In mid-2012 SriLankan Airlines announced they would be joining the OneWorld alliance, with hopes of finalizing the arrangements by late 2013. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, though in October they announced a target join date of April. Then in January there was further confusion when SriLankan’s PR team confirmed that they would be joining on March 1, which wasn’t the case.
As I mentioned in the previous post, I’m quite excited about SriLankan joining OneWorld. Admittedly, their limited longhaul operations won’t be a game changer, but regionally they have quite a strong route network.
I was originally enthused about SriLankan because I figured they’d be one of the only ways to get to the Maldives on OneWorld miles, though in the meantime options for those hoping to redeem miles to the Maldives have expanded dramatically.
- You can redeem American AAdvantage miles for travel on Etihad, which flies to the Maldives from Abu Dhabi.
- Qatar Airways is formally a OneWorld member airline now, and they fly to the Maldives twice daily via Doha.
- Malaysia Airlines joined OneWorld earlier last year, with service from Kuala Lumpur.
- Cathay Pacific recently launched new service to the Maldives from Hong Kong.
- British Airways flies there now not only from London, but also from Colombo.
Still, SriLankan will be a nice addition, and the new routes this opens up for OneWorld flyers goes well beyond flights to/from Sri Lanka. I love their fifth freedom routes from Bangkok to Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.
SriLankan’s regional route network will be especially useful on OneWorld Explorer awards around Asia. While OneWorld already has a fairly strong longhaul presence in Asia with Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines, their shorthaul operations are often limited. So these new routes out of Bangkok open up some great options.
SriLankan even has what looks to be a really nice, updated, business class product. Their website is so bad they don’t even make reference to it online, but the refreshed product is now available on many of their longhaul flights:
I last flew SriLankan several years ago, and this was their “new” business class product at the time:
And it’s worth noting that even with the older product I’ve always enjoyed SriLankan’s food and service.
(Tip of the hat to David)