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To be able to hold any status on an airline comes with a certain set of perks, and to hold that status for your lifetime, you’re putting yourself in quite a sweet spot. One of the sweetest spots there is in this respect is the ability to earn lifetime Star Alliance Gold status through Aegean Airlines. It’s bit of a backdoor workaround, but bear with me, because with a little strategic planning, it can definitely be worth it.
What makes that so is that you only need to rack up 20,000 qualifying Aegean Miles&Bonus miles within 12 months to reach Gold status. You get 1,000 just for signing up – so that means you have 12 months to earn another 19,000. In fact, it’s actually a bit more lenient than that. If you fly 4,000 miles within 12 months you get Aegean’s “Blue” status, which equates to Star Alliance Silver, and then you just have to fly 16,000 more miles (and you have another rolling 12-month period to do so), you get Gold.
The airline’s T&C page puts it this way: “Members who hold a BLUE Card and who have earned at least 16,000 Tier Miles within twelve (12) consecutive months from their first miles-accruing flight on the previous tier will receive the GOLD Card. If, however, the Blue Member, after completion of the aforementioned twelve-month period, has gathered less than 16,000 Tier Miles, then he/she shall remain a Blue Member, whilst the Tier Miles collected during that twelve-month period shall not be automatically reset, but shall rather be successively deleted one (1) year from the day of each respective flight event, effected within the 12-month period in question.” So even if you don’t hit 16,000 within the 12-month period, your Tier counter doesn’t reset to zero, but is rolling.
Then, once you earn that status, it’s good for your lifetime as long as you keep your Miles&Bonus account active. That only involves crediting miles to your account from flight activity once every 36-month period. It’s as simple as that. It sounds a bit more confusing than it is, but basically keep these two facts in mind – Tier miles are earned over rolling 12-month periods and that once you have status, it’s easy to keep it with a little planning. You can find all the terms & conditions here.
Before you go crediting all your United and other Star Alliance flights to Aegean, however, it’s important to note the airline’s partner earning rules. Unlike US airlines where most fare classes earn at least 100% of mileage flown, Aegean credits Tier-qualifying miles a bit differently, where discounted fare classes earn lower (or no) percentage of the miles flown.
The best workaround for this use to be crediting US Airways flights to Aegean since you could earn at least 100% mileage on pretty much any paid fare class – but that changed when US Airways exited Star Alliance on March 31, even though US Airways and Aegean remain airline partners.
Now, however, we’re all stuck looking for other options among Aegean’s partners, and unfortunately, the airline isn’t as generous with crediting United fare classes with Miles&Bonus Tier-qualifying miles. Here’s what United’s earning looks like.
As you can see, several discount (and not-so-discount) economy fares only earn 50% miles: W, S, T, L, K, G. And some booking classes are not even eligible for accrual: O, I, X, R, N, P – and some of these are even discounted business and first fares like P! So if you are thinking about going the United route on this, then be sure to check and double check the fare class your ticket is booked in.
Here are some other options.
Again, you’re looking at discounted earning rates of 25-50% on lower fare classes domestically.
And 50% internationally, though note that fare classes I, X, F and R do not accrue any mileage. Air Canada Rouge is even worse, with pretty much every fare class that earns miles at all earning just 25%.
Good luck earning much mileage on Lufthansa either unless you’re buying premium fares.
Lufthansa Booking Classes not eligible for accrual: O, I, X, R, N, L, T, E, K, P
Got some Asian flights coming up on Singapore? Though several fare classes aren’t eligible for mileage accrual, some economy ones earn 100%.
Singapore Booking Classes not eligible for accrual: O, I, X, N, G, Q, T, V. But among those that earn full mileage are: S, Y, B, E, M, H, W, U, L, K.
Turkish Airlines has a rapidly expanding route network, so you might find yourself flying them to Europe or between various other regions. Here are the mileage-earning rules.
Turkish Air Booking Classes not eligible for accrual: I, R, X, N, G, P, W, Z.
