Fly Just 2,000 Miles for Star Silver Status (AKA Chicago Seminars Preview)

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If 2011 was the year that I went in big on the US Airways Grand Slam, then 2012 was the year of getting elite status for my family.  At the Chicago Seminars in 2011, The Frugal Travel Guy asked if I would be willing to present at 2012 Seminar.  Since I was hopelessly hooked on the Grand Slam, it made sense that I would present on that topic in October 2012.  History had shown that we should be in the middle of the Grand Slam at that time, so the timing was perfect…in theory.  In reality there was to be no Grand Slam this fall, so I got the opportunity to pick a new topic to present on at the Chicago Seminars.

After thinking on it for a little bit, it became clear that focusing on some basic elite status benefits with various hotels and airlines, as well as easy (or at least easier) ways to obtain that status, made perfect sense.  It is exactly what my own family has been focusing on this year.  As a sneak preview for next weekend’s presentation, one of the easiest ways to get status within Star Alliance is via the carrier Aegean.

For those new to alliances, Star Alliance currently has over two dozen different airlines as members.  US based flyers are probably most familiar with United and US Airways, but Star Alliance also includes carriers like Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, ANA, Air Canada, Air New Zealand, and many more.  Some benefits of an alliance are 1) not only can you use your hard earned miles to fly on these various carriers (pending availability), but 2) your elite status benefits also carry over (to a degree) to the various carriers within the alliance.

Within the Star Alliance, there is Star Alliance Silver and Star Alliance Gold status.  To achieve Silver status via United you would need to fly 25,000 miles in a calendar year.  To achieve gold status via United you would need to fly 50,000 miles in a calendar year.  That is a fair amount of travel that is out of reach for many, however to get Star Alliance Silver status via Aegean you just need to credit 2,000 miles to that carrier.  They currently are offering 2,000 status qualifying miles for signing up for a Miles&Bonus frequent flyer account.  This is an increase over the usual 1,000 miles they offer.  The total amount you need for Silver status (which they call Blue) is 4,000 miles in a 12 month period (doesn’t have to be a calendar year).  That means you just need to credit 2,000 more miles to the carrier within 12 months to obtain Silver status.  The easiest way to do this is via US Airways as all of their fares credit at least at a 100% rate.  Some United fares credit at a 50% rate, so be careful with those.

Star Alliance Silver status isn’t life changing, but it does provide priority boarding, a free checked bag domestically on United and US Airways, and some priority standby/wait-listing status.  Currently you just need to credit some activity to Aegean every 36 months to keep the status active.  Perhaps the best thing about getting Silver status so easily, is that you are just 16,000 miles away from Star Alliance Gold status.  While you have 12 calendar months to earn the initial 4,000 miles for Silver/Blue, you then have more time to earn Gold status.  As their website says, “Once you have collected 16,000 miles within one year from the date which you qualified to the Blue status, you will receive the Gold Card.”  Just remember to keep your status and account active by crediting a flight at least every 36 months.

Star Alliance Gold status gives you priority check-in, priority boarding, complimentary lounge access for you and a guest when traveling on a Star Alliance partner (domestically and internationally in this case), free checked bags, priority baggage handling, and more.  You can read more about Star Gold and Star Silver status here.

Of course, there are no guarantees this airline will stay in the Star Alliance, or that they will keep their current benefit structure in place for the long term.  They could change the requirements for status or length of time that status is granted at any time.  For now though this is a very easy and solid way to Star Alliance status – especially with the current 2,000 free status miles just for signing up!

Thanks to View From the Wing for sharing the news about the increased sign-up bonus!

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  1. I visited the star alliance site and it does not mention star silver members receiving priority boarding, is that a perk unique to UA silver status?

  2. Actually, I am wondering the same.
    The Aegean website is showing many UA lower fair for only 50% mileage. At the same time, there is a 500 miles minimum for UA flights (but no US Airways flight)
    Does that mean, (with the currently 2000 mile sign-up bonus), one would only need at most four UA segments for the silver? (4X500)
    Or it will be eight of them (8X500X50%)

  3. Please excuse a newbie question: How does airline X know that I have status on Airline Y? For example, living in SFO means that almost all my business travel is on UA. If I use some of those flights to get status on Aegean, but then want to credit future flights to my UA FF account, how do I let UA know that I have Star Alliance status?

  4. Sorry if this is a stupid question, but how will US Airways know that I a have status with Aegean when I book a US Air flight in the future (that I credit to US Air, not Aegean. So after getting Blue status with Aegean I want the perks of having said status when flying a US Air flight earning US Air miles)?

  5. wow just saw the comment above (must have been being submitted while I was writing mine). go ahead and answer Helena and I should be covered 🙂

    Helena – they do say great minds think alike, don’t they?

  6. I just signed up with Aegean and got my 2000 miles. But just be aware that the site uses very weak passwords (up to 8 numbers only) and the confirmation email includes the password. You probably don’t want to give this site too much confidential information.

