The oneworld alliance guide: airlines, Elite perks, lounge rules & sweet spots

Amin Benzaza

The purpose of the oneworld alliance guide is to introduce readers and travelers to the benefits of the alliance.

Althgouh the smallest, the oneworld alliance allows passengers to experience smooth transfers, earn and burn miles, earn elite Status and purchase round-the-world products across all airline members.

Oneworld alliance members

The alliance currently has 14 member airlines (and their subsidiaries) that connect to more than 1,000 destinations.

Alaska Airlines

American Airlines (+ American Eagle)

British Airways (+ BA CityFlyer, Comair, SunAir)

Cathay Pacific (+ Cathay Dragon)

Finnair (+ NordicRegional Airlines)

Iberia (+ Iberia Express, Iberia Regional)

Japan Airlines (+ JAir, Japan Transocean Air)

Malaysia Airlines

Qantas (+ QantasLink)

Qatar Airways

Royal Air Maroc (+ Royal Maroc Express)

Royal Jordanian

S7 Airlines

SriLankan Airlines

oneworld alliance members
oneworld alliance members

Fiji Airlines is a oneworld Connect partner since December 2018. It’s sponsored by American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas. The carrier offers limited services to passengers with Emerald and Sapphire Status.

We will keep the oneworld alliance guide up to date as changes occur.

oneworld alliance members hubs

Nothing beats good knowledge of the oneworld alliance hubs. It helps travelers plan their reward flights or round-the-world trips. It’s also important to know them in order to lower the cost of trips: a primary or a secondary hub with more seat availability is easier/cheaper to book using miles than a third-tie airport.

Here are the hubs per member airline:

Alaska Airlines

Anchorage (ANC)
Los Angeles (LAX)
San Francisco (SFO)
Seattle/Tacoma (SEA) primary hub

American Airlines

Charlotte Douglas International Airport
Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
Miami International Airport (MIA)
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
Philadelphia International Airport
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

British Airways

London Gatwick Airport (GTW)
London Heathrow Airport (LHR)

Cathay Pacific

Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)


Helsinki Airport (HEL)


Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD)

Japan Airlines

Haneda Airport (HND)
Narita International Airport (NRT)
Kansai Airport (KIX)
Osaka International Airport (ITA)

Malaysia Airlines

Kuala Lumpur International Airport
Kota Kinabalu International Airport


Brisbane Airport
Melbourne Airport
Sydney Airport
Adelaide Airport (secondary hub)
Perth Airport (secondary hub)


Hamad International Airport (DOH)

Royal Jordanian

Queen Alia International Airport (AMM)

S7 Airlines

Domodedovo International Airport (DME)
Tolmachevo Airport (OVB)

Srilanka Airlines

Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB)

oneworld alliance status tiers

oneworld does not have its own frequent flyer program (ffp). Each member airline has its own ffp under which travelers can achieve status.

Frequent flyers with status will benefit from oneworld Priority. Basically, the alliance will honor passengers elite status tier & benefits across all airlines.

The alliance has 3 tiers: Ruby, Sapphire & Emerald.

oneworld Priority
oneworld Priority

Ruby privileges

Oneworld Ruby Privileges is the basic tier. It feature only 3 benefits:

  • Access to Business Class check-in counters;
  • Preferred & pre-reserved seats;
  • Priority on waitlists and standby;

The 2 last ones depend on the airline operating the flight. All 13 airlines members don’t have all the same policies. It’s always a good idea to check each airline policy before flying.

oneworld Ruby tier equivalent with British Airways Executive Club program is Bronze. It’s Gold status in the case of American Airlines AAdvantage. We will be referring to both programs as they make the most sense for Canadian travelers.

Sapphire privileges

The middle tier is far more interesting. Even if they fly Economy, class, oneworld Sapphire members can expect:

  • Access to Business Class check-in counters;
  • Access to Business Class lounges;
  • Preferred & pre-reserved seats;
  • Priority on waitlists and standby;
  • Priority boarding;
  • Extra bagage allowance;
  • Priority bagage handling.

Sapphire members flying Economy will get an additional 15kg on both domestic and international flights with airlines that use a weight system. For carriers that use a bagage piece system, 1 extra checked bag for up to 23kg. Have a look at Qantas checked baggage allowance, it’s a puzzle.

However, British Airways does not honor this benefit on its Hand Baggage Only/Basic fares.

oneworld Sapphire tier equivalent with British Airways Executive Club (BAEC) program is Silver. This status can easily be attained for a Canadian traveler who wants one year of benefits while traveling Economy with on miles or in cash. The investment is worthwhile if most of the trips are with oneworld carriers. But that’s another blog post.

