This week all 13 CEOs of Oneworld airline members were at a press conference in London to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Oneworld Alliance, which launched 1st February 1999.
Be prepared for an assault on your visual senses. Electric cyan and magenta are in vogue. If you stare enough at their promotional material or re-designed website, who knows, you may get over jet lag quickly!
The new strapline for Oneworld is “Travel Bright”, although I'm not quite sure how we're supposed to consume this additional message.
Oneworld branded lounges
This is an interesting concept which in theory mimics those offered by Star Alliance and Skyteam already, and to great success. The concept here is that by unifying them into one lounge then expenses can be shared… the caveat being they are all in the same terminal!
In some strategic locations around the globe where there is an abnormally high representation of Oneworld airlines, e.g. London, Hong Kong, this makes good sense. Indeed it is actually sort of implemented at Los Angeles at the Tom Bradley International Terminal which the picture shows above. The part that I would be concerned about here is it potentially discouraging competition between airlines to deliver the best lounge they can to attract customers. For instance if I ever fly out of Heathrow Terminal 3 I have the choice between Cathay Pacific, Qantas, British Airways and American Airlines lounges, always preferring to go with Cathay Pacific's offering.
The better part of the strategy though is at big aviation hubs which are not ‘homes' of any of the member airlines, For instance Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt. At these locations there may be a small lounge offered by one or two airlines (e.g. Frankfurt has Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific lounges…neither of which are favourites of mine), or passengers are directed to 3rd party contract lounges which have a completely different feel to the airline they're about to fly.
The first few locations for Oneworld lounges are due to be announced in June of this year so watch this space.
Connected backend technology
Starting in the next year or so the backend servers and databases will be unified. This in theory means you will be able to check your flight reservations of your Sri Lankan Airlines flight on your American Airlines app and vice versa. You will be able to check in online, track your bag, get live flight information etc.
Now if they could check your baggage all the way to your destination that would also be a good passenger experience enhancement!
Who's staying, joining and not joining?
Qatar Airways continues to cling onto its love/hate relationship with the Alliance, while China Southern despite leaving Skyteam and codesharing flights with BA , will not join Oneworld.
Royal Air Maroc is scheduled to join mid-2020, while Aer Lingus is very likely to join Fiji Airways as only the second member of “Oneworld Connect” which is a bit of a looser tie to the alliance than being a full member. No official announcement has been made on potential dates to join, but depending on the outcome of their application to join the Trans-Atlantic Joint Venture with BA, Iberia, American Airlines and Finnair, this may be a mere formality.