A British Airways Boeing 777-200 with the oneworld logo departs from London Gatwick (Alamy)

May 2024

25 things you need to know about oneworld

Freddie Reidy
Freddie Reidy

Club correspondent

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the foundation of oneworld, the airline alliance we belong to and which you might just recognise by the circular blue logo on our planes, your boarding pass and around the airport. To celebrate this quarter centenary, we’ve compiled 25 facts you might like to know (and can benefit from, too)

1. A united front
oneworld® was founded in 1999 by British Airways, American Airlines, Canadian Airlines International, Cathay Pacific and Qantas with the aim of offering you more flight options, simplifying connections and extending loyalty benefits. Since then, the group has grown to 13 full members.

2.Around the world in 80 days

2. Around the world in 80 days
Have you ever considered a round-the-world trip? Back in the day, this might have involved steam trains, ocean liners via the Suez Canal and maybe an elephant… or at least a lengthy call to a travel agent, but oneworld revolutionised the process and the journey. Today, you can pick the stops (up to 16) on your itinerary and a helpful tool will plot your route across the globe, which you can optimise before checking out and receiving all your tickets in one simple transaction.

3. More than 535 million passengers
oneworld member airlines operate out of some of the busiest airports in the world – New York’s JFK, London’s Heathrow and Hong Kong, to name a few. In 2023, more than half a billion passengers flew with oneworld partners. That’s more than the combined total of the founding members’ national populations.

4. Smoother transfers between airlines
You know that person or family sprinting through the terminal as they dash to make a connecting flight? Odds are they’re not flying on a oneworld itinerary. Airlines within the group work closely to align flight times, easing connections and making trips more seamless.

5.The recognition you deserve

5. The recognition you deserve
Every member airline has a corresponding oneworld membership that is universally recognised across the group. You’ll find your own oneworld membership tier status on your digital Executive Club Membership Card, right below the oneworld logo. Gold status is equivalent to Emerald, Silver to Sapphire, Bronze to Ruby and Blue – helpfully – to Blue.

6. A greener way
oneworld was the first airline alliance to announce a collective pathway to net zero emissions by 2050 and a commitment to a 10% adoption of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) by 2030. Learn more here.

7. First across the Finnish line
Months after the announcement of the foundation of oneworld, Finland’s flag carrier leapt to signal its intent to join and became the very first airline to do so. Finnair offers not just an extensive array of connections around Scandinavia but also routes heading East, taking full advantage of the so called ‘short cut to Asia’.

7.A decade in decals

A Japan Airlines Boeing 777-300 with special oneworld livery at Chitose airport, Hokkaido, Japan

8. A decade in decals
In 2009, oneworld celebrated its tenth birthday and, to mark the occasion, all member airlines adorned several of their fleet in special oneworld liveries, a practice that continues to this day and helps you spot who’s in the group.

9. A ticket to the 21st century
It’s easy to forget a time before self check-in or a boarding pass on your phone but, were you flying on multiple airlines to multiple sectors, each leg would need its own ticket printed by the airline operator, often dragging you across terminals when making a connection. oneworld was the first airline alliance to iron out this inconvenience, keeping you on the move with minimal fuss.

10. Life in the fast lane
At the airport you will see signage denoting the access level for oneworld members. If you see a business class check-in area with an EmeraldSapphire or Ruby status symbol, then that’s your green light, no matter who the operator is. The business class check-in will also usually be followed by priority security lanes, seeing you scoot through the queues.

11. The gate escape
Crucially for Gold and Silver Members, or those travelling on a business or first class ticket, oneworld lounges are open to you. And if you find yourself on flight to Dallas with American Airlines flying from Heathrow’s Terminal 3, you’ll be able to access our lounge next door, too, as well as accessing American Airline’s own lounge, your sanctuary from the crowds.

9.An Emirati entrance

The arrivals board

12. An Emirati entrance
In 2013, Qatar Airways (above) became the first airline from the Persian Gulf to join the alliance. This helped to open a new network of connections throughout the Middle East and beyond. Since joining, Qatar has expanded its route network by 30% and doubled the size of its fleet, winning several coveted SkyTrax awards and forging a partnership with us along the way.

13. A royal arrival
Also in 2018, oneworld welcomed its first African airline to the group. Royal Air Maroc’s extensive network across Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africa was a huge addition, as was the inclusion of Morocco’s own domestic network connecting the likes of Casablanca, Marrakech and Tangier to the wider world.

14. 2021: Alaska Airlines joins
Alaska Airlines (below) is oneworld’s newest member and brings with it yet more connection options across the US and beyond. Combined with American Airlines, as well as our own network, it is easier than ever to fly to the country’s numerous airports, whether they’re mega-hubs such Atlanta, which handled 104 million passengers in 2023, or tiny Ketchikan, Alaska, which serves a population of just 8,000.

15. Oman Air arrives in 2024
Since it was founded, the alliance has always ebbed and flowed and grown. The most recent announcement? Oman Air’s intention to join as a full member later in 2024. From its base in Muscat, the airline will be able to offer extensive regional connectivity as well as multiple new routes to India and beyond.

12.2021 Alaska Airlines joins

16. One world, 332 islands
Outside of full membership, oneworld launched oneworld connect in 2018, with Fijian Airways as the launch airline. This relatively new partnership scheme allows regional airlines to join, offering you a more consistent experience while arriving as close as possible to your final destination, no matter how far flung it might be.

17. Bags of benefits
If you have Gold or Silver Executive Club status, you’ll find that when you enter your membership number into any oneworld booking you’ll see the baggage allowance for you and anyone else on your booking double, as it does with British Airways, regardless of the cabin you may be booked into.

18. New lounges, please
Did you know oneworld has recently opened its own lounges at Seoul’s Incheon airport and Amsterdam Schiphol? These new concept lounges take their design cues from their host countries. For instance, the bar at Incheon resembles Korea’s iconic gat hat, while the Amsterdam lounge pays homage to the city’s arched canal bridges.

Incheon exterior Incheon bar Incheon seating Amsterdam entrance Amsterdam bar Amsterdam seating > <

19. A choice of 650+ lounges
In all, there are more than 650 lounges across the oneworld network and, whether it’s the popular terrace with enviable apron views at T5’s Galleries First, the self-pouring beer machines at JAL’s base in Narita, Tokyo, or Finnair’s sauna in Helsinki, you’ll find your home from home wherever you are in the world.

20. Table toppers
oneworld airlines connect more than 1,000 airports in 170 territories. Topping the table of airlines covering the highest number of territories is Qatar with 82, while British Airways and Japan Airlines tie for first in terms of the highest number of bases covered, with 199 airports served.

21. Currency exchange
If there’s one thing that is common across this diverse group of airlines, it’s a loyal customer base (225 million members, to be precise), who know the huge benefits that collecting loyalty points can bring. The advent of the alliance meant that you can collect reward miles and tier points on any airlines within the group but also spend them on reward flights, taking you further.

20.A modern membership

22. A modern membership
The alliance now includes airlines drawn from across the globe, including American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, Iberia (above), Qatar Airways, Qantas,  SriLankan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Royal Air Maroc and Royal Jordanian.

23. Alliance-wide upgrades
With an eye on the future, oneworld plans to launch alliance-wide upgrades, allowing respective members to spend their loyalty currency on upgrades on other airlines across the group. This means that a member of Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club could spend Asia Miles upgrading on a flight operated by us from London to Nice. Or, as an Executive Club Member, you could spend Avios upgrading on a Qantas flight from Sydney to Perth. Watch this space.

24. Your passport to priority
Your oneworld status, if Emerald or Sapphire, will enable you to bag your favourite seat, or board first ahead of the crowds. And if you miss a connection or a flight is cancelled due to bad weather on your travels, then you’ll receive priority on a new flight, no matter the oneworld airline – something that extends to all members.

25.Keep the Champagne flowing

At the launch party for the new lounge at Seoul’s Incheon airport

25. Keep the Champagne flowing
Back when oneworld was celebrating its 20-year anniversary, some eagle-eyed officials calculated that 2.5 million bottles of Champagne are served a year across the group – and we like to think that we play our part in keeping the glasses topped up, all 15 million of them.

This article has been tagged BA, Destination