Shortcut to Elite Status benefits, incl. waived checked baggage fees

For most people, the act of flying (airports, checked baggage fees, TSA screenings, and middle seats) can be a painful experience.  When you fly enough with an airline to attain elite status, many of those painful experiences go away.  Elite passengers don’t pay for bags, have expedited check-in and security lanes, access to more coveted seats (bulkhead, exit row, window & aisle seats towards the front of economy), and even get to board earlier so it almost guarantees them overhead space, at the very least.

Unfortunately, most of us leisure travelers don’t attain any status with an airline because we only fly a few times a year.  Well I have recently stumbled across a solution to remedy this.

The three main airline alliances: Star Alliance, One World, and Sky Team represent the majority of the airlines around the world.  And within those alliances if you have elite status on a member airline, there are reciprocal benefits for all the other airlines in the alliance.  When you become elite on a Star Alliance airline, you also become that airline’s elite member, as well as a Star Alliance Silver or Star Alliance Gold elite, depending on what level you achieved on that individual airline.  In regards to United States based airlines, US Airways and United/Continental are members of the Star Alliance.  Using United as an example, their entry level Premier gets Star Alliance Silver, while their Premier Executive and 1K elites get Star Alliance Gold.

United MileagePlus partial elite benefits chart

Usually, you would need to fly 25,000 miles in one calendar year to attain status on either of those airlines to achieve their entry level Elite status.  And then you would need to fly another 25,000 miles in the next calendar year to re-qualify as an elite for the following year.  Well, also in the Star Alliance is Aegean Airlines.  Aegean holds the key to the elite status door that so many of us usually can’t open.

When you fly one airline in the Star Alliance, most of the time you can credit those miles to another member airline within the alliance.  (Same goes for One World or the Sky Team Alliances)  For example, if you took a flight on United, you could “bank” those miles to Aegean Airlines’ Miles&Bonus frequent flyer program instead of to United’s MileagePlus frequent flyer program.  The key to Star Alliance Silver or Gold is the mileage levels needed to attain status on Aegean Airlines.

ONLY 4,000 miles for entry level status!

Only 16,000 more miles for one full year (not calendar year) after you attain Miles&Bonus Blue status, for a total of 20,000 miles for TOP TIER alliance status!

As you can see, qualifying for Aegean Airlines’ elite status is astoundingly much easier than any other airline I’ve ever seen.  And an Aegean Airlines’ Blue member is a Star Alliance Silver gets certain benefits when flying United, such as:

  • 1st checked bag free
  • Priority check-in area
  • Priority boarding
  • If you’re nice, you may even be able to get Priority Baggage Handling just by asking the agent when checking your bag (meaning your bags are supposed to be the first ones that come out at baggage claim)
  • Better customer service treatment when things go awry, like when weather affects things, or when a flight is oversold.

What being a Star Alliance Silver does not do is make you a United Airlines Premier member.  By looking at the chart above, Premier members would also get complimentary first-class upgrades when available.  By being an Aegean Airlines elite, you are only privy to the benefits granted to Star Alliance Silvers.  A slight difference.  Even the baggage fees alone make it a worthwhile deal.  If you took two domestic roundtrips and checked one bag, that would be $100 in baggage fees.  The waived baggage fees is a big benefit, though for me not waiting in line for anything is one of the biggest benefits of being an elite.  When I first became an elite, I was accustomed to showing up around 2 hours early for a flight, allowing 20-30 minutes for checking-in, and another 20-30 for security.  Now, its rare that I spend 20 minutes total doing all of the above.

If you flew one transcontinental round trip (NYC to Los Angeles), that is already 4950 miles.  For the price of one roundtrip, you could already be an elite.  HOWEVER, there is a catch.  (Of course it couldn’t be just that easy)  Not all tickets earn the same amount of miles.  The deepest discounted tickets that leisure flyers purchase (on United/Continental or US Air) may only earn 50% mileage instead of 100% mileage, so it would take about two NYC-LAX roundtrips to qualify.  So if you wanted a ticket that earns 100% mileage on the same flight, you would have to spend a little more.  If you know you will be taking this flight again in the next year, and the ticket only costs $40 more, you would still be saving $10 in baggage fees next year. ($25 fee each way, $50 total for a roundtrip)

Here is the chart describing what each fare earns on Star Alliance partner airlines when banking the miles to Aegean.

To determine how many miles your ticket will earn, check either the fare basis code, the fare class, or the booking class of the ticket.  It is a single letter, sometimes in parenthesis…or if it is a fare basis code of several letters and numbers, it is the first letter in that code.  Go to the chart from the above link, find the corresponding airline that ticketed your itinerary, and see where that fare class is.

Sign up for a new Aegean Airlines Miles&Bonus account here, and if you want to try this method for elite status, assign your Miles&Bonus number to your next flight instead of banking it to the operating airlines’ program.  New signups to Miles&Bonus also get a 1000 mile bonus for enrollment (not used for elite qualifying purposes, only for redeeming for awards).

If you have multiple accounts over various airlines, hotels, car rentals, etc., read my previous post regarding Award Wallet.  It will simply your life….never have to remember another password again….and show you your mileage/point balances as well as expiration dates….All in One Place!

This can be a complicated topic for the uninitiated.  Feel free to ask me any questions via
email
, Facebook, or the comments below.

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