This week in Get the Points, how to get Star Alliance Silver status instantly — and free of charge!
Update: As of 0800 Sydney time on Tuesday 15 March, it appears BMI has pulled the deal and removed the signup page from its site. We'll keep the link in the article below in case the removal is only temporary -- let us know if it works for you.
If you prefer to fly Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand or Thai Airways, or you're flying to the US on Continental/United or US Airways, here's a freebie that will warm the cockles of your heart: free Star Alliance Silver status.
Simply by signing up to British airline BMI's frequent flyer program "Diamond Club", you'll get instant silver status with all Star Alliance Airlines.
One benefit is priority waitlisting for upgrades, in front of ordinary travellers and enrolment-level frequent flyers with whichever airline you're on.
If you're travelling within the US, a good benefit of Star Alliance Silver is a free checked bag with Continental/United and US Airways for domestic flights, which would normally cost you $25-$35. Most international flights still have a free checked bag for all passengers as part of the standard deal.
You'll also earn 25% more frequent flyer points if you credit your trips with Star Alliance member airlines to your BMI Diamond Club frequent flyer number.
BMI doesn't fly to Australia -- so you might think that (apart from the Alliance-wide silver status upgrade) membership of their program isn't terribly useful to Australians.
However, don't forget that when flying with any Star Alliance airline, you can credit your points to BMI, and then book seats on any Star Alliance airline via BMI, using points.
In effect, you can use BMI as your points bank account, for spending with any Star Alliance airline.
The main area where the BMI Diamond Club frequent flyer membership won't help you is with Australian domestic flights, as there's no Australian domestic airline that's a member of Star Alliance (though it seems likely that Virgin Blue might soon join as part of its push to attract business passengers.)
BMI is known among frequent flyer enthusiasts as being a fast route to Star Alliance Gold, too, which has abundant benefits on all Star Alliance airlines including lounge access worldwide, an extra 20KG baggage allowance, priority baggage unloading, business class check-in, priority boarding and more.
For example, with BMI Silver already achieved, it would only take you another 38,000 miles flown on Star Alliance airlines in a year to qualify for Gold. In comparison, on Singapore Airlines you have to keep flying 50,000 miles each year to qualify for the same thing.
The free silver status lasts for a year, after which you'd have to fly 16,000 miles with Star Alliance airlines - and credit the miles to your BMI account - to retain it.
Sign up to BMI Diamond Club via this link to qualify.
Each week, Australian Business Traveller drills into frequent flyer point earning tips and strategies, the best ways to burn them once earned, and how to extract the most value from frequent flyer memberships.
Are you a point maven? Do you do mileage runs in your sleep? Are you merely a Woolworths grocery shopper who has discovered a particularly good points earner? Send your earning and burning tip-offs to [email protected].
Dan is a tech enthusiast who frequently qualifies for enhanced airport security screening due to the number of cords and gadgets stuffed into his cabin bag.