A year ago, when we wrote about the cumbersome manner in which Star Alliance members were being forced to spend more miles to redeem awards into Europe and beyond, we challenged Star to come up with something better.
Members of frequent flyer programs that are part of the Star Alliance now have global awards made easy.
Members of United Mileage Plus, Air Canada Aeroplan as well as the other Star programs can now use one award to arrange travel to over 700 destinations on any combination of Star Alliance carriers. The new global award chart has been simplified — it is now geographically based rather than distance based. All of Europe is priced the same, and you can use multiple carriers within the Star Alliance. For example, any destination in Europe now costs just 50,000 award miles in economy. Heading to Athens? Just 50,000 miles. Prague? Just 50,000 miles. Fly to Munich on United to tour beautiful Bavaria, then up to Copenhagen and wonderful Tivoli Gardens on Lufthansa and home to the U.S. on SAS — and it will cost you just 50,000 miles. This means, of course, your chances of getting the awards you want have just increased.
Flying to Asia? Fly All Nippon Airways to Tokyo, then THAI to Bangkok and home on United all for just 90,000 award miles in Business Class. And, as expected, the around-the-world award is still available (200,000 miles in coach, 300,000 miles in business and 400,000 miles in first class).
These new global Star Alliance awards provide more flexibility and better accessibility, and — if we believe the literature trumpeting these new awards — the award redemption costs are less than offered by any frequent flyer program in the United States.
The major changes include:
- Simplified geographic segmentation. All of Europe is the same rate, regardless of the carrier, and regions are clearly defined elsewhere. (Exceptions exist for intra-Europe awards on bmi and for all United awards within Asian regions).
- Elimination of individual Star Airline award charts and reservation rules.
- Reduced award codes. There are just over 300 awards in the new award chart combined, down from over 850 unique award codes with hundreds more possible combinations on the old charts.
- Increased award options by using different carriers. Got an award seat on UA to Asia and can’t find a seat on the return? Look to a Star carrier for backup and get return travel on a different carrier.
Since we know many of you plan to use these new awards, we obtained the fine print to help you plan your next Star Alliance venture.
Award Booking Classes: United/United Express XY/XC/XF
Star Alliance Carriers: X/I/O
Award Transferability: Member may use miles for award ticket for another person in accordance with the Mileage Plus rules
Award Restrictions: Capacity Controlled inventory levels (Star Awards are Saver awards only), no minimum stay, maximum stay per booking rules (within 331 days of booking date).
Booking Restrictions: Awards must be booked 24 hours in advance of travel.
Enroute Stopovers: Within a geographic region no stopovers are permitted. Awards between regions allow one stopover. Maximum of five stopovers on an Around-the-World award.
Open Jaw: An open jaw is permitted as defined as a legal open jaw (open jaw length shorter than flown flight segment length). Not permitted with stopover itinerary.
Blackout Periods: As defined by individual carriers.
Routings: One way travel not permitted; Back hauls (back tracking routings) are not permitted except as required by routing restrictions; Side trips not permitted on single award; RTW routing defined as one Pacific and one Atlantic crossing (must use legal routings as defined in pricing rules).
Waitlist: Not permitted.
Name Change: Not permitted.
Children Awards: No discount for children or infants.
Changes After Ticketing: Permitted before departure if within the same
regions and subject to applicable fees.
Changes During Travel: Not permitted except as required operationally.
Involuntary Reroute: Permitted on Star carriers only.
Upgrade: Not permitted except as required operationally.
Ticket Validity: One year from date of issue.
Re-crediting Miles: Permitted subject to applicable fees and based on Mileage Plus or local program rules.