U, O and A Classes are also applied as promotional discounted classes within Turkish domestic routes with no mileage accrual. This applies only on Turkish domestic flights (flight numbers 2000-2999).
So there are several restrictions here and it pays to know your booking class.
Though it seems like Aegean’s Tier mileage-accrual policies are restrictive, if you put in just a little more work, and possibly just a few more dollars to make sure you’re booking an eligible fare class, that can make all the difference between earning full mileage and earning no mileage. But if you click on the link to “Advanced Search,” you can specify the fare class or classes you’re looking for and pull up airfares that way.
For instance, all these flights from San Francisco to New York on United in K class would only earn 50% mileage.
That might not seem worth it just to collect another 2,500 miles or so, but when you consider that this one roundtrip would get you Aegean Blue status and thus Star Alliance Silver status, that could be worth it to you. Especially considering to earn United Silver status you’d need to fly 25,000 miles or 30 segments instead of just 5,000 miles and 2 segments plus spend $2,500 thanks to United’s new elite status spending requirements.
Let’s multiply it a couple times to get to Gold. If you were flying this route, you’d need to fly 4 roundtrips in order to earn the 20,000 total Tier miles necessary for Aegean Gold. With fare classes pricing out like this, that would mean you’d be paying an extra $740 for all those trips total to hit Gold.
So instead of flying the 50,000 miles or 60 segments United would require and spending $5,000 to hit United Premier Gold, you’d be flying 20,000 miles and 8 segments – not a bad alternative, even if you are purchasing higher fare classes.
It definitely depends on your needs and the fare classes you can find, but if you take the time to crunch the numbers you could be coming out way ahead, even if you are purchasing higher fares.
Star Alliance Gold
Star Alliance Gold Status comes with the following perks:
Airport Lounge Access
When you travel with any Star Alliance member airline, you and a guest can escape the crowds and relax in over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide, regardless of your class of travel.
There’s no need to rush out of the lounge anymore. With priority boarding you can enjoy the freedom of boarding at your convenience along with First and Business Class passengers.
Extra Baggage Allowance
As a Gold Status holder you can choose not to travel light. We allow an additional 20 kg (44 pounds) where the weight concept applies, or one additional piece of luggage where the piece concept applies.
Priority Baggage Handling
Similar to you, your bags get priority treatment and are among the first to be unloaded, which means you can be one of the first in line for a taxi/shuttle bus.
Priority Reservations Waitlist
If there aren’t any seats available on your preferred flight, we ensure that you are given higher priority on the waiting list.
Priority Airport Standby
If your travel plans change and flights are full, your Star Alliance Gold status ensures you are given higher priority when standing by for a flight at the airport.
When This Makes Sense
So in the case of United, you do give up certain perks by going for generic Star Alliance Gold via Aegean instead of United Premier Gold – you can find our in-depth analysis of this status here. You give up elite-based upgrades and access to Economy Plus seating as well as elite mileage bonuses on United. The checked luggage benefit is also only one bag instead of two, and you don’t receive award travel benefit and fee waivers like close-in booking and award redeposit.
However, one major benefit is that, though United Premier Gold’s do not get United Club access when flying domestically, Star Alliance Gold elites who earned that status with a non-US airline do, so if you’re just flying LAX-SFO or ORD-LGA, you would not get into the United Club as a Premier Gold, but you would as an Aegean Star Alliance Gold – and if United Club access is something you’re interested in, this is a nice way to get it and elite status all in one go.
So if you just have a few United flights this year and aren’t going to hit the airline’s own elite status thresholds in terms of mileage or spending, then it might be worth looking into Aegean Gold and seeing if you can get Star Alliance Gold that way. Not only that, but even if you do have a lot of United flying to do and are going to hit your elite status threshold, then you might want to hedge your status by going for Aegean Gold since it’s good for a lifetime and you just have to credit a flight every 3 years to keep it active for the rest of your life.
Any other tips or tricks to getting Aegean Gold? Or any other questions about it? Feel free to comment below. Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.