Skift Take

With a funky design and innovative features, the new Seoul lounge has the potential to re-establish the oneworld alliance's market position.

Frequent fliers with American Airlines, British Airways and Cathay Pacific have an exciting new membership benefit. Alongside regular perks such as extra baggage and assigned seating, today marks the official opening of the first dedicated oneworld airport lounge. 

The new space at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport is the first time that the airline alliance has created a fully-branded lounge for its most loyal and highest-spending passengers. The opening marks the start of an exciting 2024 for oneworld, as it prepares to celebrate its 25th birthday later this year.

With further oneworld airport lounges in the pipeline, the Seoul facility provides valuable insight into the template the alliance will likely use elsewhere. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights:

D/DOCK, an Amsterdam-based creative studio, was one of the main partners on the project. Part of their brief was to transform the digital oneworld brand into a tangible 3D space for the first time. The signature circle of the oneworld logo is evident from the entrance area.
All photos credit oneworld
The alliance has also collaborated with established industry heavyweights for the new complex. Swissport, the global aviation ground services provider and the team behind its Aspire Airport Lounges will help operate the slick facility.
Seoul Incheon is served directly by seven oneworld member carriers: American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways and SriLankan Airlines. However any eligible oneworld frequent flier (of Emerald and Sapphire status), plus those flying on most oneworld business and first class tickets can use the new lounge.
The facility is located in Terminal One at Incheon International Airport in Seoul – South Korea’s primary air gateway. Despite being situated in one of the region’s busiest hubs, the lounge is no more than 10 minutes walk from the furthest oneworld-airline departure gates, meaning extra time to enjoy the complimentary food and beverages.
The eye-catching design aesthetic even extends to the washrooms where curved walls and an innovative use of lighting help creates a sophisticated ambiance.
The new lounge is open daily between 7:30am and 11:45pm (except on Monday and Saturday when it opens at 4:30am), for eligible customers. Oneworld member carriers operate more than 60 weekly flights to Seoul, connecting the South Korean capital with more than 900 global destinations.
The lounge features a choice of quirky zones to escape the crowds, including these distinctive booths which are likely to be popular for work calls or more confidential chats.
The design team has incorporated nods to South Korean culture. Among the highlights are furnishings inspired by local lantern festivals.

The Skift Verdict:

This is a bold statement of intent from oneworld. The group had – until now – been on the back foot, lagging rivals SkyTeam and Star Alliance when it came to dedicated global airport lounges. If this high standard can be replicated across other international hubs, it will further intensify the battle between the big three alliances – something that should prove beneficial to passengers and member airlines alike.

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