Weeks ago, I was lamenting the fact that my Star Alliance Gold Status on Aegean would soon be going away. By soon – I mean November 2015. But that’s still long enough away where I need to start thinking about a backup plan today.
In my first attempt, I realized typical alternate options (United and Air Canada) may not be best for my (now) stochastic flying habits. Instead, I need a better option to keep my Gold status while maintaining my level of flying (or increasing, as budget allows). And that’s where the international players can be applied.
After some research, I’ve narrowed down my possibility to keeping Star Alliance Gold status by crediting my miles to one of two international airlines. In no particular order, here are the new candidates for my Star Alliance loyalty in 2015.
Turkish Airlines: Miles and Smiles
Will Miles and Smiles bring me plenty of both in 2015? With their generous path to Star Alliance Gold Status, it certainly seems that I could be well on my way to at least the Smiles portion.
The Good: Turkish Airlines’ Gold Status level, Miles and Smiles Elite, require flyers to fly 40,000 miles in a year. Once the threshold is hit, the status is good for two years. Once achieved, renewing status is lower than other mileage programs. Those who live outside of Turkey need to only fly 25,000 miles in one year, or 37,500 in two years, to renew. And again, renewal is good for two years from the date renewed. While not as generous as Aegean’s three year renewal, this is a good start for those who may have their flying limited in the near future.
And before you ask: yes, United Miles do count at 100% for elite qualifying status. From the terms and conditions on the Turkish Airlines website:
“For Classic Plus, Elite and Elite Plus tiers, the miles earned on Turkish Airlines scheduled international and domestic flights and the flights of Star Alliance member airlines shall count in membership threshold calculations.”
The Bad: Unfortunately, not all of my flying will count towards elite status on Turkish Airlines. In the fine print on their United page, the carrier notes that only the flights operated by United Airlines counts. Which means my flying from my home airport in Port Columbus (where mainline flights rarely fly) to a mainline airport may not count for the 500-mile minimum. So until I move to a market that is served by United mainline aircraft, my mileage earnings may be hamstringed.
The Weird: There have been reports that flyers have been able to successfully status match their Aegean Gold status to Turkish Gold status with a simple request. However, FlyerTalkers have reported that this is turning into a long process that may (or may not) be honored by Miles & Smiles. I’m going to attempt the status match request, but I have no grandeurs that it will be honored in time for my January Vegas flight. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Asiana Airlines: Asiana Club
The Good: Much like Turkish Airlines, I can earn 100% credit on United Flights by crediting them to Asiana Club. But unlike Turkish Airlines, I have two years to fly 40,000 credited miles to earn Star Alliance Gold status. After I earn Gold status, my card is valid for two years This translates to just 20,000 miles of mainline flying every year to hit Gold Status. Not too shabby for flying United.
The Bad: On the bad side, I’m forced to start from square one with Asiana (see below). And although Asiana’s website states that all United flights are credited, I’ve got a suspicious feeling that non-mainline flights are going to get zero credit towards my Asiana status. In addition, my opportunities for earning top-off bonus miles on the ground are limited. Although I could get a Bank of America Asiana Credit Card…I’m not sure that I’d really want to.
The Weird: Apparently, from what I’ve read on StatusMatcher.com and FlyerTalk, Asiana will never do a status match. A traveler could have double-secret Super Elite status on an airline, but will still require flyers to start from scratch when moving to Asiana. Which is a strange bug in the system.
Both loyalty programs create a conundrum, to say the least. At that threshold of flying (40,000 to 50,000), it would seem to make sense to go back to United and earn upgrades, but no lounge access – right?
With Turkish Airlines, I know that I will ultimately be able to use my miles for redemption, but Asiana gives me a longer time period to get my Gold status. Personally, my tiebreaker will lie in getting my status match approved from Aegean to Turkish. If I can get my status matched, then Turkish it is. But if there’s no status to be matched, then it looks like I’ll be marching forward with Aegean.
All of a sudden, my Vegas run just got a whole lot more interesting.
Which one would you be leaning towards? Let me know how much I’m overthinking this problem in the comments below. And don’t forget to vote for TaggingMiles in the 3rd Annual Travel Summary Awards – voting closes soon!