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The Quickest Way To Earn Star Alliance Gold

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Go for the gold, because silver is worthless. Getting status on an airline is, after all, practically the modern day equivalent of the Olympics, but for traveling.

Most airlines have their own frequent flyer program, where the people who fly the most can reap some serious rewards. Once you hit Silver (names differ, but its usually the first tier), you can start enjoying perks — on that airline only. But if most of your flying is geared internationally, you’ll have to get Gold to actually enjoy anything. What’s the trick to getting it faster? Most airlines participate in an alliance, where they’re practically required to respect another airline’s fliers. And some airlines, more so than others, have waaay lower requirements for getting your foot in the business lounge.

If you’re rarely “home,” how much sense does it make to fly someone its harder to hit status with? Its not like you still can’t redeem miles for free trips; you’d just be doing them under a different program. Star Alliance is pretty much the largest alliance with 25 members. They’ve also got another five airlines joining in the next two years, making them a pretty good choice if you’ve got no allegiance.

The only way to make it to Gold is by actually putting your damn patootie in the airplane seat and flying all those miles. It entitles someone to first-class/business check-in, first-class/business boarding, extra baggage allowances and baggage priority. Arguably, the best perk is airport lounge access for you and a friend, as long as you fly on a Star Alliance flight.

Here are four airlines that will get you there the fastest:

Aegean Air / Miles&Bonus

■ Star Silver ■ 4,000 miles
■ Star Gold ■ 20,000 miles
■ Mileage Expiry ■
Your points will never expire as long as you fly at least one Star Alliance flight every 2 years. Gold members must fly once every 1.5 years.
■ Good to Know ■
Pay attention to which airlines you are flying with and to what fare codes qualify on Aegean’s program. It’s been said that Aegean can be quite restrictive, so take a look at what airlines you generally tend to fly the most so you’re not dumping money into a credit-less flight.

Air Canada
/ Aeroplan

■ Star Silver ■ 25,000 miles
■ Star Gold ■ 35,000 miles* (this will change to 50,000 miles in 2013)
■ Mileage Expiry ■
As long as you have one transaction with them every 12 months, your account will be kept active. But no matter how gravy it is, miles expire after seven years. Better use those miles…
■ Good to Know ■
In order to qualify for any type of status on Air Canada, the airline has now imposed a rule saying that you must take at least 5 Air Canada flight segments or have accumulated 10,000 miles with them. On the plus side, redeeming awards seem to be quite generous and they are more flexible with their restrictions. They also seem to credit all paid United and US Airways flights.

Asiana Airlines
/ Asiana Club

■ Star Silver ■ 20,000 miles within 2 years (status valid for 2 years)
■ Star Gold ■ 40,000 miles within 2 years (status valid for 2 years)
■ Mileage Expiry ■
Like Air Canada, miles expire after a fixed period. After five years, you can start saying sayonara to your miles. But if you’ve attained some sort of status, you can keep your miles for up to seven years.
■ Good to Know ■
A big plus, Asiana has generous qualification periods. As Boarding Area notes, “If you earn the status quickly enough, it can actually last for a full four years before dropping down and having to requalify again” by flying with any member airline. Bank of America also has an Asiana Visa Business Card which earns miles toward Asiana Club.

Turkish Airlines / Miles&Smiles

■ Star Silver ■ 25,000 miles (status valid for 2 years)
■ Star Gold ■ 40,000 miles (status valid for 2 years)
■ Mileage Expiry ■
This program is not for hoarders. If you thought Air Canada’s policy was bad, miles in Turkish’s program expire after three years. Three.
■ Good to Know ■
The silver lining of the cloud is that it’s pretty easy to keep your status alive. (Extra baggage!) As long as you don’t live in Turkey, you just need to fly 25,000 miles the first year to keep your Gold status. And if you can’t make that, fly 37,500 miles within the first two years. Turkey residents have higher requirements to requalify, but they’re not much higher. Just make sure to take a look at their partner chart.

  • Keith

    I fly on average two US to Africa trips a year. Never quite enough to hit any status level with the United program. It looks like flying Ethiopian may get me there if I switch to the Aegean ff program though. Would you agree?

    • Erica Ho

      Keith, most likely. Each leg would have to be a minimum would have to be at least 5,000 miles in the right fare class — seems reasonable to me!

      • Angee

        Hi,Erica. I fly air Canada. My aeroplan card always can reward me at lease 4 two way free tickets to Hong Kong annually. However, joining the star gold will be better for my need(haven’t joined yet). My question is: my aeroplan program will help or conflict with maintain a star gold member?

        • http://maphappy.org/ Erica Ho

          Angee, the only way to join Star Gold is to be a member of another program. I’m not sure if I understand what you are asking?

  • AC Frequent Flyer

    Your information on AC is out-of-date. Now 50K for *A Gold status for the 2013 year.

    • Erica Ho

      Yup, that’s already noted in the post!

