You’ve gotta love airline alliances and the arbitrage opportunities that exist thanks to their unique programs. For example, I was a top tier elite member with British Midland (bmi) for five years before I actually flew with them. I was actually sort of convinced they weren’t a real airline for a long time. And I’d speculate that a majority of bmi’s top tier elite members had never actually flown with them.
Since joining the Star Alliance in 2012, one of the greatest Star Alliance frequent flyer programs has been Aegean, the Greek airline with a fleet of 30 narrowbody aircraft.
Aegean’s “lifetime” Star Alliance Gold status
For one, Aegean had extremely reasonable requirements to achieve Star Alliance Gold status to begin with. You needed just 20,000 elite qualifying miles to achieve top tier status with them, and they’d give you 1,000 elite qualifying miles just for signing up. So in reality you needed just 19,000 miles to qualify.
Why would you want to earn Star Alliance Gold? Star Alliance Gold status gets you (among other things):
- Priority check-in, boarding, and baggage handling
- A free checked bag
- Lounge access (Aegean status even gets you access to United Clubs on domestic itineraries, which you don’t receive if you have an equivalent status with United)
But the greatest thing about Aegean’s program was that status was “lifetime” — once earned, status would just constantly renew. Now, they didn’t explicitly publish it as such, but in practice that’s how it worked.
This obviously wasn’t sustainable. Everytime an Aegean Star Alliance Gold member enters a lounge using one of their cards, Aegean has to pay that airline ~$20. As you can imagine, the cost of that adds up pretty quickly, so they had to change that sooner or later.
Aegean’s new Miles+Bonus program qualification requirements
Aegean has now introduced their new Miles+Bonus program, which will kick in as of November 24, 2014.
The new qualification criteria are as follows:
- Silver Status: 12,000 miles within 12 months (including at least 2 Aegean or Olympic Air flights) OR a total of 24,000 miles, regardless of which airline you choose to fly with
- Gold Status: 24,000 miles within 12 months (including at least 4 Aegean or Olympic Air flights) OR a total of 48,000 miles, regardless of which airline you choose to fly with
Meanwhile the new requalification requirements are as follows:
- Silver Status: 8,000 miles within 12 months (including at least 2 Aegean or Olympic Air flights) or a total of 16,000 miles, regardless of which airline you choose to fly with
- Gold Status: 12,000 miles within 12 months (including at least 4 Aegean or Olympic Air flights) or a total of 24,000 miles, regardless of which airline you choose to fly with
Assuming you don’t fly four times on Aegean, that means you need 48,000 miles to qualify for Star Alliance Gold status, and then 24,000 miles per year to renew. The latter is still very lucrative, as it’s the lowest Star Alliance Gold qualification tier I can think of.
Other new Aegean Miles+Bonus benefits
As part of the new Miles+Bonus program, Aegean is making some other changes.
First of all, they’re introducing household accounts, whereby you can combine the redeemable miles from up to six accounts:
We aim to reward families and friends by providing them the opportunity to accumulate miles in one account and make spending even more accessible. A Together Account means you can pool your Award Miles with up to six people into one single account, letting you make full use of the collective balance, whilst you earn Tier Miles individually.
They’re introducing quite a few other new benefits as well, which are outlined in the below chart:
As you can see, most of these are useful if you’re actually flying Aegean as opposed to crediting partner flights to them. But it is cool that they’re adding things like lounge passes for Silver members, a discount on companion tickets for domestic flights, extra award miles for Aegean flights, the ability to purchase tier and award miles, etc.
I think we all saw this coming. Under the new program, the initial qualification requirements are rather high if you don’t fly Aegean, but I do think the requalification requirements are still lucrative — 24,000 credited miles for Star Alliance Gold is still about as good as it gets.
Of course that’s not as good as “lifetime” Star Alliance Gold for 20,000 credited miles, though.
To those of you that are Aegean Star Alliance Gold members, I leave you with Nelly Furtado… play the song until you feel better:
So, just how many of you are Star Alliance Gold through Aegean, and do you plan on requalifying using the new criteria?