Fiji Airways Joins Oneworld Connect, but What Does It Mean Exactly?
On Wednesday, Fiji Airways officially began operating as the first global airline partner on the new Oneworld Connect platform, first announced back in June.
The Oneworld Connect platform, connected to the Oneworld alliance which includes American Airlines and British Airways, allows select non-alliance airlines to share certain Oneworld services and benefits with their customers. In turn, passengers get to enjoy a more seamless travel experience. In order to qualify as a Oneworld Connect partner, an airline must be sponsored by a minimum of three Oneworld members. Fiji's inaugural sponsors include all four of Oneworld’s founding members: American, British, Cathay Pacific and Qantas. American, Cathay Pacific and Qantas already codeshare with, and have frequent flyer links, with Fiji Airways, while British Airways and Fiji Airways have discussed additional expansion opportunities in their mutual partnership.
The (confusing) benefits are as follows:
In plainer speak, customers of American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Qantas will enjoy through check-in privileges for themselves and their luggage when flying Fiji Airways. This means travelers can pass all the way through on a single check-in at their origin airport, instead of having to collect their bags and check in again when transitioning between airlines. Furthermore, travelers who booked tickets through these four Oneworld airlines will now also be able to earn and redeem miles, including status miles, on Fiji flights. That's a lot of the benefits of full alliance membership as far as passengers are concerned.
In turn, Fiji Airways travelers benefit from the new Oneworld Connect relationship as well. Fiji frequent flyers will enjoy the same through check-in privileges on American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas. Furthermore, Tabua Plus cardholders receive priority check-in, priority boarding, and select lounge access worldwide on flights both marketed and operated by the above four airlines.
Most of the partnership benefits for British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas customers kicked in on December 5, while benefits for American Airlines customers will be phased in by late Q1 2019. But Avios redemption on Fiji is not yet available, although it will be coming in the near future. Similarly, Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club members will be able to earn or redeem club points or earn tier status points on Fiji Airways sometime in the near future, although the specific date hasn't yet been announced.
The Oneworld airline alliance is fielding conversations with other carriers interested in participating in Oneworld Connect. According to media reports, Alaska Airlines is a possible candidate.