If you like to fly, you know how airline loyalty programs work. You sign up for free, plug in your membership number when you book a flight, and then earn rewards as you travel. You can then redeem those rewards for future trips. The more rewards you earn with the loyalty program, the more benefits you receive with its membership or through its status levels.
Earning airline loyalty status is an excellent way to get perks like priority boarding or increased baggage allowance, but you typically have to go through a similar loyalty process with every airline you fly. This can make it difficult to enjoy all the benefits you prefer if you fly with multiple airlines.
Airline alliances were formed to solve this issue of benefits not transferring between airlines. The oneworld alliance consists of 13 global airlines that work together to provide all sorts of perks whenever you’re flying with any of its member airlines. This alliance can also help you earn nearly free travel even faster as well. This comprehensive guide will help you understand how the oneworld alliance works and what benefits its members can receive.
What is the oneworld alliance?
The oneworld alliance was created on Feb. 1, 1999 by five founding airlines: American Airlines, British Airways, Canadian Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, and Qantas Airways. Airline alliances are designed to offer benefits to all members of the alliance, regardless of which one of the airlines you’re flying. This could include earning frequent flyer miles for your preferred airline while flying with another or getting access to another airline’s airport lounges. Other alliance networks include Star Alliance and SkyTeam Alliance.
Today, the oneworld alliance consists of 13 airlines from around the world. When you combine the collective reach of all 13 airlines, you get routes to more than 1,100 destinations in 180 countries and territories worldwide. In addition, you can enjoy access to 650 airport lounges shared between alliance members.
Oneworld alliance airlines
A member of oneworld can earn points or miles on flights operated by any oneworld airline. The oneworld alliance is made up of these 13 airlines and their frequent-flyer programs:
- American Airlines (AAdvantage)
- British Airways (Executive Club)
- Cathay Pacific Airways (Marco Polo Club)
- Finnair (Finnair Plus)
- Iberia (Iberia Plus)
- Japan Airlines (JAL Mileage Bank)
- Malaysia Airlines (Enrich)
- Qantas Airways (Qantas Frequent Flyer)
- Qatar Airways (Privilege Club)
- Royal Air Maroc (Safar Flyer)
- Royal Jordanian Airlines (Royal Club)
- S7 Airlines (S7 Priority)
- SriLankan Airlines (FlySmiLes)
The oneworld alliance also includes oneworld connect partner airlines. These airlines are not full members of the alliance, but oneworld members can still receive select benefits when flying with them. There is currently only one oneworld connect partner airline:
- Fiji Airways (Tabua Club)
In addition, oneworld also includes many affiliate members, which are typically smaller regional airlines owned by full members of the oneworld alliance. Here is the list of oneworld’s affiliate airlines, grouped by oneworld member airlines they work with or under:
- American Eagle
- BA CityFlyer
- SUN-AIR of Scandinavia
Cathay Pacific Airways
- Cathay Dragon
- Nordic Regional Airlines
- Air Nostrum
- Iberia Express
- Japan Transocean Air
Royal Air Maroc
- Royal Air Maroc Express
- Globus Airlines
How the oneworld alliance works
The oneworld alliance allows you to join the frequent-flyer program of any airline within the alliance and earn rewards with that airline, even if you’re flying with another alliance member. This makes it easy to earn rewards with your preferred airline across a variety of airline services.
For example, you may be loyal to British Airways, but maybe you’re headed for Australia and there’s a great Qantas deal to your final destination. You can book the flight with Qantas and input your British Airways Executive Club information during the booking process. You’ll earn Avios points for the flight (instead of Qantas points) because both British Airways and Qantas are oneworld alliance members.
Oneworld isn’t a frequent flyer program that you can join. Rather, it’s a unique benefits program that rewards you if you frequently fly with any of the oneworld airlines. Simply use the loyalty programs of any oneworld alliance airline to earn rewards and elite status with that airline. Once you achieve elite status with a member airline’s loyalty program, you will automatically receive matching status with the oneworld alliance. Oneworld alliance status levels provide additional benefits on top of any you may already have from your preferred airline’s loyalty program.
The structure and status levels of the oneworld alliance can get confusing, but we’ll walk you through how it all works in the next section.
