New benefits across all oneworld airlines for BA Silver and Gold card holders

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British Airways is one of 15 major airlines in the oneworld alliance, alongside American, Qatar, Qantas etc.  For you as a customer, the key benefit is that you can earn and spend Avios points on all 15 members.  If you have status with one airline, you will receive reciprocal status benefits with the others.

In my view, oneworld is already the most generous airline alliance.  This is driven by one key benefit – oneworld allows Silver or Gold (whichever is the middle tier – BA is Silver, Cathay is Gold) status cardholders to access the lounges of any member.

This is NOT something you can do with Star Alliance. A Silver (middle tier) Star Alliance status card only gets you lounge access with the airline group which issued your card. This means that a Lufthansa Miles & More Frequent Traveller (Silver) member can only access lounges when flying with Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, LOT or Adria. They are out of luck if they try it with Thai or United. You need to be a Star Alliance top-tier member to get universal lounge access.

oneworld has now improved its benefits even further.


From December 1st, holders of oneworld Sapphire and Emerald cards (BA Silver and BA Gold) are entitled to Priority Baggage tags when flying with any oneworld airline – even in economy.

Well, not EVERY oneworld airline.  One airline is refusing to honour this benefit, because it is incapable of offering it even to its own premium customers. Yes, step forward British Airways.

If you have a Cathay Pacific Gold card and fly BA in economy, don’t feel bad when BA refuses to give you a Priority Baggage tag, even though every other oneworld airline will.  BA’s priority baggage system doesn’t work for anyone, even full fare First Class customers.  I am not even sure why BA bothers to put Priority tags on bags going into Heathrow because the service does not exist.

There is a second new oneworld benefit.

oneworld Sapphire (ie BA Silver, Cathay Gold) holders now receive a higher baggage allowance. This brings Sapphire members in line with the increased allowance given to Emerald (top tier) members last year.

The rules for this are a little complex:

On international or domestic itineraries using the baggage allowance “weight” system – you get an extra 15 kgs in addition to the ticketed Economy allowance

On international itineraries (including domestic sectors flown as part of international itineraries) using the baggage allowance “piece” system – you get a second bag, weighing up to 23 kgs, when the ticketed allowance is one bag

On purely domestic itineraries with flights using the baggage allowance “piece” system – you get the assurance of at least one piece of checked baggage, weighing up to 23 kgs, even when the regular ticketed allowance has no free allowance

This benefit does not apply if you are travelling on a Brtish Airways ‘hand baggage only’ fare.  Even British Airways Executive Club elite members are not allowed a free case when travelling on those tickets …..

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  1. It would be laughable if not such a sad.reflection on this once great carrier. What other airline, provided with its own exclusive modern terminal and state of the art baggage system would not have exploited this to the full. Yet to this day they cannot offer any premium baggage delivery other than their own crew!, who’s bags always seem to arrive first.
    No wonder they need weekly sales and no wonder they are being referred to as the DFS of the airline industry. Pile it high, discount the poor product and dress it up with hyped marketing.

  2. The T5 baggage system itself is among the most advanced in the world. Check out this article which gives more information:

    The problem is more the almost Communist baggage handlers at Heathrow refuse to treat premium bags as priority, because it is against their principles. More Union-sponsored nonsense.

    Get your act together on this, British Airways. It’s long overdue and would cost very little to implement priority bags.

    • From my experience the baggage wait at heathrow is amongst the shortest of any airport, compared to say rome FCO where I’ve never waited for less than an hour at the carousel. Nothing to do with this article but still noteworthy.

  3. On the priority tagging matter – what’s the point anyway? I have never ever seen priority tagged bags from BA flights arrive with any form of priority! No wonder they don’t offer it further.

    In addition to what is mentioned above, if flying BA, Silver and Gold members are allowed up to 32 kg per bag. And the extra piece allowance (not the extra weight) is transferable to anyone else on the same booking.

    • Our bags have always come out first when flying F with BA, so much so, that a a couple of years ago we waited until all the bags had arrived only to find out a baggage handler had taken them off the caroussel before we had got through customs and piled them up neatly.
      I wouldn’t know about heathrow priority as by the time I’ve got through passport control the bags are already out.

  4. Sadly, it’s BA, yet again, in first place, in the race to the cost-saving bottom, of quality & service.

  5. Cheshire Pete says:

    BA are advertising this in High Life magazine and it doesn’t mention BA are not included, which is a bizarre misdirection I think.

    As to hand baggage only fares and maintaining your status baggage allowance. Even Iberia Express gave me 1 checked bag on a hand only fare. Says it all about BA really. The point being if a booking is made by Joe Public who is non status and then a Silver or Gold member makes the same hand baggage booking then what is the excuse my earned benefit is stripped down to 0 and not even 1? I can’t fathom this I should lose 1 of my baggages at the most not 2.

    • Sorry but you cant expect a free bag on a hand baggage onlyybfare. Otherwise that would basically be a £15-20 discpint on all fares in Europe for gold/silver. Its a perk of extra bag when paying for a full price fare. Which is decent I think. You cant blame ba . These fares are to compete directly with Easyjet Ryanair. I’m gold and wouldn’t expect to get a bag free on a hand bag only fare

      • Cheshire Pete says:

        You stated correctly “hand baggage fare” What has this to do with my Tier benefit which has nothing to do with my class of travel or fare?

