January 1 is a sad day for many travelers as it is the new start to a new year for elite status – for most status levels, that is. Elite status is what helps our airport experience when flying coach to mirror the business class airport experience. It can really make a big difference!
Retaining My Star Alliance Gold Status (and Lounge Access!) with Just 12,000 Miles
What Is Star Alliance Gold Status?
But, it requires that you fly a lot of miles (or, in the case of US programs, pay a lot for tickets) to earn that elite status. The nice thing is that if you earn status with an airline in one of the alliances, you earn certain alliance status that helps you be treated in similar fashions across the alliance. For the Star Alliance with their almost 30 airlines, that level to hit is Star Alliance Gold.
Each airline has a different elite level that corresponds to Star Alliance Gold. For United flyers, they must reach Premier Gold to have that level – and that (now) requires 24 flights flown and $8,000 in spending – or just $10,000 in spending on flights and 4 United flights. In the past, it would require 50,000 miles in a year.
Fortunately, there are some airlines in the Star Alliance that make it quite a bit easier to earn, or at least retain, Star Alliance Gold-level status. With Turkish Airlines, the status lasts for 2 years! My airline of choice, Aegean Airlines, makes renewal very easy for anyone that can swing 4 Aegean flights with just 12,000 miles each member year.
Aegean Gold Is My Best Path to Retaining Star Alliance Gold!
For me, this is what works best. In some years, I have managed to qualify for Aegean Gold again in just a couple of weeks after my member year begins (which is November 24 each year). Since I fly a lot of flights on Turkish Airlines, I try to find flights that let me earn 100% of miles flown but even some of the lower priced tickets still let me earn 50% of miles flown.
A single flight between NY and Istanbul and back is close to 10,000 miles by itself! Throw in 4 Aegean flights and another flight or two and I am at my 12,000 miles while barely breaking a sweat!
Even Buy Elite Miles for Cheap!
To make it even easier, if you are a Gold member and you think you will come up short, you can purchase up to 3,000 elite miles in 500 mile increments, each 500 miles costing 50€. That means you can purchase 1/4 of the miles you need to requalify for a total of 300€! Not that bad!
Elite Benefits After Just a Couple of Trips!
So, with just one roundtrip flight on Turkish Airlines and a few Aegean flights, I was able to claim Aegean Gold (and thereby Star Alliance Gold) for yet another year. This gives me things like extra baggage allowance, priority check-in, priority security lanes, priority boarding (for that all-too-valuable overhead bin space), and, most importantly, lounge access in Star Alliance lounges around the world.
That even includes United lounges in the US while flying United domestic (something even United top tier elites do not get). Also, I even get the occasional surprise upgrade on partner airlines for having Star Gold access (even though this isn’t a published benefit and is mostly due to overselling situations in the back).
Of course, this is all for requalifying – earning Aegean Gold takes quite a bit more flying. Also, if you cannot visit Greece, you will need to credit 24,000 miles in a member year to get your Aegean Gold renewed.
While I do not like everything that Aegean does, they are an airline that I continue to get my elite status with and I really enjoy having it – especially while having to credit so few miles!