Status levels explained
Oneworld alliance status levels offer broad benefits for anyone who frequently travels with oneworld alliance airlines. The only way to achieve a status level with oneworld is to first achieve status in the loyalty program of a oneworld airline member. That airline loyalty status will automatically match with one of the statuses in the oneworld alliance. For example, if you’re an AAdvantage Executive Platinum member with American Airlines, you would receive oneworld Emerald status.
These are the oneworld status levels and their provided benefits:
- Ruby: Access to business class priority check-in and preferred or pre-reserved seating; priority for standby and waitlists
- Sapphire: Access to business class lounges; priority boarding; extra baggage allowance; priority baggage handling
- Emerald: Access to first-class lounges and first-class priority check-in; fast track at select security lanes
Note: Each higher status level gets all the benefits of the status levels below it, plus the ones listed for its level. A oneworld Emerald member receives the listed Emerald benefits, plus all the listed benefits of Sapphire and Ruby members. A oneworld Sapphire member receives the listed Sapphire benefits, plus all the listed benefits of Ruby members.
Each of the oneworld alliance status levels offers great benefits, but the Sapphire and Emerald tier status levels provide a lot more value than the Ruby tier. Priority boarding, extra baggage, and lounge access can save you both money and time. Overall, oneworld alliance status levels can help elevate your entire travel experience.
To receive a oneworld status level, you first need to achieve status with a oneworld member airline. Here is the full list of status equivalents for oneworld alliance members organized by the airline with which you originally earned status:
- AAdvantage Executive Platinum = oneworld Emerald
- AAdvantage Platinum Pro = oneworld Sapphire
- AAdvantage Platinum = oneworld Sapphire
- AAdvantage Gold = oneworld Ruby
- AAdvantage = none
- Executive Club Gold = oneworld Emerald
- Executive Club Silver = oneworld Sapphire
- Executive Club Bronze = oneworld Ruby
- Executive Club Blue = none
Cathay Pacific Airways
- Marco Polo Club Diamond = oneworld Emerald
- Marco Polo Club Gold = oneworld Sapphire
- Marco Polo Club Silver = oneworld Ruby
- Marco Polo Club Green = none
- Finnair Plus Platinum = oneworld Emerald
- Finnair Plus Gold = oneworld Sapphire
- Finnair Plus SIlver = oneworld Ruby
- Finnair Plus = none
- Iberia Plus Infinita Prime = oneworld Emerald
- Iberia Plus Infinita = oneworld Emerald
- Iberia Singular = oneworld Emerald
- Iberia Plus Platinum = oneworld Emerald
- Iberia Plus Gold = oneworld Sapphire
- Iberia Plus Silver = oneworld Ruby
- Iberia Plus Clásica = none
- Japan Airlines Global Club Diamond / Japan Airlines Mileage Bank Diamond = oneworld Emerald
- Japan Airlines Global Club Premier = oneworld Emerald
- Japan Airlines Global Club Sapphire / Japan Airlines Mileage Bank Sapphire = oneworld Sapphire
- Japan Airlines Global Club Crystal / Japan Airlines Global Club = oneworld Sapphire
- Japan Airlines Mileage Bank Crystal = oneworld Ruby
- Japan Airlines Mileage Bank = none
- Enrich Platinum = oneworld Emerald
- Enrich Gold = oneworld Sapphire
- Enrich Silver = oneworld Ruby
- Enrich Blue = none
- Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum One = oneworld Emerald
- Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum = oneworld Emerald
- Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold = oneworld Sapphire
- Qantas Frequent Flyer Silver = oneworld Ruby
- Qantas Frequent Flyer Bronze = none
- Privilege Club Platinum = oneworld Emerald
- Privilege Club Gold = oneworld Sapphire
- Privilege Club Silver = oneworld Ruby
- Privilege Club Burgundy = none
Royal Air Maroc
- Safar Flyer Ambassador = oneworld Emerald
- Safar Flyer Platinum = oneworld Emerald
- Safar Flyer Gold = oneworld Sapphire
- Safar Flyer Silver = oneworld Ruby
- Safar Flyer Blue = none
Royal Jordanian Airlines
- Platinum HAWK = oneworld Emerald
- Gold SPARROW = oneworld Sapphire
- Silver JAY = oneworld Ruby
- Bronze SUNBIRD = none
- S7 Priority Platinum = oneworld Emerald
- S7 Priority Gold = oneworld Sapphire
- S7 Priority Silver = oneworld Ruby
- S7 Priority = none
- FlySmiLes Platinum = oneworld Emerald
- FlySmiLes Gold = oneworld Sapphire
- FlySmiLes Classic = oneworld Ruby
- FlySmiLes Blue = none
As you can see, the base status level in each of these airlines’ loyalty programs won’t match you with anything from oneworld. However, if you achieve at least the second-lowest status level from any of these airlines, you’ll be matched to oneworld Ruby status and you can start enjoying the associated benefits.