        • I agree with you Pete. I understand why BA went to HBO and I believe it has been very successful, especially at Gatwick where they are head to head with easyJet. The cost of letting status card holders take a free suitcase would be minimal, however, and all BA has done is engender ill will from elites who have effectively seen a benefit removed.

        • The other unfortunate (but predictable) side effect of the HBO fares has been the worsening problem of finding overhead luggage space – people who previously might have checked a bag now go for just hand luggage to get a cheaper fare.

  6. Excuse my ignorance, but when is the ‘piece’ system used and when is it the ‘weight’?

    • You will need to look at each carriers normal allowance and whether it is stated as a set weight (weight system) or number of bags with a maximum weight (piece system).

  7. “A Silver (middle tier) Star Alliance status card only gets you lounge access with the airline group which issued your card.”
    I don’t think this is true on Aegean Silver 🙁

  8. The post is misleading. It is true that you need top tier star alliance status for lounge access, but that is only because there are only 2 tiers while one world status has 3! The top star alliance tier corresponds to the middle one world tier (see, e.g., Another easy way to see this is that as a USAirways gold I went from Star Alliance gold to oneworld sapphire with the merger.

    So what is actually happened is that oneworld has extended the same benefits that equivalent flyers on star alliance are already getting (priority baggage and an extra bag). So rather than one world having the best benefits, it is actually fixing the fact that it offered subpar benefits to BA silver and equivalent. I’m quite glad to hear I’ll be getting them back!

    • That is true, but you can effectively discount the bottom oneworld tier. In terms of what you need to do to qualify, M&M FTL is very much on a par with BA Silver but only the latter gives global lounge access.

      • Rob,

        I don’t think Lufthansa is a good program to compare against. Their “mid-tier” is Senator (*Gold) which takes 100k status miles. That would be exec-platinum on AA (top-tier).

        Whereas Miles&Smiles only takes 25k for *silver, 40k for *gold, and 80k for top-tier elite (not to mention their lucrative levels to stay an elite). This is better than AA.

        It’s tough to compare against BA because of the tier point system, but *G is equivalent to OW Sapphire, not Emerald.

      • M&M is a poor comparison because Lufthansa is notoriously stingy towards their own members and doesn’t have a real “mid-tier” status. Look at Singapore, Air Canada, or United. All gives you Star gold after 50k miles, which is exactly what AA gives oneworld sapphire for (and less than what Cathay gives it for).

  9. Andrew S says:

    I dont understand – flying BA with CX gold i have always had 2 piece baggae allowance… ???

  10. I just had a return flight from GLA to JFK flying Economy checking in with my Cathay Pacific Gold Card (I’m BA blue). On receiving my case in JFK and LHR (on the way back) I had a Priority Baggage tag (both times). My bags weren’t first off the plane at either airport, in fact they arrived after many others without a Priority Baggage tag.

    On the extra bag; I have always had an extra piece when booking my flight using Cathay Pacific Card. It’s only been today that i have bought baggage (to add to a “Hand baggage only” fare) that I have noticed I don’t have a complimentary second bag. So I can only use one, even though my return flight, booked separately with baggage, I can have two!

  11. Robert F says:

    Hi Raffles, don’t know if this is the right thread but looking for a bit of advice, I have just been refused entry to the BA lounge at Gatwick with my CX gold card, travelling on a BA ticket with my Baec number on it, I was told I would only be allowed in if I changed my FF number to my CX number on my ticket, is this correct, currently in No1 traveller lounge. Thanks

    • Not correct but change it and then change it back (at the gate if necessary)

      • Robert F says:

        Thanks for the reply, was going to do that but they told me it was illegal, never had any issues before, it might just be a Gatwick thing

        • Haha illegal, I love it! 😀 Not sure it’s even a Gatwick thing, it must just be that agent. I remember using the Gatwick lounge before with my parents – they used the CX Gold for access but collected the Avios. The lounge agent asked if they wanted to switch to the CX card but when they said they wanted the Avios they were told that wasn’t an issue and welcomed into the lounge!

    • Some agents get confused about this. If you have an ignorant one, let them change it then change it back at the gate.

      HOWEVER, No 1 Traveller is far better than the BA lounge at Gatwick (see my review from earlier this year) so I would stay there.

    • Same comments as Alan, never had any issue when using CX gold for BA lounge access although this seemed to be an issue in the past. BA agents always been happy to use either FF number. I’d be fuming if this happened to me, you should consider complaining.

    • 2 domestic flights a couple of weeks ago with BA bronze on the booking. No problem at all in getting into the lounge at Heathrow or Manchester just by presenting my CX Gold card.

      On a slightly different note it did show quite how inconsistently status benefits are publicised and applied. I was surprised to find that bronze/ruby gets priority boarding, even though the highlife business magazine has that as a silver/sapphire perk. On entering Fasttrack security they would have let me through with bronze status, and certainly no issue with my CX gold/sapphire even though that is apparently supposed to be a OneWorld emerald benefit!

  12. As regular Thai and Singapore flyer into LHR they manage to get priority tags to work – why can’t BA?

  13. I’m a BA Gold & tend to find my bags come out among the first on arrival at LHR T5 most of the time, especially on longhaul flights. I also get priority tags outbound from LHR also “work” more often than not.

    I imagine some of this comes down to how the *other* airports treat bags, and also how containers get loaded/unloaded from the plane.

    I’d say it’s a benefit, albeit an inconsistent one, especially for short-haul

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