Decoding the Airline Alliances in 2024

a man taking a selfie in a glass dome

I shared last week, that in 2023, I have been around the world five times on 83 flights bringing me to 1580 flights in my lifetime. Over half (46) of my 2023 lights were with one of the airline alliances:

  • oneworld – 17 flights
  • Star Alliance – 16 flights
  • SkyTeam – nine flights
  • Value Alliance – four flights

These Airline alliances weave an interesting web across the airline industry globe.

a mirror and signs in a hallway

They allow airlines to expand their local reach and more easily funnel passengers between each other.

As a passenger, they allow me to earn points more easily for my “home” airline which make flying easier by allowing me to enjoy the same rewards and benefits, no matter which alliance airline I am with.

These benefits, include having free lounge access, getting to board first, and sitting in better seats.

In this post, I will explain the alliances in 2024 and unpack my experiences with them to date. I thoroughly review every aspect of my travel, including reservations, check-in, meals, entertainment, in-flight services, and the overall flight experience, giving every flight, airline, and alliance a score.

oneworld – An Exclusive Club

  • Started in February 1999; almost 25 years ago
  • 13 airlines carrying around, 500 million passengers between 1012 airports in 170 countries
  • One World has earned an overall rating of 82% for all my flights with their members
  • I hold Emerald Frequent Flyer Status
  • I’ve flown all of these airlines for a total of 262 flights over a substantial 688,000 km (428,000 mi). I also flew previous members Air Berlin and Malev (now shut down) and Aer Lingus when it was a member.
a large white airplane on a runway

Ratings and Rankings

In my experience, oneworld has consistently provided a reliable and enjoyable travel experience. I divided the alliance members into these categories:

  • Excellent: Cathay Pacific, Qatar
  • Very Good: Alaska Airlines, Qantas, Sri Lankan Airlines (which is often a surprise for people)
  • Good: British Airways, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, S7 Airlines (currently suspended)
  • Okay: American
  • Poor: Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian

Three tiers of elite status for Frequent Fliers:

oneworld is different from both the SkyTeam Alliance and Star Alliance, which each only offer two tiers of elite status. If you’re a high-level elite, this third tier of status does make a huge difference.

Ruby is the entry-level elite status but it still offers decent benefits. Ruby members can check in at the business class check-in counters when flying any oneworld airline. Free access to preferred seats and priority when on waitlists and/or standby.

Sapphire, the middle level gets you those benefits plus Access to business class lounges, priority Priority boarding, check-in, and baggage handling and one extra piece of luggage, on most fares.

Emerald Elites, the top tier adds access to first-class lounges, first-class check-in counters and fast track at airport security. It’s my favourite benefit!

oneworld Negatives

There are two huge negatives with oneworld. The first is with Latam leaving the alliance; oneworld has no major presence in South America, whereas Star Alliance has Panama’s Copa and Colombia’s Avianca. oneworld has nothing to offer.

The other negative is linked to earning miles. As a member of the oneworld alliance, I can use miles from any oneworld loyalty program to book flights with another oneworld airline. However, earning miles isn’t so straightforward. The mileage credit depends on the individual relationship between the two airlines not shared across the oneworld. This means vast discrepancies between earnings. For example, I can earn far more American Airlines AAdvantage miles with some oneworld carriers than I earn over at Qantas. In some cases, Qantas will award me zero points while AA will be much more generous.

oneworld News

The proposed merger of Alaska and Hawaiian could mean that Hawaiian’s routes will become part of the oneworld network.

Star Alliance, the largest constellation!

  • Founded in 1997, as the first of the three major airline alliances.
  • It is the largest alliance with 26 airlines carrying around, 760million passengers between 1294 airports in 195 countries
  • Star Alliance has earned from me an overall rating of 84% for all my flights with their members
  • I hold Gold Frequent Flyer Status
  • I’ve flown 14 of the airlines for a total of 262 flights over a substantial 688,000 km (428,000 mi)

Ratings and Rankings

I find Star Alliance a strange mix. A third of their members (eight airlines) are some of the best airlines in the world while 11 of them are Poor or just Okay:

  • Excellent: All Nippon Airways/ANA, EVA Air, Asiana Airlines, Air New Zealand, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Turkish Airways
  • Very Good: Aegean Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines
  • Good: Air Canada, Croatia Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Swiss International Air Lines, TAP Air Portugal
  • Okay: Air China, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, EgyptAir, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), South African Airways, United Airlines
  • Poor: Air India, Avianca, COPA Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines
an airplane wing on a runway

Star Alliance has two status tiers for Frequent Fliers:

  • Silver doesn’t come with many benefits. Travellers only get priority for reservations waitlist and airport standby — two perks that aren’t frequently used.
  • Gold benefits encompass the silver benefits plus access to priority lanes at airport security and immigration, expanded luggage allowances, priority check-in and boarding, access to airport lounges and priority baggage handling. Please note that Star Alliance Gold elites are not guaranteed free checked bags on certain fares offered by Air New Zealand, Austrian, Brussels Lufthansa and SWISS.
an airplane parked at an airport

