How to get into every oneworld airline's business class lounge

By John Walton, November 18 2011
How to get into every oneworld airline's business class lounge

"Wait, you mean that I can use that oneworld business lounge with my Qantas business class ticket or frequent flyer card?"

That's a question we get very frequently at Australian Business Traveller, because the full extent of lounge access across the oneworld airline alliance is not well publicised for passengers who aren't 'in the know'.

And the answer is a fervent "Yes" -- you can use the lounge of any oneworld partner airline if you're flying on a oneworld airline and hold either a business class ticket or are a suitably high-tier frequent flyer. (Which means that even if you're stuck in the cheapest economy seat, your Qantas Gold or Platinum frequent flyer card will open the doors at some of the world's best airport lounges.)

This applies across all the oneworld member airlines: American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, JAL, LAN, Malev Mexicana, Qantas, Royal Jordanian and S7.

Need a oneworld primer? We've got you covered.

And yes, you can get into another oneworld airline's lounge even if the airline you're flying has its own lounge.

One example: if you're flying Qantas through Singapore, you can use the Cathay Pacific lounge instead of the Qantas/BA joint lounges. We reckon the Cathay lounge is generally better, especially during the later evenings when the Qantas lounges get exceptionally busy due to the stop-over of Qantas and BA flights between Sydney and London.

Another situation for lounge-hopping: at London Heathrow you can pick the American Airlines, British Airways or Cathay Pacific lounges (again, we reckon the Cathay lounge is best, although the American lounge has astoundingly fast wifi).

Quick test: which of these lounges can you get into with a Qantas Platinum card?
Quick test: which of these lounges can you get into with a Qantas Platinum card?

How to get into any oneworld lounge

There are essentially three checks you need to satisfy to get into a oneworld airline's lounge:

  1. flying on a oneworld airline
  2. holding a same-day ticket
  3. suitable class of travel or frequent flyer status

Here's how you satisfy those requirements.

1. The oneworld airline requirement

The oneworld airline requirement is generally straightforward: you have to be flying on a oneworld airline the same day. But for Australian flights, it can be slightly tricky.

While Qantas will let you into its lounges if you're flying Jetstar, other oneworld airlines aren't under the same obligation. Jetstar's not a oneworld member.

However, this is enough of an unusual case that you may well be able to chance it -- especially if you are booked on a codeshare QF flight number for the Jetstar flight.

If your plane doesn't say oneworld on the side, you probably won't be let into a oneworld lounge before your flight.
If your plane doesn't say oneworld on the side, you probably won't be let into a oneworld lounge before your flight.

2. The same-day ticket requirement

The "same-day" part of the requirement is usually fine, but can lead to problems in certain unusual cases.

We've heard of examples where passengers crossing the international date line or multiple timezones have been denied access because their onward ticket wasn't the same day. Stick-in-the-mud agents can lack common sense and refuse you access.

The same-day rule can be especially frustrating if your flight departs in the very early hours of the morning, yet you turn up to the airport before midnight.

Example: If your British Airways flight from Mumbai to London leaves at 0245, you won't technically be allowed in the lounge until after midnight.

Remember "anytime access" privileges? Both Qantas and British Airways used to let Platinum cardholders into their own lounges at any time, even if not flying or flying a non-oneworld airline. But both airlines no longer offer this much-appreciated benefit to their best customers.

3. The class of travel or frequent flyer tier status requirement

Either a premium (business/first) class ticket or a frequent flyer card is required to get into most lounges.
Either a premium (business/first) class ticket or a frequent flyer card is required to get into most lounges.

The class of travel or frequent flyer status is reasonably straightforward. If you're in business, you get the business class lounge. If you're in first class you get the first class lounge if there is one; if not, you get the business class lounge.

If you're in economy or premium economy, you'll need to present a frequent flyer card that equates to either oneworld Sapphire (for business class lounges) or Emerald (for first class lounges) to get into the lounge.

If you're flying business class, you can get into the first class lounge if you have a oneworld Emerald card.

Qantas Gold is equivalent to oneworld Sapphire, while Qantas Platinum is equivalent to oneworld Emerald. Here's a full list of oneworld tiers broken down into member airline equivalents.

Usefully (and this isn't well known) you also have lounge access even if you don't have status and are flying domestically or within Europe on an economy ticket -- if your ticket connects to an oneworld business class ticket.

Example: Let's say you're connecting from Edinburgh to Sydney via Heathrow. Your domestic UK flight has no business class, but if you're travelling business class to Sydney you're allowed into the Edinburgh lounge as well as at Heathrow. (You're also allowed in anyway if you're a Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold or above.)

Exclusions, fine print, technicalities and gotchas

Arrivals lounges: these aren't included as a oneworld benefit. So if you want to use the American Airlines AArrivals lounge for a shower and some breakfast at Heathrow, you'll need to meet American Airlines' requirements for that lounge.

