Star Alliance is an alliance of 26 different partner airlines that have joined together to provide generous membership benefits. Frequent travelers can score Star Alliance status by earning a sufficient amount of frequent-flyer miles with any member airline — and can thus gain access to all sorts of ample perks. Many of the best airline credit cards can help you to earn this status as well.
If you're interested in luxurious travel perks that can make every trip more convenient and pleasant, earning Star Alliance status can be an ideal way to take your trips to the next level. But to do this, you'll need to understand which airlines participate in the alliance, how to qualify as a Star Alliance member, and what benefits membership can bring. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about the Star Alliance.
- What is the Star Alliance?
- Who is in the Star Alliance?
- How Star Alliance status works
- How Star Alliance status equates to status with each airline
- How to maximize your miles through Star Alliance partners
- Other Star Alliance benefits
- The bottom line on the Star Alliance
What is the Star Alliance?
The Star Alliance network was first created back in 1997 when five major airlines joined together to provide enhanced benefits and an improved travel experience to their frequent flyers. Today, Star Alliance has expanded to 26 different airlines, including some of the largest airlines in the world as well as smaller regional ones. All in all, Star Alliance airline network partners span the globe.
Star Alliance doesn't offer its own frequent-flyer program. Instead, you can earn membership by joining one of the frequent flyer programs operated by a Star Alliance partner airline. Individual airline frequent-flyer programs can earn you either Gold or Silver status with Star Alliance — as well as allow you to score miles to later redeem on any qualifying flight with an airline that’s part of the Alliance.
When you become a Star Alliance member, you can get a wide range of benefits, spanning from priority check-in to airport lounge access. The specific perks you'll be eligible for depend on which status level you achieve — either Silver or Gold.
Who is in the Star Alliance?
If you fly with any Star Alliance partners, you can use or earn miles. There are currently 26 different airlines in Star Alliance:
|Air India||Flying Returns|
|Air New Zealand||Airpoints|
|All Nippon Airways (ANA)||ANA Mileage Club|
|Asiana Airlines||Asiana Club|
|Austrian Airlines||Miles & More|
|Brussels Airlines||Miles & More|
|Croatia Airlines||Miles & More|
|EVA Air||Infinity MileageLands|
|LOT Polish Airlines||Miles & More|
|Lufthansa||Miles & More|
|Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)||EuroBonus|
|South African Airways||Voyager|
|Swiss International Air Lines||Miles & More|
|TAP Air Portugal||TAP Miles & Go|
|Thai Airways||Royal Orchid Plus|
In addition to these airlines, Star Alliance also has connecting partners, which are smaller airlines that aren't full members of the Alliance. Those with Star Alliance status may have privileges when flying these airlines.
How Star Alliance status works
The 26 Star Alliance member airlines operate 21 distinct frequent-flyer programs. You can join any one of them and collect miles in that account whenever you fly with a Sky Alliance airline. Or you can join multiple frequent-flyer programs within the alliance.
Once you've earned enough miles with one of the frequent-flyer programs, you'll either earn Star Alliance Silver or Gold status. The specific rules for when you achieve Star Alliance status depend on your participation in each airline's frequent-flyer program.
You'll need to check with the specific frequent-flyer program you're a member of to see how you can earn Silver or Gold Star Alliance status. Typically, these miles have to be earned within the calendar year. However, if you earn a sufficient number of miles, some frequent-flyer programs allow you to earn lifetime status. With United, for example, you can earn lifetime Premier Gold status after reaching one million miles. This also means you could become a lifetime Star Alliance member with Gold status.
Silver vs. Gold status
Your Star Alliance status will be classified as either Silver or Gold depending on how many qualifying miles you earn with your airline. While both tier levels provide amazing travel benefits, Gold status definitely offers some pretty significant advantages over Silver.
|Benefit||Silver status||Gold status|
|Priority Airport Standby||X||X|
|Priority Reservations Waitlist||X||X|
|Extra Baggage Allowance||X|
|Airport Lounge Access||X|
|Priority Baggage Handling||X|
|Priority Airport Check-in||X|
Star Alliance status benefits
Here's how these Star Alliance status benefits can help make every trip easier:
- Priority airport stand-by: When you're on the standby list for a flight, your Star Alliance status gives you priority on the list.
