Which Star Alliance Loyalty Programmes Are the Best for British Travellers?

Jun 16, 2019

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If you fly British Airways regularly, you may be a member of Executive Club or another Oneworld loyalty programme. If Virgin Atlantic is your airline of choice, you may either be a member of its Flying Club programme, or a partner airline like Delta SkyMiles.

But if you find yourself flying Star Alliance airlines, you may be looking for a programme to which to credit those flights. Star Alliance is the world’s biggest airline alliance, with 27 full member airlines, meaning there are thousands of routes Star airlines fly on which you can earn and redeem miles. From household name airlines like United Airline and Singapore Airlines to lesser-known names like Adria and EVA, there’s a good chance you’ve flown a Star Alliance airline already if you are a keen traveller.

If you are struggling to decide on a programme, here are some suggestions, based on different travellers’ priorities. Unfortunately, there’s not one programme that is perfect for everything.

Firstly, if you’re purely looking for the best earning rates for the flights you are crediting, there’s no one simple answer. There are many variables, including the airline flown, class of service, length of flight, fare class (within that class of service) and whether the programme awards miles based on distance flown or money spent. So, let’s look at other valuable factors of a loyalty programme where it is easier to pick a winner.

(Photo by Christian Kramer / The Points Guy)

Best Programme to Earn Status Easily: Asiana Club

If you fly Star Alliance airlines in economy regularly and want to earn Star Alliance Gold as quickly as possible, consider crediting the flights to Asiana’s loyalty programme which requires 40,000 miles to earn Star Alliance Gold in a very generous two year period without the requirements to fly any segments on the Korean-based airline. This is only 20,000 miles per year provided you can fly that amount each year for two years.

Star Alliance Gold provides numerous benefits including additional checked baggage, priority check-in, boarding and baggage as well as the very valuable lounge access, even when flying economy.

Thai — A380 First Class BKK - CDG Breakfast
Thai A380 First Class BKK-CDG breakfast. (Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy)

Best Programme For Low Mileage Premium Redemptions: ANA Mileage Club

Japanese carrier ANA is a lesser-known programme, but it has a solid offering. One of the best features of the programme is that its redemption rates — especially for business and first class flights — are low compared with its competitors. Here are some examples of return redemption prices in business class from Europe (it uses a zoned-based redemption table, rather than a distance-based one):

  • Africa and the Middle East — 68,000 miles
  • North America — 88,000 miles
  • Asia — 93,000 to 94,000 miles

These amounts are significantly less than, say British Airways, would charge on the same routes.

(Photo by Emily McNutt / The Points Guy)

Best Programme For Premium Award Availability: Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and Lufthansa Miles & More

There’s no point crediting all those flights to a particular programme if you can’t use them. It can be tough finding premium seats on popular routes for redemption unless you are booking very far in advance — or very last minute. Fortunately, both Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and Lufthansa Miles & More reserve some of their very best seats for members of their own loyalty programmes only, rather than offering the same seats to partner airlines for redemptions by their members.

First class seats and most business class seats on Singapore Airlines are restricted to KrisFlyer members completely, and first class seats on Lufthansa are restricted to Miles & More members in advance, and only released to some other programmes at the very last minute. While it won’t mean every flight is available to its members, it does mean that there are significantly less people booking these seats than if they were available to partner programme members, so you may be pleasantly surprised at the availability.

Singapore Airlines has four flights per day from London (LHR) alone, and other than SAS EuroBonus, it is the only Star Alliance programme that is a transfer partner of Membership Rewards in the UK.

Singapore Airlines A380 First Class Suites. Photo by Brian Kelly / The Points Guy
Singapore Airlines A380 First Class Suites. (Photo by Brian Kelly / The Points Guy)

Best Programme to Purchase Miles on the Cheap: Avianca LifeMiles

Don’t fly much but still want to top up your mileage balance? Colombian airline Avianca has an unusual loyalty programme known as LifeMiles. While its website can be clunky and its call centre awful, the shining star of the programme is that it regularly offers miles very cheap by promoting huge bonuses of up to 140% during mileage sale promotions.

This can bring the price per mile down to only 1.1p each, and with the generous buying limits, you can amass hundreds of thousands of miles instantly. The redemption rates are reasonable, meaning you can purchase miles to fly in a premium cabin for a price that might not be much more than economy.

You can read more about the ins and out of LifeMiles here.

You can experience Avianca's newest business class aboard the 787. Photo courtesy of Avianca.
Photo courtesy of Avianca.

Featured image by Zach Honig / The Points Guy

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