Our 'trip of a lifetime' contest will see one Australian Business Traveller reader win a Round the World trip for two flying with Star Alliance.
But despite being the largest of the three global airline networks, many Australians are less familiar with Star Alliance than with its competitor Oneworld.
After all, Oneworld counts Qantas as a cornerstone member but Star hasn't had an Australian member since the collapse of Ansett almost a decade ago.
Several international Star Alliance members remain active in the Australian skies, however. And two of these – Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines – are partners with Virgin Australia, which provides Virgin passengers the chance to earn points with those airlines rather than Virgin's own Velocity program.
So here's a rundown on Star Alliance for Australian frequent flyers and even infrequent flyers. Think of it as 'Star Alliance 101'.
Star Alliance airlines flying to Australia
Star has 26 member airlines on its books, with Air India set to join their ranks in July.
Of those airline, nine currently fly in Australian skies:
- Air Canada
- Air China
- Air New Zealand
- Asiana Airlines
- EVA Air
- Singapore Airlines
- South African Airways
- Thai Airways International
- United Airlines
Each of these offers direct flights from Australia to their home hubs, which then puts scores of connecting flights at your fingertips.
Some Star Alliance members are handily located close by – for example, both Lufthansa and SWISS fly to Singapore, which means that a trip to the Lion City opens up your options for heading straight to Frankfurt and Zurich respectively.
The two Star Alliance tiers: Silver and Gold
The top tiers of each member airline's frequent frequent flyer schemes line up against the Star Alliance tiers of Silver and Gold, so your status is recognised by other airlines in the Star family.
Star Alliance Silver members don't get a whole lot across the entire alliance: priority reservations waitlisting and priority airport standby don't add up to much.
Star Alliance Gold cardholders, by contrast, enjoy a raft of benefits: priority reservations waitlisting, airport standby, check-in, boarding and baggage, plus extra luggage allowance (20kg or one extra bag), and access to the Star Alliance Gold lounges.
There's a natty trick to fast-tracking Star Alliance Gold status which can shoot to the top of the frequent flyer food chain with as little as one flight.
This involves joining the free Miles&Bonus frequent flyer program of Greece's Aegean Airlines, which is part of the Star Alliance family, and list your Miles&Bonus number as the account to be credited for your next international flight with any Star Alliance airline – especially if you're in business or first class.
The reason is that Aegean has an very low threshold of miles you need to fly before achieving Gold status in its own frequent flyer scheme.
However, once you've pocketed that Aegean Gold card it unlocks Gold-grade privileges and perks - such as lounge access, additional checked luggage, priority baggage and even a better chance of an upgrade – across all other Star Airlines.
We set out the details in How to get Star Alliance Gold frequent flyer status with one flight.
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About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.