Oneworld mulls points upgrades across all member airlines

Under the proposal, any Oneworld airline's frequent flyer points could be used for an upgrade on any other alliance member.

By David Flynn, December 4 2019
Oneworld mulls points upgrades across all  member airlines

Qantas Frequent Flyers may soon be able to leverage their Qantas Points for an upgrade with any of Oneworld's twelve other member airlines – a roster which will include Casablanca-based Royal Air Maroc in the first half of 2020.

The same would apply to spending other Oneworld member airline currencies such as American Airlines AAdvantage miles, British Airways Avios, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and Qatar Airways Privilege Club Qmiles.

An alliance-wide upgrade system is currently being examined by Oneworld and its members, an alliance spokeswoman confirmed to Executive Traveller.

Under the plan, passengers could use their own airline's points to apply for next cabin upgrades such as from economy to premium economy or business class, and even business to first class.

"Oneworld is evaluating a number of new customer initiatives, including a potential offering that will give Oneworld member airline frequent flyers the option of using points for upgrades across the alliance," said Oneworld's Vice-President of Corporate Communications, Ms Ghim-Lay Yeo.

The underlying aim of the points upgrade plan is "to deliver a superior customer experience that provides value for both Oneworld member airlines and their customers.”

How Oneworld-wide upgrades might work

The proposal is still in the earliest stages of its assessment and if approved, would not be likely to be launched until the second half of 2020.

Qantas has already begun polling frequent flyers on the concept, with surveys circulating last week sketching out some options such as setting a minimum for points-based upgrades across airlines at the more expensive standard and flexible economy fares rather than "discount economy or economy sale fares."

The survey also flagged the possibility of these other-airline upgrades being made available on a last-minute basis as little as "within one day of the scheduled flight."

Airlines would however need to balance their stock of available award seats to meet the demand of their own customers along with passengers on other airlines. 

Also read: Oneworld pushes back opening of its own-branded lounges to late 2020


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2012

Total posts 308

This would be an amazing enhancement to the OW Alliance. It would definitely assist keep my loyalty to OW.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 363

Great idea and I think most OW members would give this the big thumbs up. Assuming primary members have the priority on their primary carrier (e.g. QFF on QF, AAdv on AA etc), then that leaves a huge pool of potential upgrade pressure on carriers with relatively smaller networks versus the mega carriers of AA and BA. Look forward to seeing how things balance out.

21 Aug 2019

Total posts 63

100% in favour. Most regular journeys are in the US and Europe via LHR so OW all the way with AA or BA. Also would be great to use CX.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

27 Sep 2017

Total posts 37

Long overdue. In Australia I've been looking forward to VA doing the same with its alliance members. Oneworld is really behind the 8 ball on this one. Star Alliance had this concept for ages now...

British Airways - Executive Club

28 Mar 2014

Total posts 76

Smart move. Will help use up the millions of FFPts sitting in accounts, whilst saving on 'free' OpUps (although of course they will continue, albeit possibly less often).

Great way to sample a higher class of a lesser flown airline :-)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Aug 2016

Total posts 12

sketching out some options such as setting a minimum for points-based upgrades across airlines at the more expensive standard and flexible economy fares rather than "discount economy or economy sale fares."

No good for those of us who fly a lot for work, but work pays for the cheapest possible ticket. I can push for Qantas or OneWorld and usually get it, but still cheapest flight.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Nov 2018

Total posts 97

I suppose the ‘catch' would be status.

I have accounts with QF, BA, AA & CX. My main status is currently with QF.

Now, say I'm on a BA HKG LHR flight with QFF recorded (so that I get the perks of my QFF status) and I want to use my BA Avios to upgrade... I'll probably be forced to remove my QFF number from the booking and thereby loose my status recognition...

Also, 1 BA Avios does not equal 1 QFF point...

I think lots of negotiating will be required.

After Qantas' last ‘points re-evaluation' stunt earlier this year I'm not hopeful of a system that my well further devaluate my points...

British Airways - Executive Club

28 Mar 2014

Total posts 76

I would suspect you could credit miles to your preferred account. It would be pretty unpopular otherwise!

But, as you say, the devil is in the detail. Unlikely to be a simple 1=1 point.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 403

I was surveyed by QF. I think the idea is fine BUT priority must always be with the airline you're a member with ie: if you're registered for points upgrade on qantas with your QF points, someone from say American should not be given the upgrade ahead of the qantas pax.


11 Oct 2017

Total posts 9

I'm still trying to use QFF points to book tickets with one world "partners" with little success, so maybe they could improve this first.

19 Aug 2017

Total posts 11

That would be great news, as I travel to singapore then up to HK every 3 weeks from London, so means I am able to use QFP on CX flights.

03 Jun 2019

Total posts 4

I'm not sure how this will benefit ordinary flyers. If you look at Star Alliance, an alliance-wide upgrade system only applies to full fare (flexible) economy/business class ticket. Good if your work pays the full fare, but it really sucks if you are paying out of your own pocket, considering sometimes a discounted business class ticket is a lot cheaper than a full fare economy class ticket.

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