  7. Besides flying a *A carrier and crediting to A3, is there ANY way to earn the necessary miles? (buying miles, etc.). I doubt it, but thought I’d ask.

    Also, if you book a flight through US on UA metal (codeshare), and credit to A3, will it be considered US?

  8. I have been working toward the *G status via the Aegean route since April of this year (have just 4-5k to go, woohoo!), so have some experience on how it all works. I’ll attempt to answer the above questions as best as I can:

    @Blaine — Unfortunately, as with most if not all airlines, to earn the status/elite qualifying miles flying butt-in-seat is the only option here. As to your 2nd question, as long as your boarding pass shows a US flight number and not a UA flight number, it should/will credit to A3 at full 100% miles.

    @Helena & Nicole — When you book any *A flight, or when you’re checking in at the kiosks, make sure you provide the Aegean frequent flyer account info. The boarding pass will print out properly with the *S designation, and if you’re checking in a luggage on US or UA, the electronic kiosks would automagically waive the first luggage fee of $25 or whatever (I have personally done this on both airlines, yes). The first time or two I wanted to credit my miles to Aegean but didn’t give the info electronically, it was a pain to go through through the check-in agents; they took a look at my Aegean FF card and said “what airline is this?”, then they didn’t know that the airline has code of A3 in the system, then they had to manually override the 1st checked luggage fee, etc.

    @Ryan — The answer to your question depends on the actual distance and fare class of the UA flight(s) you’re taking. If you take a lower fare class on a flight that is less that 500 miles (say, WashingtonDulles Toronto, which is 346 miles), you would still get 500 Aegean miles for that flight. However, if you fly from DC to California using the same lower fare class, you’d be earning about 50% of the ~2200 miles, i.e. adding only about 1,100 miles to your Aegean account. On the other hand, if you fly DC to Cali in the higher fare class, you’d earn the full 2,200+ miles.

    Hope the above answers and helps.

  9. @Chuck – I still don’t understand how in the scenario when I want to earn US AIRWAYS miles on a US AIRWAYS flight, but still receive my bags free and all the other benefits (I already have the Blue status at this time and want no more Aegean miles), how I will have US Air know of my status on Aegean? I want to benefits of the status I already have, but I want to earn Us Airways miles on the flight. Does that make sense? Your explanation seems to be for when I already have Blue status, but am still earning Aegean miles on a USAirways flight.

    • @Nicole, put your Aegean number in when you make the reservation and change it to US Airways after you check your free bags. You can have the gate agent change it.

  10. I just looked at booking a flight on US so I would get the 100% conversion. The flight is operated by United even though its a US flight. So will I get the 100% US or the 50% UA conversion?

    • @GregoryGrady, not everyone reads all the blogs. As you can see by the questions here, not everyone already had all this info. Also was making sure anyone interested was aware of the revised Chicago Seminars topic, so seemd like a good time to cover both. Sorry if it was redundant info for you. 😉
      @Nicole, glad it helped!
      @El Jefe, it is the operating carrier that will matter. It is still a United flight, so will follow those rules.

  11. Another newbie here, so this might be a dumb question. I already have a United flight booked for November and it’s got my Mileage Plus number tied to it. If I sign up for the Aegean program now can I make a change so those miles get credited to Aegean?

  12. I do not have status with *A. I will be flying on Turkish Airlines from IAD to IST and back. What airline I should credit to- I have FF# with UA and US. Can I get any status if I credit to A3.

    • Blaine, I have always understood the operating carrier to matter when crediting miles, but always possible that isn’t the case.

      I did a fair amount of research on this today to try and get a firm answer, but couldn’t find the perfect source.

      If you are sending in a boarding pass with US info instead of relying on the miles being auto posted it may work. I also may be totally wrong. Personally I would not rely on it working if it makes the difference between attaining or not attaining status.

  13. so many Aegean blog posts in the last 2~3 days @@
    but still useful anyway, so thanks.

    I’m 1 TPAC flight away from *G and *S did get me E+ (nice ground staff) on UA flights NRT-IAD. *S was shown on my BP automatically

    I had UA codeshare on AC737 (YYZ-SFO) at supposedly 50% miles, but instead I got AC737 flight at 100% miles so that’s nice bonus

  14. I love this – thanks to you and View from the Wing. I’ve never concerned myself with status, because I didn’t think I traveled enough to earn it. However, with the sign-up bonus with Aegean and my holiday traveling I already have booked, it looks like I’m on my way to Silver.

  15. @Jerry, glad you find them useful. Hopefully some folks are now on their way to easy status! Glad you 100% – makes sense that they went with the operating carrier. Thanks for sharing!
    @Blaine, no problem.
    @Jonathan, awesome! Congrats!

  16. If I understand Chuck properly, does this mean that Ryan is correct? Signing up and then flying 4 United segments of any length (e.g. SFO-LAX-CLD-LAX-SFO for $160) will get me Blue status since each UA segment is subject to the 500 mile minimum?

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