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.
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.
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).
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.”