- Priority reservations waitlist: When you make a reservation but the seats you want aren't available, you'll be at a higher priority on the waitlist.
- Gold track: Gold track priority lanes allow you to move more quickly through both airport security when you're departing and through customs and immigration when you arrive at your destination airport.
- Extra baggage allowance: When airline weight limits apply, you get an extra 44 pounds of weight. However, some airlines offer this benefit only on connecting Star Alliance flights, so be sure to check with the airline when you book.
- Priority boarding: If your airline allows earlier boarding for first- and business-class passengers, you'll qualify for this early boarding no matter what class you're flying in.
- Airport lounge access: If you fly on any member airline flight, you'll have access to one of more than 1,000 airline lounges worldwide.
- Priority baggage handling: When you arrive at your destination, your bags will be among the first off the plane and waiting for you on the belt at baggage claim.
- Priority airport check-in: At airports where they’re available, you can go directly to Priority counters to avoid a wait when checking in.
How Star Alliance status equates to status with each airline
If you’re wondering how your status with your favorite airline translates to the two Star Alliance levels, here’s a list of each partner airline, its status levels, and the equivalent status you earn with Star Alliance.
|Airline||Star Alliance Silver status equivalent||Star Alliance Gold status equivalent|
|Aegean Airlines||Miles+Bonus Silver||Miles+Bonus Gold|
|Air Canada||Aeroplan 25K; Aeroplan 35K||Aeroplan 50K; Aeroplan 75K; Aeroplan Super Elite|
|Air China||Silver||Gold; Platinum|
|Air India||Silver Edge Club||Golden Edge Club; Maharajah Club|
|Air New Zealand||Silver||Gold; Elite|
|ANA||Bronze||Platinum; Super Flyers; Diamond|
|Asiana Airlines||Gold||Diamond; Diamond Plus; Platinum|
|Austrian Airlines||Frequent Traveller||Senator; HON Circle|
|Brussels Airlines||Frequent Traveller||Senator; HON Circle|
|Copa Airlines||Silver||Gold; Platinum; Presidential Platinum|
|Croatia Airlines||Frequent Traveller||Senator; HON Circle|
|Ethiopian Airlines||Silver||Gold; Platinum|
|EVA Air||Silver||Gold; Diamond|
|LOT Polish Airlines||Frequent Traveller||Senator; HON Circle|
|Lufthansa||Frequent Traveller||Senator; HON Circle|
|SAS||Silver||Gold; Diamond; Pandion|
|Shenzhen Airlines||Silver||Gold; Platinum|
|Singapore Airlines||Elite Silver||Elite Gold; PPS Club; Solitaire PPS Club; Solitaire PPS Club Life|
|South African Airways||Silver||Gold; Platinum; Lifetime Platinum|
|Swiss International Air Lines||Frequent Traveller||Senator; HON Circle|
|TAP Air Portugal||Silver||Gold|
|Thai Airways||Silver||Gold; Platinum|
|Turkish Airlines||Classic Plus||Elite; Elite Plus|
|United Airlines||Premier Silver||Premier Gold; Premier Platinum; Premier 1K; Global Services|
How to maximize your miles through Star Alliance partners
Maximizing your miles through Star Alliance partners can let you achieve a higher Star Alliance status more quickly to earn extra benefits — and will also help you rack up more free trips. Fortunately, there are a number of different ways you can supercharge the miles you earn to score better travel perks and award flights.
Strategically choose which alliance member airlines you credit miles to
You can’t combine miles from multiple different Star Alliance members or earn miles in more than one frequent-flyer program for each flight. But you can choose which alliance member airline you want your miles credited to whenever you fly with a Star Alliance partner.
By concentrating your miles with one particular Star Alliance partner, you can achieve a higher status tier with that airline — which should also help you earn Star Alliance Gold status more easily. Since you can't combine miles you've earned in multiple programs when redeeming them for free trips, keeping them in one program also helps you earn free flights much more quickly.
Take advantage of Chase Ultimate Rewards points
Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to Chase airline partners, such as United Airlines, that are also members of the Star Alliance. This means you can use Ultimate Rewards Points to add to your existing miles that can be redeemed with any Star Alliance partner.
You can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards using many different Chase credit cards, but two of the best travel credit cards from Chase are the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. With the Sapphire Preferred, you can earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, while the Sapphire Reserve lets you earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Both Chase cards also offer extra rewards points for spending — up to 5X points for your purchases with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and up to 10x points per dollar with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. You also get a 25% bonus for redeeming points for travel with the Preferred and a 50% bonus for travel redemptions on the Reserve. This makes these credit cards incredibly advantageous for frequent travelers.
Use another airline-branded credit card
Many of the airlines in the Star Alliance, including United, have co-branded cards that allow you to earn miles that can be redeemed for free trips, plus help you earn Star Alliance status. One great example is the United℠ Explorer Card — you’ll have the ability to earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, as well as the chance to earn 2X miles on dining (including eligible delivery services), hotel stays, and United purchases and 1X miles on everything else.
Use your Citi ThankYou Points
If you’re a Citi ThankYou Points collector, then you’re in luck. You can transfer these points at a 1:1 ratio to Singapore Airlines, which is a Star Alliance member. They can then be turned into miles that you can use to book with any Star Alliance airline partner.
Pool points with loved ones
Some airline frequent-flyer programs allow you to transfer points among family and friends. This makes it possible to pool your points, helping you amass more Star Alliance miles more quickly. Just make sure to check the fees and costs again, as this isn't always a good idea if it's expensive to pool your points.
Other Star Alliance benefits
In addition to the many perks listed above, there are also a few other key Star Alliance benefits you should be aware of:
Co-location occurs when different Star Alliance member airlines are all located in one airport terminal. This makes it easier for Alliance members to enjoy benefits such as priority check-in and airline lounges in one centralized location. It also provides enhanced flexibility, as travelers can choose to fly with different airlines within the Star Alliance for different legs of a trip without having to move between airline terminals.
Simplified global travel
Star Alliance makes it easy to travel to destinations across the globe thanks to helpful features for travelers, including:
- Round the World fares: With Round the World fares, Star Alliance simplifies booking travel to multiple countries. Visiting the Star Alliance website allows you to select multiple destinations across the globe by entering each city's name or selecting the city on a map. You can book multiple legs of your journey with different Star Alliance airlines and fly on a single ticket. And you can make between two and 15 stops, with a minimum stay of three days and a maximum of one year at each locale.
- Circle Pacific: Circle Pacific is similar to Round the World fares but makes booking travel even easier. Pick from a specific theme and proposed routes will be offered. You can customize your destinations, book a single ticket to fly on multiple Star Alliance airlines, and receive up to 16 flight coupons with a choice of 85 airports in 25 countries/regions — as long as your trip touches three points on the Pacific Ocean.
Star Alliance lounges
Not only do you get access to partner lounges with Star Alliance membership, but there are also specific lounges only for Star Alliance members. These Star Alliance-branded lounges are located in:
- Buenos Aires, Argentina: Ezeiza International Airport (EZE)
- Los Angeles: LA International Airport (LAX)
- Paris: Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)
- Rio de Janeiro: Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport (GIG)
- Rome: Rome Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport (FCO)
- Amsterdam: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS)
You must be a Star Alliance Gold member or be traveling in international first or business class to access these exclusive lounges.
FAQs about Star Alliance
What is the purpose of Star Alliance?
Star Alliance allows flyers of one airline to earn frequent flyer miles when they fly on another member airline in the Alliance. For example, if you belong to United's frequent flyer program, you can earn United miles when you fly on Air Canada. You could earn Gold or Silver status with Star Alliance, which also offers perks like airport lounge access.
What is the process of becoming a member of Star Alliance?
You're automatically a member of Star Alliance when you sign up for a member airline's frequent flyer program.
What is a benefit of being in Star Alliance?
The main benefit is being able to earn miles when you fly with any member airline. You also could earn benefits like priority baggage handling and priority check-in. Star Alliance also has the Round the World and Circle Pacific programs which allow you to plan a complex itinerary across multiple airlines.
The bottom line on the Star Alliance
If you are a frequent traveler and fly with any of the Star Alliance member airlines, earning Silver or Gold status can help ensure your trips are more convenient and luxurious. It's definitely worth becoming a Star Alliance member if you can qualify based on credit card use or frequent-flyer miles — as the travel benefits and ability to redeem miles with any partner airline are significant perks.