How to maximize your points and miles with the oneworld alliance
Global airline alliances have made it easier to maximize your points and miles as you travel the world, but there are still a few best practices to keep in mind. If you want to maximize your rewards with the oneworld alliance, consider implementing the following strategies:
Credit the airline or airlines you use the most
The oneworld alliance hasn’t eliminated the need to earn points or miles from your favorite airline. Rather, oneworld makes the process simpler and more rewarding, as long as you correctly credit your rewards.
Whenever you fly any oneworld alliance airline, you can earn rewards from your oneworld airline loyalty program of choice, no matter whether it’s the one you’re flying. By doing this, you can quickly earn status with one airline and match that status to one of the oneworld status levels. The key is to input your loyalty program information into your booking before you take the flight. Otherwise, you may end up with rewards you don’t want or that don’t move you up in status.
Choosing a preferred airline within the oneworld alliance might seem difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. If you look at the available airlines, consider which region of the world they’re based out of and where you live. If you live in the U.S., you might choose American Airlines because that’s the only U.S.-based airline in oneworld at the moment. However, it could also depend on where you like to travel or where you primarily do business.
You don’t have to only choose one airline to focus on earning rewards and status, but it will make the process of earning oneworld benefits a lot quicker. Plus, focusing on one airline nets you more rewards in their loyalty program, and more rewards means more potentially free flights.
Redeem your rewards with oneworld alliance partners
Oneworld also gives you more options for award redemptions. The flexibility of the rewards you earn within the oneworld alliance makes them very valuable, especially when you dig a little into the kinds of award flights you can book.
If you earn AAdvantage miles from American Airlines, you can of course use those to book award flights with American. But because American Airlines is part of the oneworld alliance, your miles can also get you free flights on any other airline within the alliance. Say you want to travel to Asia from the U.S., you can fly on a world-class airline like Cathay Pacific Airways or Japan Airlines using your AAdvantage miles.
Here’s an example round-trip flight from New York City to Tokyo using the American Airlines website and AAdvantage miles, but flying on Japan Airlines.
Even though you’d be flying on Japan Airlines, the number of points you need for this flight is still based on the American Airlines award chart. Their award chart shows 35,000 American Airlines miles is the typical one-way economy award price from the U.S. to Asia, so 70,000 miles for a roundtrip flight makes sense.
By taking advantage of oneworld alliance partners, you can widen your travel possibilities and stretch the value of your rewards. If you look for specific airline partner flights, you may find a deal that wouldn’t otherwise be possible without the oneworld alliance.
Boost your mileage with co-branded credit cards
If your preferred oneworld alliance airline has the option for a co-branded airline credit card, this is an excellent opportunity to quickly earn rewards and status levels with oneworld. For example:
- With the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, you can earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months, as well as 2X miles on American Airlines purchases and 1X miles for every $1 spent on other purchases.
- With the British Airways Visa Signature Card, you can earn 100,000 Avios after spending $20,000 in the first year, as well as 3X Avios on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, and LEVEL; 2X Avios on hotel accommodations; and 1X Avios on all other purchases.
The more rewards you can earn with oneworld partners, the more award flights you can book. Even better, earning rewards and flying more with oneworld partners gets you closer to moving up in status level and enjoying additional benefits. Make sure to take some time to check out the best airline credit cards if you want to maximize your travel experience.
