How to Still Earn Miles Based on Distance Flown for Your United Flights: Other Star Alliance Partner Options

Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.

Since United Airlines is going revenue based with mileage earning for flights beginning March 1, 2015, many are considering crediting their United operated flights to foreign Star Alliance partners who still credit miles based on distance flown.  This is a very smart thing to consider in order to maximize your mileage earnings if (and only if) earning United elite status is not a concern for you and you will come out ahead for a given flight via the distance model instead of the revenue based model.  If you still care about United elite status then you will not be earning miles toward that by crediting flights to another carrier.  I fall into that category for now so won’t be focusing on credit to other carriers for the time being, but I fly United a bunch and live at a United hub.  Your situation may be very different.

It is also important to realize that many other Star Alliance partners charge fuel surcharges on many awards, as opposed to United that does not charge fuel surcharges on any awards.  This isn’t an issue on all awards (many don’t charge fuel surcharges on United operated flights), but it is something to keep in mind.  There are lots of nuisances to each program and this post doesn’t even begin to drill down to all of those issues, but this post is more designed to begin to orient you to some other earning options within Star Alliance.  Keep in mind that not all fare classes will credit at 100% (or even at all) to some programs, so you will have to be disciplined about checking your fare class against the valid fare classes for each program in terms of earning.  For example, our recent United operated flights to Alaska were in G class and as a result would only earn 100% in two of the programs listed below (Singapore and Turkish).  That said, at 100% a general member would be earning about 6,500 miles in those programs based on the distance of those flights instead of the roughly 2,000 United would credit for the $400 ticket beginning in March.

I have listed some of the current earning charts for United fare classes below, but that is of course always subject to change.  If I were considering credit to another program, I would personally want to pick one that I could supplement with transfers from Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards, but your preferences may vary.  I would also want to pick a program that has a favorable award for my preferred award types and that has a history of being somewhat stable, but again that is my preference.

Finally, you do not want to end up with a few miles scattered in a ton of programs.  That is a recipe for them expiring or otherwise going to waste.  If you want to pick another Star Alliance program to focus on, I would start with just focusing on one additional program and not picking and choosing between all of them for any given flight unless you are more advanced in this hobby and know for sure you won’t be wasting your miles via that method.

This is not an all-inclusive list, but here are some details on other Star Alliance partners to consider for crediting your United miles beginning next year.


F, A: 300%

J, C, D, Z: 200%

Y: 150%

B, M, E, U, H, Q, V: 100%

W, S, T, L, K, G: 50%

  • Once you have collected 4,000 miles within a period of twelve (12) months counting from the former, valid, registered miles, you will receive the Blue Card. (Silver status)
  • 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.  Get 1,000 miles for signing up (and that counts toward status).  To keep your status, just have some activity in your account at least once every 36 months.    (Star Gold{
  • Easy path to Star Alliance Gold status which will get you a free checked bag, United Club access (even on domestic United flights), priority boarding, etc. with minimal flying
  • Award chart examples: North American round trip 25k in economy, 42k in business round trip (Caribbean and Mexico are grouped in with North America zone – woohoo!), very high mileage prices to/from Hawaii, 90k round trip North America/Europe in business.  Groups North Africa and Europe in the same award zone.    See award chart here.
  • Change or cancellation a ticket at least 30 minutes prior to flight’s departure for a fixed fee of 20 Euros per ticket.


Air Canada/Aeroplan:

F, A: 150%

J, C, D, Z, P: 150%

Y, B: 125%

M, E, U, H, Q, V, W: 100%

  • Good online booking options and booking tool, 25k round trip domestic economy flight, 90k in business round trip from the US to Europe 1, and 45k round trip to Hawaii in economy. See award chart here.
  • Many discount economy fares don’t earn miles.
  • Can supplement with transfers from American Express Membership Rewards.
  • Need activity at least every 12 months to keep miles active



F, A, J: 150%

C, D, Z: 125%

P: 70%

Y, B, M: 100%

U, H, Q, E: 70%

V, W, S, T: 50%

L, K, G, N: 30%

  • Award chart is distance based, so 2,000 or fewer miles flown = 20,000 miles; 2,001 – 4,000 = 22,000 miles; 4,001 – 7,000 = 38,000 miles, etc.  This means some awards will be cheaper and some will be more expensive than with United’s zonal chart.
  • Popular award with ANA for those on the East Coast is the 7,001 – 9,000 mile award for 68,000 miles in business class to head to Europe and back.
  • You can add to your ANA totals via transfer from American Express Membership Rewards
  • Miles are valid until the end of the 36th month from the month in which they were earned.
  • Good award search tool for booking
  • Refund fee of 3,000 miles



