Oneworld Adds Baggage Benefits For Sapphire & Emerald Members

Filed Under: Travel

Oneworld has just announced some new benefits for oneworld Sapphire & Emerald members, which are valid as of today, December 1, 2014. Both of these changes are long overdue, in my opinion.

Here’s the full listing of oneworld elite benefits now:


So what are the changes?

Priority baggage handling for Emerald & Sapphire members

The first new benefit gets oneworld Sapphire (mid tier) and Emerald (top tier) members priority baggage handling, even when they’re not flying their “native” airline:

Most oneworld member airlines already aim to deliver as a priority checked baggage for their own top-level frequent flyers, along with other passengers flying in First or Business Class.

Now, this benefit is being extended to all frequent flyers with the equivalent of oneworld Emerald and Sapphire in any of the alliance member airlines’ loyalty programmes when they fly in any cabin class with oneworld member airlines anywhere in the world.

This is the one that really confuses me. Up until now as a rule, oneworld hasn’t offered priority baggage handling for elites. This is something that Star Alliance and SkyTeam have both been offering for eons. How it took this long is beyond me…

Additional baggage allowance for Sapphire members

The second benefit sees Sapphire members getting an increased baggage allowance, though the new limits aren’t all that straightforward:

Following the launch last year of an additional baggage allowance for the alliance member airlines’ most loyal customers – those with the top tier oneworld Emerald status – now cardholders with the next highest status, Sapphire, will also receive an additional baggage benefit.

From today (1 December 2014), when traveling on any flight operated and marketed by any oneworld member airline, the following special baggage privileges will apply to all Sapphire cardholders:

  • On international or domestic itineraries using the baggage allowance “weight” system – 15 kgs in addition to the ticketed Economy allowance.
  • On international itineraries (including domestic sectors flown as part of international itineraries) using the baggage allowance “piece” system – a second bag, weighing up to 23 kgs, when the ticketed allowance is one bag.
  • On purely domestic itineraries with flights using the baggage allowance “piece” system – the assurance of at least one piece of checked baggage, weighing up to 23 kgs, even when the regular ticketed allowance has no free allowance.

Customers traveling in First and Business Class cabins will in most cases receive an even greater free checked baggage allowance.

With all oneworld member airlines already granting Sapphire-level members of their own frequent flyer programme an additional baggage benefit when they fly on their “own” airline, today’s move extends this privilege to when those customers travel on oneworld partner airlines.

So now you’re either getting an additional free checked bag or additional weight, depending on the “system” the airline uses for determining checked bag limits.

Bottom line

Both of these changes are simply oneworld catching up with the competition. It’s puzzling that it took them this long. On one hand oneworld is one of the most rewarding alliances, in the sense that they give top tier elite members access to international first class lounges. At the same time, up until now they haven’t even given those members priority baggage handling.

Oneworld Emerald members get access to the Cathay Pacific Wing First Class Lounge

Oh well, better late than never…

  1. Finally, long overdue for sure. Though I never check a bag, looks like next year I am going to have to by looking at the travel schedule I’ve got. Flying a lot of Cathay pacific , British airways and JAL. So I am looking forward to seeing this being added / executed. Thanks for sharing Ben! Cheers 🙂

  2. That’s brilliant as I’ve got a skiing trip planed with Air Berlin (I already considered taking snowboard and hand-luggage only). Although the separation between domestic and international seems a bit weird from an European point of view.

  3. Unfortunately, lounge access for AAdvantage Platinums is not available for pax traveling solely within North America:
    “American Airlines AAdvantage® members and US Airways Dividend Miles members, regardless of their tier status or class of travel, are not eligible for lounge access when travelling solely on North American flights within or between the U.S., Canada, Mexico (except Mexico City), the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean.”

  4. Perhaps it would also be worth noting that “Priority baggage delivery is not available on flights operated by British Airways” according to note #2.

  5. For elites, weight should be 32 kgs, not 23. While I avoid UA at all costs these days, *A has been 32 kgs for forever.

    I often check luggage on int’l flights, and 23 kgs is nothing.

  6. @Charlie; I received priority on BA last month…it was my first time flying them as CP on US…is that not normal?

  7. Hi Ben, just wanted to see if you would be able to provide clarification of this policy as there wasn’t any information regarding additional luggage on Cathay Pacific website based on this press release.
    I will be flying shortly on CX in business class and I am Sapphire One World. What will my additional luggage allowance be? The phrasing in the press release says 15 kg on ticketed economy….later says in most cases will receive a greater allowance if flying Business class.

    Does this mean that as standard 30kg allowance in business, I now have free additional 15kg as Oneworld Sapphire, at check in bringing my total to 45kg? Or will I have more free additional luggage allowance while travelling business class?

    It’s not clear like in *A where it’s clear what the additional allowance for their Gold members is.
    Thanks any insight provided would be appreciated as I usually travel heavy and would like to avoid luggage charges.

  8. @ Redkitty — Per the alliance rules, I don’t think any additional baggage allowance is permitted if you’re in business class. The additional weight only applies if you’re in economy class, and being able to check a second bag wouldn’t benefit you (since you can already do that).

  9. Thanks Ben. I guess it seems weird to me that they are restricting this new benefit only to economy class travel? So basically another Sapphire one world member travelling in economy would have the basic 20kg weight allowance + 15kg new free weight allowance=35kg in total while I only have the basic 30kg when travelling business? So I actually lose my benefit by travelling in a premium cabin? Or am I missing something here?

    Unfortunately I am travelling to Asia so it’s the weight allowance and not the piece concept so being allowed to check in an additional piece does not help me here. I prefer *A in this benefit as they allow Gold members additional 20kg irregardless of whatever class you travel which is mighty useful when you travel heavy like me for 4-6 weeks.
    Thanks again for the clarification.

  10. @ Redkitty — I’m not positive as they don’t make it very clear, unfortunately. Agree it’s a bit odd.

  11. Hi Ben,

    Just wanted to update your readers re:CX. Some FT members helped me out.

    I wrote to their UK Sales email advertised on their website and got a response confirming that the economy ticket reference was an example so J and F also get the 15kg extra allowance on top of their usual cabin entitlement as OWS.

    They admitted they have gotten numerous queries about this since they updated their website with the OW press release wording.

    So I am a happy camper. Hope this helps your readers and CX OWS flyers who had the same question I had.

  12. The extra allowance will be welcomed for Sapphire members I’m sure, but I doubt the priority baggage handling will make any difference! I’ve had priority tags for years as either OW Emerald or Star Alliance Gold and it never seems to make the slightest difference – particularly when on a connecting flight (as I normally am) my bag almost always seems to come off near the end. So overall I’d say this element of things is a bit of a damp squib! Also remember that on BA Hand Baggage Only fares within Europe you don’t get ANY baggage allowance as an elite.

  13. As i see now, maybe my post is under the wrong threat.

    My Information considers the 08/15 Flyer, not a special Tier.

  14. I am travelling Qatar Business, late July, 2020 and am a Oneworld Sapphire member (Qantas Gold). Qatar business standard baggage allowance is 40kg (weight based). I booked a FF ticket through Qantas online – the finer ticket details say 55kg (the 15kg extra from the economy travel class; weird since I am travelling business). Qatar Privilege customers’ info says +20kg of class you fly (online). I rang and asked them.. and explained.. I was told (although not confidently), my allowance is the same as their Privilege Gold/Oneworld Sapphire customers (40+20). Somewhere else, someone states the allowance is just what is on the ticket (40kg).. (in)conveniently, Qatar does not seem to record your status within Oneworld when you create an account..
    Can anyone shed any light please? I am packing up my life, and I cannot afford excess baggage charges at the airport.

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