Let’s take a look at what Star Alliance, Oneworld and SkyTeam are and what benefits they have:
Star Alliance is the world’s largest alliance with over 18,000 departures daily, at 1,316 airports, in 192 countries, with well over 600 million passengers annually.
Among their members are Air Canada, Air China, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines, US Airways and United Airlines. They are said to have some of the world’s most respected airlines in their alliance – you can see this full list on their website.
Star Alliance has two premium levels – Silver and Gold. This is based on a customer’s tier status in a member carrier’s frequent flyer program. Many member airlines also have a premium status beyond Gold, which is not recognized across Star Alliance.
Oneworld has over 14,000 daily departures, to 981 destinations, in 151 countries, with over 475 million passengers annually.
Some of the Oneworld members include British Airways, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Qantas and Japan Airlines. You can see the list of member airlines on their website.
Oneworld is said to be the best alliance for redeeming upgrades to first class.
SkyTeam has over 16,000 daily departures, to 1,052 destinations, in 178 countries, used by 569 million passengers annually.
Some of the SkyTeam members include Air France, Continental Airlines, KLM, Delta and Korean Air. You can see the full list of member airlines on their website.
SkyTeam is said to have the least amount of benefits due to the fact that they have a lot of restrictions and blocking for elite members only. Still worth looking into if you fly a lot with any of their member airlines.
How it works
So, what do any of these memberships or programs get you? Well, it can get you lounge access, priority check in and security line, free baggage allowances and seat upgrades. Sounds pretty good!
How it works is that you don’t actually become a member of Star Alliance, Oneworld or SkyTeam – you actually become a member of a frequent flier program that belongs to the alliance. Once you join one of these programs, you then use this membership number when booking a flight. You need to think of where you fly to most and what airline you prefer and go to that airline to apply for a frequent flier account. You can easily do all of this online, so take a look at the list of 27 member airlines (link above) and decide which one you want to go with. It’s as easy as that. If you do any amount of travelling, it makes sense to start collecting points and reaping some benefits?
With some airlines, you can pay a fee to upgrade your frequent flier status or they will have special promotions going on from time to time that give you lots of extra points. Let’s take a closer look at how this works by using Aegean Airlines as an example. Aegean is one of Star Alliance’s members and they have an easy way to get to gold status – requiring only 20,000 points to be rewarded with gold status, whereas other flier programs require 50,000. So how exactly does this work? Well, first, you sign up for the Aegean ‘Miles and Bonus’ program.
Then, when checking in for any Star Alliance-affiliated airline’s flight, credit your miles to your Aegean membership number rather than the program affiliated with the airline you’re flying. This means you’re going to earn Aegean miles, which you can later redeem for Star Alliance award flights on any partner airline. So let’s say you fly between New York and Los Angeles on Continental or United (giving you about 5,000 reward miles). You give your Aegean frequent flyer number at check in and after four roundtrips, you will have earned Star Alliance Gold status. And even after just one roundtrip, you will have earned Star Alliance Silver status, which on Aegean requires only 4,000 miles. This is going to get you free checked bags, which can go to save hundreds of dollars over your next number of trips.
This is just one example of how it works and what your membership can get you. Again, think about where you travel, what airline you use (if any in particular) and apply for a frequent flier membership with them. And then, let the point collecting begin!