Oneworld: no Diamond tier plans, no issue with first-only lounges

Oneworld: no Diamond tier plans, no issue with first-only lounges

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."

David Flynn

David Flynn (David)

david@ausbt.com.au / @djsflynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

8 Comments

  • fresh  thoughts

    freshthoughts

    12 Sep, 2017 09:44 pm

    The Qatar set up is a slap in the face to One World travellers who were sold the alliance on the idea of reciprocal rights and fluidity. 
    IMHO It really goes against the spirit of alliances and their creations.

    If One World had any teeth they'd tell Qatar to stick it theres no reason they cant offer their real business lounges to at least emeralds (although it should be sapphire in al mourjan lounge and emerald in Al Swafa) when cathay and Qantas manage to offer arguably superior products to he same people.
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  • smit0847

    smit0847

    12 Sep, 2017 10:29 pm

    One world don't have any teeth though - they need QR a lot more than QR need Oneworld. Star alliance would sign QR in a heartbeat.
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  • Steve987

    Steve987

    13 Sep, 2017 06:57 am

    They need them now ... one point to point exists they become far less relevant.
    Member who gave thanks

    iM

  • Chris

    flychrisfly

    13 Sep, 2017 01:10 pm

    But how premium is a premium lounge when it's jam packed?
    Member who gave thanks

    iM

  • crosscourt

    crosscourt

    13 Sep, 2017 04:45 pm

    Bingo..  You have it exactly right. Qatar is a pain in the you know where... 
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  • cloud-9

    cloud-9

    13 Sep, 2017 03:06 am

    QR lounges are still among the best in ow. Not in MEL SYD HKG but in most other hubs
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  • crosscourt

    crosscourt

    13 Sep, 2017 04:47 pm

    I disagree completely.  
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  • Ian_from_HKG

    Ian_from_HKG

    15 Sep, 2017 03:09 pm

    QR have a lounge in HKG???  Bloody hell, that's a well-kept secret.  Even the QR and oneworld sites don't mention it, and in all my hundreds of trips through HKG I have never seen it.

    I've never flown QR, but I love their lounge in London.  I get to visit that because the carve-out is only for access by status, and doesn't apply to access by travel class.  So if you are flying MH F or J, you can use the QR lounge!
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  • cloud-9

    cloud-9

    15 Sep, 2017 06:26 pm

    You are correct Ian: poorly phrased. I was just listing the airports I would chose to use the QF lounge as first option (as this is Aust BT).  Generally I prefer the QR lounges when flying ow.  Indeed I did use the QR LHR lounge when flying MH a few months ago :-)
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  • Ian_from_HKG

    Ian_from_HKG

    18 Sep, 2017 02:29 pm

    Sorry, mate, but I wouldn't use the QF lounge as first option in HKG, not with the choice of CX lounges instead. Even leaving aside the sublime Pier F, the Bridge (J) beats the QF lounge into a cocked hat.

    Mind you, I am very much looking forward to revisiting the QF F lounge with my family when we come down just after Christmas.  I hope it is still as good as I remember!
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  • Alex_upgrade

    alex_upgrade77

    13 Sep, 2017 03:24 pm

    I feel we're becoming high and mighty about lounge access. QR does provide a decent lounge to oneworld emeralds, despite this not being identical to the lounge First Class passengers exclusively enjoy. If you were a First Class passenger you'd probably appreciate that set up. 
    And if you don't like the set up, simply don't fly Qatar. I don't.
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  • Anthony Thompson

    triumph8

    13 Sep, 2017 04:21 pm

    i could not agree more, i fly first all the time and it is intensely irritating to have economy passengers and their children running amok in the first lounge, no matter what the airline.
    If i was running the lounges i wouldn't let economy passengers in the first lounge ever.
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  • Alex_upgrade

    alex_upgrade77

    13 Sep, 2017 05:29 pm

    Thanks triumph8. I don't have a problem with well behaved kids in lounges though and so long as I can find a seat, I'm happy. My point is about the sense of entitlement many of us FFs have (inc me sometimes). If QR wasn't supplying a lounge that would be one thing, but for people to continuously complain about this 2+ years after the event gets boring. There are other options for QF/OW FFs to get to Europe (via Dubai, HKG, KUL etc) that don't involve QR. If you don't like what's offered, don't use it. If QR or BA or SQ want to offer First Class exclusive lounges, good on them! QF can get away with it because SYD/MEL aren't large international transit hubs.  

    No member give thanks

  • traveller90

    traveller90

    13 Sep, 2017 05:57 pm

    I totally agree. It has nothing to do with snobbery, it is about service levels paid for and maintained. Nothing wrong with high tier frequent flyers being offered J Class lounges. Prior to the FF situation introduced in the 80's the only passengers in lounges were those who flew J and P/F. Simple! Now with lounge memberships and elite tiers the system has become messy. Why should a F/P passenger who has paid $12-18K per trip have their experience combined with Y passengers paying $1500 for the same experience. The balance has been lost! I feel this comment may irritate elite status Y passengers but may also be agreed upon by F/P passengers. Look forward to your comments.
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  • Alex_upgrade

    alex_upgrade77

    13 Sep, 2017 06:39 pm

    Agree wholeheatedly. Those emeralds travelling in Y demanding access to the QR First Class lounges always have the option of buying a premium ticket. The oneworld emerald perks are great. But they also create an expectation that inevitably leads to disappointment and frustration. Without repeating myself, if you don't like QR's policy, don't fly them.
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  • fresh  thoughts

    freshthoughts

    13 Sep, 2017 08:29 pm

    when an emerald enters an F lounge its being paid for, the BA gallery lounges cost some one world members $200 per entry. they're entitled to go as they've made enough value for some to be worth it and they are almost always in J any way. its about rewarding them to fly J within an alliance knowing they'll get a bit more because they fly more. they can fly J with any airline and get the same perks as sapphire 
    No member give thanks

