Several years ago, the oneworld alliance revealed how it planned to start opening its own branded lounges. The pandemic ended up delaying these plans, though the first lounge finally had a soft opening in late 2023. The lounge has now officially had its grand opening, so we now have all the details of the new lounge, including lots of pictures.
In this post:
The concept behind oneworld branded lounges
The “big three” global alliances offer all kinds of perks for elite members, and one of those perks is lounge access. In the oneworld alliance, Emerald members and Sapphire members receive access to oneworld lounges. These are operated by individual airlines, and collectively oneworld airlines operate hundreds of them.
In 2019, oneworld announced that it planned to operate its own branded lounges. The idea is that at some airports, no single oneworld airline has a huge presence, but collectively oneworld airlines have a significant presence. So while no individual oneworld airline could justify opening a lounge, there would be merit to a shared lounge. Think of airports in major cities that aren’t otherwise the hubs of oneworld airlines.
This is a concept we’ve already seen from SkyTeam and Star Alliance, as they each operate some of their own lounges as well, so oneworld is the only alliance that doesn’t currently do this.
Some might say “well isn’t there a oneworld lounge at LAX?” Good question. While there’s a lounge that’s marketed as a oneworld lounge, it’s in fact a joint venture between British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Qantas, so the alliance as such has no stake or involvement in it.
Executives at oneworld have stated that they see opportunities to open lounges in 15-30 airports globally, with many of the choices driven by terminal developments (in other words, airports where oneworld airlines depart from a common terminal, and there’s space to open a lounge).
In 2019, oneworld had announced that the first alliance lounge location would be in Moscow. However, that was initially delayed by the pandemic, and then those plans were later shelved due to the sanctions in place. Fortunately the alliance has now decided on a different airport for its first lounge, and it has just opened!
First oneworld lounge now open at Seoul Incheon Airport (ICN)
The oneworld Lounge at Seoul Incheon Airport is now open:
- The lounge is located in Terminal 1, which is home to several oneworld airlines, including American, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, and SriLankan Airlines
- The lounge is located on the fourth floor of Terminal 1, near gate 28
- The lounge is 555 square meters (~6,000 square feet), with seating for 148 people
- The lounge is open daily from 7:30AM until 11:45PM, except on Mondays and Saturdays, when it opens at 4:30AM
- The lounge is run in partnership with Swissport and the team behind ASPIRE lounges
- The lounge is taking over the space of the former Jeju Air “JJ Lounge,” which closed in 2020, around the start of the pandemic
- In line with oneworld lounge access policies, the lounge is open to oneworld first and business class passengers, as well as oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members
Below you can find some pictures of the new lounge. I’ve gotta say, it looks pretty snazzy to me, especially given that this is ultimately an outstation lounge for all airlines.
I’m happy to see that oneworld has finally moved forward with this concept. Now, I definitely think we should manage our expectations in terms of crowding during peak periods. This lounge isn’t very large, and there are some periods where there are multiple oneworld departures around the same time, so expect that this lounge could be crowded.
This also isn’t surprising, but it’s worth mentioning that this is a single, shared lounge space, rather than there being two separate sections (one for first class and oneworld Emerald, and one for business class and oneworld Sapphire). I just mention this because oneworld is the only alliance to offer two tiers of elite lounge access. Clearly the lounge is too small for this to be practical, though I’m curious if that’s something that might be considered in future lounges.
The oneworld alliance is opening branded lounges at several airports, and the first lounge has opened at Seoul Incheon Airport Terminal 1. While this concept was delayed, I’m excited to see the idea finally become a reality. Seoul Incheon seems like a logical first airport for this concept, given that it’s a hub for the two rival alliances. I’m looking forward to checking out this lounge.
This looks like a nice enough space, but expect it to be very crowded during peak hours, given the limited capacity.
What do you make of the concept of oneworld branded lounges, and of the lounge in Seoul Incheon?