If you are a member of an elite flying status program with a certain airline you can feel confident in accessing all the perks and benefits when you step on one of their planes. But what if you want to fly with another airline? Is there a way to access the same membership perks if you are heading to the different parts of the globe your membership airline doesn't cover?
Well thankfully, in the 1990s, major airlines across the globe for together to form alliances to reward their frequent flyers no matter where are traveling around the world. Two of the largest global airline alliances are Oneworld and Star Alliance. The best fit for you will depend upon your flying habits and what you prioritize when you book flights.
Below we will give you a rundown of the pros and cons of Star Alliance Membership and being a One World Alliance Member. We will then compare the benefits of the partners of Star Alliance and Oneworld Alliance airlines to help you make the best choice for your future travel.
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What is the Oneworld Alliance?
The Oneworld Alliances airlines group was formed in 1999 with the aim of being the best choice for frequent international travelers who want a premier airline experience no matter where they fly.
The Oneworld Alliance airline partners reward members by giving them flying privileges, frequent flyer rewards, and redemption of air miles with airlines across the network.
Which Carriers are Oneworld Alliance Airlines?
Here is a list of the Oneworld Member Airlines:
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Iberia Airlines
- Japan Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Air Maroc
- Royal Jordanian
- SriLankan Airlines
What Are The Pros of One World Alliance Membership?
You Can Earn One World Alliance Elite Status Through 2 US Airlines
You can access membership to Oneworld Alliance Airlines by the joining loyalty schemes of American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. Once you have earned elite status on each airline - Alaska Mileage Plan MVP, or American Airlines AAdvantage Gold, you can enjoy an elite treatment with all airlines across the alliance as a ruby member.
To access the highest tier of One World Alliance Membership you will need the following:
- 125,000 American Airlines Platinum Pro Loyalty Points
- 75,000 Alaska Elite Qualifying Miles.
You Can Purchase a One World Alliance Airline Membership Outright
You can speed up your qualification for elite status by using an AAdvantage credit card to build up points or else by buying Airmiles through Oneworld Alliance Airline partner Finnair.
With an AAdvantage card, you will be able to earn 1 mile for every dollar you spend on your everyday purchases, meaning you will be able to build your way up to One World elite status throughout the years whether you are traveling or not.
If you want to purchase Oneworld Elite status credits outright, then Finnair will periodically allow you to buy these from them. In 2021, if you spent $1,085 you could attain Oneworld Ruby status. $2,315 would allow you to buy your way to Oneworld Sapphire status.
Access Luxury Airport Lounges Across the Globe
Elite status with a Oneworld Alliance airline will give you access to high-quality lounges around the world. Sapphire elite members can use the business class lounges, whereas Emerald elite members will access first class and business lounges.
What are the Cons of Oneworld Alliance Airline Elite Membership?
There are no South American Airlines in the OneWorld Alliance
Although European and Asian airlines are well-represented in the alliance, there are currently no South American airlines included. Whereas you can use Oneworld alliance airlines to access select airports in destinations such as Lima and Sao Paulo, smaller airports are not visited by the current array of carriers.
You Can't Always Earn More Miles on Your Flights
You can redeem miles you have earned on one loyalty program against flights with Oneworld alliance airlines. But that doesn't mean that you can also earn more miles for your loyalty scheme while traveling on a partner airline. Whether you can gain points will depend upon individual agreements between the two airlines.
What is the Star Alliance?
The Star Alliance group was formed in 1997 and was the first global airline alliance available to flyers. It currently has 26 members and aims to provide elite members with a high-quality and seamless service across the globe, offering extensive rewards and benefits no matter which carrier you are on.
Which Airlines Are in Star Alliance?
An impressive 26 airlines are partners of Star Alliance, allowing you to access elite status around the world.
- Aegean Airlines
- Air Canada
- Air China
- Air India
- Air New Zealand
- Ana Airlines
- Asiana Airlines
- Brussels Airlines
- Copa Airlines
- Croatia Airlines
- Egypt Air
- Ethiopian Air
- Eva Air
- Lot Polish Airlines
- Shenzen Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- South African Airways
- Air Portugal
- Turkish Airlines
- United Airlines.
Pros of Star Alliance Membership
The Biggest Airline Alliance with 26 Member Airlines
As well as being one of the first alliances, it is also now one of the biggest with 26 different member air carriers. This widens your options for when you are traveling internationally, giving you more flexibility in redeeming points when booking.
Partners of Star Alliance currently fly to more than 1,000 destinations across the world, in 195 different countries.
More Access to Airport Lounges Than Competitors
Along with there being a large number of partners of Star Alliance, there are also a large number of airport lounges you can access while you travel. There are more than 1,000 lounges across the globe, meaning you will have more chance of finding somewhere quiet to rest in between flights.
You Can Access Seat Upgrades Through Your Elite Membership
You can redeem your miles for a seat upgrade on a Star Alliance flight with participating airlines. This is a unique benefit that marks them out from other airline alliances. You can access this Star Alliance Upgrade award through your normal frequent flyer program and use your collected miles to pay.
Cons of Star Alliance Membership
There Are Fewer Status Tiers Than OneWorld
You will only be able to access two status tiers through a Star Alliance membership and this level will be based on your current membership status with your member airline. The two available levels are categorized as Silver and Gold status.
With silver status, you will be put at the top of standby lists and will also be out at the top of wait lists for fully booked flights.
The gold status will give you priority access to airport security and immigration lanes, priority boarding and check-in, extra luggage allowance, and access to airport lounges.
So, while the star alliance members' silver status is quite sparse, gold status does have a healthy range of perks to make your progress through airports a lot smoother.
Star Alliance Membership vs One World Alliance Member Status
Whether Oneworld Alliance Airline status or Star Alliance membership is best for you will depend upon how and where you fly.
For flexibility of flight bookings, the sheer number of partners of Star Alliance is hard to beat. You can book flights to more than 1,300 destinations worldwide while enjoying perks and status benefits.
Having said that, the number of Oneworld Alliance airlines is not inconsiderable and they have more US-based airlines in their roster - American Airlines or Alaska. Star Alliance Members can only book with United to enjoy their status perks.
In terms of elite status levels and accompanying benefits, Oneworld has three different tiers compared to Star Alliance's two, And the benefits across each status level seem stronger with Oneworld Alliance, with the silver status of Star Alliance appearing particularly bare.
If baggage perks are a deal breaker, then Oneworld Alliance offers free checked bags on all of the One World Alliance member flights except British Airways. Star Alliance membership doesn't guarantee their elites free checked bags on Air New Zealand, Lufthansa, SAS, Brussels Airlines, Swiss, and Austrian Airlines.
Summary: Is it Better to Have Status With Star Alliance or Oneworld?
Whether Star Alliance Membership or One World Alliance members status is best for you will depend upon your personal preferences and travel habits. Take a look at the partner airlines with each alliance and the destinations they cover, this should be your biggest indicator of which status is likely to be most beneficial to you.
Star Alliance has One World beat in terms of the number of airlines, but OneWorld offers members stronger benefits once they reach elite status. Which aspect of elite membership is most important to you will guide your decision.
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