  • Ian_from_HKG

    Ian_from_HKG

    15 Sep, 2017 03:14 pm

    Some considerable number of years ago I was told by a friend who is a VERY senior staffer of Cathay (title starts with "Chief" and ends with "Officer", with just one word inbetween) that QF charged them US$250 for every CX pax going into the F lounge in SYD.  I rather suspect that number is larger now...
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  • David Chan

    DavidChan

    13 Sep, 2017 03:24 pm

    Oneworld really needs a Korean airline. Only 2-3 Business class seats on a Qantas codeshare with Asiana from Sydney - and they are almost always booked out weeks in advance. Often one has to go Cathay via HK or Japan Airlines via Narita but the Narita/Inchon flights are also sparse.

    Members who gave thanks

    hbamsey, scottw

  • Himeno

    Himeno

    13 Sep, 2017 04:04 pm

    Good luck getting KE or OZ to leave Skyteam and Star.

    If the issue is AU-Korea flights and not having to connect through TYO or HKG, one of the original route ideas QF put forward for 787s was ICN. Maybe once QF has enough 787s, they'll start a SYD-ICN flight.
    Members who gave thanks

    DavidChan, scottw

  • David Chan

    DavidChan

    13 Sep, 2017 05:04 pm

    That seems too much to wish for!!
    No member give thanks

  • Wayne McKewen

    Waynemckewen

    13 Sep, 2017 06:43 pm

    I flew last week out of JFK, on American and was denied access to AA's first class restaurant as a QF Platinum member, told it was AA first class only.
    I also flew with Qatar earlier in the year, Sydney to Europe return and got nothing in way of reward points or status credits, as it was an economy ticket....great partnership
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  • Raymond De La Maza

    ConcordeRay

    13 Sep, 2017 07:03 pm

    Triumph8 I agree.The "keeping it exclusive" for the lounges should extend to in-flight as well.I had the privilege of once working for the now defunct Varig Airlines, and they NEVER upgraded anyone to business or first, no matter how many open seats they had.As staff, we were instructed that paying for a premium fare included the extended privelege of not having a neighbor on occasion.Not to be an industry dinosaur, but I keep meeting airline staff, buddy passriders, and a parade of mileage junkies in the first class cabins, and -frankly- wished they went to the seats they paid for! The no children rule in business and first at Malaysian has bought my patronage for life, especially as on all others on Middle East carriers having to put up with the unpleasantness of nanny and offspring constantly coming up to the premium cabins and the crew doing nothing about it.  
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  • Alex_upgrade

    alex_upgrade77

    13 Sep, 2017 08:09 pm

    ConcordeRay, I also agree. I have in the past flown on a 'staff buddy pass' in J and F on BA and was very discreet about it, always getting last digs on meal choice, no amenity kits, no new bottles of whine opened etc. But where staff travelling in J and F carry on like they've just won lotto with their endless selfies and umpteenth glasses of prosecco, it gets boring and annoying for those paying commercial fares. Lounges are similar. As others have already pointed out, as a passenger paying $1500 for a fare in Y compared to $8,000 in J and $12,000 in F, some hub airlines like Qatar, BA and others feel they want to protect their premium product for those paying premium prices. Alliance loyalty perhaps isn't as important to QR as it is to other airlines. Or maybe it's just that airlines like QF know that if they pulled access to the F lounges in Oz for emeralds and made their Platinums and P1s visit the Business Lounges, they'd lose a whole bunch of business. Plus, that F Lounge in Sydney is a money spinner for them every time a oneworld emerald in Y walks in the door.

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  • Rufus1

    Rufus1

    13 Sep, 2017 10:04 pm

    I wouldn't mind this if the QR "first" lounge was even remotely comparable to the standard of a regional Qantas Club lounge.  But it is genuinely poor.  Far below the standard of the Galleries First, which is where BA puts similar high status, non first class passengers.  I'd had to see how bad the "business" lounge is.
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  • Ian_from_HKG

    Ian_from_HKG

    15 Sep, 2017 03:25 pm

    I think we all need to remember that OW is the only alliance that gives access to "first class" lounges.  And while I do accept that a very small number of lounges (e.g. QR at Doha and London, and Concorde Rooms/Bars) are off-limits (which I do have a conceptual problem with, by the way) we are much more fortunate than the poor saps who align themselves with *A or ST and get stuck in J lounges or even, in the case of *A, with special "Gold" lounges that aren't even as good as the J lounges (can't speak for ST as I haven't tried theirs save for the AF J lounge in CDG).

    As mentioned in a comment above I haven't flown QR.  I think the fact that they shove economy-class status pax in London into a SkyTeam lounge in London is a bit sad, especially for OWE members - after all, as mentioned above, we may not spend huge bucks on one particular ticket but the loyalty we show to the alliance does mean that our overall spend is generally pretty high.  BA, in fairness (and I am normally one of their biggest critics, and I hate flying with them) do offer a genuine improved lounge experience (when compared to their J lounges) in London for OWE pax, notwithstanding that they offer an even better lounge (well - supposedly - I have seen lots of criticisms but haven't seen it myself as my only BA F flights in recent history have been INTO London, not leaving) for F pax.

    But still, circling back to my first point - we are still better off than our less enlightened peers in other alliances!
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23 Nov, 2017 03:21 am

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