Star Alliance guide: Airlines, lounges and elite status

Star Alliance is the largest global airline alliance, with 26 member airlines that serve over 1,200 destinations in 186 countries. With more than 16,000 daily departures, there’s a good chance you’ve flown on one or more of the Star Alliance airlines. You might even have Star Alliance Silver or Gold status if you’re a frequent flyer. There are also over 1,000 Star Alliance lounges you can access when traveling on eligible premium cabin fares or as a benefit of your airline elite status. So, let’s take a closer look at what you should know about Star Alliance.

Star Alliance airlines
Star Alliance was formed on May 14, 1997, with Air Canada, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Thai Airways, and United Airlines serving as its founding members. Now, the alliance consists of 26 Star Alliance airlines, including Aegean Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, Asiana Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Avianca, Brussels Airlines, Copa Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Egyptair, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Airways, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Swiss, TAP Air Portugal, Thai Airways, Turkish Airlines, and United Airlines.

Knowing the Star Alliance members is important because you can usually book award travel with other Star Alliance members through the loyalty programs associated with each of these airlines. For example, you can book flights operated by United Airlines through the Singapore KrisFlyer loyalty program.

Star Alliance partners
In addition to the 26 Star Alliance member airlines listed above, the alliance has two partners: Juneyao Airlines and Deutsche Bahn.

Juneyao Airlines is a Star Alliance connecting partner, which means you can through-check baggage, book connecting flights on one ticket, and enjoy select other conveniences. However, you can only enjoy these connecting partner perks if your ticket includes an eligible connection between Juneyao Airlines and Air Canada, Air China, ANA, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Airways, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines, or United.

Deutsche Bahn is a Star Alliance intermodal partner. This partnership means you could start or end your Star Alliance ticket on a Deutsche Bahn train.

Is Miles & More part of Star Alliance?
Many travelers wonder whether Miles & More is part of Star Alliance. Miles & More is the loyalty program for Lufthansa and, hence, is a way to book Star Alliance award tickets.

Star Alliance status tiers
If you have elite status with a Star Alliance airline, you likely also have Star Alliance status. Star Alliance offers two elite status tiers — Silver and Gold — that provide perks across its member airlines. Star Alliance Silver members only get two perks: Priority reservations waitlist and priority airport standby. Star Alliance Gold members get additional benefits, including priority airport check-in, priority baggage handling, airport lounge access, priority boarding, extra baggage allowance, Gold Track access, and Heathrow Express upgrades.

Some of the airline statuses that offer Star Alliance Silver status include Air Canada Aeroplan 25K and 35K, Asiana Club Gold, Egyptair Plus Silver, and United MileagePlus Premier Silver. Some of the airline statuses that offer Star Alliance Gold status include Air Canada Aeroplan 50K and above, Asiana Club Diamond and above, Egyptair Plus Gold and above, and United MileagePlus Premier Gold and above.

Caveats to Star Alliance elite benefits
There are exclusions to some of the benefits offered by Star Alliance elite status. Some airlines only honor the extra baggage allowance on connecting Star Alliance flights, and some don’t offer the extra baggage allowance if you book a basic economy fare. The priority reservations waitlist and priority airport standby perks aren’t offered on award tickets and may depend on the fare you booked. It’s worth looking at the Star Alliance benefits before booking to ensure that you understand what benefits will apply.

Star Alliance lounges
Star Alliance travelers can access over 1,000 alliance-branded lounges and lounges owned by Star Alliance member airlines when traveling on eligible itineraries. Star Alliance Gold members (and up to one guest on the same flight) have access to airline lounges that display the Star Alliance Gold indicator before departure of a same-day flight or a flight that departs the next day before 5 a.m. You may also have Star Alliance lounge access based on your cabin of service.

The details and exceptions for Star Alliance lounge access are extensive, so it’s recommended to check the Star Alliance lounge finder for the most accurate and nuanced information.

In conclusion, Star Alliance is a leading global airline alliance that offers a wide range of benefits to its members. With a vast network of airlines, partners, and lounges, Star Alliance provides travelers with convenience, flexibility, and comfort. Whether you’re a frequent flyer or a casual traveler, being part of Star Alliance can enhance your travel experience and make your journeys more enjoyable.

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