ALL HANDS: Loyalty Status Levels (Part 1, Airlines).
Greetings, Fellow Travelers!
BLUF: While most folks have a favorite airline, airlines which confer Star Alliance Gold (*G) status are among the most beneficial when traveling around Europe.
Today’s ALL HANDS will review which airline status level brings the most value with it as you travel around Europe.
Living in Europe, we understand how amazing it is to hop on a plane and, within just an hour, visit difficult cultures, foods, and environments. However, with all the traveling, how can we make the journey a little more comfortable and even luxurious? By understanding airline loyalty status levels.
For me, Star Alliance Gold (*G) status is the most useful airline status to have while stationed in Europe. To review, an airline alliance is a group of airlines who band together to offer reciprocal benefits and broader networks. Currently, I’m a United Airlines Gold Premier, and this status level confers automatic *G. United Platinum and 1K offer the same.
As one of its perks, *G gives access to Star Alliance airline member lounges. For United, this occurs only when flying on an “international itinerary.” Since I credit all Star Alliance member flights to my United frequent flyer account when I travel in/around Europe, I’m on an international itinerary per United’s terms and conditions.
At most German airports, Lufthansa maintains both Business Class and Senator Lounges. *G travelers are granted access to Senator Lounges. While they have similar food and drink offerings, Senator Lounges are a bit more exclusive. At my home airport of STR, the breakfast and lunch offerings are particularly great in the Senator Lounge.
In Zurich, Swiss also maintains two lounges with the Senator Lounge for *G travelers. The Swiss Senator Lounge in the E Gates (for intercontinental flights) is my favorite Star Alliance member lounge. This Senator Lounge offers not just great food and a 200+ whiskey tasting bar but also a terrace overlooking the gates for some awesome plane-spotting opportunities.
Of the three airline alliances, Star Alliance has the most airline partners within Europe, and each of those airlines maintain a lounge at its respective hubs. You’re never too far from a nice lounge with *G status. At non-hub airports, Star Alliance usually contracts with a particular lounge for its *G travelers. If you remember my Malta AAR post, I had access to the great La Valette Club with my *G status while flying Lufthansa.
As an added benefit, *G travelers are offered Priority Boarding on Star Alliance flights. If like me, you’ve experience the various levels of chaos during the European boarding process, this is can be a nice way of securing overhead space.
Of course, flying a Star Alliance member airline may not always match your budget, your time, or your needs, so you have to take that into consideration. I usually weigh the ticket price from another airline against the benefits I gain from my *G status.
In sum, I’m not ashamed to admit I often favor my *G benefits while traveling over price. The ability to have a meal and a comfortable place to sit and recharge my devices is of high value to me. Others may make different choices. Understandable, just educate yourself on your travel options and benefits.
Albert Guerrero, USAF, Ret.
“Let’s Travel Farther, Together!”
Follow my travels on Instagram: @albert_traveler