November 24 is the day that Aegean Airlines changes up their generous frequent flyer program and makes their status an annual airfare (like just about every other airline out there). I understand that there are many flyers that are upset as they have credited thousands of miles to them to gain Star Alliance Gold status and flyers thought that it was somehow going to be “lifetime” status – even though Aegean never promised anything of the kind.
To get a better understanding of what will change, check out this post. You can also look at this post to see a more in-depth explanation of the coming additions and if the program will still be worthwhile. Of course, if you are looking for some interesting things to do with the miles already accrued, you can check out this post.
Should You Still Try For Star Alliance Gold With Aegean Airlines?
The question now becomes – what do I do now? I have heard from several people who are in the middle of qualifying for Aegean’s Gold status (and thereby Star Alliance Gold) and are wondering what they should do now. The requirement still is 20,000 miles and will be that until the new program rolls out on November 24th. But, with the status only lasting one year at a time, is it worth crediting any more miles to Aegean?
Without knowing everyone’s individual flying habits or needs, it is difficult to answer to every condition, but I do think that it is in the best interest of almost everyone is in the process of qualifying to go ahead and hit the 20,000 mile amount before November 24th. Here is why.
Low Status Retention
The new Miles & Bonus program with Aegean Airlines will require only half the miles needed to gain Aegean Gold status from scratch (after November 24). That amount is actually two separate amounts depending on whether you fly 4 segments on Aegean Airlines. If you do fly the 4 Aegean Airline segments, you will only need to 12,000 miles credited to Aegean miles to retain your Aegean Gold status for an additional year.
If you do not fly Aegean Airline segments (if you do not travel in Europe, for instance), you will need to credit 24,000 miles to Aegean each year to retain Gold status. One of the important things to remember, in both instances, is that not all partner fares credit at 100%. With United, the cheapest of fares often credit only 50%, so you may need to fly twice as far to get the miles needed to retain. So, if you fly United’s cheapest flights and do not fly on Aegean, you will actually need to fly 48,000 miles on United to credit the 24,000 to Aegean. The 48K (if flying on cheap United fares) is just 2K shy of the United Gold status, so you may be better of just crediting to United.
So, if you are not fare from achieving Gold status with Aegean and you have one or two international flights per year, I would still go for the status and try to retain it through your regular flying. If you fly on carriers like Ethiopian Airlines (to Africa), their fares will credit at 100% so you could retain Gold status with just one roundtrip (and 4 Aegean flights) or one roundtrip and one or two domestic flights. Not bad to get Star Alliance Gold!
The tough point is this – if you do not have Aegean Gold when the new program comes out, you will have to fly 48,000 miles in a year to gain that Gold status. Most people will not do that, so your only shot to keep qualifying at a low point is to get the status under the current program.
The new Miles & Bonus program will be rolling out some interesting perks for their Gold customers including things like 1/2 companion fares, pooled mileage accounts (available for Silver as well), and the 4 upgrade certificates. I would consider those things something worth trying, at least for the year. If you frequent Europe ever, I would try to work in some flights on Aegean Airlines to experience these new perks, but also to experience what I think is one of the best European airlines and certainly one of nicest airlines when it comes to their crews.
How Essential Is Star Alliance Gold?
The truth is, most people want the Star Gold status so that they can have access to lounges. With the requirement to qualify each year to keep that access alive, many people may not be interested in crediting more miles to Aegean. Especially since you can get the United Club card for $395 per year and have club access and many benefits that Star Alliance elite members would get when traveling on United. Combine those things with the fact that you can also have perks such as close-in booking fees being waived and that card might make more sense than crediting/flying a bunch of flights to get Aegean Gold.
However, there is another aspect to this and that is the mileage earning. But I will look at that in a future post.
Will you be attempting to finish your Aegean Gold status before the November 24 date rolls around? How many more miles do you have to go?