Oneworld offers round-the-world bookings via tablets

Oneworld has begun offering booking facilities for multi-airline round-the-world trips via digital tablets – and is the first airline alliance to do so.

The move comes as part of a series of upgrades to the alliance’s online booking engine for its flagship Oneworld Explorer service. The scheme allows passengers to book flights on any of Oneworld’s member airlines or affiliates and is available for flights in Economy Class, Premium Economy where available, Business Class or First Class. In total, the alliance services almost a thousand destinations in 150 countries.

The online booking engine is now clained to be easier to use and enables compatibility with the iPad and Android-powered tablet devices. The service is also available for desktop and laptop computers.

oneworld vice-president Commercial, Stephen Usery, said: ‘oneworld was the first alliance – and indeed the first in the travel industry – to offer multi-airline round-the-world tickets for sale online with the launch of our original booking engine five years ago. Now we are the first to offer the facility via tablets – which are increasingly the computers of choice for the frequent international travellers who are oneworld’s prime target market.’

Oneworld Explorer round-the-world booking charges are based on the number of continents visited (three to six), instead of the usual criteria of mileage flown, making travel planning simpler. Customers can simply type a city name or click on destinations displayed on an interactive map. The system will automatically check for flight availability on selected routes and dates, and display the results. The price for the trip is instantly quoted.

On deciding the itinerary, which may cover up to 16 sectors, customers can save and print out all the details. The e-tickets for the entire trip are then sent to the customer by email.

The only alliance with a carrier based in Australia, Qantas, oneworld is set to expand its global reach with the addition of Qatar Airways and a member based in the Indian subcontinent, SriLankan Airlines. Other members include the Latin American airline group, LAN, and soon its LATAM Airlines Group partner, TAM, as well as Russia’s S7. American Airlines, British Airways, airberlin, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Royal Jordanian and some 30 affiliates are also part of the alliance.

oneworld developed the on-line booking engine in association with Innovata, a travel report company, and Amadeus, the global distribution system, which also supports nine of oneworld’s airlines.

Malaysia Airlines Set to Join Oneworld

Malaysia Airlines, the government-owned, flag-carrying airline of Malaysia, is scheduling to join the Oneworld alliance by the end of this year.

The airline is to fine-tune its carry on baggage policy in the run up to its acceptance into the alliance. It is increasing the weight of the one carry-on luggage item that is allowed in economy class, from 5kg to 7kg, and increasing the allowance to first and business class passengers to two items, each of a maximum 7kg. Bags are restricted to maximum dimensions of 56cm x 36cm x 23cm, and in addition passengers will be allowed ‘a notebook/laptop or briefcase or a binocular bag’, as well as ‘a small handbag and walking stick.’

Despite the airline’s efforts to standardise its baggage policy for ease of integration with its new partners, there will still be disparity. For example, Cathay Pacific’s baggage policy states a limit of 7kg for economy and premium economy passengers, 10kg for business class passengers, and 15kg for those in first class. While British Airways’ policy advises travellers that their hand luggage may weigh up to 23kg, subject to the passenger being ‘able to lift the bag unaided into the overhead lockers in the aircraft cabin.’

Malaysian Airlines says that it has developed several codeshares with other Oneworld members, including Cathay Pacific and Royal Jordanian, in advance of it becoming a full member by the end of 2012.

Oneworld is a global airline alliance that was founded in 1999 by American Airlines, British Airways, Canadian Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Qantas, under the slogan, ‘Oneworld revolves around you.’