Platinum status in the case of American Airlines AAdvantage.

Emerald privileges

Emerald is the top tier. It represents super frequent flyers who spend more time in planes than home:

  • Access to First & Business Class check-in counters;
  • Access to First & Business Class lounges;
  • Fast track at security lanes in select airports;
  • Preferred & pre-reserved seats;
  • Priority on waitlists and standby;
  • Priority boarding;
  • Extra bagage allowance;
  • Priority bagage handling.

BAEC Gold members and AAdvantage Executive Platinum members will benefit from Emerald privileges.

British Airways Executive Club

It’s Canada’s other frequent flyer program. You can sign-up for free. Members can create a household account to consolidate of the family members Avios balances.

Some credit cards allow Canadians to earn Avios miles:

  • American Express Gold card – 25,000 bonus points transferable to Avios
  • American Express Platinum card – 60,000 bonus points transferable to Avios
  • RBC Avion Visa cards – 15,000 to 25,000 bonus points transferable to Avios
  • RBC British Airways Visa card – up to 50,000 bonus Avios

The RBC British Airways Visa offers some interesting features such as 10% off British Airways flights and the Companion e Voucher. Take a moment to read the articles to familiarize yourself with the benefits and exceptions.

RBC® British Airways Visa Infinite
RBC British Airways Visa Infinite

We will address the reward aspect further in this guide.

onworld airport lounges

The oneworld alliance has a network of more than 650 airport lounges. Some of the finest lounges in the world are available for those who travel premium or have status on a oneworld flight.

The oneworld site has a great lounge search engine. This tool should be in your favorites and is a great way to do your homework. It explains in detail which lounges travellers are eligible to as there are rules and exceptions.

Most airlines have their own lounges but in some destinations they will use a third-party lounge provider. For example, British Airways, Royal Jordanian, Qatar Airways & Royal Air Maroc use the National Bank Lounge in Montreal (YUL). You will see this across various large and small airports around the world.

Also different airlines have different policies on their lounges access. Therefore, you should be aware of these exceptions and rules. We will share some of the most important ones up next in the oneworld guide.

Important lounges rules & exceptions

Here are some of most significant lounge access rules and exceptions.

Rule 1. Although all Emerald and Sapphire members, whatever their cabine class, are allowed into the Business lounges, Emerald members can choose to access First Class lounges.

Rule 2. Emerald and Sapphire members can invite 1 guest into the lounge. The guest must also fly on oneworld metal. The rule does not specify that it has to be on the same flight.

Rule 3. oneworld defines an international long haul flight as a flight operated by a oneworld member of 5 hours and more.

Exception 1. American Airlines (Admiral Club membership) & Qantas (Qantas Club membership) have their own lounge access paid memberships that have nothing to do with oneworld member benefits.

Exception 2. American Airlines AAdvantage members do not have access to lounges on US domestic, Canada, Mexico and Caribbean flights. However, Emerald & Sapphire of other oneworld programs have access. For example, British Airways Silver or Gold members flying Miami to Toronto are eligible to the AA lounge.

Exception 3. oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members do not have access to the following Qatar Airways lounges unless they fly Business or First class with the carrier: Al Mourjan Business Class lounge & Al Safwa First Class lounge in Doha (DOH), and premium lounges in London (LHR) & Paris (CDG).

Al Mourjan lounge purple seats
Al Mourjan Business lounge purple seats at DOH

oneworld members can access the other Qatar Airways Business class lounge in Doha. They can bring along one adult guest.

Qatar Airways Business Class lounge dessert buffet at DOH
Qatar Airways Business Class lounge dessert buffet at DOH

One other important thing to know about lounge access with Qatar Airways. If a traveler gets an upgrade to Business class at the airport – either at check-in or at the gate – the airline does not grant access to the lounge.

Again the oneworld lounge search engine is very important. You will in detail who’s welcome or not. Look at this other example, this one is important if you intend to booking a reward ticket out of LHR with Qatar Airways:

At the bottom of the second column, only Business and First class revenue passengers are welcome. Therefore, reward ticketed J & F passengers have no access to the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge in LHR T4. The same goes for Paris (CDG).

oneworld round-the-world passes

The alliance facilitate the purchase of different round the world passes. But the main star is the round the world pass which you can tailor make yourself before calling a oneworld carrier for booking.

Prices range from $5,000 in Economy up to $10,000 in Business Class.

Here are general tips to keep in mind when building your oneworld Explorer itinerary:

  • You must book your trip at least eight (8) days before departure and complete your journey within twelve (12) months of departure.
  • There must be at least ten (10) days between your first and last international sector.
  • Your journey must include at least three continents and only have one intercontinental departure and arrival in each continent.
  • Your itinerary must have less than sixteen (16) total segments.
  • You can only go in one direction around the globe and travel through your start city only once.
  • You can cross the Atlantic Ocean only once. The same is true for the Pacific Ocean.


