∑s of alliance-wide upgrades coming to the oneworld alliance since well before the pandemic so the fact that these are being discussed isn’t news. What *is* news is that we’re now expecting to finally see these upgrade options become reality later this year…apparently.
Executive Traveller is a pretty good source of information when it comes to the oneworld alliance and it has now run an article in which it says that its sources tell it that “points-based upgrades” are coming to the oneworld alliance this year.
For some, this will be good news, but I find myself struggling to generate much enthusiasm for what is sure to be promoted as a big bonus for oneworld flyers once the upgrades are rolled out.
The reasons for my apathy towards this news stem from having seen how Star Alliance handles its alliance-wide upgrades (Star Alliance airlines have offered alliance-wide upgrades for years) and my belief that oneworld will almost certainly go down a similar route.
Firstly, not all Star Alliance bookings are upgradable. Upgrades are reserved for flexible tickets and not for any of the discounted fare classes (e.g. you can’t book a discounted Business Class fare on Lufthansa and then upgrade yourself to First Class).
Unless you’re fortunate enough to have an employer who’s happy to book you into one of the more expensive fare classes (or you’re comfortably rich yourself), it’s unlikely that you’ll find yourself booking an upgradable fare with any great frequency…if ever.
Secondly, upgrade availability is decided by revenue management and is usually directly linked to saver award availability so even if you happen to have booked one of the expensive fares and are eligible for an upgrade, there’s every chance that upgrades won’t be available (have you seen how hard it can be to book saver awards on some of the more popular airlines?)
Another reason that I’m not bursting with anticipation and looking forward to the day when alliance-wide awards are available on oneworld airlines is that I expect them to require a prohibitive number of miles or points.
Yes, it’s true to say that Star Alliance upgrades are not unreasonably priced and so if I was to follow the logic of my earlier argument (that oneworld will copy Star Alliance), I should expect oneworld upgrades not to require an unreasonable number of miles/points.
Unfortunately, I’m a pessimist when it comes to any kind of change to the miles and points world and as I’ve seen how expensive some oneworld airlines have made their awards and how impossible some oneworld airlines have made it to book saver awards, I can’t help but feel that whatever upgrades the oneworld alliance introduces will cost far more than most of us will be happy to pay. Failing that, I wouldn’t put it past the airlines to add on huge surcharges to make the upgrades uneconomical.
In summary, I don’t think I really care if alliance-wide upgrades ever come to the oneworld alliance because I don’t think they’ll be a useful tool for the vast majority of people reading this blog…or the vast majority of travelers, for that matter.
I hope I’m proven wrong but I don’t think I will be 🙂
The rumor that the oneworld alliance will introduce alliance-wide upgrade has raised its head once again with Executive Traveller reporting that they’ll be introduced at some point in 2022. Assuming oneworld goes down a similar path to Star Alliance I doubt that these upgrades will be of much use to the majority of readers, but I guess it will be interesting to see what the airlines come up with.
What are you expecting the oneworld alliance to do? Are you a pessimist like me or are you more inclined to hope for good things?
Might create a little room for using Avios to say upgrade a US to EU/ UK flight on AA as a way to avoid the eyepopping surcharges that BA regrettably tacks on to any similar booking. For now, I try to book outbound on AA using AA miles and return on BA as a way to cut the roundtrip costs. Maybe this new system will work. Perhaps in the future, there will be a more simplified way to just transfer points from one OW airline to another…problem mostly solved!
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