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New United Airlines program not right for you? Here are three other Star Alliance partners that may make sense

Nov. 09, 2019
4 min read
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United Airlines made waves last month after announcing some pretty radical changes to its MileagePlus frequent flyer program, and while it wasn't all bad news, the updates to the program mean that many travelers are getting stiffed on status.

If you're one of those with United Airlines status affected (like me), it may be time to credit your flying elsewhere. Here are three other Star Alliance partners that may make sense for you.

Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles is one of the easiest ways to gain Star Alliance Gold status for frequent flyers, as its status-match program offers instant elite status for one full year. To match, you’ll need to head over to Turkish Airlines’ customer service page and submit a request with proof of your existing airline status. You’ll then receive an email that looks like this:

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As you can see, you’ll need to take at least one international flight with Turkish Airlines to keep your status for a year, though you’ll only need to fly an 15,000 additional miles in order to extend your status for another year. 15,000 miles for two years of Star Alliance Gold is a great deal.

Even better, as an elite with Turkish, all your domestic U.S. flights are considered ‘foreign’ flights, which means you’ll have United Club lounge access in the U.S. even when flying locally.

Related: The ultimate guide to United Club access

Turkish Airlines has recently redefined some borders in its award chart, which means that possibly one of the best deals — ever — to get to Hawaii in first class is via Turkish Miles & Smiles.

Egyptair

Egyptair has one of the most lucrative award programs for couples and families traveling together. Why? Because its frequent flyer program, Egyptair Plus, allows you to pool accounts together from a single family to earn both award miles and elite miles credit.

What does this mean, in practice? It means that if you and a partner take a round-trip flight together, you can assign all mileage earnings to a single account and the main account holder will receive the credit for all miles flown, per person.

In order to receive Star Alliance Gold, you’ll need 60,000 miles on your primary account. Earning differs according to whether it’s operated by Egyptair or a partner, so you’ll need to check each chart individually.

One of the best things about elite status with Egytpair Plus is that it’s valid for 24 months — and in order to maintain beyond that it you (and your family) only need to fly 30,000 additional miles every two years.

Other bonuses include the same domestic lounge access that Turkish Airlines elites enjoy — United Club access on U.S. domestic flights due to your foreign elite status.

Asiana

Asiana is one of the most undervalued loyalty programs in Star Alliance, offering some pretty sweet spots on award travel. However, what really sets this airline apart is the low threshold for airline elite status — in order to acquire Star Alliance Gold status, you need just 40,000 miles over the course of 24 months.

Even better? Once earned, your status is valid for a full two years, which gives you plenty more time to rack up just 30,000 more miles to keep your status.

The Korean airline has no minimum requirement of flights on its own metal, so it's entirely possible to earn status by flying other Star Alliance airlines (like United) and skipping Asiana altogether — though you might not want to.

Of course, like the above two airlines, Star Alliance Gold status via Asiana also includes lounge access on U.S. domestic flights, since you're technically flying 'internationally'.

Related: The ultimate guide to earning and redeeming Asiana Club miles

Bottom line

If United's changes to its frequent flyer program has hit you hard, it might be time to switch your loyalties. While it can be difficult to figure out which Star Alliance airline is the best place to credit your flying, these three offer generous returns and easy ways to earn and maintain elite status.

Featured image by Roy Lock

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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases