Malaysia Airlines to join OneWorld

This is actually huge news. Just today at the IATA World Air Transport Summit in Singapore, Malysia Airlines was unanimously voted into OneWorld by the member airlines. They’re expected to formally join OneWorld by late 2012.

This came as a shock to me, since previously Malaysia Airlines partnered mostly with SkyTeam airlines. They were partners with Delta, and using Delta SkyMiles for travel on Malaysia Airlines was actually one of the better redemption options out there. Malaysia Airlines has a pretty good business class product and also first class product, though it wasn’t possible to redeem SkyMiles for international first class. I was expecting Malaysia Airlines to join SkyTeam, so this is yet another huge loss for Delta and SkyTeam, as that was one of their (few) decent partners.

This is great news for OneWorld though, and frankly as someone that just hit Executive Platinum with American today, I’m quite excited about this. This is great news for several reasons. First of all, it opens up a lot of new routes. For a long time OneWorld didn’t take Asia seriously. Yes, they have Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific, though there are still so many unserved routes in Southeast Asia, and Malaysia Airlines will certainly help to close the gap a bit. And their route network actually goes beyond that. They also fly Capetown to Buenos Aires, for example, a route that’s currently not served by any other OneWorld airline.

Beyond that, I expect this means it will be possible to redeem miles for first class on Malaysia Airlines, which is awesome. That opens up yet another great airline for award redemptions. It also increases the OneWorld lounge network, since top tier elites (Emeralds) will have access to their first class lounges, while mid tier elites (Sapphires) will have access to their business class lounges.

As a practical implication, a couple of weeks ago on my big trip I flew Qantas from Singapore to Sydney, though I was originating in Kuala Lumpur. I had to purchase a separate ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, while if they had already been a part of OneWorld, I could have included that segment in Malaysia Airlines business class at no additional cost.

Filed Under: Malaysia
  1. Wow thats a great news. But I think Oneworld really needed another SE Asian airline.

    A huge blow to Skyteam. However, they already have two Asian airlines: China Southern Airlines and Vietnam Airlines in Asia. Three more SE Asian Airlines will become members in the near future. And if Jet Airways also joins Skyteam, that will push Skyteam’s SE Asian parters to 6. Pretty good.

  2. EZE-CPT is certainly an interesting route. How is MH in C/F? Now that I’ve been hoarding OW miles on BA and AA thanks to Citi and Chase, I’m excited to see what new opportunities this opens up. Going to check MH YQ right now..

  3. Excellent news. This means OW will have another opening into MLE from KUL. Very interesting!

  4. Well, i am actually shock with MH decisions to join oneworld.I am also expecting that MH will join Skyteam since MH has code sharing partners with KLM [has MOu ealier this year], China Southern Airlines, Alitalia, Korean Air and Delta. I think the reason why MH chose oneworld over skyteam because entering of 2 South east asian carrier such as Garuda Indonesia and Vietnam Airlines to the skyteam..

  5. Hey, SkyTeam also has Korean, which is a fantastic airline. Let us (OW) have one, for God’s sake! 😉

  6. Lucky, I completely disagree with you that MH was one of Delta’s better redemption options. In fact, MH has always been the worst redemption partner for both DL and the old NW. They have had ridiculously high fuel surcharges on award tickets for many years, even when fuel prices were relatively low (they used to be the only airline that charged this on NW award tickets back in the day – you were hit with a nasty surcharge at the airport). Currently they add 100 to 300 dollars routinely to mileage tickets, just like British Airways. As a result, I avoid them like the plague, despite living close by in Indonesia and despite having tons of Delta miles handy. If this policy continues on AA redemptions, I will continue to avoid this consumer-unfriendly airline.

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