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With snappy new branding and app-based smarts, the Oneworld alliance is sharpening its appeal to globe-trotting business travellers hopping between its 13 member airlines.
Those seamless connections which travellers always wish for – along with alliance-based creature comforts such as lounge access and more generous baggage allowance – are behind Oneworld’s new Travel Bright tagline and brand identity as well as a new platform for sharing data between each airline’s individual apps.
“We’re not trying to communicate to the entire universe of people who are flying on our member airlines (but to) a small but very important subset of those,” said Oneworld CEO Rob Gurney, “to business travellers who have need to travel on more than one airline.”
As an alliance, “there’s an enormous amount of low-hanging fruit in things that we can do far more efficiently and effectively,” Gurney told Australian Business Traveller on the sidelines of a press conference in London to mark the alliance's 20th anniversary, which led with news that Oneworld would open its own network of lounges at key airports around the world starting later this year.
“We don’t think we are in a bad place but we think we can be much better – the fact that our most valued customers don’t always understand the benefits (of Oneworld), we’ve got to do a better job of communicating those.”
Central to this is a new data exchange pipeline capable of sending data for connecting flights to airline apps.
Passengers booked on connecting flights with Oneworld airlines will eventually be able to check-in, preselect their seats, obtain boarding passes, get advice on lounge locations and priority security lanes, track baggage and receive flight updates all through a single airline’s app, rather than having to load, log into and switch between several apps at different stages of the journey.
In the case of a passenger flying with Qantas from Sydney to Los Angeles, and then with American Airlines from Los Angeles to Chicago, “a gate for your flight to Chicago would not have been assigned when you leave Sydney,” Gurney explained.
“What this platform will enable, assuming you have checked in on the Qantas app, is that on arrival at LAX you’ll get push notations within the Qantas app advising what gate at LA your American Airlines flight is departing from.”
There’s no fancy name for the system, which is intended to be invisible to passengers, but within Oneworld it’s been dubbed Carrier Connect.
Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways have already implemented Carrier Connect, and Gurney said that other Oneworld member airlines will hook into the hub in the next 12-18 months.
That, in turn, leads to Oneworld’s fresh new look and Travel Bright brand booster.
“This platform is right at the essence of Oneworld,” Gurney told Australian Business Traveller.
“We’re a brand that symbolises a coalition – if you think about brands like Mastercard and Visa, you can have different bank cards but the fact that it’s a Mastercard or Visa card means there is a form of universal acceptance."
“That’s kind of where Oneworld is today, it implies a coalition, so what we really want to do is try and drive it to more of a ‘force multiplier’ and move it alone that value curve, a bit like ‘Intel Inside’, where it means there is a little bit more (under the surface).”
David Flynn travelled to London as a guest of Qantas and Oneworld.