F, A: 150%

J, C, D: 125%

Z, P: 100%

Y, B, M, E, H, Q, U, V, W: 100%

S, T, K, G, N, L: 50%

  • Fair award chart with some good values
  • Good mileage purchase options
  • Credit card option to supplement mileage earning
  • Horrible call center at times if you have issues
  • Decent online booking options but you can’t mix classes of service, so segments have to be in the same class which can be tough for some awards in premium cabins
  • No fuel surcharges


Singapore Airlines:

A,F: 150%

C, D, J: 125%

P, Z: 100%

B, E, G, H, K, L, M, Q, S, T, U, V, W, Y: 100%

  • Supplement with either Membership Rewards or Ultimate Rewards
  • Good values to Hawaii (35k economy, 60k business).  North America 25k economy/40k business.  Okay economy award prices, but many premium cabin awards are a little pricier than average.  See award chart here.
  • Call to book Star Alliance awards over the phone for yourself and your designated group/family members
  • 15% discount on the usual number of miles required for Singapore Airlines redemptions online (won’t work for Star Alliance partners)
  • Miles are valid for three years
  • Reasonable change/redeposit fees


Turkish Airlines:

A,F,P, J,C,D,Z: 150%

Y, B, M, K, Q, V, W, S, T, K, L, E, U, H,G: 100%


There won’t be any one perfect Star Alliance program for everyone, but instead you need to look at the options and research the ones that might be a better match for you and your family.  I’m by no means an expert in all these programs as I haven’t even booked awards at all through a few of them, though I have used several of them at times via Ultimate Rewards or Membership Reward transfers.  However, the Flyertalk forums devoted to each of these programs can be great sources of info from those who are experts in each program.

I’d love to hear which alternative Star Alliance programs you are considering (or already using)!

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.



  1. this is helpful…but i think it is for post march 2015…i am traveling in September 2014 on turkish and wonder where to credit them.

    is united the best of some other Star

    • Nathaniel, yeah this is mostly to start thinking about a post March 1 United, though of course you don’t have to wait that long if it benefits you most to change now for some reason. In terms of crediting Turkish it will depend on the fare class and your goals. I’d personally look to United if the fare class counts, but that’s me.

  2. And how do I tell if the fare class counts on United?…it should its J class the lowest biz class seat

  3. Holy cow, that post was a lot of work, your IQ must be really over the top. But I ‘m with Rick on this one “who cares”. I already earn more miles than I can ever spend, it has never been this easy. Really in the 10 years I have been involved, it has never been so easy to earn miles. I travel in first class always and I have been on so many vacations it good too be home.

    • Jim, how do you earn so many miles without paying for flights? I know you can’t possibly
      MS that much& churning couldn’t cover all those F trips.

  4. Egypt air plus is a better program for people considering family travel, as main member i.e. family head will become star silver and further star gold easily. Kindly note 75% miles are credited for discount economy ticket of United airlines at present.

  5. What about Miles and More? Is the issue with them earning rates? Also, are there any partners where miles can be kept indefinitely through activity like on US-based airlines, or do they always expire after some period of time?

    • They don’t all expire after a set time. For example, Aeroplan doesn’t, but you are right that some carriers do. Miles and More can be a good option, too. Love that they have the credit card you can easily supplement with. Earning rates can be tricky and fuel surcharges are nasty, but still an option for some. I didn’t list all the options here – just gave a variety of choices.

  6. “There are lots of *NUISANCES* to each program and this post doesn’t even begin to drill down to all of those issues…” (2nd paragraph)

    Did you mean *NUANCES*, or was that a well-played Freudian slip? 😉

    • Jetsetr, I’ll claim both. 😉 Truth is with pre-school out for the summer and my tiny boss expecting more play time than work time, expect more slips.

  7. This is probably a dumb question, but I am United Silver right now, and would like to continue to receive the benefits that gets me — E+, potential for upgrades, Premier security screening, etc. If I decided to credit my miles to Aegean and achieve Star Alliance Gold (I fly about 25K miles a year right now on United), do I get those benefits? Or does it not matter at all where I credit my miles and as long as I like 25K miles on United and spend my $2500 on United, I am good to go?

    • Lauren, Star Gold status won’t get you free E+ or upgrades, so if those matter to you then you are best off with status via United.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *