Star Alliance is no longer actively considering new alliance-wide elite tiers above the Gold level – such as Star Alliance Platinum, or even Star Alliance Diamond as tipped in 2018 – with the alliance instead redirecting its focus to bolstering benefits for its long-standing Star Alliance Silver and Gold levels.
Speaking with Australian Business Traveller on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General Meeting in Seoul, Star Alliance Vice President Customer Experience, Christian Draeger, elaborates:
“There were some thoughts around that third (or even fourth) tier, but after looking at that, we decided that instead of doing that, we rather want to focus on solidifying our benefits that we currently offer.”
“We're in the middle of a review on this,” Draeger continues, “but it's not only about new benefits: it’s also the extension and the upgrading of existing benefits.”
This includes the ongoing expansion of Star Alliance Gold Track – offering business and first class passengers, and Star Alliance Gold frequent flyers, a clearly-signposted and expedited path through the usual airport formalities – which the airline has now rolled out to over 200 airports worldwide.
Australian Business Traveller understands that during meetings between Star Alliance member airlines, some of those members indicated a strong preference to maintain the exclusivity of their existing high-level loyalty tiers and the perks they provide, so the alliance’s focus shifted to increasing the experience for Star Alliance Silver and Gold members.
Star Alliance CEO Jeffrey Goh explains that a key part of the review is on “keeping and pursuing (Star Alliance) Gold customers, (through) benefits the airlines themselves can offer, or benefits we can have in partnership with other parties related to the travel industry.”
Draeger tips that “it would be too early to say what some of those benefits are – I don't know, free inflight WiFi or things like that – and it might very well be that (the third tier) will be periodically looked at again. But right now, we’re just really focused on the benefit side.”
Chris Chamberlin is attending the IATA AGM in Seoul as a guest of IATA.
PREVIOUS [June 4 2018, by David Flynn] | Star Alliance Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond? The world's largest global airline alliance – which includes heavy-hitters such as Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and United among its roster – is looking at adding one or more top rungs to its frequent flyer ladder.
Star Alliance CEO Jeffrey Goh confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that the group's board meeting in Sydney yesterday discussed introducing "one or more levels" above the Gold tier.
"It's a question that's been floating around for some while, at how we can upgrade the loyalty proposition of Star Alliance," Goh said, adding that part of this was "understanding there can be perhaps one or more levels above the Gold proposition. It's not an easy proposition to address but keep your eyes peeled."
Most of the 21 frequent flyer schemes represented in Star Alliance have the two or even three highest ranks of their frequent flyer scheme bunched together in the same Star Alliance Gold tier.
Adding Platinum or Diamond tiers above Gold would better align the alliance-wide scheme with the individual loyalty programs of its member airlines.
By way of example, this could see Singapore Airlines' KrisFlyer PPS Club and Lufthansa's Miles & More HON Circle shift into a more alliance-wide rarefied tier with increased benefits.
The competing SkyTeam alliance has an identical two-level structure with Elite and Elite Plus tiers.
However, Star's arch-rival Oneworld offers three levels – Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald – which generally match to the Silver, Gold and Platinum (or equivalent) grades of its member airline's frequent flyer programs.
Emerald-grade members subsequently enjoy access to the first class lounge of most Oneworld airlines even when flying in economy, while Sapphire card-holders are restricted to business lounges.