In another thread, a member gave a run down of how it works in Oneworld. And given trippin_the_rift's CV, I have no doubt that this description is accurateAlthough I have not sighted any documents, I’ve had corroborated from separate inside sources that for Oneworld it’s the carrier who pays for lounge access in all cases. In Star Alliance it is based on how you access the lounge (if status, then program pays. If class, then it’s the carrier).
In Oneworld there are also limits on how many “free” status memberships can be handed out (ie status matches). I suspect these limits exist due to how lounge access is paid, and hence why you will see more gratis status matches in star alliance. (However in oneworld, status challenges skirt the rules on this and aren’t included as a free status handout).
Here is how it works for Oneworld:
- Pax travelling in F/J, the marked airline pays for lounge access (eg: regardless of which airline status you hold in the Oneworld alliance, if you travel in biz class, the carrier flight number you are booked on will pay the lounge provider for you/guests entry. So say you're in first class on BA#xxxx but on Qantas plane, BA will pay for the lounge. Similar to how your points earning into any FFP will be determined by the marked flight#/ticket you are travelling on)
- Pax travelling in any other cabin, the host airline/frequent flyer programs pay for lounge access. (eg: travelling economy class on CX, with your QFF Platinum as FQTV and entering the MH Golden lounge. QF will pay MH)
- JQ members can't access Oneworld lounges because JQ is not a Oneworld member, and therefore has no agreements with other OW carriers. Fiji Airways becoming a OW Connect member means they're hybrid (ie: contracts with only a few OW member airline programs).