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Oneworld is one of the three major airline alliances: Oneworld (American Airlines and partners), SkyTeam (Delta and partners) and Star Alliance (United and partners). It currently has a roster of 13 airlines and 30 affiliate members — like American Airlines’ regional partners and LATAM subsidiary airlines.

And this weekend at the IATA’s Annual General Meeting, Oneworld took steps to get even larger by adding a new airline to its alliance… kind of. Fiji Airways will become the first Oneworld Connect member. (The date will be announced at a later time.)

What’s Oneworld Connect?

Oneworld Connect is a new membership type in the Oneworld alliance that’s a step down from being a full member. Fiji Airways is the first — and so far only — Oneworld Connect member. All Oneworld elites will be granted priority check-in and priority boarding on Oneworld Connect airlines.

However, only alliance airlines acting as “Oneworld sponsors” will share further benefits with the Oneworld Connect airline. These benefits include:

  • Through check-in of bags and passengers: Allowing passengers to switch between the Sponsor airline and the Connect airline without having to claim and re-check your bags
  • Earn mileage rewards: Sponsor airline frequent flyers can collect miles for flying on the Connect airline (and visa versa)
  • Redeem mileage rewards: Sponsor airline frequent flyers can redeem miles to fly on the Connect airline (and visa versa)
  • Earn frequent flyer status points: Sponsor airline frequent flyers can earn their way toward elite status by flying on the Connect airline (and visa versa)
  • Access to select lounges at key airports for premium and top-tier customers: First and business class passengers and elites will be able to access lounges between Sponsor and Connect airlines
Image courtesy of The Forward Cabin on Twitter.

Who are Fiji Airways’ sponsors?

Good news for AAdvantage elites: American Airlines is one of the four sponsors of Fiji Airways’ Oneworld Connect membership. The other three are British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas.

Since Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LATAM Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines and SriLankan Airlines aren’t sponsors, Fiji Airways’ Oneworld Connect membership won’t mean much to members and elites of these mileage programs.

What does this mean for American Airlines elites and mileage collectors?

American Airlines and Fiji Airways already have a codeshare and frequent flyer partnership, so the changes will be minimal. AAdvantage members can already book and redeem AA miles on Fiji Airways, and the codeshare partnership allows passengers to check bags through to their final destination when traveling on the same reservation.

However, one notable improvement will be the ability to earn toward American Airlines elite status on Fiji Airways-marketed flights once the Oneworld Connect partnership goes into effect. Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM), Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS) and Elite Qualifying Dollar (EQD) earning rates haven’t been released yet.

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