Qantas' budget airline, Jetstar, will now be considered a quasi-member of the oneworld alliance, allowing travellers to book oneworld itineraries including Jetstar flights, as long as they are codeshared with Qantas.
From 1 February, flights operated by Jetstar (JQ) but ticketed by Qantas under a QF flight number -- will be available through the oneworld Explorer round-the-world fare and oneworld Circle Pacific, Circle Asia and South West Pacific and Circle Trip Explorer multi-continent packages.
Although Jetstar is targeted towards leisure rather than business travellers, and its international business class is somewhere between Qantas' unloved domestic business class and international premium economy, it does have some distinct advantages over its full-service big brother, Qantas, in some of the direct routes it flies.
"Jetstar operates routes where other oneworld carriers are weak, particularly to Bali, Christchurch, Phuket, Ho Chi Minh, Osaka & Hawaii," Mark Trim, director of South Australian travel agency RoundAbout Travel, told Australian Business Traveller.
"For travellers residing in and around the Gold Coast, where Qantas no longer operates from, this will be a welcome announcement and provide easier connections to major international routes ex-Sydney."
Jetstar also operates convenient domestic routes in Australia that Qantas doesn't, such as Sydney to Launceston direct.
The changes don't mean Jetstar has joined oneworld, or that Qantas customers will be able to earn points if they fly Jetstar on a single-flight basis. Flights must be booked under a Qantas flight number as part of a full oneworld ticket including oneworld airlines Qantas, American Airlines, BA, Iberia, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, LAN or Royal Jordanian.
What it means for oneworld package fares
Though Qantas has been a member of oneworld since the alliance was launched, it's the first time Jetstar aircraft will be allowed to be used in a oneworld itinerary such as the popular packaged deals sold through travel agents or on oneworld's website.
"Jetstar was already involved with the Global Explorer fare, a partnership of oneworld carriers and other smaller carriers including Aer Lingus and Alaskan Airlines," says RoundAbout Travel's Mark Trim.
"The Global Explorer round-the-world fares are priced based on the overall mileage travelled, whereas the oneworld Explorer fare is priced on the continents travelled with an overall allocation of sectors and included internal flights.
"This will benefit travelers who may want to fly a route that may far exceed the mileage restrictions on the Global Explorer fare, but could be ticketed on the oneworld Explorer fare.
Business travellers who are looking to preserve or attain the coveted Qantas Platinum status, will also benefit from the changes, Trim says.
"For corporate travelers and frequent flyer members the oneworld Explorer fare is fantastic for accruing frequent flyer points and status credits due to the lack of mileage restrictions.
"For business class travelers, the ability to fly in First class within the USA without penalty can result in a huge windfall for their status credits and a popular way to increase to higher frequent flyer tiers."
“For corporate travelers it may be important to note that the QF codeshare flight numbers provide benefits not usually associated with Jetstar’s discount fares. Luggage allowance will be honored at the level stipulated for the whole ticket, this on the piece system [2 pieces at 23kg for economy] where travel to North or South America is involved. Interline [checked through] baggage looks set to be included along with select meals and drinks as if one of the higher tiered Jetstar fare types had been purchased. It remains to be seen if business class travelers will be accommodated in Jetstar Star Class but we assume this is the case.”
"In the future, the inclusion of Jetstar Asia [3K] flights would greatly increase the reach of oneworld in South East Asia, where it is currently very weak. In Asia, oneworld only has the hub cities of Hong Kong and Tokyo for internal flights. Being able to fly on the Jetstar Asia network would add routes that are currently dominated by Star Alliance airlines including Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways."
Pricing on the oneworld package fares is available via the oneworld website.