check-in.
  • Fast track at select security lanes.
  • Priority boarding.
  • Preferred or pre-reserved seating.
  • Priority status on standby waitlists.
  • Priority baggage handling.
  • Extra baggage allowance.

Oneworld Sapphire

  • Business class lounge access.
  • Priority check-in.
  • Priority boarding.
  • Preferred or pre-reserved seating.
  • Priority status on standby waitlists.
  • Priority baggage handling.
  • Extra baggage allowance.

Oneworld Ruby

  • Priority check-in.
  • Preferred or pre-reserved seating.
  • Priority status on standby waitlists.

Oneworld lounges

Between its various members, the Oneworld alliance offers access to around 650 airport lounges worldwide. Lounge access is extended to Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members as well as first and business class passengers traveling on Oneworld member airlines.

There are a few access restrictions. For starters, you must be traveling on a Oneworld member airline in order to access a lounge. Additionally, the following lounges are excluded from the access policy:

  • Arrival lounges.
  • British Airways Concorde lounges.
  • Qatar Airways Al Safwa First lounge in Doha.
  • Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business lounges in Doha.
  • Qatar Airways Premium Lounges in London (LHR) and Paris (CDG).

» Learn more: How to gain access to American Airlines Admirals Clubs

Redeeming points for Oneworld awards

Here are the cheapest redemption options for each region:

North America (domestic flights)

British Airways Avios can be a great option for domestic flights within North America. Redemption rates are determined by distance, making them ideal for mid- to long-haul flights. A great sweet spot redemption is using 13,000 Avios and $5.60 for a one-way American airlines flight between the West Coast (e.g. Los Angeles) and Hawaii.

Considering American Airlines requires 22,500 miles for the same MileSAAver award, redeeming 13,000 Avios is a bargain. British Airways also does not impose close-in fees on last minute award bookings, making this a great alternative to using AAdvantage miles.

British Airways Avios are fairly easy to come by, since the airline has a co-branded credit card and transfer partnerships with Chase Ultimate Rewards® and American Express Membership Rewards.

Central America

American Airlines’ off-peak awards are great for flights to Central America. Travel from Sept. 7 to Nov. 14  and April 27 to May 20 and you’ll pay just 12,500 miles each way. If you can’t manage off-peak travel, you’ll need just 15,000 AAdvantage miles each way. AAdvantage miles are easy to come by thanks to an extensive line-up of rewards credit cards:

» Learn more: Citi AAdvantage Platinum Card review: Worth the fee for airline loyalists

South America

American Airlines’ off-peak awards once again shine for awards to South America. It takes just 35,000 AAdvantage miles round-trip to fly to Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Manaus (Brazil) and Peru. Off-peak travel dates are classified as Jan. 16 to June 14 and Sept. 7 to Nov 14. Fly outside this period and you’ll need 20,000 miles each way. Flights to Southern South America, including Argentina, Brazil (excluding Manaus), Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, don’t have an off-peak pricing option. Flights always cost 30,000 miles each way.

Europe

The Oneworld alliance used to be pretty weak when it came to coverage in Europe, but there have been improvements. You can opt to fly American, Finnair, Iberia, or S7 Airlines. One of the cheapest ways to score a round-trip flight is to redeem AAdvantage miles for an off-peak award. It will set you back just 45,000 miles and includes travel on the following dates: Jan. 10 to March. 14 and Nov. 1 to Dec. 14.

Another cheap way to get to Europe on Oneworld is using British Airways Avios on a partner carrier. For example, you can redeem as few as 20,750 Avios and $202 for an American Airlines flight between Charlotte and Dublin. Headed to Spain? An off-peak New York to Madrid flight on Iberia will set you back just 17,000 Avios and $94.

Africa and the Middle East

Thanks to Oneworld member airline Qatar Airways, redeeming miles for flights to Africa and the Middle East is fairly easy. You can even book some of these flights on AA.com using your AAdvantage miles. American Airlines requires just 40,000 mile one-way for an economy class award and 70,000 for business class to the Middle East. Award flights to Africa will cost you the same in economy and 75,000 miles each way in business class.

Thanks to multiple credit card partnerships, earning AAdvantage miles is fairly easy. In addition to the co-branded credit cards, you can also earn miles via online shopping through the AAdvantage Shopping portal and on dining through AAdvantage dining rewards. You’ll be halfway around the world, before you know it.

Asia

Oneworld has several carriers that fly to Asia, making the alliance ideal for this type of redemption. Depending on your destination, you can fly Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Malaysian or even American Airlines.

Japan Airlines has a distance-based program, but redemptions also vary depending on whether you fly JAL or a partner airline. If you redeem miles for a Japan Airlines flight between the U.S. and Tokyo, you’ll need as few as 25,000 miles each way in economy class or 50,000 for business. Fly on a partner airline and you can expect to redeem 60,000 miles round-trip for an economy class award between San Francisco and Tokyo, or 110,000 miles for business class on the same route.

Japan Airlines has its own co-branded credit card, and points can also be transferred from Marriott Bonvoy.

Oceania

Thanks to Oneworld member Qantas, you can fly to Australia or New Zealand comfortably. Japan Airlines MileageBank is a great program for booking these awards. Redemption rates vary by distance. For example, a  15,000-mile round-trip flight between Los Angeles and Sydney requires 90,000 miles in economy class or 120,000 in business. Meanwhile, American AIrlines only charges 80,000 miles for economy but 160,000 miles for business.

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