There are 28 airlines in the Star Alliance. To make it easier to have recognition, the alliance grants the elite flyers within those airlines benefits that work across all 28 airlines. If you have an elite tier that equates to Star Alliance Gold, you will get a lot of useful benefits when traveling on Star Alliance airlines.
4 Star Alliance Gold Benefits That Are Great With United
Each member airline has a different elite level that equates to Star Alliance Gold but the norm is that you will need to fly 40,000 – 50,000 miles on Star Alliance carriers in a year to earn that status. Some are less.
Why United Airlines?
While being a Gold, Platinum, 1K or Global Services member with United will get you Star Alliance Gold, there is one valuable benefit of *A Gold status that United does not offer to their own members. And it just happens to be the most valuable benefit. 🙂
Also, you will get these benefits with other Star Alliance carriers as well but I am highlighting United because of the last item on this little list. 😉
1. Lounge Access
There is nothing that helps ease the exhaustion of travel – especially in economy class – like the chance to unwind, eat, relax, and take a shower. All of those things can be done in airline lounges (most international lounges will have showers). There are plenty of contract lounges and memberships (like Priority Pass) that can get you access to various lounges, but having airline elite status is a great way to ensure you can enter all the lounges in that alliance.
Having Star Alliance Gold status opens the doors of the Star Alliance lounges all around the world. In fact, Star Alliance Gold flyers in economy even have access to Lufthansa Senator lounges while those paying for business class tickets without status only have access to Lufthansa Business lounges. While both are pretty much the same, the Senator lounges may be less crowded and do have better food offerings in some locations – and Star Alliance Gold flyers get access to either one!
One more bonus – as a Star Alliance Gold member, you can actually bring a guest in with you for free as well!
Great with United: If you hold Star Alliance Gold status with an airline other than United, you get to use United’s lounges when flying domestic United flights – something that United’s own elites do not get to do! This is one great reason for customers to credit their elite flights to a foreign carrier instead of United if they are only going to fly 50,000-ish miles per year!
2. Priority Access
We have all walked into an airport and seen lines that just make our heart drop as we look at our watches. These lines can be the enemy of our valuable time as people wait in line to drop their bags and then wait in line again to get through security (even if you have TSA Precheck at some airports!).
Having Star Alliance Gold and flying United, you can skip all of those long, regular lines. That is thanks to the priority access provided to Star Alliance members with United (and any other Star Alliance carrier). This priority access gives you shorter lines at the check-in lines, bag drop lines, customer service lines, TSA lines, and boarding lines.
Having Star Alliance Gold has saved me a ton of time when flying United, thanks to the fact that I know I can get those shorter, preferred lines.
3. Free Luggage
Airlines are charging for anything they can – and their greatest stream of income on those charges comes from baggage fees. As a Star Alliance member, you can always get 1 free bag on domestic flights with United and 2 free bags on international flights with United – in coach. This can be a great savings for travelers that check bags.
When I am flying from the US to Europe, I almost always check bags and always need to check at least 2 bags. Getting that 2nd bag for free lets me save $100 on each trip. It is also helpful on domestic trips. Sure, having the United card gives me that free bag domestically as well but not on international trips.
4. Free Seat Selection – for some seats
Back to airlines charging for anything – United will charge customers to select most good seats on their aircraft. If you have elite status with United, you don’t have to pay that fee and you can select those seats (when you can select them depends on your United status).
But, there are some seats that do not have a cost but remain unavailable for the regular customer to select in advance. Having Star Alliance Gold gives access to those unavailable seats at no cost (these are not the ones that United calls “Economy Plus” but regular seats that are unavailable to most).
This, to me, is a great benefit of Star Alliance Gold when flying United. I have selected my preferred seats just about every time with United that I would not have been able to if I did not have Star Alliance Gold.
One more tip – when flying United international with Star Alliance Gold status, ask the agents at the gate if they can move you to a Economy Plus seat. Most of the time, I have had agents do this when I ask like this, “I am a Star Alliance Gold passenger and was wondering if it would be possible to move me to a seat with more leg room?” It is not a published perk (neither is the seat selection perk above) but something that I think many agents do as a courtesy, especially if the flight is somewhat full and Economy Plus is empty.
If you have Star Alliance Gold status with an airline other than United, you will not get the first class upgrades that United elites are able to – if there is upgrade space available to them! But, if you are a 50,000+ mile per year flyer, you may be better off crediting those miles to a foreign Star Alliance airline. It will give you lounge access when flying United, the extra bag for free, the priority access, and even let you select some seats the regular customers cannot select!