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What I learned at oneworld’s 20th birthday event

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oneworld held a major media event in London on Friday morning to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the airline alliance.  All 13 CEO’s were meant to attend and most of them did make it, including the heads of BA, American Airlines, Qatar Airways, Qantas (got to give Alan Joyce credit for that!), Cathay Pacific and Finnair.

Obviously the key question you want to ask is “was there a birthday cake?”.  And there was!

I got a slice too ….

I won’t go into everything that was covered because a lot of it involves ‘behind the scenes’ changes that don’t impact you as a customer.  Here are things you might want to know:

As we have covered on HfP before, Royal Air Maroc will soon become the first African member of oneworld

oneworld is to launch its own airline lounges.  The first of these will be announced in June but already appears to be signed.  This will allow airlines such as BA to close their own facilities and become partners in bigger lounges in core gateway airports.

oneworld is speaking to Heathrow about co-locating the oneworld airlines in one facility when the third runway opens.  Alliance-wide co-location deals are being done in conjunction with new terminal developments in Sao Paulo, Beijing and Frankfurt.

oneworld has developed a new IT platform which allow you to manage your entire oneworld trip using the app or website of ANY oneworld member.  This means that you could manage a Qantas booking from inside the BA app, including checking in and issuing a mobile boarding pass.  This is slowly rolling out and all airlines should have adopted it within 12-18 months.  There will be no need, in theory, to have multiple oneworld airline apps on your phone.

A revised oneworld logo is launched today with the ‘travel bright’ strapline – see below:

As usual with these events, the Q&A was more insightful than the main presentation.  These are the highlights you will find relevant:

The Qatar Airways CEO said that the airline will remain in oneworld ‘if they can resolve the differences they have’.  This is a reference to campaign against the Middle Eastern airlines being waged by the three main US legacy airlines, including American Airlines.  (My personal view is that, given the major shareholding that Qatar Airways has in BA’s parent company, Qatar Airways and British Airways would retain a frequent flyer relationship even if Qatar Airways left the alliance.)

There is a ‘very realistic’ chance of Aer Lingus joining oneworld as a ‘oneworld connect’ member, said IAG’s CEO Willie Walsh.  The new ‘oneworld connect’ framework – of which Fiji Airlines is the first member – offers the low level of complexity which Aer Lingus would prefer, since it only requires full commercial ties with three other oneworld airlines and not the entire alliance.

oneworld 20th anniversary press conference

British Airways would love to buy more A380’s said Willie Walsh.  Customers like them and the airline likes them.  Airbus has been told the price that BA is willing to pay but, so far, they are not willing to meet it.  This issue is ‘live’ again because Airbus has confirmed this week that Emirates is looking to cancel some of their A380 orders and switch to A350’s, leaving the A380 production line looking worryingly bare.

China Southern is not joining oneworld despite leaving SkyTeam recently.  The airline is, however, is discussions with a number of oneworld airlines over bilateral partnerships and has already agreed a modest codeshare deal with British Airways.

It was an interesting morning and good to see all of the airlines, especially Qatar Airways and American Airlines, putting on a friendly face together.  The picture above shows IAG’s Willie Walsh and Qantas CEO Alan Joyce cutting my slice of cake.

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Comments (83)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Jake Mcloughlin says:

    With regards to co-locating isn’t it already the case that OW have T3 – mainly?

    How will the new runway affect the terminal assignments?

    Surely there is very little room in either terminal for wiggle room?

    • Rob says:

      That was my thought too, but they stressed this as a big deal so I can only assume there is some sort of plan.

      • Jake Mcloughlin says:

        Hmmm interesting.

        Would potentially be feasible (but doubt it would ever happen) that BA and OW get T2 (including the expansion into T1) and then star alliance take T5 post development. The number of gates might just about work…

      • Roberto says:

        A T3 to T5 fast airside transit would help. Could then be a rebrand of the terminals to “one world terminal” and “one world satellite terminal”

        • Aisak says:

          Unless you are landing from a domestic flight, there is not such thing as “airside connection” as we see in Continental Europe.
          When you land from an intl flight and have an intl onward flight you have to re-clear security to gain access to “the air side”. The only thing you skip is inmigration as formally you do not intend to enter the UK.
          The set up at LHR reflects that. By changing how you handle incoming passengers could ease precesses, but since ~94% of LHR passengers have to clear security at LHR, it doesn’t make much sense to create “sterile airside corridors” for conx.

          The “3rd runway” thing means, that no new terminal capacity is needed until a new runway opens.

        • Riku says:

          The need for transfer passengers to clear security again is a UK decision. In the rest of the EU there is no security for passengers arriving from other EU countries (and some other non EU countries like USA also). This massively speeds up transfer times but the UK government does not allow it.
          To make it worse heathrow cannot even handle UK T5 arrivals to T3 departures without unnecessary additional security. In places like Munich the terminal transfer train is split to keep these “unclean” and “clean” passengers separate so those passengers transfer without the additional security.

        • Will says:

          I agree Riku, if the concept of adding runway 3 is to make an airport that competes with other hubs they need to sort out transfers before this is even a possibility. LHR is a horrible airport to transfer through and the cross terminal connections are an absolute disgrace.

