- Aegean Miles & Bonus
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- All Nippon Airways Mileage Club
- Asiana Club
- Avianca Life Miles
- Lufthansa Miles & More
- Singapore Airlines Krisflyer
- TAP Portugal Victoria
- Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
- United Airlines Mileage Plus
- US Airways Dividend Miles
I was hoping to find one single programme that would be able to replace BMI Diamond Club, as well as my surely inefficient use of 3 separate programmes (Miles & More, Aeroplan and ANA Mileage Club) at the moment. But it turns out that Star Alliance simply doesn’t have an AAdvantage or British Airways Executive Club – programmes that are good for just about everybody. So, it all depends on your own personal preferences. To help you decide which programme you should do more of your own research on, here are my recommendations:
Everybody should have an ANA Mileage Club account and use it to find award space on Star Alliance airlines. You don’t necessarily have to credit a single mile to the programme (although it makes it easier to use the availability tool) but you should definitely have an account.
For those interested mostly in status
You have 3 options: Aegean Miles & Bonus, Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles and Asiana Club.
If you can do a status match with Turkish M&S to reach *A Gold, that should be your first port of call – then if you can credit 25,000 miles in the first year, you’ll end up with *A Gold for 4 years (the 2 years of your status match and another 2 of renewal).
If you are currently status-less, then Aegean is likely to be your preferred programme, with 20,000 miles required to obtain 3 years of *A Gold status, perhaps even longer if Aegean‘s programme is sustainable. (which is debatable, but certainly possible)
Asiana Club is also potentially a good option for picking up *A Gold status. 40,000 miles over two years might be easier for those whose long haul travel fluctuates substantially from year-to-year.
For those who do a lot of long haul travel in business class
Lufthansa Miles & More is probably the choice here. Most business class fares earn 2x mileage, which means you should pick up at least *A Silver quite easily, ensuring that your miles don’t expire (alternatively, get a M&M-branded credit card). The monthly mileage bargains are also ideal for the business traveller who books their holidays at the last minute.
For those who like to buy miles and/or play games with redemptions
Take a look at Avianca Life Miles & US Airways Dividend Miles. You should find lots of opportunities to buy miles at a significant discount (best for immediate redemptions to avoid devaluations) and booking weird and interesting itineraries (only part of which you might actually use).
For those who rarely fly on Star Alliance
You should concentrate on the programmes where miles only expire if your account isn’t active (and where a simple e-store purchase can extend the life of your miles): Miles & More (if you can get the credit card), Air Canada Aeroplan, Avianca Life Miles, United Mileage Plus and US Airways Dividend Miles would appear to be your options.
For those who really, absolutely want only one Star Alliance programme
I think the answer is Asiana Club. I can’t say with 100% certainty, because I’m not actually a member and only started looking at it for the purposes of this series. But there is a lot to like:
- 40,000 miles over 2 years to gain Diamond (*A Gold) is not too difficult to achieve
- miles don’t expire for 5 years – 7 years if you make it to Diamond
- Having Etihad and Qatar Airways as partners is very helpful for accumulating miles
- once you manage to accumulate over 80,000 miles (including Starwood transfers), the award chart becomes reasonably competitive, particularly if you want a multi-stop trip
I hope this series has been helpful for some people. Next on my to-do list is a comparison of the earning rates on discounted fares across the various programmes. Every time I find myself looking to book a Star Alliance flight in economy, I have to check a few programmes to see how many miles I would get in the various programmes. It would be nice to have a simple reference, and since I can’t find one online, I might have to do it myself…