The oneworld alliance has improved its free elite checked baggage allowance and priority baggage handling.
Priority Baggage Delivery
oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members — in the AAdvantage program the equivalent is Platinum and Executive Platinum; with British Airways Silver and Gold — will receive priority luggage tags when checking baggage on any oneworld alliance member.
Notice I say the benefit is for priority luggage tags rather than “priority checked baggage” as oneworld advertises — because there’s huge variability across airlines in how well priority bags are delivered.
It’s fair to say that the benefit will be equivalent to what’s offered to business class passengers. Whether the execution happens or not varies by airlines and airports, though the Asian carriers are generally quite good at this. American Airlines? Not so much. At Washington National they used to be good at it, they had a dedicated priority baggage area with staff assistance. That was eliminated with the US Airways merger and now I find bags don’t come out according to their tags at all.
British Airways is specifically excluded from this benefit.
Increased Checked Baggage Allowance
Mid-tier elites will now get a free checked baggage allowance by virtue of their status.
- On international itineraries members get a second bag, weighing up to 23 kgs, when the ticketed allowance is one bag.
- On domestic itineraries members get at least one piece of checked baggage, weighing up to 23 kgs. (LAN domestic flights allow a total of two checked bags with combined weight up to 23 kgs.)
- Where the normal baggage limited is based on weight, the benefit is an additional 15 kgs
British Airways carry on bag only fares do not get this benefit.
How oneworld Compares to Other Alliances
Overall both of these benefits are things that many oneworld alliance members already offer, they’re now just formalizing it across the alliance thus it will be offered uniformly. At least the checked baggage benefit will be, except on exempt flights. And the priority baggage benefit will be offered, at least when there’s actually execution of the benefit.
oneworld is just playing catchup here. They aren’t driving benefits beyond what Star and Skyteam offer.
Star Alliance remains the most advance alliance overall, with an alliance-wide upgrade benefit (where members can use miles for upgrades on alliance airlines, albeit limited to full fare tickets) that most alliance member airlines participate in.
Where oneworld does go above and beyond competitors though is with a benefit that isn’t new — top tier elites don’t just have lounge access even when flying economy on an alliance partner, they get first class lounge access. There are exceptions, such as the British Airways Concorde Room. But Cathay Pacific’s The Wing as an alliance benefit is meaningful, though it does lead to some crowded first class lounges.
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