Buy or Match to Receive Star Alliance Gold Status

I probably gain more on a regular basis from elite status with my preferred carrier due to complimentary upgrades and waived fees on award tickets. However, the commensurate status with that carrier’s alliance is in some ways more valuable for the times I really need it. Things like airport lounge access, priority check-in, and free checked baggage are all valuable to me when I’m far from home in an unfamiliar country. I fondly remember walking past an hour-long line to check-in for a Spanair flight from Seville, amazed that there were apparently no other Star Gold members on the flight.

There are, of course, ways to earn Star Gold status more quickly than usual by crediting flights to Turkish Airlines or Aegean Airlines. However, you can now outright buy status from Avianca LifeMiles (HT to LoyaltyLobby). It’s not surprising at all given that they are so generous in selling miles, too, often at competitive prices that make up for the loss of US Airways’ regular sales. (It does not quite compensate for US Airways’ more generous routing rules and English-speaking agents.)

I share this news only because it’s amusing to me, not because you should actually consider buying the status — unless, of course, you plan to do a lot of flying on Avianca. The benefits of Star Silver status are minimal and pricey at $1,200. Star Gold status could be more promising, but is still rich at $2,200. If Avianca were offering both status and some miles, I might be more impressed.

Avianca LifeMiles buy status

In other news, US Airways and TAM recently left Star Alliance, and the remaining members are trying to soften the blow for these carrier’s elite members. United doesn’t seem to be doing anything for US Airways, but I did find an offer to status match to Air Canada, with complimentary Altitude Prestige 25K (Star Silver equivalent) or Altitude Elite 50K (Star Gold equivalent) after completing just one qualifying flight. This might not be too difficult if you’re an East Coast passenger and can book a quick turn around to Toronto. Status will last through February 28, 2015.

Aeroplan US match

On the off chance any readers of this blog have elite status with TAM, several Star Alliance carriers are offering status matches to their own Star Gold-equivalent tier to those with a TAM Red or Black card (again, HT to LoyaltyLobby).

Star Alliance status match

Most people who need Star Gold status will probably continue to earn it the hard way, by flying on United Airlines or their local international carrier, or by crediting flights to Turkish or Aegean, which have lower thresholds and may even (in the case of Aegean) provide lifetime status as long as the account remains “active.”

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  • Esteban

    Not sure why you think this a poor deal? Many folks bought their way to Chairman’s status for a similar chunk of change (actually more if you didn’t fly).

    • Scottrick

      Most of my readers are in the U.S. For those who don’t fly a lot on Avianca, the benefits are limited to Star Gold status. I suspect that many who bought Chairman’s status with US Airways actually flew on US Airways.

      I think it is unlikely that most U.S. readers, who probably now fly United Airlines as their preferred Star Alliance carrier, would be able to obtain $2,200 in value from Star Gold status. The primary benefits are United Club access, priority check-in and boarding, and free checked baggage — all of which can be replicated with a $395 annual fee for the MileagePlus Club Card. And when flying on another Star Alliance carrier, the United Club membership that comes with this credit card could be used in their airport lounges, as well.

  • Andrew

    I lost my status because of usairways but is there anyway I can purchase gold status with points or cash??

  • Bubba Jones

    I have noticed that many United fare classes don’t give full mileage credit to Aegean.
    The best deal going is $100 for 5 years of Global Entry which gets you TSA PreCheck and then a $95/year for an Explorer Card that gets you Boarding group 2. That’s the fastest was to a “premier” experience. You don’t get Economy Plus, however.

    • Scottrick

      That’s correct, earning rates vary between carriers.

  • Bubba Jones

    One other question. If I have Star Alliance Gold on a “foreign” airline. How do I leverage that while flying on a United frequent flyer number? Do I commit myself to forever earning miles on the non-United airline?

    • Scottrick

      You can assign your foreign FF number to your boarding pass to get benefits like checked baggage fee waivers and lounge access. I don’t believe United offers priority seat assignments to partner elites, but it does offer priority boarding.

      Once you’ve used the benefits you want, you can change the FF number back to United or another carrier. In practice, I do this before boarding and ask the GA to print a new boarding pass with the new number. That tends to be the last opportunity. However, I have heard some people say they can do this on their phone using the United mobile app after boarding the plane. You will definitely not be able to change the FF number and credit the miles somewhere else after the flight departs.