Frequent flyer basics: oneworld frequent flyer tiers & benefits

By John Walton, September 15 2011
Frequent flyer basics: oneworld frequent flyer tiers & benefits

Need to know what your Qantas Frequent Flyer Silver, Gold or Platinum elite tier status means on other oneworld alliance airlines, and whether you'll get priority boarding, extra luggage allowance and access to the business class lounge?

In the latest addition to our series of basics for the beginning frequent flyer (and as an aide-memoire to experienced jetsetters), here's the lowdown on how the oneworld alliance's frequent flyer benefits work.

Elite tiers

Your elite tier is important because it entitles you to various benefits when you fly, like early boarding, business class lounge access and extra luggage allowance.

The oneworld alliance has three status tiers: Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald. (Which seems odd, since it's not obvious that emeralds and sapphires are better than rubies.)

You'll find your tier on your frequent flyer card: a red oval below the oneworld logo for Ruby, a blue oval for Sapphire and a green oval for Emerald.

Qantas Platinum is equivalent to oneworld Emerald -- that's the green oval beneath the oneworld logo.
Qantas Platinum is equivalent to oneworld Emerald -- that's the green oval beneath the oneworld logo.

The lowest tier is oneworld Ruby, which is equivalent to Qantas Frequent Flyer's Silver.

Ruby cardholders will only see benefits on airlines that have Ruby tiers. Notably, British Airways doesn't have a Ruby equivalent, although American Airlines does. So you'll get to board early on AA, but not BA.

Sapphire is the middle tier, equivalent to Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold. This tier gets you access to business class check-in and lounges, extra baggage and a higher place in the upgrade queue.

Emerald members are the cream of the crop, and include Qantas' Platinum Frequent Flyers. Emeralds have access to first class lounges, plus everything else that Sapphire members get too.

There's no extra-Emerald tier that corresponds to the "super-elite" Qantas Platinum One or BA Gold Guest List. (oneworld Diamond, perhaps?)

Those tiers, plus the invite-only super-elite programmes -- like Qantas' Chairman's Lounge or BA Premier -- get Emerald status as well as the specific benefits offered by each airline.

It's often useful -- especially when travelling to airports that don't have a lot of overseas passengers -- to be able to explain what the equivalent tier is of your Qantas or other oneworld frequent flyer membership.

On flights with Qantas' South American partner LAN, for example, Qantas Gold is equivalent to LAN Premium Silver, while Qantas Platinum is equivalent to LAN Comodoro.

Here's the list in full:


  • Qantas Frequent Flyer Silver
  • American Airlines Gold
  • Cathay Pacific Silver
  • Finnair Silver
  • Iberia Silver
  • Japan Airlines Crystal (Mileage Bank)
  • LAN Premium
  • Malév Silver
  • Mexicana Explore
  • Royal Jordanian Silver
  • S7 Airlines Silver


  • Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold
  • American Airlines Platinum
  • British Airways Silver
  • Cathay Pacific Gold
  • Finnair Gold
  • Iberia Gold
  • Japan Airlines Mileage Bank Sapphire
  • Japan Airlines Global Club Crystal or Sapphire
  • LAN Premium Silver
  • Malév Gold
  • Mexicana Discover
  • Royal Jordanian Gold
  • S7 Airlines Gold


  • Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum/Platinum One
  • American Airlines Executive Platinum
  • British Airways Gold
  • Cathay Pacific Diamond
  • Finnair Platinum
  • Iberia Platinum
  • Japan Airlines Mileage Bank Diamond
  • Japan Airlines Global Club Diamond or Premier
  • LAN Comodoro
  • Mexicana Conquer
  • Royal Jordanian Platinum
  • S7 Airlines Platinum

Questions? Ask away in the comments below, or drop us a tweet: @AusBT.

Also check out our introduction to frequent flyer status and tiers on Star Alliance -- and coming soon, SkyTeam.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

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