Other oneworld alliance benefits
Additional oneworld alliance benefits can help you have a much better experience when flying with a oneworld airline. Keep these benefits in mind when traveling with oneworld to upgrade your travels.
The oneworld network provides access to more than 650 airport lounges around the world. Having lounge access provides you with a place to relax in comfort away from the busyness of airport terminal seatings areas. Most lounges provide food and beverages, along with free Wi-Fi. You may even get special amenities such as massages, showers, and more.
You can access business class lounges if you have oneworld Sapphire status. If you have oneworld Emerald status, you can access both business class lounges and first-class lounges. In general, with very few exceptions, your cabin class being flown doesn’t matter as long as you have the applicable oneworld status level.
Here are a few popular oneworld lounge locations around the world:
- Cathay Pacific The Pier First Class, Hong Kong
- Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge, London Heathrow
- Oneworld Lounge, Los Angeles
- Qantas First Class Lounge, Los Angeles
- Qantas First Class Lounge, Sydney
- Qatar Airways First Class Lounge, Doha
As a global network of major airlines, oneworld aims to provide the best solutions for your world travel needs. For the most intrepid of travelers, oneworld offers round-the-world services to help you plan your adventures. You can choose between three different fare types to customize your grand trip:
- Oneworld Explorer: With oneworld Explorer, you can create an itinerary that includes between three and 16 flights across up to six continents. The more continents and flights you choose, the more expensive the ticket. You have to travel in one continuous direction, either east or west, during the entire journey and travel must be completed within a year of your departure date. Your trip must start and finish in the same city and you have to cross both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans at some point. For benefits, you’ll need only one booking and one ticket for your entire journey. You also receive two free checked bags the entire time and have the flexibility to change your itinerary before you start.
- Global Explorer: Global Explorer fares have more options for airlines than oneworld Explorer fares because these bookings can include the affiliate airlines of many alliance partners. These fares are based on distance traveled instead of the number of continents or flights. You can choose between mileage plans of 26,000; 29,000; 34,000; or 39,000 miles. You must travel in a continuous direction and start and finish in the same city. You receive two free checked bags for the entirety of your trip.
- Oneworld Circle Pacific: The oneworld Circle Pacific fare allows you to visit multiple continents that border the Pacific Ocean without flying around the entire world. The available regions are Asia (Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam), Southwest Pacific (Australia and New Zealand), North America (U.S. and Canada), and South America. These fares are available based on mileage tiers of 22,000; 26,000; and 29,000 miles. There’s a maximum of 16 segments and no travel via the Caribbean, Bermuda, or Central America. You receive two free checked bags for your entire trip.
These round-the-world type fares can help you take the hassle out of managing multiple bookings and airplane tickets, as well as differing baggage rules between airlines. Because the oneworld alliance includes many different airlines, there’s plenty of opportunities for great fares to build your perfect itinerary.
Global travel benefits
Oneworld offers support for oneworld flyers at select airports worldwide. These global support teams try to take the stress and friction out of your travel experiences by assisting you whenever possible. If there are delays, you can be sure the support team is monitoring the situation and, when possible, will be there waiting for you when your flight arrives. This way they can help you catch your connecting flight if you’re in a time crunch.
The oneworld global support team will help as much as possible to fasttrack you through immigration or security, get your baggage transferred, and hold doors open. If you miss your connecting flight, the support team will assist you with getting another flight or overnight accommodations, if needed.
These are the worldwide airports where oneworld global support teams are currently in place:
- London Heathrow
- New York JFK
- Chicago O’Hare
- Los Angeles
- Tokyo Narita
- Hong Kong
If you want to upgrade your worldwide travel experience, the oneworld alliance can help. With 13 airlines forming a global network of more than 1,100 destinations, there’s plenty of flexibility for your next trip. Easily earn rewards for your favorite airline loyalty program while flying other airlines within oneworld. As you gain status and benefits with an airline, you get bonus perks with oneworld alliance. It’s an all-around valuable situation for any traveler to be in.
It's also totally worthwhile to take the time to compare credit cards. If you use one of the best travel credit cards to earn even more rewards, you’ll earn bonus free flights and benefits in no time.