The Ultimate Star Alliance Guide

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Last updated on April 3rd, 2024

The Star Alliance is the world’s largest airline alliance, with over 45 members and associates worldwide. Prominent Star Alliance member airlines include United Airlines, Air Canada, and Avianca. Considering a new airline credit card? Fly often with one of the members of the Star Alliance. Or maybe you’re already a member of United MileagePlus, Air Canada’s Aeroplan, Avianca LifeMiles, or another frequent flyer program and want to maximize your rewards. No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it here in our ULTIMATE Guide to the Star Alliance!

What is the Star Alliance?

Star Alliance was the first global airline alliance, founded in 1997. Today, the Star Alliance network has 28 partner airlines that, while maintaining their distinct style of service and culture, work together to ensure travelers have a smooth and seamless journey to any of the over 1,300 destinations in over 192 countries around the globe.

Star Alliance Partner Airlines

Star Alliance member airlines include:

Aegean Airlines Austrian Airlines Air China Brussels Airlines
Air Canada Avianca Air India Copa
Air New Zealand Croatia Airlines All Nippon Airways Egyptair
Asiana Airlines Ethiopian Airlines EVA Air LOT Polish Airlines
Lufthansa SAS Shenzhen Airlines Singapore Airlines
South African Airways Swiss TAP Air Portugal Thai
Turkish Airlines United Airlines

Star Alliance Partner Affiliates

Carrier Affiliate
Aegean Airlines Olympic Air
Air Canada Air Canada Express
Air Canada Rouge
Air China Dalian Airlines
Air India Alliance Air
Air India Express
Air New Zealand Air New Zealand Link
Air Japan
Asiana Airlines Air Seoul
Air Busan
Avianca Avianca Argentina
Avianca Brazil
Avianca Costa Rica
Avianca Ecuador
Avianca El Salvador
Avianca Guatemala
Avianca Honduras
Avianca Peru
Avianca Express Americas
Copa Wingo
EgyptAir EgyptAir Express
Ethiopian Airlines ASKY Airlines
LOT Polish Airlines Nordica Airlines
Lufthansa Air Dolomiti
Lufthansa Regional
Lufthansa CityLine
SunExpress Deutschland
Scandinavian Airlines Scandinavian Airlines Ireland
Shenzhen Airlines Kunming Airlines
Singapore Airlines Silkair
South African Airways Airlink
South African Express
Swiss Edelweiss Air
TAP Portugal TAP Express
Thai Thai Smile
Turkish Airlines AnadoluJet
United Airlines United Express

How to Earn Miles

The easiest way to earn miles in the Star Alliance program is by making bookings with member airlines and affiliates. There is no single Star Alliance frequent flyer program; simply join one of the programs offered by our member airlines. Membership in any of the programs gives you full access to the whole network, with no need to register with any additional program.

Earning Bonus Miles with Airline Partners

Star Alliance member credit cardholders can earn additional points or miles when making purchases with partners carrier partners – both in their home country and around the world. Please see each airline’s official site for more information regarding earning points with Star Alliance partners.

Redeeming Miles

Redeeming miles through a Star Alliance partner carrier is easy. Miles gained with member carriers are applicable for purchasing flights or upgrading to the next class of service on a member flight.

Do Miles Expire

Here is what you need to know about miles expiration with member carriers:

Carrier Expiration
Aegean Airlines Miles expire after 60 months
Air Canada Miles expire after 18 months of inactivity on the account
Air New Zealand Miles expire after 4 or 5 years
Asiana Airlines Miles expire after 10 years
Austrian Airlines
Avianca Miles expire after 12 months
Air China Miles expire on the 12/31 24 months after they were earned, regardless of activity
Air India Miles expire after 36 months
All Nippon Airways Miles expire after 18 months
Brussels Airlines Miles expire after 36 months
Croatia Airlines Miles expire after 36 months
Copa Miles expire after 24 months of inactivity on the account
EVA Air Miles expire after 36 months
EgyptAir Miles expire after 36 months
Ethiopian Airlines Miles expire after 36 months
LOT Polish Airlines Miles expire after 36 months
Lufthansa Miles expire after 36 months
South African Airways Miles expire after 36 months of inactivity on the account
Turkish Airlines Miles expire after 36 months
Shenzhen Airlines Miles expire after 36 months from the month in which they were earned
TAP Air Portugal Miles expire after 36 months
Singapore Airlines Miles expire after 36 months with qualifying activity or 18 months without any qualifying activity
Thai Miles expire at the end of the quarter 3 years after they are earned
United Airlines Miles don’t expire

