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If you’re reading this column in the middle of a marathon trip, you may find solace or inspiration in the story of the famous explorer Ferdinand Magellan. You see, 488 years ago this month, King Charles I of Spain gave Magellan the money he needed to launch the first successful circumnavigation of the earth. The trip took three years, and of the 270 men who started the voyage, only 18 made it the entire way. Fortunately, as travelers, we have come a long way over the past five centuries. Relatively speaking, moving around the world today is a snap. In fact, you can get to more than 600 destinations, in 135 countries, without ever leaving oneworld, the alliance linking the networks of eight leading airlines: American Airlines, Aer Lingus, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, LAN Airlines, and Qantas.

Last year, oneworld airlines carried more than 240 million passengers over two billion miles on some 2,000 aircraft. With nearly three million flights in 2005, a oneworld plane took off or landed somewhere in the world about every five seconds. From Sydney to Santiago, the carriers of oneworld blanket the world as no one airline or rival alliance can. In the coming months, our reach will extend farther, as Japan Airlines, Royal Jordanian Airlines, and Malév Hungarian Airlines plan to join oneworld.

The oneworld story is about more than network breadth. Members of any ­oneworld airline’s frequent-flier program can earn miles toward elite status on eligible flights marketed and operated by any of the alliance’s carriers. And frequent fliers enjoy the privileges across all carriers that their elite status entitles them to. Members of the top two tiers (Emerald and Sapphire) of each loyalty­ program enjoy instant access to hundreds of airport lounges worldwide, including American’s Admirals Clubs.

Each of our member airlines has earned a reputation for great customer service, and we are collaborating to make transferring between airlines easier than ever. For example, all of the oneworld carriers have transferred into Madrid’s new state-of-the-art Terminal 4, one of the world’s most modern, efficient, and passenger-friendly facilities. I am sure Magellan would have found it a joy! Whether you are flying to Madrid or Melbourne, oneworld is the only global alliance that enables customers to fly across its network with multiple connections using only electronic tickets. Wherever possible, passengers are checked in right through to their final destination, with oneworld staff and signs providing assistance along the way.

Making it possible for you to roam the globe like never before is its own reward. But if we pick up the occasional accolade along the way, so much the better. In 2005, for the third year in a row, oneworld was named the World Travel Awards’ World’s Leading Airline Alliance. And, for the second year running, we were recognized in a survey of international frequent fliers as the Best Airline Alliance. These awards are a tribute to the more than 260,000 employees of the oneworld carriers, each of whom is dedicated to getting you to your destination safely and comfortably.

You don’t need Magellan-like aspirations to enjoy the benefits of the industry’s best global alliance. Whether you’re circling the globe or making a quick day trip, oneworld has you covered. To learn more, please visit www.aa.com/oneworld. Wherever your explorations take you, thank you for choosing American Airlines.

Picture of Gerard Arpey

Chairman & CEO
American Airlines