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Deutsche Bahn joins Star Alliance to become first non-airline member

July 04, 2022
3 min read
Star Alliance Boeing 777-200 United
Deutsche Bahn joins Star Alliance to become first non-airline member
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Star Alliance became the first international airline alliance a full 25 years ago, celebrating its birthday just last month. Until now, none of the major alliances (the other two being SkyTeam and Oneworld) have had a non-airline alliance.

That's changed.

Deutsche Bahn (the German railroad company, often referred to as 'DB') is officially joining Star Alliance as the first non-airline partner of any of the major alliances.

DB's membership in Star Alliance will become effective Aug. 1, 2022, and is part of a push for intermodal travel. This new model seeks to link air travel with train, bus, ferry and other modes of travel in the future.

Of course, the goal is to also make the travel experience seamless, including across members' loyalty accounts.

“Today brings great forces together and opens the Star Alliance doors beyond the airline ecosystem," said Jeffrey Goh, CEO of Star Alliance.

"Our new model for intermodal partnerships promises seamless coexistence between different modes of transport throughout the alliance. We welcome Deutsche Bahn as our first intermodal partner to Star Alliance.”

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This isn't the first time a Star Alliance member partnered with a train line.

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Lufthansa Express Rail began more than 20 years ago and provides a combined train-plus-flight booking experience.

It also includes something novel: If your train arrives late at the airport, causing you to miss your connection, you will be automatically rebooked onto a later flight.

When booking separate tickets, this would not be covered. This combined flight and train ticket comes as one itinerary, meaning it can be purchased in one checkout and with one reservation number.

Harry Hohmeister, member of the board at Deutsche Lufthansa AG, said DB joining Star Alliance is the next logical step after this successful partnership.

Frankfurt Airport (FRA) in Germany. (Photo by Alex Kraus/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

With Deutsche Bahn joining Star Alliance, the goal is to extend this unified booking process to other airlines in Star Alliance.

This unified booking process would let customers purchase a single, combined ticket for flights and train journeys with seat reservations, seamless check-in and baggage handling process, as well as connection to Intercity Express (ICE) trains.

Additionally, passengers in business and first class on Star Alliance member airlines will have access to DB lounges when traveling on combined itineraries.

Related: 7 great airline mileage programs for booking Star Alliance awards

What does this mean for frequent flyers and their loyalty accounts?

If you purchase a combined flight-plus-train reservation, you'll be able to collect points or miles in your preferred loyalty account on the train portion of your ticket, once DB becomes an active member of Star Alliance.

How this will work is not exactly clear, as the member airlines will need to establish earning rates.

Once DB is officially a Star Alliance member next month, bookings should go live for these new intermodal travel packages.

As of today, the Star Alliance search engine and member airlines do not recognize German train stations as a destination. When this feature is live, you can count on TPG to provide updates on how it works.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
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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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023