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TravelStar Alliance guide: Airlines, lounges and elite status

Star Alliance guide: Airlines, lounges and elite status

Star Alliance has 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
  • 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.

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Related: The best websites to search for Star Alliance award availability

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. You can check what Star Alliance status your airline status converts to on the Star Alliance benefits page.

Star Alliance Silver

The benefits offered by Star Alliance Silver status are minimal. Star Alliance Silver members only get two perks:

  • Priority reservations waitlist: Get higher priority on the waitlist to reserve a higher class of service if space becomes available (not available on award tickets and subject to the carrier’s policy).
  • Priority airport standby: Get higher priority on the standby list if your travel plans change and flights are full (not available on award tickets and some fares).

Some of the airline statuses that offer Star Alliance Silver status include:

  • Air Canada Aeroplan 25K and 35K
  • Asiana Club Gold
  • Egyptair Plus Silver
  • United MileagePlus Premier Silver

Related: United Premier status: What it is and how to earn it

Star Alliance Gold

In addition to the two perks available to Star Alliance Silver members, Star Alliance Gold members get the following benefits:

  • Priority airport check-in: Use Priority counters, where available, as indicated by Star Alliance Gold signage.
  • Priority baggage handling: Your checked luggage will be marked “Priority” and should be among the first to arrive on the baggage belt at your destination.
  • Airport lounge access: Enjoy lounge access (with up to one guest on the same flight) before your flight at more than 1,000 lounges worldwide when flying on Star Alliance airlines. (Star Alliance Gold members with United MileagePlus status can only access United Clubs within the U.S. before international flights on Star Alliance airlines.)
  • Priority boarding: Board the aircraft along with first- and business-class passengers (this perk isn’t always offered).
  • Extra baggage allowance: Check an extra 20 kilograms (44 pounds) when luggage is allowed on a per-weight basis or an extra piece when a per-piece metric applies. (Some fares and non-connecting itineraries may not be eligible.)
  • Gold Track: At airports with Gold Track priority lanes, you can use these lanes to get through airport security and immigration.
  • Heathrow Express upgrades: Enjoy a free upgrade to Business First Class when you purchase a standard class single or return ticket for the Heathrow Express and show your Star Alliance Gold card to the onboard attendant.
Star Alliance Gold members can check in using marked queues. ERIC ROSEN/THE POINTS GUY

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
  • United MileagePlus Premier Gold and above

Related: This is how Star Alliance can learn from Oneworld Emerald status

Caveats to Star Alliance elite benefits

As you may have noticed, there are exclusions to some of the above benefits. For example, some airlines only honor the extra baggage allowance on connecting Star Alliance flights. Some airlines don’t offer the extra baggage allowance if you book a basic economy fare.

Meanwhile, the priority reservations waitlist and priority airport standby perks aren’t offered on award tickets and may depend on the fare you booked. In short, it’s worth looking at the Star Alliance benefits before booking to ensure that you understand what benefits will apply.

Related: Which mileage program is best for getting Star Alliance status quickly?

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 lounge in Los Angeles. ERIC ROSEN/THE POINTS GUY

As noted above, 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. (Keep in mind, though, that United Premier Gold members and above won’t get United Club access unless they’re traveling internationally.)

You may also have Star Alliance lounge access based on your cabin of service. For example, international first-class passengers (and a guest on the same flight) can visit international first-class or Star Alliance member lounges that display the Star Alliance logo at the entrance. Meanwhile, international business-class passengers can use any Star Alliance member’s business-class lounge with the Star Alliance logo at the entrance.

However, the details and exceptions for Star Alliance lounge access are extensive. So, we recommend checking the Star Alliance lounge finder for the most accurate and nuanced information.

Related: Star Alliance debuts second lounge at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport

Bottom line

Star Alliance is a collection of 26 airlines and two partners collaborating to connect passengers on travel worldwide to 186 countries. Each member airline has its own elite status, with elite tiers that usually bestow either Star Alliance Silver or Gold status.

These Star Alliance statuses provide some standard benefits across the alliance, but you shouldn’t expect too much from Star Alliance Silver status. Meanwhile, outside of checked baggage benefits and priority boarding, the best benefit of Star Alliance Gold status is access to member lounges worldwide when traveling on eligible itineraries.


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