In December, I shared the great news that SPG had partnered with Aegean Airlines for maximing earning potential and, more importantly, for transfers from SPG to Aegean. This transfer ability is the same thing that is shared by many other airlines and is one of the things that make Starpoints so valuable. So, how do you book Star Alliance awards using SPG’s newest partner now that you have access to more miles?
How To Book Star Alliance Awards Using SPG’s Newest Partner
Why Book Star Alliance Awards With Aegean Airline Miles?
Aegean has a very good airline and a good frequent flyer program. I know, many US-based flyers would say it is not nearly as good as it is before (with the easy to obtain and keep Star Alliance Gold status) but for people that actually fly Aegean, it is pretty good and has many benefits.
Transfer Ratio From SPG
So why use those miles to book Star Alliance awards? First, it gives you another way to book these awards and is a great way to use Starpoints to do that. Since Starpoints only transfer to United at a 2:1 ratio, it is certainly not advantageous to transfer them to United. But, they transfer to Aegean at 1:1 (with the same 5,000 mile bonus when transferring blocks of 20,000 points) which makes it more attractive to book the Star Alliance awards you want.
Sweet Spots On The Award Chart
Another big reason is their award chart. It has some definite sweet spots on it that you can now have easy access to (as long as you have Starpoints). These sweet spots do cater to premium redemptions but that is ok! One of my favorite is the North America (of which the Caribbean islands are a part of as well) to Europe (which includes places like Egypt and Israel) for only 45,000 miles one way in business class. That is a fantastic redemption! Yes, you will pay fuel surcharges on many partners but that just means you pick your partners more carefully than you would with United.
Here are some more of the sweet spots (all mileage for one way):
- North America – South Africa | 55,000 miles in business
- Far East (including Mongolia, China, Japan, and Singapore with everything in between) | 21,000 in business & 40,000 in first
- North America – Europe/North Africa | 45,000 miles in business
- Within North America (includes the Caribbean) | 12,500 miles in economy, 21,000 miles in business, & 40,000 miles in first
There are some others but those are certainly the highlights.
Book Star Alliance Awards
Booking awards with Aegean is not as simple as booking them with United. There is a place on the Aegean website to “request” partner awards but do not do that. The reason is that award availability can be fluid and if you do this, it will send the request and you may not hear back from Aegean for several days. It is better to call.
Important Stopover Rule!
Before you begin, you should know about one big limitation with Aegean. You only get one stopover and by stopover, Aegean means a connection. So, if you are traveling from a smaller airport to another smaller airport where you will have to transit two hubs, you won’t be able to book it.
Now, there have been some situations where they will override it if it is literally not possible to make it work with the one connection (this has happened with me twice) but do not count on it.
Finding Award Availability
The easiest way to start is to use United Airlines as your award searching engine. It works pretty well (in spite of the “upgrade” to it) and will help to show you what is available.
Start by going here and putting in your departure and arrival cities. You are looking for flights that show in the Saver column. Make note of that flight and the date and then take it to the next step.
Finding Fuel Surcharges
Another negative with Aegean is that they pass along the fuel surcharges for the airline you are flying on. For some airlines, it is not as bad as others. But, with some airlines like Lufthansa, it can be several hundreds of dollars for a one way business class ticket!
Airlines that do not pass along these fuel surcharges when booking with Aegean are: LOT, SAS, South African, and United. Some of the airlines’ fuel surcharges may be lower than others as well. Turkish Airlines does not have as big of a surcharge (which is good because their business class is great!).
To get an idea before you call of what your charges should be for the taxes/surcharges, go to Ita Matrix and punch in the details (departure city, arrival city, date(s), cabin of travel, USD for currency) and select your flight. It will give you the breakdown of the ticket cost and you will be able to find YQ which is the fuel surcharge. The other fees will be part of the ticket as well but the big one is the YQ.
Searching for this before you call can also help you to get the cheapest option. United will be the best but keep in mind that their business class award for their own flights is less than partners. For example, US-Europe is 57,500 miles one way (versus using United for travel on like Lufthansa which is 70,000 miles). That is 12,500 miles more than Aegean so may want to use United miles instead.
But, you could pick an airline like Turkish Airlines which has a much lower surcharge cost.
Call Aegean Airlines
Again, do not use their award form as you will not hear back for days! Instead, give them a call. I have called them a lot and have always found their staff to be extremely friendly (much like their flight crews) and always a great help. Most of the time, I have off the call in around 10 minutes. It doesn’t take long at all. Doing the previous two steps can make the call go quicker and have fewer surprises.
Their phone number to call is 011-30-210-6261000. Yes, it is an international number so consider using something like Google Voice or Skype to keep the cost down.
Here are some things to remember when you make the call:
- You are only allowed the one connection (stopover) but it can last up to 24 hours
- Sometimes the agent may not see some carrier’s award space (some people have reported this but I have not found this problem)
- It will cost €20 for the booking fee over the phone
- If you decide to cancel, you will get all of your taxes/fees back and your miles but it will cost €20 (you must cancel up to 30 minutes before departure)
Make sure you use a credit card that does not have foreign transaction fees as it will be charged in Euros. You will receive your reservation e-mail within 24 hours (most of the time in just a couple of hours) so make sure you get the confirmation number from the agent before hanging up.
When To Use Aegean Instead Of United To Book Star Alliance Awards
United is obviously a favorite to book Star Alliance awards simply because it is easy to do and their miles are pretty easy to accumulate through multiple credit card bonuses and transfer partners. So, when should you use Aegean instead of United?
- When the mileage savings is more significant with Aegean (obviously!)
- When you are booking an award you may need to cancel (since United charges general members $200 and Aegean only charges €20)
I have enjoyed many award bookings using Aegean miles and it has always been an easy process. With the new partnership with SPG, it is easier than ever to get Aegean miles and there are some great ways to use them. If you are interested in taking advantage of the Aegean award chart, this post will have hopefully guided you through how to book Star Alliance awards and why you want to do that with Aegean.
Have you booked awards with Aegean before? What have your experiences been?