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Which mileage program is best for getting Star Alliance status quickly?

March 29, 2022
8 min read
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The aviation points and miles game is dominated by three alliances: Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance. The latter is the largest, currently enlisting 26 member airlines. If you fly a lot of different airlines to all parts of the world, it could be valuable to hold status in this large alliance. Or maybe you just got a job near a Star Alliance hub and want to make your travel life a little bit easier.

With 26 airlines comes a lot of different loyalty programs, so which one should you choose for your points and status strategy? Let's take a look.

Star Alliance

Founded by Lufthansa, SWISS, Air Canada, Thai Airways and United back in 1997, the alliance has grown significantly. The five founding airlines are still represented in the logo today. Star Alliance offers standardized benefits for status holders of each of the mileage programs.

There are two status levels: Star Alliance Silver and Star Alliance Gold. The benefits are as follows:

Star Alliance Silver

  • Priority waitlisting
  • Priority airport standby

Star Alliance Gold

  • Priority waitlisting
  • Priority airport standby
  • Priority check-in
  • Priority boarding
  • Priority baggage handling
  • Lounge access
  • Extra baggage allowance

As you can see, Star Alliance Gold offers the benefits most flyers will be looking for.

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold Lounge, accessible with Star Alliance Gold Status. (Photo courtesy of Singapore Airlines)

Picking a loyalty program

For most travelers, picking their home country airline is a no brainer. It is, however, always smart to evaluate the perks and thresholds an airline's program offers before picking one to go with. In some cases, an airline you barely ever fly with could be the best option strategically. In the case of Star Alliance, there are no U.K. airlines in the alliance, so it's easy to keep an open mind.

Also, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it's still easier with some airlines to achieve status because the requirements are slightly lower.

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Next, it's important to be able to credit your redeemable miles -- aside from status, this is the currency you work with. Make sure to find out if you can credit the flights you anticipate taking to the mileage program you go with. Also, check if you can use those hard-earned miles to book reward flights to destinations you desire.

Obtaining Star Alliance Gold status

In this section, we'll take a look at all mileage programs in the alliance to determine what is needed to obtain the coveted Star Alliance Gold status.

Airpoints™ (Air New Zealand)

  • Desired status Gold
  • Requirement 900 Status Points in a 12-month period
  • Pros Requalifying requires a lower amount of points (810)
  • Cons Earning Status Points through credit card spending is only available in New Zealand

Altitude (Air Canada)

  • Desired status Elite 50k
  • Requirement 50,000 Altitude Qualifying Miles; or 50 Altitude Qualifying Segments (AQS) in addition to CAD6,000 Altitude Qualifying Dollars (AQD) in one calendar year
  • Pros None
  • Cons Due to the AQD requirement, this program is of no use if you never fly Air Canada

ANA Mileage Club (ANA)

  • Desired status Platinum
  • Requirement 50,000 Premium Points earned in one calendar year
  • Pros None
  • Cons 25,000 miles need to be earned on ANA operated flights

Asiana Club (Asiana Airlines)

  • Desired status Diamond
  • Requirement 40,000 miles accrued in 24 months; or 50 flights with Asiana Airlines boarded in 24 months
  • Pros 24-month period to accrue miles or flights; obtained status is valid for two years; requalifying requires a lower threshold (30,000 miles/30 flights boarded)
  • Cons None

ConnectMiles (Copa Airlines)

  • Desired status Gold
  • Requirement (normally) 45,000 miles and/or 40 qualifying segments in one calendar year
  • Requirement (2022) 35,000 miles and/or 35 qualifying segments in one calendar year
  • Pros Relatively low thresholds
  • Cons At least four qualifying segments need to be flown on Copa Airlines

EGYPTAIR Plus (EGYPTAIR)

  • Desired status Gold
  • Requirement 30,000 Tier Miles within two years after your first 30,000 Tier Miles
  • Pros Low threshold, long earning period; Tier Miles can be pooled -- relatives can help increase the Tier Miles balance
  • Cons Requalification for Gold is more difficult than initial earning (40,000 Tier Miles or 36 segments in 24 months)

EuroBonus (SAS Scandinavian Airlines)

  • Desired status Gold
  • Requirement 45 one-way flights with SAS/Wideroe or 45,000 Basic Points in one calendar year
  • Pros Lifetime Gold member after 10 years of status
  • Cons None

Flying Returns (Air India)

  • Desired status Golden Edge Club
  • Requirement 50,000 Status FR points during a 12-month rolling period
  • Pros None
  • Cons None

Infinity MileageLands (EVA Air)

  • Desired status Gold
  • Requirement 50,000 miles in 12 months after obtaining Silver status; or 50 qualifying EVA Air/UNI Air segments in 12 months after obtaining Silver status
  • Pros Lower threshold for maintaining status (80,000 miles OR 50 qualifying EVA Air/UNI Air segments in 24 months)
  • Cons Obtaining Silver status first is required

