The Oneworld airline alliance is content with its current three alliance-wide tiers and has no plans to introduce a top Diamond level to incorporate the loftiest 'above Emerald' status of several member airlines.
"We're not looking at adding a formal additional tier," Oneworld CEO Rob Gurney tells Australian Business Traveller.
"I think airlines have become a lot more effective at segmenting their customer base (and) differentiating across a high group of super premium customers. What we are looking at is doing a much more effective job explaining to the customers that are currently into those tiers the benefits that they get, and communicating that more effectively."
One of those key benefits for Emerald status-holders is access to the flagship lounges of Oneworld's 14 members – except for when airlines decide their best lounges should be reserved for their own first class passengers, as is the case with British Airways' Concorde Room and Qatar Airways' Al Safwa lounge at Doha.
In the case of Qatar Airways, for example, Oneworld Emerald card-holders travelling in economy are shunted into a pseudo-'first class' lounge, with a similar 'business class' lounge for Sapphire-grade members (such as Qantas Golds).
"I think we've got to respect that our member airlines at times are going to want to provide exceptional premium services for their own customer franchise," Gurney espouses, "particularly if they feel they're relevant and important to their own brand and market position."
"I don't see it as necessarily inconsistency... when you look at the proposition for our Emeralds and Sapphires it's a very extensive (and) high quality network of lounges. Overall, our main goal is to ensure that we've got an outstanding lounge coverage across our network."