Will the first Oneworld-branded lounge be at Seoul?

It appears an all-new Oneworld lounge is taking shape at Seoul’s Terminal 1.

By David Flynn, September 8 2023
Will the first Oneworld-branded lounge be at Seoul?

The first Oneworld-branded lounge could open at South Korea’s Incheon International Airport in Seoul, playing host to business class passengers and top-tier frequent flyers of American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Malaysia Airlines, JAL, Qatar Airways and Qantas, among others.

Those Oneworld members all fly into and out of Seoul’s ICN Terminal 1, but none have their own lounge.

Seoul has previously been strongly tipped as sitting on the shortlist for the first in a network of Oneworld-branded and backed lounges which the alliance initially announced in 2019.

“The idea is that we develop these where no single airline has a massive presence, but we have multiple airlines flying into the same airport, maybe with daily flights,” then-CEO Rob Gurney told Executive Traveller at the time.

“So while collectivity we (as Oneworld) have a lot of flights, no single airline could justify the cost of the lounge.”

The former Jeju Air lounge at Seoul T1, which is now suspected to become a Oneworld-branded lounge.
The former Jeju Air lounge at Seoul T1, which is now suspected to become a Oneworld-branded lounge.

Oneworld’s rivals Star Alliance and SkyTeam each have their own network of branded airport lounges to complement the lounges of individual airline members.

A recent post on social media platform Twitter X by Bloomberg transport journalist Danny Lee shows a construction notice on some hoarding outside what he describes as the former Seoul T1 lounge of Jeju Air, with Lee saying the Korean text on the notice translates as “Oneworld lounge improvement construction.”

The former Jeju Air lounge at Seoul T1, which is now suspected to become a Oneworld-branded lounge.
The former Jeju Air lounge at Seoul T1, which is now suspected to become a Oneworld-branded lounge.

Approached by Executive Traveller for comment, a spokesperson said “the development of Oneworld branded lounges is actively progressing, and we look forward to sharing more details including its locations in the coming months.”

However, the development of a Oneworld lounge at Seoul tracks with what we’ve previously heard – that the opening of the first Oneworld lounge would take place before the end of this year, with more to follow from 2024.

Jeju Air’s lounge at Seoul Terminal 1 opened in early 2019, but pulled down the shutters after the pandemic hit in 2020.

Designed along a relaxed ‘guesthouse’ vibe with elements to mimic a living room, dining room and kitchen, playroom and yard, the short-lived JJ Lounge was a bold move for the low-cost carrier.

The former Jeju Air lounge at Seoul T1, which is now suspected to become a Oneworld-branded lounge.
The former Jeju Air lounge at Seoul T1, which is now suspected to become a Oneworld-branded lounge.

Located on the 4th floor of T1, near Gate 28, the 550m2 space was listed as having seating for 140 passengers – putting it about half the size of British Airways’ Singapore lounge, for comparison.

That would certainly be a squeeze during peak travel times, with so many Oneworld airlines departing from Seoul T1.

However, a more creative layout could boost the passenger capacity, and it’s not known if the project may also have annexed adjacent space at T1 to expand the lounge’s overall footprint.

If I recall correctly, when OneWorld announced its lounge plans in early 2019 the CEO later indicated there would be an announcement in the middle of the year, and in the middle of 2019 the big annual IATA meeting was held in Seoul, so it was assumed they would use the AGM to announce the opening of a Seoul OneWorld lounge, of course IATA came and went, and then COVID hit, so it's good to see OneWorld getting this program back on track. Paris and Berlin were also mentioned as possible OneWorld lounge locations, nothing ever happened at Berlin, but the CX lounge at Paris CDG remains closed so maybe this will re-open next year as a Oneworld lounge?

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 410

I was surprised Oneworld didn't take over the Qantas LAX Business lounge once it shut during Covid. Europe would also has a lot of cities which several Oneworld airlines fly to, eg AY, BA, CX and QR but none have lounges at, but I suppose it all comes down to $$, like everything else, well $$ and also if those airports have the space available too.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2014

Total posts 156

Well the Korean and Asiana lounges at Incheon are pretty underwhelming by modern standards so hopefully this new Oneworld Lounge (if it happens) raises the bar significantly in Seoul. If it's along the lines of a modern Cathay Lounge standard that would be great.


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