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Star Alliance is the world’s largest global airline alliance with 26 member airlines. With such a large network it consistently ranks in our lists of best airlines to fly into many cities including Rome, Istanbul, Paris, and more.
Just having status within the alliance comes with a two-tier rewards program, Silver and Gold, with incentives including priority boarding and upgrades. However, the bigger benefit is award redemptions across the entire network with some great sweet spots we will share with you.
The best way to get familiar with the alliance is through the various partners and it’s important to chose wisely since not all rewards are equal.
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Star Alliance Partners
The Star Alliance is made up of the various airlines and the status can be attained with the following tiers. The network is made up of 26 Airline partners giving it one of the largest networks in the entire world.
Premier Gold, Premier Platinum, Premier 1K, Global Services
Not every partner airline is created equal so you will want to do your research into the ones that are most convenient for you. The good news is beyond their own rewards program they all participate in providing additional Star Alliance Rewards that are broken out into the two tiers below.
Star Alliance Silver
Star Alliance Silver is the start reward that doesn’t offer much but has a few small perks. All flyers that fall into this tier will receive:
Priority Airport Stand-by – Your status gives you higher priority on the standby list for your preferred flight (except when you are traveling on an award ticket).
Priority Reservations Waitlist – Your status gives you higher priority in the waitlist when a reservation is possible, except when you are traveling on an award ticket.
Now this is nothing to write home about but any status comes with its benefits when compared to a no status flyer. While Silver is nothing to strive for it is a benefit on top of the perks you get from your respective airline program as well.
Star Alliance Gold
Star Alliance Gold is where you really start to get recognized with additional perks in additional to your individual airline perks. Here are some of the benefits you will receive across the entire alliance:
Priority Airport Check-in – Avoid the queues at check-in by going to the Priority counters, where available.
Priority Baggage Handling – Your bags are among the first on the belt, so you can move on quickly.
Airport Lounge Access – Escape the crowds in over 1,000 lounges world-wide when you fly on a member airline flight.
Priority Boarding – Board at your convenience with First Class and Business Class passengers where this is offered at the gate.
Extra Baggage Allowance – You can take an extra 20 kg (44 pounds) where the weight concept applies or an extra piece where the piece concept applies.
Gold Track – Move more smoothly through airport security and Immigration by utilizing exclusive Gold Track priority lanes.
Star Alliance Gold is a much more sought after perk and if you are a frequent flyer these benefits really make a difference.
You can think of the two tier Star Alliance Status as a cherry on top of your perks and will ensure you get priority anytime you step foot into an airport.
Star Alliance Awards
By far the biggest benefit of Star Alliance is the vast network of awards you can redeem across all partners. This includes routes across the entire world and a network of some of the best airlines that fly in the sky.
Not all awards are created equal with each partner having unique perks and quirks that make you pick wisely when finding a flight. Some partners also hide award space from partner bookings so you’ll need to do your research before booking. Here are the best programs we think all Star Alliance travelers should be award of.
United Airlines is arguably one of the best in Star Alliance to search for award space, regardless of whether you book through them. United shows award space for virtually all Star Alliance members making it the go to resource for booking tickets. Another perk is United does not require you to log in to view award tickets making it even easier to search available space.
United Transfer partners: Chase Ultimate Rewards (at a 1:1 ratio) and Marriott Bonvoy (at a 3:1.1 ratio).
Note, United has started pricing awards dynamically, so in order to get a rate on another carrier you will need to look for saver award space.
ANA (All Nippon Airways) is the largest airline in Japan and its Mileage Club loyalty program offers some of the best redemption pricing on tickets from the U.S. to Europe. The airline also accepts transfers from Membership Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy and has a pretty solid online award search too.
We found ANA website to not be the most user friendly to search award routes. However, the prices are hard to compete with offering substantially lower rates on the same flights as United.
ANA Transfer partners: You can transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy to ANA.
Another thing to know is ANA requires you to book a roundtrip ticket versus just booking a one way. This can cause a hassle when trying to book if there is not availability on both routes.
Turkish Airlines offers some of the best award rates out of any airline program. A long haul business class flight from New York to Istanbul is only 45,000 miles one way. That is an incredible deal considering the distance and it is a program everyone should consider using.
Turkish Transfer partners: You can transfer points from Capital One Miles, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy to Turkish Airlines.
Note, that Turkish Airlines does pass on fuel surcharges that can be in the range of $170 – $800 one way. This makes it less attractive when booking on partners but when booking on Turkish Airlines themselves the fee is towards the lower end.
Air Canada Aeroplan
Transfer partners:Aeroplan’s three main transfer partners are American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles, and Marriott Bonvoy.
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Singpore Airlines KrisFlyer program offers great value considering the level of luxury onboard. Whether you are flying on the A380 or A350 you can experience Singapore Airlines business class for about 77,000 miles from New York to Singapore. Considering the flight time is over 18 hours we would say that is one of the best deals you can get in a premium business class product.
If you can find availability Singapore Airlines offers its insanely luxurious first class for only 86,000 miles from Frankfurt to New York. This is arguably one of the most luxurious ways to fly making the Singapore KrisFlyer program that much more attractive.
Transfer partners: Singapore Airlines is a transfer partner of all five major programs: Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Capital One Miles and Marriott Bonvoy.
Avianca is a relatively unknown program for booking award tickets but it can provide some great value. Lifemiles is the frequent-flyer program of South America-based carrier but it can get you great rates across the Star Alliance network.
We struggled a bit to find availability via Lifemiles, at least in business class. However, if you are flexible on dates you can find trips from the US to Europe for around 50,000 miles.
Transfer partners: Lifemiles is a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy.
Another thing to look out for Aviance is their frequent sales on miles. This means you can get a bonus if you are purchasing miles directly from the airline and they often run many promotions throughout the year.
Earn Points On Star Alliance Partners
There are multiple ways to earn points on Star Alliance Airline partners, with many of the top programs working with major credit card companies as transfer partners.
The best way to boost your balance is to consider the best travel credit card offers and find ones that best fit your spending habits.
Summary & Takeaways
Star Alliance is the largest airline network in the world making it an excellent choice for airline loyalty. When you consider the individual program benefits combined with the Star Alliance benefits it will surely provide you with some of the best perks in travel.
Consider the partners carefully and decide what program fits your travel needs the best. Even if you are not a frequent Star Alliance Airline flyer there are still ways to get great benefits when you make an award redemption on any of their various airlines.
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