Five major airlines launch global alliance
'oneworld' merges frequent flyer programs, ticketing -- but don't expect lower fares
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Monday, February 01, 1999 1:48:13 PM EST
(CNN) -- A major airline alliance gets off the ground Monday, offering passengers smoother transfers and more options for frequent flyer awards.
The "oneworld" alliance involves five international carriers: American Airlines, British Airways, Canadian Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways and Qantas Airways.
Each of the five carriers will continue to operate independently, using the "oneworld" logo as a marketing tool. Together, the airlines serve almost 650 destinations.
The goal of the alliance is seamless travel. Because passengers only have to check in once for a multi-leg flight, they should have smoother transfers between connecting flights on member airlines.
"You're only going to need one ticket, only one set of check-in for baggage and everything else," said Randy Petersen, editor and publisher of InsideFlyer Magazine.
Travelers can earn and redeem frequent flyer miles on any of the member airlines, no matter which of the five carriers they fly. Although miles from different carriers cannot be combined for award tickets, the alliance will give flyers more options when they're deciding how to use their frequent flyer miles.
"Instead of probably redeeming an award next time going to L.A. or New York or Dallas, you'll probably start thinking of international destinations, like going to Australia," Petersen said.
Passengers also will have access to the airport clubs and lounges of the member carriers.
The downside is that the alliance does not mean cheaper prices for airfare, Petersen said. Consumers looking for a decrease in cost may have to settle for an increase in comfort.
The "oneworld" alliance is the second major global airline alliance to form as carriers seek economical and competitive ways to attract passengers. The Star alliance created earlier includes United Airlines, Air Canada, Germany's Lufthansa, Sweden-based SAS, Brazil's Varig, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways.
CNN Correspondent Kalin Thomas-Samuel contributed to this report.