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Star Alliance is the largest and most popular alliance over its two major competitors – the OneWorld and SkyTeam airline alliances. Currently, there are 27 Star Alliance airlines which are a mix of both major international carriers and smaller regional airlines that serve more than 762 million customers per year.
For those who don’t know what airline alliances are, they are a group of airline companies teaming together to offer codeshare flights and pool resources together. For example, Star Alliance allows its customers to earn and redeem miles across the 27 members so if you’re a points and miles enthusiast, this is practically a gold mine for you.
If you want to know more about Star Alliance and what it offers, keep reading!
What Is Star Alliance?
The Star Alliance was first launched on May 14th, 1997 by five founding members – United, Air Canada, Scandinavian Airlines, Thai Airways, and Lufthansa. If you didn’t notice, that’s the reason why the alliance chose the star logo to represent the founding members.
Now, the alliance has 27 members in its network with a combined fleet of over 5000 airplanes. It’s currently based in Frankfurt, Germany with Jeffrey Goh as its CEO.
Star Alliance covers more airspace than any other alliance in the world as it flies to more than 1,300+ destinations, in 195 countries around the globe. And it doesn’t stop there because Star Alliance is continuously expanding its network now that travel bans have been lifted.
No wonder the alliance won many awards such as the Best Airline Alliance by Business Traveller Magazine and the 2019 Best Airline Alliance by SKYTRAX World Airline Awards.
Star Alliance Airlines
Here are the 27 Star Alliance members:
- Aegean Airlines
- Air Canada
- Air China
- Air India
- Air New Zealand
- Asiana Airlines
- Brussels Airlines
- Copa Airlines
- Croatia Airlines
- Ethiopian Airlines
- EVA Air
- LOT Polish Airlines
- Scandinavian Airlines
- Shenzhen Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- South African Airways
- TAP Air Portugal
- Turkish Airlines
The great thing about Star Alliance is that its members cover 5 different regions across the globe – Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, America, and the Middle East – making it the perfect alliance to earn and burn your frequent flyer miles.
Star Alliance Tiers
All of the 27 Star Alliance members each have their own frequent flyer programs so it’s hard to keep track of all those different tiers and benefits. As a way to standardize the benefits when passengers travel from one airline to another, Star Alliance has created two tiers:
- Star Alliance Silver (Silver members are entitled to the benefits below)
- Priority Reservation Waitlist
- Priority Standby
- Star Alliance Gold (Gold members will get all Silver benefits plus the ones below)
- Priority Baggage Handling
- Priority Check-in
- Priority Boarding
- Airport Lounge Access
- Extra Baggage Allowance
If you qualify for any of these tiers, you’ll get these are additional benefits you’ll get on top of your respective frequent flyer benefits.
As mentioned above, Gold Members will have exclusive access to Star Alliance’s network of more than 1000 lounges across the world. First Class and Business Class passengers will also have access to these lounges. Here’s the Star Alliance lounge policy if you wish to learn more about it.
Make sure to check the lounge finder to see which partner lounges are available near you. But aside from the partner lounges, there are also alliance-branded lounges that are operated and marketed by Star Alliance. You can find these lounges in Buenos Aires (EZE), Los Angeles (LAX), Paris (CDG), Rio de Janeiro (GIG), Rome (FCO), and Amsterdam (AMS).
How To Get Star Alliance Status
While Star Alliance may have its own status tiers, it doesn’t actually have a separate frequent flyer program. To get a Star Alliance status, you need to join a frequent flyer program and earn status from any of the 27 Star Alliance members first then you’ll be rewarded with a corresponding Star Alliance status.
You can check your Star Alliance status here on the Benefits and Privilege page. You’ll see a drop-down button where you can select the tier of your frequent flyer program and its corresponding Star Alliance status.
Using Miles For Award Flights Across Star Alliance
If you’re a member of any frequent flyer program in the Star Alliance network, you can earn or redeem miles across the 27 Star Alliance members. What’s great about Star Alliance is that it also allows its members to use miles to upgrade award flights on other airline members. SkyTeam also allows cross-alliance upgrade options but OneWorld doesn’t.
However, the amount of miles you can earn or redeem varies per program per airline. For example, the United Airlines Mileage Plus has an award chart for its loyalty members where they can check how many miles they can earn or redeem on other alliance members.
As you can see below, here’s how much Mileage Plus members can earn on Lufthansa flights that were purchased directly from united.com (tickets that start with 016). The rates are different when you purchased the flights from third-party services (tickets that don’t start with 016).
You can even boost your miles earnings when you get a co-branded credit card or a credit card from a transfer partner. For example, United has a line-up of co-branded cards such as the:
- United Quest Card
- Earn 3X miles per $1 United(R) purchases.
- Earn 2X miles per $1 on airfare, hotels, car rentals, and other eligible travel purchases.
- Earn 2X miles per $1 on restaurants.
- Earn 2X miles per $1 on eligible streaming services.
- Earn 1X mile per $1 on all other eligible purchases.
- United℠ Explorer Card
- Earn 2x per dollar spent on United Airlines flights.
- Earn 2x per dollar on dining (including eligible delivery services).
- Earn 2x per dollar on hotel stays.
As you can see, you’ll earn additional miles on top of your flight purchases so you can earn miles faster. Alternatively, you can also get cards that allow you to transfer your points to United Airlines such as the:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Earn 5x total points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- Earn 3x points on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout, and dining out.
- Earn 3x points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs)
- Earn 3x points on select streaming services.
- Earn 2x on other travel purchases.
- Earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Earn 10X points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® after spending your first $300 on travel purchases annually.
- Earn 10x total points on Chase Dining purchases with Ultimate Rewards®.
- Earn 5x total points on flights when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® after spending your first $300 on travel purchases annually.
- Earn 3x points on dining at restaurants, including eligible delivery services.
- Earn 3x points on other travel worldwide after spending your first $300 on travel purchases annually.
- Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
These Chase cards let you transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio to United.
Which Airline Alliance Should You Join?
Your travel habits and your location should always be the basis when you pick an airline alliance. For example, it’s common sense to join Star Alliance if you live in Chicago or Denver since these are major United Airlines hubs.
Oftentimes, United flights are cheaper at hubs so you’ll most likely fly United whenever you travel in and out of your city. And when you do, you’ll be earning United miles which you can use to redeem award flights on other Star Alliance airlines.
Now, if you live in Atlanta (a Delta hub) or Dallas (an American Airlines hub) should join SkyTeam and OneWorld respectively.
Read More: Delta Partners To Earn SkyMiles With
Airline Alliances are beneficial for travelers, especially for points and miles enthusiasts. You can earn and redeem miles across the different member airlines giving you more flexibility when you plan your travels.