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What You're Going to Gain from Qatar Airways Joining the Oneworld Alliance

Where: Doha, Qatar
October 8, 2012 at 5:37 PM | by | ()

L to R: Horton, Al Baker, Walsh, Ashby

Earlier today, in a small event room in the middle of Midtown Manhattan, four men sat down in front of four microphones. They—Tom Horton (CEO American Airlines), Akbar Al Baker (CEO Qatar Airways), Willie Walsh (CEO of IAG, parent company of British Airways and Iberia) and Bruce Ashby (CEO Oneworld Alliance)—represented their respective airlines but also sat there as heads of companies responsible for billions of dollars in the travel sector and millions of flyers in the air. And they'd come together to get even closer to one another, by inviting Qatar Airways to join the Oneworld Alliance.

Guess what? Qatar Airways accepted the invitation.

From here it'll take another 12-18 months until Qatar completes integration into Oneworld, but now's the time to start smirking at the potential benefits. Yeah, you're probably like, "why should I care?" Well, just think that next time you book a long-haul flight with American Airlines and it has a stopover in Doha, you could actually be walking onto a Qatar Airways plane (ooo maybe even a 787!) with Qatari crew and Qatar's 5-star service and then you'll be googling to see when all this happened while being very glad it did.

Let's lay it out real nice, in bullet points, why this matters:

· Qatar Airways is the first of the three big Gulf airlines (Qatar Airways, Etihad, Emirates) to join an alliance. As Al Baker put it, this is significant because "today is recognition that Gulf airlines have a come a long way and are being taken seriously."

· They'll add 15 new destinations and three new countries (Iran, Rwanda & Seychelles) to the Oneworld map, bringing the total served by Oneworld carriers to 856 destinations in 159 countries.

· As Oneworld thinks of itself as the "first choice alliance for the world's most frequent international travelers,*" Qatar's addition brings Doha into the spotlight as a business travel capital, along Oneworld's other focus cities of New York, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Chicago.* (*quoting IAG CEO Willie Walsh)

· Qatar Airways is a Skytrax-rated 5-star airline (by contrast, American is only 3-star) with one of the youngest fleets in the world, with aircraft averaging only five years old. They take delivery of a new plane every 15 days, and have just added the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to their fleet.

· Frequent flyer miles woooo! If you're racking up the miles on any Oneworld member airline** then you'll be able to continue racking them up while flying Qatar, also enabling you to trade them for Qatar flights, which means increased itinerary options for award tickets. Those with status in the loyalty programs of member airlines will also get access to Qatar's swanky lounges.

Is it wrong that we spent half the press conference daydreaming about using our British Airways Avios for some sweet Seychelles action? Nope, because now making that dream a reality is very nearly within reach.

One last thing. Why did Qatar Airways choose Oneworld for their big alliance decision? The answer comes clear from Al Baker himself who, when asked how he feels about Etihad's dancing with SkyTeam, said "we always go for a relationship with goldsmiths, not scrap dealers." Oooh burn!

**Current Oneworld member airlines are Air Berlin, American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, LAN, Qantas, Royal Jordanian and S7. Other new members still completing integration are Malaysian Airlines and Sri Lankan Airlines.

[Photos: Jaunted]

Archived Comments:

Sorry for Qatar passengers

I feel sorry for the Qatar passengers coming off of their flight and connecting to an American Airlines flight. The service and products suck on AA!