oneworld is an airline alliance with 15 members including founding members British Airways (IATA Airline Code – BA), Cathay Pacific Airways (CX), Qantas Airways (QR), and American Airlines (AA) announced that Sapphire and Emerald members will receive additional benefits starting December 1, 2014.
Priority to December 1, 2014, oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members were subjected to different treatments when it comes to priority baggage management and free luggage allowance. In a move to implement a more consistent service standard across all its member airlines, oneworld management is standardizing these two items to enhance the overall elite member experience.
The following infographic (using airberlin as an example) illustrates the new enhancements:
In particular, Sapphire and Emerald member will get priority luggage tags even when travelling economy class. Additionally, Sapphire members will get more bag allowance (both pieces and weight).
The fine prints are as followed:
- Priority baggage delivery is not available on flights operated by British Airways.
- The Sapphire baggage benefit does not apply to tickets issued using British Airways’ “hand baggage only” fares.
- For domestic routes operated by LAN Airlines, Sapphire cardholders may check in up to two bags with a combined weight not exceeding 23 kgs.
This is a great enhancement for oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members who typically have to fly at least 50,000 elite qualification miles to receive these statuses and also bring them to the same level as the other alliances’ members discussed below.
Additional baggage allowance for Sappire members might result in increased weight per flight operated by each oneworld airline. This will bring higher fuel costs for each member.
Enhanced priority tag service to Sapphire and Emerald members on all classes of service might result in additional time taken to load and unload the baggages. This may result in priority tagged bags not consistently delivered to the baggage area first (a common frustration amongst some Star Alliance elite members at various airports).
It is also interesting that British Airways opted out of the new benefits so far.
The equivalent Gold members already have priority luggage tags service for all classes of travel. In addition, 2 bags of up to 20kg each are provided.
Similar to Star Alliance, top tier SkyTeam’s Elite Plus members can also enjoy one additional bag up to 20kg and have their bags priority tagged for all classes of service. As an extra bonus, even the lower tier SkyTeam Elite members enjoy some type of priority baggage delivery and allowance systemwide.
The introduction of priority tags and additional baggage allowance has pulled oneworld elite members even with the benefits already received by competitors. It is important that oneworld member airlines implement these new benefits consistently across all domestic and international flights. Monitoring how priority tagged baggages are loaded and unloaded might bring oneworld an advantage over other alliances.