Contract lounges: these are often (though not always) excepted as well. These are the lounges that aren't owned by a oneworld airline, so the airline using them offers access to its business class passengers only. For example, the domestic lounge Qantas uses in Auckland isn't a Qantas lounge: it's the Akarana lounge. If you're a frequent flyer from another oneworld airline, you don't get in on the basis of your oneworld status.

Capacity constraints: if the lounge is too full (as decided by the attendant on the door) you might not be allowed in.

Qantas Club: we should probably mention here that being a paid member of the Qantas Club only entitles you to enter Qantas, British Airways and American Airlines lounges.

More information and further details

For the full details of what you're entitled to as a Qantas Frequent Flyer or Qantas Club member, head on over to Qantas' extensive Eligibility and Access pages.

You may find it helpful -- especially when travelling from airports that might not be used to seeing Qantas frequent flyers -- to know how precisely your Qantas status translates into other airlines' status.

If you're having problems with a lounge attendant letting into a lounge, or are curious which lounges you can enter at any particular airport, oneworld's lounge search function is particularly useful.

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.

As a frequent flyer who locked in 150,000 miles annually, I would say Star Alliance has been the best alliance passenger can hold on. The benefits cross the alliance really good which gives you recognition straight when you even start to make reservation then it would go all the way when  you walk in into the lounges  for all members and specially baggage allowances.

I could see that Skyteam now follows into the same direction and I would like to cheer that move.

In regards to Oneworld, I believe the benefits don't go that far, which is only sharing lounge & this is the worst a loyal passenger could get. Even on round the world tickets, you have to manage baggage allowance since each member doesn't recognise the same status benefits for each member.

Yes of course if you are traveling on Jetstar, you could only entitle to Qantas lounge as Jetstar is only a non-member affiliates which only entitle all jetstar passengers to use Qantas lounge. If you are traveling on member affiliates, in example: Dragon Air, then you could be entitle to use all One world Lounges around the world.

Another issue to share about oneworld alliance: why in the world MEXICANA which has stopped flying for more than 1 year now still be listed as full member & with recent Kingfisher financial woes, I believe this pending member wouldn't be able to make it into membership for next year.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Sep 2011

Total posts 181

This article is useful, but try getting in to the Cathay First Class lounge in HKG as an QFF/OW Emerald frequent flyer when travelling on a Royal Jordanian business class ticket.  The girl on the desk checked our tickets under the barcode reader, a handbook, the computers, the desk top advertising plaque listing OW airlines where I had to point at the RJ logo, made two phone calls and only after a five minute wait were my wife and I admitted. RJ use a dingy paid lounge with no windows in the centre of HKG and Thai business lounges at BKK which are really bad. At least BA/Qantas first class lounge in BKK let me in no problem after checking the bording card.

Also, it could be worth reminding people that using an OW lounge when travelling on a different OW airline, they have no flight boarding/delay information screens and no reminders regarding boarding.  So don't fall asleep like I did once in Singapore and nearly miss your flight.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Sep 2011

Total posts 181

The same day ticket requirement should be renamed "departure within 24 hours".  CX from PER to HKG leaves just after midnight, technically I would never have been allowed in the OW lounge but I have never had an issue.  Nor anywhere else where departure is after midnight but checkin has been before midnight.


15 Apr 2011

Total posts 580

I am shocked by how many people don't understand these things. I was recently travelling with a collegue who has never in 8 years as a QF Plat realised that he can use F lounges rather than the J lounges his tickets permit him to use. He's hardly not travel savvy either.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2551

AM, that sort of traveller is definitely part of our target audience for these 'biztravel 101' articles, along with those who've just started travelling for business. There are a lot of 'frequent flyers' who simply aren't up on all the ins and outs of this.

But jeez, how sad that is, not knowing he could use the Qantas International First Lounge in Sydney or Melbourne! :(

Then again, I recall a sorta-similar thing – a friend/colleague who was Platinum and used the QF 1st Lounge in Sydney but through you had to pay for the meals and spa treatments, so over a year and maybe a half-dozen international flights he never once enjoyed a feed or a facial there!


04 Nov 2010

Total posts 670

Brilliant article for beginners, thanks ABT. I was travelling with a colleague last month to HK and he had no idea he could use their First lounge at The Wing which is a real haven, even though he was Platinum, we were on QF so he thought we had to use the QF lounge. Which is an 'okay' lounge but nothing special.

20 Jul 2011

Total posts 73

Good call.  If you're flying out of Melbourne on Cathay, you'd have to be mad to use the tiny and dingy CX lounge rather than the QF lounge.


05 Jun 2012

Total posts 128

I think there is another update here that needs to be updated!  The position has now reversed back to that described in the original article

01 Feb 2012

Total posts 370

The lounge search link is no longer accurate. The new link is at

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 666

Thanks spinoza! Update much appreciated.

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