Alliance Changes:

The departure of SAS from Star Alliance, following the news the Air France–KLM Group are now SAS shareholders. It is huge as SAS were a Star Alliance founding member! This will leave Star with a hole in Scandinavia, which I suspect will drive more traffic to Lufthansa.

a plane flying in the sky

Since Tata Group took control of Air India (which was in a story state), they’ve begun a five-year reinvention process. Vistara and AirAsia India will be merged into Air India and Air India Express respectively. Singapore Airlines will hold 25% of Air India. The changes already have people commenting positively. I think that they will soon be a more significant member.


  • Founded in 2000
  • 19 airlines carrying around, 600 million passengers between 1150 airports in 175 countries- they have around 750 lounges worldwide
  • The alliance I am least enamoured with- I give an overall rating of 78% for all my flights with their members-
  • I hold no Status with any SkyTeam airline
  • I’ve flown 11 of the airlines for just a total of 79 flights covering approximately 232,000 km (140,000 miles), about 30 times the distance between London and New York!

Ratings and Rankings

  • Excellent: KLM
  • Very Good: Air France, Delta Air Lines, Garuda Indonesia
  • Good: ITA Airways, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, Vietnam Airlines, Virgin Atlantic
  • Okay: Aerolíneas Argentinas, Aeroméxico, China Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Czech Airlines, Saudia, TAROM, XiamenAir
  • Poor: Air Europa, Kenya Airways

Frequent Flyer

SkyTeam has two elite status tiers: Elite and Elite Plus.

  1. SkyTeam Elite members get extra baggage allowance, priority check-in, baggage drop-off, priority seating, boarding, and standby at the airport
  2. SkyTeam Elite Plus members get those benefits, plus access to 750 Skyteam lounges worldwide, guaranteed reservations on sold-out flights; priority at transfer desks, immigration and security lanes, and baggage handling.

Alliance Changes

In 2023, Virgin Atlantic joined SkyTeam and as mentioned above, SAS will switch from Star Alliance if the

Value Alliance

  • Value Alliance, founded in 2016 – I cannot work out if it’s still an active alliance
  • Just five members based in Asia
  • Fly 92 million people to 187 airports in 30 countries
  • I have flown three of the airlines, a total of 25 times.
  • Excellent: Scoot.
  • Good: Cebu Pacific, Cebgo, Nok Air,
  • Okay: Jeju Air

No benefits for customers.

Airlines not in an Alliance

None of the major airline alliances include AirAsia. The airline maintains codeshare agreements with other carriers, including China Southern, Cathay Pacific, and Air China. I cannot see them looking for an alliance connection despite their strong regional presence connecting 165 destinations.

a red and white airplane with a ladder

Bangkok Airways said eight years ago it saw no advantage to belonging to one and was concerned that such membership would be too restrictive. If they changed their minds, oneworld would be the most logical with Thailand’s man flag carrier with Star Alliance.

Emirates: With the largest fleets of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s in the world, Emirates simply doesn’t need an alliance. Its worldwide connectivity and several tailored partnerships. The logical fit would be oneworld but Qatar would not be keen on that option.

Etihad tried to establish its own alliance before undergoing a major downsizing that has seen it become a very different airline. It maintains a network of airlines as partners including Air France, Korean Airways, and Virgin Australia. A number of its partners are SkyTeam members, which means that this could be its potential alliance.

Like Etihad, Virgin Australia has maintained specific partnerships with key individual airlines including oneworld’s Qatar, and Star Alliance’s: Air Canada, ANA, Singapore, and United. Most of these agreements allow Virgin Australia to transfer passengers travelling into and out of Australia between their network and their partners’ networks. There have been plenty of us hoping that Virgin Australia would join an alliance, to fill the gap left by the collapse of early Star Member, Ansett Australia. I cannot see the owners of Virgin; Bain Capital rushing to join an alliance.

JetBlue may have been on a path to oneworld under the sponsorship of American Airlines but at this stage it seems highly improbable.

LATAM was once in One World as mentioned above. Now it has strong links with Delta Air Lines so .SkyTeam membership may be on the horizon for either airline.

a white airplane on a runway

Philippine Airlines, several years ago indicated there were ongoing talks about an alliance, but nothing came of it. Today, the Star Alliance is an unlikely match, as it already has several key partners in the region, namely Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways. Oneworld has Malaysia Airlines along with the Cathay Pacific and JAL That leaves SkyTeam, which I believe is the strongest contender.

SkyTeam is a good option for WestJet to join because most of its partner airlines are already members. WestJet’s expansion plan to date, has been based on joint venture partnerships and not an airline alliance.

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  1. In your “airlines not in an alliance” you forgot to mention Southwest. As the 4th largest airline in the US, it seems like an oversight.

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