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The Ultimate Star Alliance Program Guide

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!

star alliance guide

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:

Adria Airways

Aegean Airlines

Air Canada

Air China

All Nippon Airways

Air India

Air New Zealand

Asiana Airlines

Austrian Airlines

Avianca

Brussels Airlines

Copa Airlines

Croatia Airlines

EgyptAir

Ethiopian Airlines

EVA Air

LOT Polish Airlines

Lufthansa

Scandinavian Airlines

Shenzhen Airlines

Singapore Airlines

South African Airways

Swiss International Air Lines

TAP Air Portugal

Thai Airways

Turkish Airlines

United Airlines

Star Alliance Partner Affiliates

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

Star Alliance Lounges

Lounge Locations

The Star Alliance operates over 1,000 lounges across the globe. For more information about individual lounges, please check with your departure or connecting airport’s website.

Star Alliance Lounge Access Policy

First Class Passengers: International first class passengers departing on any Star Alliance partner airline can access both international first class lounges and Star Alliance member lounges, except for the following:

  • Lufthansa – Frankfurt Airport and Munich Airport
  • Swiss International Airlines – Zurich Airport and Geneva International Airport
  • Austrian Airlines – Vienna International Airport
  • Thai Airways (Royal Orchid Spa Lounge) – Bangkok International Airport
  • Singapore Airlines – Singapore Changi Airport

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.

Domestic first class passengers may have access to Star Alliance member first class lounges but should check with their carrier beforehand.

Business Class Passengers: International business-class passengers departing on any Star Alliance partner airline can access Star Alliance member lounges by presenting their boarding pass.

Domestic First Class Passengers: 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 Members: 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.

Purchasing Lounge 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.

Arrival Lounge Access: While many members do not offer lounge access to arriving passengers, some do. Access is generally limited to first-class and business-class travelers, as well as those with Star Alliance Gold status.

Earning Frequent Flyer Miles

Flying with Star Alliance Members

The easiest way to earn miles with Star Alliance is by booking with a member airline or one of its associate airlines. All passengers need to do is provide their frequent flyer number when making their booking or checking in.

To earn miles, the airline shown on the ticket, as well as the operating airline, must be a Star Alliance member carrier. Additionally, the fare purchased must qualify for earning miles.

Miles are also applicable retroactively, provided the traveler has already flown, and the miles were never credited to the account.

Earning Bonus Miles with Airline Partners

Star Alliance cardholders can earn points when making purchases with partners of Star Alliance carriers – both in their home country and around the world. For more information regarding earning points with Star Alliance member airline partners, please see each airline’s official site, listed below:

Do Star Alliance Miles Expire?

Miles earned with Star Alliance partner airlines are subject to the terms and conditions of each member carrier. As such, some miles expire more quickly than others. Here is what you need to know about miles expiration with member carriers:

  • Adria Airways – Miles expire after 36 months, regardless of activity
  • Aegean Airlines – Miles expire after 60 months of inactivity on the account
  • Air Canada – Miles expire after 12 months of inactivity on the account
  • Air China – Miles expire on the 12/31 24 months after they were earned, regardless of activity
  • Asiana Airlines – Miles expire after ten years, regardless of activity
  • All Nippon Airways – Miles expire after 36 months, regardless of activity
  • Air India – Miles expire after 36 months, regardless of activity
  • Air New Zealand – Miles expire on account signup anniversary that is at least 48 months from when miles were earned, regardless of activity.
  • Austrian Airlines – Miles expire after 36 months, regardless of activity
  • Avianca – Miles expire after 24 months of inactivity on the account
  • Brussels Airlines – Miles expire after 36 months, regardless of activity
  • Copa Airlines – Miles expire after 24 months of inactivity on the account
  • Croatia Airlines – Miles expire after 36 months, regardless of activity
  • EgyptAir – Miles expire after 36 months, regardless of activity
  • Ethiopian Airlines – Miles expire after 36 months, regardless of activity
  • EVA Air – Miles expire after 36 months, regardless of activity
  • LOT Polish Airlines – Miles expire after 36 months, regardless of activity
  • Lufthansa – Miles expire after 36 months, regardless of activity
  • Scandinavian Airlines – Miles expire after 36 months, regardless of activity
  • Shenzhen Airlines – Miles expire after 24 months of inactivity on the account
  • Singapore Airlines – Miles expire after 36 months, regardless of activity
  • South African Airways – Miles expire after 36 months, regardless of activity
  • Swiss International Air Lines – Miles expire after 36 months, regardless of activity
  • TAP Air Portugal – Miles expire after 36 months, regardless of activity
  • Thai Airways – Miles expire after at the end of each quarter, 3 years after they were earned, regardless of activity.
  • Turkish Airlines – Miles expire after 36 months, regardless of activity
  • United Airlines – Miles expire after 12 months of inactivity on the account