          Much easier to start clean in my opinion with a clear plan on what the airport needs to be over the next 20-30 years.

        • Nick says:

          Very off topic, but the CEOs of these airlines must speak, and so perhaps they see how different their services are.

          Having just connected from BA club world flight from AMS to T5 to a BA first flight to CPT in T 3, the transfer experience was just awful. A long wait for a dirty bus and a slow journey. Compare that to the Qatar business class experience at DOH and the difference is clear. BA don’t have a clue about how to treat premium passengers…

          Truly sad, but BA have great people, a fabulous location at LHR and a good route network coupled with a CEO who wants to charge premium fares for Ryanair service and a management who rarely have to experience the reality of the service. My next trips to NBO, CPT and JNB will be on QR. I’m sure that BA won’t miss the £10k or so that they will lose, but at some stage they might realise that they need to move into this century as far as both hard and soft product for business and first. And how much would a separate bus for premium passengers cost? Or how about putting all the flights with first out of T5? Perhaps putting Iberia back to T3 would free up the necessary gate space? That would be simple and allow seemless connections.

    • john says:

      Terminal 5D has been talked about before. Not sure whether that alone would give enough gates, but they might be able to expand the other satellites also to incorporate the other OW airlines into T5.

      • Nick_C says:

        T5D would be as close to T3 as to T5.

        Extend the air side train to connect T3 to T5 and you solve the connection problems.

      • Aisak says:

        Satelite 5D will not happen if the project is managed by both a financial and operative point of view.
        Assuming you mean 5D to the closest area east of T5C. At that area you already have 13 aircraft stands (remote… ok). You would have to bulldoze the tanks at the north and the fire station in the middle (and relocate it to a suitable place meeting the security standards). Then you build 5D mirror to 5C to get what? 12 hard stands and 4 remotes. Quite a complex and operational nightmare for an active airport as congested as LHR. The ROI figures for the business case must be astronomical for it to pass any study.

        Anything related to T2 Phase2 (the former Heathrow East supossed to be completed this year) will get priority

    • John says:

      Will QR want to leave T4?

  • Nick_C says:

    Surely OW already have lounges? LAX TB. Or is that a one off? (It’s very good)

    • Rob says:

      That is run by one of the airlines though (Qantas?). The impression I got is that it would actually be oneworld centrally running these lounges.

      • Chris says:

        I always think of the LAX business lounge as a Qantas lounge, but it is often described as the “Oneworld” business lounge. Interestingly, the QF website also suggests that it is “operated by Oneworld” (see – in contrast to the LAX First lounge, which is “operated by Qantas”. So there is presumably something of an oddity in the way the business class lounge is run, but goodness knows exactly what.

        • guesswho2000 says:

          It’s plastered in QF branding, but the Oneworld website also refers to it as a Oneworld lounge, and you can’t use QF lounge passes in there, so there must be some sort of alternative arrangement.

  • 1nfrequent says:

    Forgive my ignorance (I accept that I am probably missing something) but if Aer Lingus becomes a Oneworld Connect with – say – BA such that you can earn TPs and Avios, doesn’t that risk cannibalising some of BA’s translatlantic routes especially given Aer Lingus should be cheaper and according to some, has a better business product plus pre-clearance?

    • john says:

      Many people prefer direct flights of course..

    • Rob says:

      No more than, say, people choosing to go to Amsterdam to fly (on BA) Amsterdam-London-USA to save money.

      At IAG level it doesn’t really matter anyway.

    • Thomas Howard says:

      Aer Lingus is trying to join the Oneworld (AA,AY,BA,IB) transatlantic cartel which includes revenue sharing so if they’re succesful it wouldn’t make a difference.

  • Neil says:

    Oneworlds lounges divided in to Emerald and Sapphire areas now makes perfect sense. It would ensure a certain quality but I can imagine overcrowding would be a huge issue in major cities. I also love the fact that many people don’t know they can visit other oneworld partner lounges when flying with a oneworld carrier.

    • Lady London says:

      Sounds like the airlines have decided they want to get out of the lounge business.

      One lounge for all will rapidly adopt the lowest standard of any. Then passengers will come to expect less of the airline lounges, and won’t bother. However I am sure there will be the equivalent of “The Concorde Room” “The Al-Safwa Lounge” “The Lufthansa First Class..” for those passengers the airline would really like to look after.

      • ZumoDeNaranja says:


        The temptation to level down will be irresistible 🙁

        BA Gold (OWE) is a bit of a sweet spot right now for lounge provision – I would bet my house on thst being significantly eroded over the next few years…

    • The Jetset Boyz says:

      The idea is that oneworld will develop lounges where no single airline has a massive presence, but have multiple airlines flying into the same airport, maybe with daily flights. So while collectivity oneworld have a lot of flights, no single airline could justify the cost of the lounge.

      There’s around 15 to 30 opportunities globally which fall into that category – some are driven by terminal development such as Sao Paulo, Beijing Daxing, Frankfurt, Paris & New York JFK. Oneworld’s rollout would be similar to the approach adopted by Star Alliance and SkyTeam.

      Oneworld have said that if there are airports that have a particularly high concentration of first class passengers, a seperate first class lounge would be considered.

  • Dicksbits says:

    BA will buy more A380s – it’s almost guaranteed. For WW to admit that a deal hadn’t yet been struck is a major hint that one will be soon. He’s right: the customers do like them, and it would mark them out against the competition, if the trend is against the A380 in the airline market. Makes them look more distinctive. You still stand there and go: WOW! … when you see one take off over you. I can only remember the 747 having that effect.

    • will says:

      Agreed, I’ll pay a premium if necessary to travel on an A380 and wish BA flew to more destinations with them.

      • Polly says:

        YEs, we were on one last Friday evening to HKG, and it was just a gr4at flight…in F, l might add using a 241..just a,lovely,plane. Love watching them taking off too.

      • A380 says:

        Genuine query…..what’s is so great (different) about the A380? I’m flying on one next week (BA J) – but have already flown on one (in BA J) before – what did I miss?? Isn’t the J seat pretty much the same across the fleet?


        • Genghis says:

          Is the J seat the name?
          There’s the storage bins aspect (744UD / 380, not 788/9s / 777s) and I find 744UD much more spacious than all of them.
          388 F, however, is great in 1A. Very private.

        • A380 says:

          Hi Genghis

          “J seat ** pretty much ** the same” I think this is ** pretty ** accurate – the ‘seat’ is ‘pretty much’ the same.

          The side bins (only available to window seats obviously) are storage/not the seat.

        • Genghis says:

          Fair enough. I guess like CE and ET are the same seat.
          I find the presence of the storage bins creates more space that I can stretch out onto even though the physical seat is the same.

        • Robert says:

          Try A/B J/K in row 51 or 52 upper deck and there’s a remarkable difference to J on other aircraft. Agree that the storage space helps a lot too, as only 3 middle seats unlike 4 on lower deck. For me the main plus was how much quieter the small J cabin was due to being higher up and away from the engines. I’ve not flown on the lower deck and would be interested to compare.

        • Alex W says:

          You get the extra storage bins in economy too. Can’t remember if it was Y or W. Not just J anyway.

        • Lady London says:

          Have you ever been in one and not even really noticed you’ve taken off? that’s happened to me a couple of times. The thing is so big you hardly notice.

      • Lady London says:

        + 1. 380 is my favourite aircraft even over 787 and 350. I feel so much better longhaul when I’ve flown in them.

        The one I loved to see, or mostly hear, take off over me was Concorde. I really miss that plane.

    • Nick_C says:

      If BA buy more A380s, will they be the first airline to have 3-5-3 in economy on the main deck?

      Maybe they could compensate by having all the premium cabins on the upper deck and make the lower deck entirely cattle class.

      They could rebrand the planes. The top half painted as BA. The lower half painted as Air Cruz.

    • Carlos says:

      I too would pay a premium to fly on on an A380. Absolutely gutted to hear the Emirates speculation and I hope they can work out a deal to keep them. If that happens and BA also get the terms they want and expand their fleet it will give it a big vote of confidence. Got my fingers crossed that ANA do well enough with their incoming 3 and order additional aircraft.

    • Charlieface says:

      The lower cargo capacity and the fact it’s 4-engined must be a mark against the A380 though.

  • Ian M says:

    “oneworld is speaking to Heathrow about co-locating the oneworld airlines in one facility when the third runway opens.”

    They’re optimistic!

    • will says:

      I thought the same!

    • john says:

      It’ll only work for so long anyway until airline Y joins oneworld and they are based in another terminal..

    • Lady London says:

      Like the Do & Co food, it seems British Airways feels quite safe talking about co-locating the Oneworld airlines in one facility when the third runway opens, that’ll probably take 20 years to roll out like the food seems to be!

  • BT1 says:

    does the change to One World mean that I can transfer all of my AA miles to 1 pot instead of leaving them with AA Advantage?

    • Roberto says:

      Or the people with -90,000 avios in their Iberia accounts need to start worrying about a merge with BAEC..

    • Nick_C says:

      If only!

      I think the biggest advantage of OW to customers would be to amalgamate the rewards programmes.

      Lots of people must lose orphaned miles. Of course, that works to the airlines’ advantage.

      • John says:

        If you know that you can credit all OW flights to all OW programs, then you would only have orphaned miles from flying discounted economy which earns 0 in your main program.

        • Nick_C says:

          I have orphaned AA miles from before I started collecting Avios. I keep them alive with an occasional transfer from E-Rewards, but I did lose a large chunk of them. I’ll probably end up using them for a hotel.

          I also had Enrich miles from a trip to Aus in 2012 on MAS before they joined OW. Would have been great to transfer these to Avios.

    • AlexT says:

      Promise you that will never happen. The whole rationale of FF programs is to drive airline loyalty. Those programs also generate a ton of revenue due to airlines selling miles to CC providers and other partners. The OW announcement is a lot more contained (merely being able to check in via another airline’s app.

  • FC99 says:

    I wonder how many focus groups and consultants it took to come up with that new logo

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