Back in June 2015, the OneWorld Alliance introduced their OneWorld Priority branding at airports worldwide.
On the face of it, this was generally a good idea. Although maybe a slight marketing gimmick to fix a problem that probably didn’t exist.
By 2016, the new signage was seen around the world and remains in place to this day.
So Whats The Problem With It?
An increasing issue I’ve seen on my travels, is that the word priority is very much open to interpretation.
It appears that most seem to think that priority means them. And I’m not talking about your OneWorld Ruby card holder trying to board with the Emerald’s either…
As explained in my top ten post a few weeks back, I once experienced an elderly couple looking at the signage a little confused as to whether priority meant them, or business class.
A similar issue was experienced in Tel Aviv recently. When the check in desks opened, up came the now familiar OneWorld Priority logos.
As there were only a couple of us waiting at this point, I clearly over heard a family having a discussion.
It says First Class, we’re in economy, we cant check in here.
But it also says Priority, and we have the little one?
Lets ask and see if we are in the right place?
Ignoring the fact that the little one in question looked at least 12 years old, there was clearly a lot of confusion there centred on the word priority. Credit to them, they did ask me if I minded them going in front of me. Which I didn’t, as I was very early anyway and I figured they wouldn’t hold me up by all that much. Had it been a line of 100 people, all assuming that the priority signage meant them, I may have felt differently.
Actually, that did happen…
On that subject, I have experienced such a thing in Marseille. There were a number of elders all stood next to the OneWorld Priority group 1 sign at boarding. When group 1 was called to board, I made my way forward to this area. At which point, one of the group turned to me and asked why a young healthy lad like me needed to be in the priority line…
I’m Not Blaming The People
Let me get this clear. I’m not at all having a go at the folks who do need to board first. Or even those that think they do.
To infrequent flyers, seeing a priority sign and not being as mobile as most others, you’d quite rightly think that this meant you.
And this is where the whole OneWorld Priority branding falls apart. The intention was to make it clearer for frequent flyers. Although they’re likely be the demographic that don’t require any help with things. They are in airports week in, week out.
Perhaps the whole OneWorld Priority thing should have been reserved for those that actually do need some sort of assistance. Maybe a sticker on a boarding pass to say who genuinely needs priority assistance as determined by a member of staff to deter any chancers?
With regards to the frequent flyers, stick to the Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald logos. They were clear enough. And as I already mentioned, frequent flyers are generally savvy enough to know whats what in an airport anyway.
Why Is This Only A OneWorld Problem?
This is almost uniquely a OneWorld problem. The main reason being that Star Alliance don’t use the word priority in any of their signage for frequent flyers.
Star Alliance use their Gold logo. At fast track security, they brand it as Gold Track.
Whilst SkyTeam do use the phrase priority, it’s a lot more subtle than the branding OneWorld use. The fact it’s also integrated into a logo also helps differentiate.
As seen at the top of the page, the OneWorld version to an outsider looks like it is priority only. Not enough emphasis is made on the fact that its a membership benefit as opposed to any form of assistance.
How To Solve The Issue
In an ideal world, the OneWorld Priority title would be used as I explained above. However, the branding is a little bit too far down the road now. It will cause even more confusion if they suddenly changed its purpose.
Maybe ditching the whole OneWorld Priority thing completely, and go back to using just the Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald logos?
Or perhaps come up with something different. OneWorld Elite could work, especially if using a similar logo to the current branding.
OneWorld Access could be another phrase that could avoid confusion.
Maybe It’s Just Me?
Maybe all this has just been something I have picked up on over the years. It might not be a huge deal out in the real world. But in order to make things less confusing for their frequent flyers, OneWorld has inadvertently made things a little more confusing for infrequent flyers.