Passengers transferring between flights operated by member airlines of oneworld®, the premier global airline alliance, at its key airport hubs will find their connections smoother still from later this month with the first major expansion to its oneworld transfer support centres since they first started being rolled out a year ago.
The Express Connections service is designed to make it as easy as possible for passengers connecting between flights operated by the alliance’s carriers - particularly at times when schedules are disrupted.
They are manned by customer services representatives from all oneworld airlines operating at each airport with the aim of ironing out any snags in flight connections before passengers are even aware of them.
Working together, the teams monitor flights to identify passengers due to arrive but who have either already missed their onwards connection or are expected to land with less than the normal minimum connection time before their onward flight departs. Those who have already missed their onward journey are met at the aircraft gate by staff who have already booked them on the next available connection and printed new boarding passes for them. Those below the minimum connection time are met at the aircraft and fast-tracked through customs, immigration and security formalities and then on to their departing gate. Similar procedures are in place for their baggage.
The first oneworld transfer support centre opened last June at Chicago O’Hare, with similar facilities launched in September at London Heathrow, Miami and New York JFK and in October at Madrid.
So far, those initial five units have covered the three airlines participating in the North Atlantic joint business - American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia.
From later this month, they will be extended to cover all oneworld member airlines operating at those five airports. At Chicago O’Hare, this will mean that Japan Airlines and Royal Jordanian will start participating from next week. Two weeks later, the Miami facility will cover additionally LAN, with the New York JFK unit opening its doors additionally to Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, LAN, Qantas and Royal Jordanian.
In Europe, the Madrid centre will from 18 July also cover Finnair, LAN, Malév Hungarian Airlines, Royal Jordanian and S7 Airlines, with London Heathrow the following week extended to include Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, Qantas and Royal Jordanian.
In the next phase of their development, a brand new oneworld Express Connections centre is scheduled to start operating at the end of next month at Los Angeles, covering all the alliance’s airlines flying there - American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, JAL, LAN and Qantas.
In late August, the first oneworld Express Connections centre in Asia-Pacific should open its doors - in Sydney, Qantas’ home base and served also by British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and LAN. Two more centres are on track to follow - at Hong Kong and Tokyo.
oneworld Vice-President Customer Experience and Airports Robert Antoniuk said: “Since the first of our oneworld Express Connections centres were opened, they have prevented tens of thousands of customers from missing their connecting flights - saving the passengers substantial hassle and saving the airlines hefty costs associated with passenger delays.
“oneworld prides itself on delivering superior customer service and the expansion of these facilities to all of our member airlines and to additional locations will enable us to improve still further in this key alliance capability.”