  • Jonathan

    If you don’t fly enough you should use the Aegean program and fly Air Canada for example. This is because even the lowest booking class of Air Canada earns you 100% mileage! Also, in the Aegean program you have more flexibility to earn the status: You have 12 months for the Silver Status and 12 more months for the Gold status! Note this is not a calendar year but 12 revolving months which is great!

    I recently read an ebook which gives plenty of routings and options to get the status. I used a routing from Melbourne to London and it worked out. However it took some time for the card to arrive! I recommend it getting the Aegean card. At least for me it was easier than with the Air Canada program!!

    • Erica Ho

      Hey Jon—had to edit your comment ’cause if you want to send a PR inquiry, do it through email instead of leaving it through a comment. Aegean is quickest but it doesn’t take into account which airline you fly the most or how easy/hard it is to redeem free flights. I want free flights too!

  • Jonathan

    Hi Erica

    Thanks for your comments! I believe it actually depends on your flight patterns as well as on your priorities! If you want free flights it might in several cases be better to collect your miles with the airlines you want to fly with!

    If you want a status, but can’t achieve the status with your favorite airline, it might be better to get status with an other Star Alliance airline, like Aegean. Having achieved the Star Gold status it will be valid for a long time then – during which you can again collect your miles in the program of your favorite airline – and still use your *Gold status. In most cases it will not be useful to use Aegean to earn free flights (although there are some exceptions for which Aegean also offers decent deals on some routes charging less miles than United etc.).
    But for sure, it depends on your personal priorities.

    Collecting e.g. 20,000 miles with Aegean airlines loses you 20,000 miles at United or whereever. But on the other hand they earn you a nice status. That’s what I was going to say 😉

    • Erica Ho

      That’s totally fine Jonathan – just wanted to point that out for other readers as well.

  • Jason

    I’ve just signed up for an Aegean card and I recently flew Christchurch > Auckland > LA > London (and back again) with Air New Zealand, might I be able to get these miles added to my Aegean Miles&Bonus account (even though the points also went onto my Air NZ Airpoints card)… Thoughts? Aegean seems like the fastest way to Silver/Gold, which I hope gets free access to star alliance airport lounges. (?)

    • Erica Ho

      Aegean will get you credit to the lounges. I don’t think you’ll get the credit with Aegean — you can only usually credit to ONE frequent flier program at a time… “double-dipping” isn’t allowed.

  • jc

    Jonathan, what ebook did you read? I am currently a Super Elite Air Canada, but this year I haven’t flown at all :( so I will miss having my status. I wish I would have found this before, since I flew to Cali and Nicaragua and the miles went to AC, but don’t add up to anything yet, since they want 50k for status now :( – anyhow, from Toronto, Detroit or Buffalo, I am looking at spending 1000-1500 to take a trip somewhere that will give me the 20k miles I need… longest trek is to Hong Kong from Toronto….

    • Jason

      How do you work out how many miles a trip is worth? I am about to get Silver with Air NZ and only really fly Air NZ but Air NZ Silver only gives 2 lounge passes a year… Aegean Gold sounds great, pretty easy to obtain and maintain.

  • Jonathan

    Hi jc, just go to Amazon or iTunes and look out for the title “Star Alliance Gold status: fast, easy and cheap. Travel in comfort and save money with a frequent flyer program status!” by David S. Goldstein. I really like it and it is only 2.99 USD or 2.99 EUR. Even the email address of the author is mentioned so you can ask questions to him. Let me know if you need further help!

  • Michael

    Hi everyone!

    I’m a but confused. I currently have some miles through the Brussels Airlines Miles&More platform. Can I speed up my status by booking flights through the Aegean website, or do I have to sign up for a new account of Miles&More through the Aegean website? (If this is the case, can I transfer my Brussels airlines miles to Aegean ? )


    • http://maphappy.org/ Erica Ho

      You have to start all over with a new account, and you usually can’t transfer.

  • Rich G

    Erica – great info. I have been Lufthansa Senator for years but will lose my status this year as I did not do 100K last year or this year. They did not notify me of this till late Oct – so only 2 months to react. I will end the year at 75K miles. Bottom line is that it is very difficult to maintain status with them and you really never get an upgrade. I live in Brussels where you are held hostage to Brussels Airlines with Miles & More. Do you have an updates / suggestions of who I could move to? Thanks, Rich

    • http://maphappy.org/ Erica Ho

      Rich, it depends on what you’re looking for in a program. If you’re only really looking for Star Gold benefits, I suggest you try moving to Turkish or Asiana (you’ll make Gold easily). Aegean is by far the easiest to qualify with, but all of these would require flying at least an additional 16,000 miles minimum — but you would have way much more time to qualify.

  • chris

    I’ve been told today by Asiana Club that miles from Credit Cards or partner programs (Starwood Preferred Guests) points to miles program do not count towards status upgrades. I am currently OZ GOLD and was short of 14k in miles. Transferred points from SPG to OZ GOLD account and reached 42k miles. Was told I was ineligible for using SPG points that they needed to be flown miles.

    • http://maphappy.org/ Erica Ho

      That’s pretty much standard – it works that way on North American airlines today.

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