How to Redeem Miles

Miles earned with Star Alliance members are applicable for the following:

  • Purchasing flights with a member airline
  • Upgrading to the next class of service on a member service

Restrictions on Redeeming Miles

  • Miles or points earned with one member carrier’s frequent flyer program cannot be combined with points or miles earned through the frequent flyer program of another member carrier.

Airlines with No Blackout Dates

The following Star Alliance members have no blackout dates:

Air Canada

Air New Zealand

Austrian Airlines

Lufthansa

Scandinavian Airlines

Singapore Airlines

South African Airlines

Swiss International Air Lines

TAP Air Portugal

United Airlines

Airlines with Blackout Dates

Blackout dates for other Star Alliance members are as follows (subject to change – always contact your airline before booking reservations):

Air China
  • Australian Services: December 5 – 31
  • Japanese Services: December 22 – 31
  • Americas Services: December 17 – 24
  • European Services: December 17 – 23
All Nippon Airways
  • Within Japan: January 1 – 8
    • December 25 – 31
  • European and North American Services (except Hawaii): January 1 – 11
    • December 25 – 31
  • Asian Services: January 1 – 3
    • December 25 – 31
  • Hawaii and Guam Services: January 1-3
    • December 25-31
Asiana Airlines
  • All international Flights (except those departing from the United States)
    • January 1 – 15
    • February 8 – 14
    • July 17 – August 18
    • September 16 – 22
    • December 27 – 31
  • Korean Domestic Services
    • January 1 – 3
    • February 12 – 16
    • July 16- August 22
    • September 17 – 27
    • December 30 – 31
  • Services from the United States
    • May 15 – June 30
    • December 11 – 23
EgyptAir
  • Cairo, Alexandria, Dhahran, Jeddah, Madinah and Riyadh Services: December 31
US Airways
  • North American Services
    • January 2 – 3
    • December 19; 27
  • Caribbean Services (Southbound)
    • November 21; 25
    • December 19 – 23; 26-28
  • Caribbean Services (Northbound)
    • January 1 – 4
    • November 29- 30
    • December 1; 26-28
  • Atlantic Services
    • November 21; 29
    • December 19- 20

Transferring Miles

  • Miles or points earned with one member carrier’s frequent flyer program cannot be transferred to the frequent flyer program of another member carrier, such as Miles & More.
  • Miles earned with any Star Alliance member carrier may be transferred to a family member, although surcharges or additional fees may apply.

Star Alliance Status Levels

Silver

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 Perks

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

  • Priority reservation wait-listing
  • Priority airport standby

Gold

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.

Fastest Ways to Earn Star Alliance Gold Status

Aegean Airlines: Flying 36,000 miles with Aegean Airlines in a calendar year is enough to earn Gold status, making it one of the easiest ways to achieve the coveted Gold tier. Aegean makes things even easier by offering 200% mileage on many of their business-class fares.

Asiana Airlines: Gold status can also be quickly earned through Asiana Airlines. Diamond membership within Asiana Airlines qualifies members with instant Star Alliance Gold status. Asiana Diamond membership requires only 40,000 miles – one of the lowest levels in the Star Alliance. Frequent travelers with Asiana can also benefit from 125% miles with many business and premium economy fares.

Turkish Airlines: Turkish Airlines is another great way to quickly earn Gold status – especially if you have a higher frequent flyer status with a competitor airline. Turkish generally offers a like-for-like status match with competing airlines, meaning if you already have Elite status with SkyTeam, you will likely be able to gain Star Alliance Gold status with Turkish Airlines instantly.

Perks of Gold Status

Gold offers some impressive perks not available to Silver Star Alliance 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

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.

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About: Cory
Cory Santos

Cory is BestCards.com's "Jack of all trades" and resident rewards expert, covering all facets of the points game – especially travel, hotels, and airlines. In addition to credit cards, Cory finds that jogging, cats, and memes are essential parts of a balanced day.