  • When selecting cities, you can drag and drop a city to reorder the list using the icon to the left of the city name.
  • To quickly enter multiple cities, you can type in three letter airport codes separated by spaces (e.g. “LON HKG SYD LAX LON”).

oneworld reward flights sweet spots

Now that we know oneworld a little better, here are some of the best ways to burn your miles. We will refer to Avios points and AAvantage miles.

North America

There are no reward flight on Canadian domestic flights. However, Canadians have access to the US, Mexico and the Caribbean thanks to the British Airways Executive Club.

Canada to the United States

You can book American Airlines (AA) from Canada major airports to different North American destinations:

Quebec City > Philadelphia (PHL)
Montreal > New York (LGA), Chicago (ORD) Miami (MIA) & Dallas (DFW)

Ottawa > Philadelphia (PHL)
Toronto > Charlotte (CLT), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), New York (LGA), Miami (MIA), Philadelphia (PHL)

Calgary > Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW)

Vancouver > Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX), Phoenix (PHX)

Here are some reward trip examples (one-way):

Vancouver-Dallas 11,000 Avios + $60.71 (only $7.85 in the other direction)
Toronto-Charlotte 7,500 Avios + $60.71 (only $7.85 in the other direction)
Montreal-Miami 16,500 Avios + $73.56 (via PHL).

Across the United States

I wrote a great piece on how you can tour the United States with Avios miles. Refer to Crazy USA Tour with Avios article. Canadians can earn AAdvantage miles thanks to the RBC Avion card series. RBC Rewards points can be transferred to AAdvantages miles at 10:7 rate. A bonus promotion occurs once year enabling members to transfer 10:10.

United States tour with American Airlines
United States tour with American Airlines

United Kingdom domestic flights

Avoid expensive trains and fly to Scotland and Ireland for $1.00 per reward flight using Avios.

British domestic flights are very reasonably priced. Here are some examples:

London (LHR) – Edinburgh (EDI) 8,500 Avios + $1.00
London (LCY/LHR) – Dublin (DUB) 8,500 Avios + $1.00

Great value!

British Airways Executive Club reward flight: London-Glasgow one-way
British Airways Executive Club reward flight: London-Glasgow one-way

The Middle-East & Asia

With 3 top of the line carriers in Asia, Avios (but also AAdvantage miles) work for you.

Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines offer some great reward opportunities on domestic and international flights.

Qatar Airways has great Economy and Business class products. Members can fly out of Canada (via Montreal) using AAdvantage miles to avoid British Airways’s (BAEC) huge fees.

Qatar Airways Montreal to Muscat reward trip on AAdvantage
Qatar Airways Montreal to Muscat reward trip on AAdvantage

Luxury travel experience can be had as well. The Qatar Airways Business class travel experience from airport to landing is in the top 3 in the world. See how many Avios are required for a Doha to Zurich flight.

Members can fly domestic across Japan thanks to JAL’s extensive network. I wrote a mini-guide showcasing an itinerary. Yes you can tour Japan for less than $25 with JAL.

Haneda-Okinawa JAL flight using British Airways Executive Club Avios points
Haneda-Okinawa JAL flight using British Airways Executive Club Avios points

Members can tour Asia with medium haul flights combining Cathay Pacific and Malaysia Airlines short haul flights.


oneworld alliance offers Canadians some great opportunities with respect to earning miles, status and reward trips. As a Canadian traveler, I always seek out the most favorable opportunities as I plan my next year of travel. What are your plans with oneworld? Share with us on Amin On Miles Club.

2 thoughts on “The oneworld alliance guide: airlines, Elite perks, lounge rules & sweet spots”

  1. Article très intéressant, Amin!
    Tu écris, au sujet de Fiji Airways: « The carrier offers limited services to passengers with Emerald and Sapphire Status.« 
    En quoi le statut Oneworld Connect nous permet-il de voyager sur Fiji Airways avec des Avios? Merci

    • Les dispos de Fiji sur BAEC Avios sont quasi-inexistantes. Il faut probablement appeler BAEC.
      Par contre, je vois des dispos sur AA, par exemple LAX-NAN 40K + $7.40 en Eco. Aussi sur l’Australie et Asie depuis Fiji. Donc si tu as des points RBC Avion ca vaudrait la peine de les tranferer vers AA.
      Y a les Asia Miles aussi.
      Est-ce que tu as un statut avec oneworld?


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