Star Alliance – Asiana Club

Having covered many of the European and North American options for a preferred Star Alliance frequent flyer programme, I still haven’t found one that I would fully recommend to my readers. But we still have a couple of Asian options, so let’s take a look at a programme that I’ve never looked at before – Asiana Club…

asiana

Status

Most unhelpfully, Asiana’s membership levels don’t line up with other Star Alliance members. If you open a new account, you will receive “Silver” status. To attain higher levels of status, you need to accumulate a certain number of miles over a 24-month period. The mileage required is:

  • Gold (i.e. Star Alliance Silver) = 20,000 miles
  • Diamond (*A Gold) = 40,000 miles
  • Diamond Plus (*A Gold) = 100,000 miles

Interestingly, you can achieve 2 levels of lifetime status. Lifetime Diamond Plus is available at 500,000 miles and Platinum status is only available for those travellers flying over 1,000,000 miles.

It is important to note that the 24-month period starts on the date of your enrolment in Asiana Club, so don’t sign up too far in advance of any Star Alliance flights you might have planned. I also understand that, if you sign up on say 4 November 2013, your 24-month period will actually end on 30 November 2015. This 24-month period does not change. If, for example, you qualify for “Gold” in January 2015, you would still have only until the end of November 2015 to obtain the additional miles required for higher levels of status. But continuing with this example, if you achieve status at any point before November 2015, it should remain valid until 30 November 2017.

You can also achieve status based on sectors flown, but as those sectors need to be on Asiana itself, i don’t expect that too many Europeans will qualify based on sectors. Full details of status benefits can be found on the Asiana website.

Unfortunately I can’t find any information regarding whether Asiana have soft landings. I would assume not…

Earning Miles

Like ANA Mileage Club, Asiana Club also partners with both Etihad and Qatar Airways. You can find the mileage accrual rules for those partners here.

For Asiana and the regular Star Alliance airline partners, you can check out the rules for Asiana and Star Alliance.

Asiana partners with the major hotel chains, with transfers from Starwood Preferred Guest allowed as well.

Mileage Expiry

Asiana Club has a more attractive mileage expiry policy than many other Star Alliance programmes. Miles earned as a Silver member expire after 10 years. Miles earned whilst holding Gold status or higher expire after 12 years.

Spending Miles

When redeeming on Asiana itself, a region-based award chart applies. For redemptions in peak season, the miles required are increased by an additional 50%.

For Star Alliance redemptions, a distance-based award chart applies. It appears to me that long haul, multi-stop redemptions are likely to see the highest value as some of the major rules are:

  • the itinerary must begin and end in the same country (with only one international departure allowed in the country of origin)
  • a total of 5 stopovers are allowed, with a maximum of 2 per country
  • one open jaw is allowed, and is treated as a stopover

Unless you can read Korean in order to navigate the Korean version of the website, you will need to contact a call centre to make a redemption.

Conclusion

There is a lot to like about Asiana Club.  Straightforward status-earning rules (roughly 3-4 long haul returns over 2 years will get you *A gold), and a lifetime status target for those who do a lot of long haul travel with Star Alliance. Mileage expiry rules are substantially better than some other programmes so those who collect slowly through a variety of flights and hotel stays have more time to accumulate miles. I also love the fact that you can earn miles on Etihad (Qatar Airways as well, although those might best go into your BA or AA account…).

On the flip side, you probably need to commit quite strongly to Asiana Club since the minimum requirement for a Star Alliance redemption is 35,000 miles (and that is probably poor value, considering ANA would give you a 4,000 mile itinerary for 22,000 award miles). So you will need to aim for at least 100,000 miles in my opinion. The bonus miles for status and premium cabins are not particularly lucrative either.

I’m not a member of Asiana Club (yet?) but it appears to me to be a strong candidate for the title of best all-round Star Alliance frequent flyer programme.

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