Star Alliance Status Levels

There are two elite tiers in the Star Alliance program. These tiers provide additional benefits when flying on any partner carrier in the network:

Silver Gold
Priority reservations ✔️ ✔️
Priority standby ✔️ ✔️
Priority check-in - ✔️
Gold Track priority security and immigration - ✔️
Extra baggage allowance - ✔️
Priority baggage handling - ✔️
Priority boarding - ✔️
Access to airport lounges - ✔️


Silver is the first level of enhanced benefits available to those who frequently travel with a Star Alliance partner carrier. While each member airline has its own unique frequent flyer program, for higher tiers, membership in any of these programs usually equates to either Silver or Gold Status.

Silver status is gained through the accumulation of miles or segments of travel. Typically, achieving Silver status requires between 10,000 and 30,000 miles, or 25 to 35 segments of travel – though, as these vary, it is best to check with your preferred carrier to better understand the threshold.

Silver offers some perks not available to base-level Star Alliance membership. These benefits include:

  • Priority reservation wait-listing
  • Priority airport standby


Gold status is the premier level of membership in the Star Alliance rewards program. This status can usually be earned by accumulating around 48,000 miles in a year, though there are faster ways to earn this status with certain member carriers.

Gold offers some impressive perks not available to Silver membership. These benefits include:

  • Priority reservation wait-listing
  • Airport standby
  • Priority check-in
  • Gold Track priority security and immigration
  • Extra baggage allowance
  • Priority baggage handling
  • Priority boarding
  • Access to airport lounges

Star Alliance Membership Perks Explained

Below you will find more information about what Silver and Gold status members can expect when they travel:

  • Priority Reservations Wait-List: When a preferred flight is sold out, Silver and Gold members have priority on the wait-list, should additional seats become available.
  • Priority Check-in: Members have priority check-in through dedicated priority check-in lanes only available to Gold status members.
  • Extra Baggage Allowance: Gold status travelers are entitled to carry an additional 44 lbs. (20 kg) or check one extra piece of luggage at no added cost.
  • Priority Standby: Members have priority on standby lists at the airport, should their travel plans change.
  • Boarding Priority: Members have priority to board the aircraft before other passengers, or at their leisure.
  • Priority Luggage Handling at Destination: Those with Gold status can expect their luggage to be dealt with first at arrival, meaning they can quickly collect their belongings and depart the airport to their final destination.

Current Star Alliance Credit Cards

Lounge Access

Star Alliance, like other alliances, offers lounge access to select travelers during their journey. Here are the rules regarding lounge access, including who is eligible, guests, and lounge locations:

Lounge locations:
Bangkok Frankfurt Geneva Munich
Singapore Vienna Zurich
Lounge access rules and restrictions:
1st class international: First class international customers are also allowed to bring one guest, regardless of their ticket class, provided they are also departing the same day on a Star Alliance member-operated flight.
Business class: International business-class passengers departing on any Star Alliance partner airline can access Star Alliance member lounges by presenting their boarding pass.
Domestic 1st class: Domestic first-class passengers may have access to Star Alliance member lounges but should check with their carrier beforehand. Domestic business class passengers with United Airlines are not eligible for lounge access with their ticket.
Star Alliance Gold: Star Alliance Gold membership status passengers may access all Star Alliance member airlines’ lounges that feature the Star Alliance Gold logo. United Airlines members may only access a United lounge when traveling on an international flight. Star Alliance Gold members are also able to bring one guest with them into member lounges, with proof of a same-day boarding pass a Star Alliance member-operated flight.
Guests: Guest access to member lounges varies depending upon the ticket class and Star Alliance membership status of the host, as well as airline restrictions. For more information, contact your flight operator before traveling.
Buying access: Travelers may purchase a paid lounge access membership, which allows access to Star Alliance member lounges with proof of a same-day boarding pass with a Star Alliance member-operated flight.

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About: Cory Santos
Cory Santos

Cory is the senior credit card editor at BestCards, specializing in everything credit card-related. He’s worked extensively with credit cards and other personal finance topics, including nearly five years at BestCards. Cory’s extensive knowledge is an essential part of the BestCards experience, helping readers to live their best financial lives with up-to-date insights and comprehensive coverage of all facets of the credit card space, including market trends, rewards guides, credit advice, and comprehensive credit card reviews.

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