How to Take Your Travel Seriously Next Level with the Star Alliance

Star Alliance is a group of 27 airlines that work together to provide benefits such as priority boarding and much more.
Last updated Sep 21, 2020 | By Christy Rakoczy
Get to Know the Star Alliance Members and Benefits

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Star Alliance is an alliance of 27 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.

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What is the Star Alliance?

Star Alliance was first created back in 1997 when five major airlines joined together to provide enhanced benefits to their frequent flyers. Today, Star Alliance has expanded to 27 different airlines, including both some of the largest airlines in the world as well as smaller regional ones. All in all, Star Alliance airline 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 27 different airlines in Star Alliance:

Airline Frequent-flyer program
Adria Airways Miles & More
Aegean Airlines Miles+Bonus
Air Canada Altitude
Air China PhoenixMiles
Air India Flying Returns
Air New Zealand Airpoints
All Nippon Airways (ANA) ANA Mileage Club
Asiana Airlines Asiana Club
Austrian Airlines Miles & More
Avianca LifeMiles
Brussels Airlines Loop
Copa Airlines ConnectMiles
Croatia Airlines Miles & More
EgyptAir EgyptAir Plus
Ethiopian Airlines ShebaMiles
EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
LOT Polish Airlines Miles & More
Lufthansa Miles & More
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) EuroBonus
Shenzhen Airlines PhoenixMiles
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
South African Airways Voyager
Swiss International Air Lines Miles & More
TAP Air Portugal TAP Miles & Go
Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
United Airlines MileagePlus

How Star Alliance status works

The 27 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.

For example:

  • You can earn Star Alliance Silver Status by becoming a United MileagePlus Premier Silver member. To become a Premier Silver member, you need 25,000 qualifying miles or 30 qualifying flight segments, plus $3,000 qualifying dollars.
  • You can earn Star Alliance Gold Status by becoming a United MileagePlus Premier 1K, Premier Platinum, or Premier Gold member. For this, you'll need at least 50,000 qualifying miles or 60 qualifying flight segments, plus $6,000 qualifying dollars.

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. In general, you'll need about 10,000 to 35,000 qualifying miles or 25 to 30 qualifying flight segments in order to get at least Silver 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
Gold Track X
Extra Baggage Allowance X
Priority Boarding 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
Adria Airways Frequent Traveller Senator; HON Circle
Aegean Airlines Miles+Bonus Silver Miles+Bonus Gold
Air Canada Altitude Prestige 25K; Altitude Elite 35K Altitude Elite 50K; Altitude Elite 75K; Altitude Super Elite 100K
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
Avianca Silver Gold; Diamond
Brussels Airlines Frequent Traveller Senator; HON Circle
Copa Airlines Silver Gold; Platinum; Presidential Platinum
Croatia Airlines Frequent Traveller Senator; HON Circle
EgyptAir Silver Gold; Platinum
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 and the Chase Sapphire Reserve. With the Sapphire Preferred, you can earn 80,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, while the Sapphire Reserve lets you earn 50,000 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 40,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months, as well as the chance to earn 2X miles at restaurants and delivery services, hotel accommodations booked directly with the hotel, and eligible 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 airports

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)
  • Nagoya, Japan: Chubu Centrair International Airport (NGO)
  • 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)
  • São Paulo, Brazil: Guarulhos—Governador André Franco Montoro International Airport (GRU)

You must be a Star Alliance Gold member or be traveling in international first or business class to access these exclusive lounges.

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.

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Benefits

  • 80,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 2X points on eligible dining and travel purchases
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits