Recently I booked a flight on American Eagle. Imagine my surprise, then, when the flight attendant announced that although I was technically on an American Eagle flight, I actually was being transported by the Oneworld Alliance.
The Oneworld Alliance? It sounds like the name for a vaguely fascist global government in some near-future sci-fi novel in which the rights of individuals are crushed in the name of collective advances, but it’s actually the name of a group of airlines that includes American Airlines, as well as British Airways, Japan Air Lines, and Qantas. Oneworld caters to frequent travelers and offers mileage perks to people who travel on airlines in the alliance.
It turns out that many airlines are part of alliances that offer the same kinds of benefits, and the other two alliances have similarly evocative names. One is the Star Alliance, which sounds like the successor to the Soviet Union and includes United Airlines, US Airways, and Air Canada, among many other carriers, and the other is SkyTeam, which sounds like — and is — the spunky upstart that includes Delta, Air France, and Aeroflot and probably was the name of the defense forces in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.
I’m sure there are many savvy travelers who pay careful attention to booking their travel on one alliance so as to maximize their airline miles and resulting benefits. I don’t; I just focus on out-of-pocket cost and time of departure and arrival, and I try to fly on Southwest whenever possible because they rarely cancel flights. So I didn’t care who was flying me home on that occasion — but I did feel a certain pride in knowing that, for a brief instant at least, I was a part of the Oneworld Alliance.