With the upcoming entry of Alaska Airlines into oneWorld the alliance is once again growing and it appear more positive changes are on the way: Alliance-wide upgrades!
The guys over at Cranky Flier (great blog) had an exclusive talk with some executives of oneWorld and Alaska Airlines where they teased us fliers a little saying that alliance wide upgrades are definitely in the cards and could come quite soon.
I always found it a little annoying that compared to Star Alliance there is no options within oneWorld to upgrade a flight on another airline no matter what fare class one has purchased.
You can find Cranky Flier’s article here and this was the essential part:
… I had a call with both Rob Gurney, oneworld CEO, and Nat Pieper, SVP Fleet, Finance & Alliances and Treasurer for Alaska, to learn more about the plan, and that gave me some great color to share. …
It’s true that oneworld today doesn’t have a cross-alliance upgrade program like Star does, but it has been reported by others that it’s coming. Rob confirmed that and told me that the expectation is the upgrade program should be functioning around the time Alaska comes online later this year. I tried to push for further details — like whether it would only be on stupidly-high fares like other programs — but he wouldn’t budge on that just yet. …
To have the option of finally being able to upgrade other oneWorld flights would be a huge improvement.
It has been possible to upgrade Star Alliance flights across carriers as well but with some caveats. For one the upgrades are rather expensive already (depending on the program) and then you need to be booked in full fare booking classes (Y, B, C, J) in order to request the upgrade. Waitlisting of the upgrade is also not possible.
It would be good when there is at least the option out there to be able to upgrade other oneWorld flights. I have used the Star Alliance upgrade only a few times myself when I was booked or rebooked (after cancellations) into full fare booking classes on partner carriers. This was I was able to use both Lufthansa eVouchers and United miles to upgrade said flights.
There isn’t any official announcement from oneWorld yet how their program would look like or even when there is an official launch date. All we can hope that it’s a viable option.