The OneWorld alliance announced on 31Mar that they have officially welcomed both TAM Airlines and US Airways into their group, with Sri Lankan Airlines to join on 01May. It’s an important step forward for the alliance that already numbers thirteen airlines (plus some 30 affiliates) and was first launched fifteen years ago with the big four – American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas Airways.
TAM was previously a member of the Star Alliance, but has now joined OneWorld as part of its merger with LAN Airlines, one of the major carriers of Latin America. The merger allows OneWorld to extend its reach into Central and South America with better connections and more destinations available to passengers. From TAM’s three main Brazilian hubs of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia the airline serves a total of 62 destinations worldwide, including direct flights to Buenos Aires, Caracas, Lima, Madrid, New York, Paris, Santiago and Zurich.
When TAM first released details of their partnership with OneWorld we were told that members of Qantas Frequent Flyers can now earn and redeem points and status credits on TAM Airlines flights, and eligible members can access their business and first class lounges. This decision has now been reversed in part with TAM announcing that due to capacity limitations (which the airline hopes to overcome later this year with a larger lounge in the new terminal 3), they are restricting access to their first class lounge in Sao Paulo to passengers travelling in first on any OneWorld airline, with Emerald members in all other cabins required to use the Business Class lounge. Similarly, US Airways have joined OneWorld as a result of their recent merger with American Airlines, opening up more destinations in the US for Qantas fans.
Other benefits include access to US Airways Club lounges for Gold, Platinum and Platinum One members, with major locations including Boston, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Washington DC. Priority boarding on US Airways flights is also on offer, along with priority check-in and preferred seating where available.
Many US Airways frequent flyers were annoyed about the jump to OneWorld who have substantially fewer partner airlines than Star Alliance. However there is some good news: US Airways will maintain its relationship with some of its former Star Alliance partners including Air China, South African Airways and Turkish Airlines, putting US in the fairly unique position of maintaining partnerships with airlines in two of the three major alliances, and giving their passengers added flexibility when booking their travel.
Between them, TAM and US Airways add nearly 100 destinations to OneWorld’s network, whose aim is always to have a strong presence in the right places.