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Oneworld Could Change Everything About Upgrading With Miles

Oneworld Could Change Everything About Upgrading With Miles
Joe Cortez

Airline alliance Oneworld is exploring how to make the miles of all members even more valuable through upgrades with any currency. The group wants to make upgrades seamless, no matter which currency you collect: If it’s from a Oneworld carrier, you could potentially use them to use upgrades on any alliance carrier.

Airline alliance Oneworld could completely change the way frequent flyers of their member carriers use their miles for upgrades around the world. In a brief statement to Executive Traveller, the group confirmed they are exploring ways to make upgrades aboard member airlines universal using any frequent flyer miles from within the group.

Upgrades with any Oneworld miles on any Oneworld carrier

If the plan moves forward, miles would transcend carriers and become nearly universal for use towards upgrades, similar to how members can use miles for flights aboard alliance carriers. That is: If you are flying a British Airways flight, you could potentially use American Airlines AAdvantage miles to upgrade from economy to premium economy, or premium economy to business class. The same would be true for any combination of the alliance’s 13 member carriers.

“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,” a spokesperson for the alliance told Executive Traveller. The group wants to differentiate themselves by delivering “a superior customer experience that provides value for both Oneworld member airlines and their customers.”

FlyerTalk’s take on the proposed upgrade system

If the system allows for upgrades using all member frequent flyer miles across the Oneworld system, it could forever change the dynamics of how points and miles are used. However, FlyerTalkers aren’t as excited, noting the many problems in using miles to upgrade today with their carrier of choice.

“Think they should keep it simple and people just allowed to use their miles to upgrade and forget about anything else like system-wide upgrades,” opines FlyerTalker UKTravelbear, who is currently a British Airways Executive Club Gold elite.

“With the already scarce upgrade space on BA, I’m not sure I’d welcome this being opened up to other [Oneworld] members and their points,” writes forum member manord.

With the potential of other points being accepted, other flyers worry that an imbalance of points and earned miles could make an already crowded field even more competitive. For instance, FlyerTalker orbitmic notes that while it could be a “gamechanger,” it would only work “Until they realise that it means that [American AAdvantage] members flooded with promo miles from every possible random shop or credit card would be getting all of our award and upgrade space.”

Potential price points and points requirements have not yet been disclosed by Oneworld. In the meantime, carriers are carrying out research into consumer interest. According to Executive Traveller, Qantas is currently gathering surveys from flyers about how and when they could use miles for an upgrade, as well as possible price point scenarios.

What’s your opinion on the potential change? Share your thoughts on the FlyerTalk Forums today!

View Comments (10)


  1. PHL

    December 4, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    Unless you are on a full fare coach looking to upgrade with points or some other non-monetary method – this will probably still be geared to gives elite members of the actual airline first dibs at upgrades, and will be highly restrictive for everyone else just as points-based intl upgrades are now on our own airline.

  2. AAdamE

    December 5, 2019 at 8:23 am

    American has the most generous mile conversions, so it seems like a way for them to once again increase the milage costs for upgrades under the guise that they are simply aligning with OW.

  3. yeldogt

    December 6, 2019 at 4:22 am

    I’m in BA’ s program w/ 2x BA’s CC in the family. So — we get two companion certificates to use with miles each year. We just flew Kenya business from JFK to Nairobi .. it was easier to snag a good deal on Kenya just paying for the tickets vs trying to get space on BA. The LHR fees plus the stop — not worth it. It’s never worth JFK – LHR. American has a more useful program

  4. azmojo

    December 6, 2019 at 7:27 am

    Upgrades are already competitive enough. Why is this necessary? I bet they want to do the “fake” miles upgrade. Burn 10k miles + pay $100 fee. It’s the $100 they are after…

  5. Full Score

    December 6, 2019 at 8:22 am

    If BA wants to differentiate itself by delivering “a superior customer experience that provides value for both Oneworld member airlines and their customers” then they should start by freeing up more Avios seating, particularly LHR to the West Coast. F seating is almost non-existent to SAN, LAX, PHX & SFO – even for a longtime Gold member, maybe a total of 15 seats on these combined routes over 12 months. Now that is NOT a “superior customer experience”.

  6. RealityBites

    December 6, 2019 at 10:10 am

    For me as a QFF, this would be an excellent move which would significantly increase my likely use of OneWorld carriers in my global travels.

  7. Bensi

    December 6, 2019 at 10:38 am

    Game changer for me, I do not book codeshares because I am unable to upgrade.

  8. IanFromHKG

    December 8, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    The point some seem to miss is that just as, on each airline, there will be more people with points from other airlines competing for seats, so there will be fewer of that airline’s OWN members competing for those seats because they will be trying to get seats on other carriers. Sure some airlines will be more popular than others, but at the end of the day the number of points and the number of seats globally won’t change. The most likely outcome is that fewer people will let points expire which means there will be a little more competition, but it could be just at the margins

  9. bartidog

    December 9, 2019 at 8:58 am

    I’m Platinum Executive on American and as difficult as it is to actually use miles for travel, I may actually be tempted to use them for upgrades. I always laugh when they’re plugging the latest credit card offer with a 60,000 bonus mile offer, saying that’s good for 2 round trip tickets to Hawaii, Carribbean, Europe, etc. Yea, sure. Maybe if you book 3 years in advance and at travel at the absolute least desireable times to visit those places.

  10. BigChiefToiletPaper

    December 13, 2019 at 11:07 am

    ““With the already scarce upgrade space on BA, I’m not sure I’d welcome this being opened up to other [Oneworld] members and their points,” writes forum member manord.”

    This is short-sighted and an (albeit) selfish way of thinking. As An AAdvantage member it would be fantastic to use points with other One World carriers interchangeably. BA is a hopelessly overstretched airline when it comes to upgrades.I don’t think any of us, regular BA flyers or not, expect much from them regardless. The way to look at it is now you can fly another One World carrier and with more possibility, be able to use your points for benefits. Think about that next time you are on a flight to Tokyo and you could have used those points to upgrade on Japan Airlines.

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