Comparing One World Emerald and Sapphire

I have previously written about the Star Alliance and Skyteam Frequent Flyer programs. Time to draw my attention to One World. The OneWorld alliance has three status tiers named after gemstones.

The OneWorld alliance has three status tiers named after gemstones.

  1. Emerald
  2. Sapphire
  3. Ruby

Thanks to Qantas for this handy list of the benefits linked to each status. My favourites are priority check in and lounge access. I do not check luggage in so that feature is one that I rarely use.

Like the other airline groupings, it is really the top tiers that are the holy grail. I am currently One World Emerald status. I am also One World Sapphire for the rest of my life, thanks to Qantas

There are 14 OneWorld airlines. I have flown with all but two of them: Russia’s S7 and Japan Airlines. Hope to rectify Japan next month!

OneWorld was launched in 1999 by founding alliance members American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas. It is the smallest of the big three airline groupings by the number of carriers. While the alliance has Cathay Pacific, it is missing a carrier with a solid domestic Chinese presence. That is where Skyteam is ahead.

One World airlines have two of the Top 10 First Class Airline Lounges including Cathay Pacific’s amazing Hong Kong lounge (I love it!) and Qatar’s lounge in Doha which I sampled last December (picture below). I was surprised that the amazing Qantas Sydney First lounge was not in the Top 10 nor was British Airways First at London Heathrow.

One World also have three of the Top 10 business lounges: Qatar Airways at Doha, Cathay Pacific: Hong Kong and Qantas Airways Sydney. All really nice too.

You will see from the above, that Qantas has their own separate tier names (Silver, Gold, Platinum). This is true of all the airlines and can be a little confusing. In the tables, below, I have indicated the name of the airline’s tier that matches the equivalent OneWorld Emerald and Sapphire levels and how you can achieve that tier level. NB You can not mix and match points across carriers. While my Qantas account is my major OneWorld account, I also have an America Airlines account which is very useful from time to time.

I have organised the list by the star rating Skytrax has assigned the carrier and my own ratings. I am not wholly convinced by Skytrax ratings but it is a handy measure. One World has two five star carriers (14% of the OneWorld airlines),

One World has two five star carriers (14% of the OneWorld airlines). They are two of my three favourite airlines in the world along with Emirates.

There are seven four star airlines(57%)


One World has five three star carriers (29%) which includes two of my most disliked carriers: Air Berlin and American. Note the Skytrax customer scores for American-they are universally disliked!

Choosing which One World airline to your Frequent Flyer points with is not easy. It will depend on who you will be mostly flying with, and who gives the best number of points when flying on partner carriers. Earning and redemption rates vary quite significantly. Don;t forget too that airlines are alwachanginggng the rules! Choose one and stick to it.


Whats your One World experience?

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  1. I’m confused by the charts. The Ruby qualification on AA is only 30 segments, 30k or Gold on AA plus and I think $6k in spend.

    I too dislike Air Berlin but mostly because of the mile expiration policy. It’s just dumb.

  2. Actually there was another founding member of Oneworld. Canadian (CP) but of course they went bankrupt and was absorbed into AC.

  3. 4 BA flights required additionally to qualify/re-qualify for BA Executive Club Silver and Gold.

  4. Thanks Isaac. I had forgotten that. Sad day when Canadian collapsed. I wonder what the market would look like if the American Airlines bid had come through.

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