Skip to content

This is how Star Alliance can learn from Oneworld Emerald status

Sept. 28, 2022
4 min read
Avianca Airbus A330 in Star Alliance livery
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Let's face it — besides the business-class lounge access and liberalized luggage policies, Star Alliance Gold benefits are somewhat lackluster. This is especially true when you compare its benefits to top-tier Oneworld elite status, Oneworld Emerald, a fan favorite here at TPG.

But what benefits should Star Alliance status offer? Let's take a closer look at Oneworld Emerald and discuss what a hypothetical top-tier Star Alliance should offer.

Oneworld and Star Alliance status tiers

First of all, it's important to note that Star Alliance only has two tiers — Silver and Gold.

Oneworld, on the other hand, offers three tiers — Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald.

With access to business-class lounges, priority boarding and its extra luggage allowance, Star Alliance Gold closely mirrors the mid-tier Oneworld Sapphire benefits.

But for upper elites, Star Alliance Gold falls short of offering the benefits that top-tier Oneworld Emerald elites enjoy. Therefore, what Star Alliance lacks is a status equivalent to Oneworld Emerald.

So for the purpose of this article, let's call a hypothetical Oneworld Emerald equivalent status tier "Star Alliance Platinum."

Current Star Alliance Gold benefits

United Premier Gold members and have select perks when traveling on partner airlines like Lufthansa. KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

While there are some notable exceptions — like no access to the United Club on domestic United flights and limited benefits for basic economy ticketed fares — Star Alliance Gold elites have the following perks when flying any of the 26 Star Alliance member airlines.

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

This means that an Avianca elite with Star Alliance Gold traveling on a Lufthansa economy ticket would be eligible for business-class lounge access, free checked luggage and priority services along the way.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

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

Current Oneworld Emerald benefits


Now, let's look at the benefits that Oneworld offers its top-tier elites across the 13 member airlines. Remember, there are some exceptions here, too. For example, American and Alaska elites cannot access lounges without a separate membership on domestic flights.

  • Access to first- and business-class lounges.
  • Access to first-class priority check-in.
  • “Fast Track” or “Priority Lane” access at select airports worldwide.
  • Priority baggage handling.
  • Extra baggage allowance.
  • Priority boarding.
  • Priority on waitlists and when on standby.
  • Access to preferred or pre-reserved seating.

So if you're a British Airways Gold elite member (which includes Oneworld Emerald), you can access first-class lounges regardless of your class of service. That means if you fly Finnair economy from London's Heathrow Airport (LHR), you'll have access to the British Airways first-class lounge and enjoy complimentary checked luggage, fast-track security and other priority benefits.

Related: Act fast: How to earn Oneworld Emerald status for under $3,000 this year

What 'Star Alliance Platinum' should offer

The Lufthansa first-class lounge in Frankfurt Airport (FRA). ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

There are several benefits that Oneworld Emeralds enjoy that Star Alliance Gold members don't have. Two of the biggest exclusions are first-class lounge access and preferred or pre-reserved seating.

In addition to the existing Star Alliance Gold benefits, Star Alliance Platinum should give elite members access to first-class check-in and lounge access (on airlines that operate a separate business-class and first-class product).

That would open up aspirational locations like the new SilverKris First lounge at Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) and the Lufthansa first-class lounge in Frankfurt Airport (FRA). Plus, it would enhance the travel experience for the most frequent Star Alliance travelers.

Preferred or pre-reserved seating would also be an appealing perk for Star Alliance Platinums. Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa and SWISS charge for advanced seat selection on most economy and premium seats. That can be an unwelcome expense on United flights with inter-Europe connections.

Related: Book this, not that: Star Alliance award tickets

Bottom line

Whether it's by improving the existing Star Alliance Gold benefits or creating a new Star Alliance "Platinum" tier, it's high time for Star Alliance top elites to enjoy some of the benefits that Oneworld extends to its top-tier elites.

By doing so, maximizing the Star Alliance partners to earn United status would be far more appealing. Star Alliance could once again set the standard in the airline alliance sphere.

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.