Without a doubt, the easiest way to achieve Star Alliance Gold (without entering a status match/challenge or trial) is through Aegean Airlines and their Miles and their Miles and Bonus program. I have written many times before about how to get Star Alliance Gold with Aegean Gold status and showed my own trip reports of achieving Star Alliance Gold.
Star Alliance Gold
To put it simply – Star Alliance Gold is the highest tier of airline loyalty that is recognized across the Star Alliance partners. If you have United Premier 1K status, you have picked up 100,000 elite miles in one year, but you are still only granted Star Alliance Gold since that is the highest Star Alliance tier. On the same toke, if you receive United Premier Gold (which requires 50,000 elite miles in a year), you have also received Star Alliance Gold. So, it is not that difficult to earn a status that will grant you Star Gold. Here is a list of what you receive as Star Alliance Gold.
Aegean Airlines Gold
The part that makes Aegean Gold the easiest way to receive Star Alliance Gold is that Aegean only requires 20,000 miles (instead of 50,000 miles like most Star airlines) and you are given 1,000 miles to join the program! Not only that, but you will receive Aegean Blue status after reaching 4,000 miles (which is only 3,000 miles plus the 1,000 for signing up) and then have a year from that date (of earning Aegean Blue) to earn the extra 16,000 miles to achieve Aegean Gold!
Probably the best feature of having Aegean Gold (in addition to the extra bag allowance and priority boarding and check-in and security lines) is the fact that you get lounge access when traveling on Star Alliance flights – even if you travel on a domestic ticket! For example, you could fly from Washington DC to Houston and still have lounge access if you are flying it as an Aegean Gold. United elite members do not even get that! It is a huge perk that I have greatly enjoyed, thanks to Aegean Gold.
What Is Changing?
Now on to the part about wondering if time is running out for easy Star Alliance Gold. No, it is not a change on the Aegean Airlines end but with US Airways. US Airways is the best airline for US-based travelers to use to credit miles to Aegean Airlines. To be clear, you never need to fly on Aegean in order to earn Aegean Gold – you just have to credit miles earned from their partners to their program. The reason US Airways is the best airline for US travelers to use for that is that almost all fare classes credit to Aegean at 100% mile credit (while United only grants 50% on the lower fare classes and nothing on the bottom fare classes). You can see the earning table here.
The part that is changing is that US Airways is leaving the Star Alliance on March 30th to join the Oneworld Alliance as part of the new American Airlines. That would normally mean that it would no longer be possible to earn miles on their former partners, but according to an e-mail US Airways had sent out a couple of months ago (can be found here at One Mile At A Time), it should still be possible (for a time) to earn miles with US Airways for Aegean. The big questions are: How long will that last? and Will it still be at the full credit that they credit at now? We probably will not know more about this until real-life scenarios after March 30th, but it is interesting.
However, you should not bank your Aegean Gold progress on that being the case for long. If possible, schedule those US Airway flights now for travel before US Airways departs the Star Alliance (March 30th). That does not leave you with a lot of time! But, if you plan it accordingly and look for good deals, it can be done.
Hope Still Exists For United Short-Haul
Even if you do not finish it in time, the good news is that United, even though they do not credit at the full amount for lower fares, does credit at a 500 mile minimum for flights. That means that if you were to fly on a ticket such as Rochester to Boston (for $90 one-way), you could still earn 1,000 miles from that because of the segments from Rochester – Newark (500 mile minimum credit) and Newark – Boston (500 mile minimum credit). To earn that same amount without the minimum, you would need to fly 2,000 actual miles on United! So, check those United short-haul flights to see what you may find. I actually did this last year myself because some of my US Airway miles had not posted yet and I needed the Star Gold status for a big upcoming trip. I was able to get a round-trip of Rochester to Boston (via Cleveland both ways) for a total of $100. I started early in the morning and was home late afternoon! Yes, that is still $100 but that one trip put me over the top and saved us $1,600 in baggage fees for our move!
So, what about it? Are you going for Star Gold with Aegean before US Airways departs? Or will you shoot for the short-haul option with United? Aegean Gold (and thereby Star Alliance Gold) is awesome to have and really helps to make the whole travel experience a little better. True, you are not going to get upgrades (even though I was surprised to actually get an upgrade one time on Aegean), but it is a great elite status to have in your wallet for your travel. Plus, it will never be easier to get than it is right now!