Oneworld is continuing to roll out its at-airport support centres to handle tight connections and minimise missed flights between alliance airlines.
Following the opening of oneworld's Global Support centre at Sydney Airport earlier this year, a similar operation is now being trialled at Tokyo's Narita airport "with Hong Kong to follow in the second half of the year" says Michael Blunt, oneworld’s Vice-President Corporate Communications.
"The main role of these centres is to ensure oneworld member airlines can offer the most robust and customer-friendly transfer service at our key hub airports, ironing out any snags, in many cases before customers are even aware of them" Blunt tells Australian Business Traveller.
"The main focus is on transfers disrupted for any reason, missed connections and failed through-check-ins."
The Global Support desks are staffed by each oneworld airline operating from the airport. In the case of Sydney Airport the team consists of employees from Qantas, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and LAN, who monitor incoming oneworld flights with an eye towards passengers making onwards connections.
“If a flight is running late and there’s a risk of a passenger losing their connection, the team will they will lay down the red carpet treatment to get the customer through the airport and to the departure aircraft so that they make their connection” Blunt explains.
“If the incoming flight is arriving too late to make the connection they will rebook the passenger onto another connecting flight and in the extreme they’ll go to the aircraft and meet the customer with the new ticket and boarding pass.”
Similar procedures are in place for their baggage.
Oneworld also has Global Support desks in place at Chicago O’Hare, London Heathrow, Los Angeles, Madrid, Miami and New York JFK airports.
"Qantas is participating at all the centres opened and should join the Tokyo Narita trial soon" Blunt says.
Just don’t go looking for the oneworld service counter at any of those airports. “This is all behind the scenes” Blunt says.
"The service is proactive, offered by the airlines, so there is no Global Support centre desk in the public part of the terminal for individual customers to walk up and request assistance. The whole intent is for these people to go out to the customer. You don’t come looking for us – we’ll find you!”.