KrisFlyer (Singapore Airlines)

  • Desired status Elite Gold
  • Requirement 50,000 Elite miles in a 12-month rolling period
  • Pros Singapore Airlines is considered world-class
  • Cons None

LifeMiles (Avianca)

  • Desired status Gold
  • Requirement 40,000 Elite miles in one calendar year; or 45 qualifying Star Alliance segments in one calendar year
  • Pros Low qualifying flights threshold, valid on all Star Alliance flights
  • Cons None

MileagePlus® (United Airlines)

  • Desired status Premier Gold
  • Requirement (normally) 24 Premier qualifying flights (PQF) and 8,000 Premier qualifying points (PQP equal to USD amount spent) OR 10,000 PQP in one calendar year
  • Requirement (2022) 16 Premier qualifying flights (PQF) and 6,000 Premier qualifying points (PQP equal to USD amount spent) OR 7,000 PQP in one calendar year
  • Pros Well-known airline, popular program
  • Cons At least four qualifying segments need to be flown on United Airlines

Miles & More (Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Croatia Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss)

  • Desired status Senator
  • Requirement 100,000 status miles in one calendar year
  • Pros Obtained status is valid for two years
  • Cons High status miles requirement

Miles&Smiles (Turkish Airlines)

  • Desired status Elite
  • Requirement 40,000 Status Miles in one year for initial qualification; 25,000 Status Miles in one year or 37,500 Status Miles in two years after initial qualification to requalify
  • Pros Obtained status is valid for two years; lower thresholds for international members
  • Cons None

Miles+Bonus (Aegean Airlines)

  • Desired status Gold Tier
  • Requirement 24,000 Tier Miles plus a minimum of four flights on Aegean Airlines; or 48,000 Tier Miles in 12 months for initial qualification, 12,000 Tier Miles plus a minimum of four flights on Aegean Airlines; or 24,000 Tier Miles in 12 months for requalification
  • Pros Retaining Gold Tier is possible with half the qualification requirements
  • Cons None

PhoenixMiles (Shenzhen Airlines, Air China)

  • Desired status Gold
  • Requirement 80,000 qualifying miles; or 40 qualifying segments in one calendar year
  • Pros Obtained status is valid for two years; low qualifying flights threshold, valid on all Star Alliance flights
  • Cons High mileage threshold

Royal Orchid Plus (Thai Airways International)

  • Desired status Royal Orchid Plus Gold
  • Requirement 50,000 qualifying miles in 12 months; or 40 international Thai Airways sectors in 12 months; or 80,000 qualifying miles in 24 months
  • Pros None
  • Cons None

SAA Voyager (South African Airways)

Given recent developments surrounding a looming bankruptcy at SAA, we don't recommend using them for a long term strategy even though they recently restarted flights. Therefore, we do not cover SAA Voyager in this article.

ShebaMiles (Ethiopian Airlines)

  • Desired status ShebaMiles Gold
  • Requirement 50,000 status miles in one calendar year; or fly 40 qualifying segments in one calendar year
  • Pros None
  • Cons None

TAP Miles&Go (TAP Air Portugal)

  • Desired status TAP Miles&Go Gold
  • Requirement 70,000 status miles in one calendar year; or fly 50 qualifying segments on TAP in one calendar year for initial qualification, 50,000 status miles in one calendar year; or fly 40 qualifying segments on TAP in one calendar year for requalification
  • Pros After 5 years of Gold status, you get a free extra year of Gold if flying a lot is an issue for a year / Convert Bonus Miles to Status Miles to maintain status at a 2:1 ration
  • Cons High initial qualification
The Air New Zealand Lounge in Christchurch, accessible with Star Alliance Gold Status. (Photo courtesy of Air New Zealand)

Bottom line

If your goal is to obtain Star Alliance Gold status as quickly as possible and you have the freedom to choose your own flights, Asiana Club is the program to choose. With only 40,000 miles needed over a 24-month period, Star Alliance Gold status is relatively easily obtained. Better yet, to keep this status, you only need 30,000 miles in the subsequent 24-month period. A good second is Aegean Airlines -- if you're able to fly four segments per year on Aegean Airlines, Gold status with them is very easy to obtain and especially keep.

However, always keep your own goals in mind -- status is good to have, but it also matters if you can accumulate redeemable miles and if you can book the flights you desire with them.

Featured image by United Airlines Boeing 777-200 ER Extended Range with 2x GE90 engines aircraft landing at London Heathrow International Airport in England UK. The airplane fuselage is painted in Star Alliance special colours livery scheme. The registration of the plane is N76021. UAL / UA major American airline headquartered in Chicago, Illinois connects London with Chicago O'Hare, Houston Intercontinental, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, Washington Dulles and seasonal to Denver (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees