Star Alliance or OneWorld

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by newguy1212, Jun 27, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Picking between Star Alliance and One World. I am very green to the frequent flyer programs, but was wondering which would be the path of less resistance to achieve free flights and more advantageous perks. I have read that in picking a program I need to know my goal, but in reality my only goal is to see the world. I will start at any continent or any country, as you can see my goal is broad which makes this choice tough. Thanks for your expert advice!
     
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  2. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    Tell us more about your travel plans. Where will you go more often, what class of travel, how many trips a year and where do you live? These would be the initial items to consider when beginning to narrow down an alliance and then a specific ff plan within the alliance
     
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  3. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    Welcome to MP. As 744 stated a little more information may shed some light on which path to pursue.
    Location is a large factor when selecting a program as it is easier to select a hub airline near you, but destination plays a factor also.
     
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  4. Sorry for the lack of information. I would be flying out of Houston, TX most of the time. I only have one credit card at this point which I just applied for about two weeks ago (Starwood AMEX), the only air miles that I have surplussed are 35k continental. As for destination I am caught between South East Asia, and South America for next trip. Thanks for the help, I'm just a young buck trying to learn as much as a I can from you vets.
     
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  5. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    Since you are located at a UA/CO hub, Star Alliance should be strongly considered.
    Browse their site and take a look at their route maps to insure they are flying to destinations you plan on going to.
    They fly to enough places that you should be happy seeing the world with them.
    Benefits at the Silver level are pretty slim, Gold level is nice with international lounge access.
     
  6. I sure appreciate the guidance. This might also be a newbie type question. Is the time frame for earning miles towards Silver or Gold Level from Jan 1 to Dec 31 or is it the total amount of miles obtained in any 12 month period? Thanks for your patience.
     
  7. gobluetwo
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    gobluetwo Silver Member

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    The elite qualifying period is 1/1-12/31. Every Jan 1, your elite miles/segments will reset to 0.

    Slightly off-topic, since Delte doesn't look ideal for your situation, but they don't necessarily reset to 0. DL have a unique rollover feature where your miles accumulated beyond a status level, but not up to the next level, carry over. So if you earn 30,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) one your, you'll have Silver Medallion and carry over 5,000 EQM to the following year, making it a tad easier to achieve the same status again.
     
  8. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Also, you mention seeing the world and perks, but what aspects of FF programs are most important to you? Lounges, upgrades, etc.? Do you plan to see the world in coach? Use miles to pay for hotel rooms too?
     
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  9. So once you earn a certain status it only lasts until 12/31 of that year? Example: If I earned the necessary miles in November I would only enjoy the benefits of that status until 12/31.
     
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  10. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    I absolutely mirror the the opinion of star alliance. With UA/CO you will be based at a major US hub plus a fair amount of international departure points from Houston. Anything else that you would need is a 2.5 hour flight to ORD or IAD in some cases to get exposed to the rest of the network.

    Within *A there are several different programs that have varying degrees of elite qualifying miles, redemption schedules etc. If domestic lounge access is critical, you may consider using something like BMI or Aegean Airlines to credit miles to, because they are easiest to get gold status which also gives you lounge access on domestic flights (regardless of class of travel). If you are a UA MP elite, you dont get lounge access on domestic trips, even if in first class. Weird, but thats some of the quirks with an alliance.
    Like others have said, the more details you provide, the better our recommendations can be.
     
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  11. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    Not necessarily true for every *A ff program. BMI for example counts a year from the date you reached an elite level. For example, I reached silver on BMI in september 2010, which made me silver through september of 2011, but I made gold in november of 2010, so now my gold status is good through november 2011. Lots of differences between the plans.
     
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  12. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    The status qualifying period is the calendar year for CO/UA and AA (and also US), but not necessarily for all carriers.
     
  13. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    No, again speaking of CO/UA, AA, and US, your status lasts for a full year plus. For example, if you were to earn Gold in September 2011, it would take effect pretty quickly (again depending on the carrier, but for these, probably within a week) and last a bit beyond the end of the next calendar year (2012), to the end of January or February 2013. Thus you could enjoy the results of status for about sixteen months in this example, although you would get more months by qualifying earlier in the calendar year and not much more than twelve months by attaining the status very late in the calendar year. Regardless, for these carriers, you would start 2012 with no miles for status for the following period (the program year from about February 2013 to about February 2014).
     
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  14. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    You can also purchase either lounge day passes, an annual membership, or try to use credit card programs or Priority Pass. The first year of a membership is likely to cost about $700 very roughly, depending on the carrier and your FF status with them. Your membership gives you access to all lounges operated by that carrier and sometimes some partner and contract lounges. Details should all be on the respective airlines' websites.
     
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  15. I would have no problem seeing the world in coach. I am 6'5 and about 220 pounds, so exit row would be helpful for long flights, but I think I could manage if it allowed me to redeem miles for travel more often. I am currently traveling all across the great midwest by way of bus, so a little cramped travel will not bother me. I would love to be able to visit nice lounges between flights. Is there a website or reviews of different airline lounges? I would be interested in researching these as well. Do you all have any suggestions on certain lounges in specific airports that are "must visits" on domestic travel? or international?
     
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  16. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    "NICE" lounges is a stretch for most of them. Exit row will come with status, or you can purchase most exit rows for a premium when you buy a ticket. You can usually buy up to Premium economy / Exit rows any time prior to the flight.

    The only decent lounges that come to mind for me immediately is the US Air envoy lounge in PHL but thats only for international departures in biz class (or US' uber elite flying internationally, though I'm not 100% certain on access priveleges). SFO is a nice airport to visit and the UA Red carpet club isnt too bad there. But most are just corrals to separate us from the sheeple and gate lice sitting around the gate area. Amenities are basic, bars are adequate but I dont think I would travel domestically specifically due to a lounge being at a certain airport. Most of my travel is to europe so there may be more informative opinions by others on the thread for US lounges.

    You go to Asia, and its a WHOLE DIFFERENT BALL GAME, especially on foreign carriers. Really nice environments there. I would put European lounges generally above US domestic lounges, but below most Asian. This is all just my opinion, and most experiences have been with Star Alliance lounges.
     
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  17. tw116
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    tw116 Gold Member

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    another aspect you may want to look at is booking and planning options. the one world site i find amazingly helpful and informative. i am not familiar with star alliance's website.
     
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  18. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    Star alliance main website is very slick as well. Especially when building an around the world itinerary.
     
  19. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    To get into the best lounges normally requires either an international business or FC ticket, including award tickets, or very high status with the carrier or alliance. Except for Priority Pass and those lounge memberships that don't require a ticket on their alliance for access (and then airport security might have the effect of requiring it as you can't enter a lounge that you can't get to), you normally use the lounge associated with the airline/alliance that you're flying.

    USA lounges usually aren't that great, but among the better ones would be DL at DTW Center A, far DC at ATL Terminal E, DL at MSP Terminal C, DL LAX, DL at RDU, *A IFC in TBIT at LAX, AA at PHL. Alaska Boardroom at SEA and ANC, AC Mapleleaf in LAX, lounges in the international terminal at SFO, Oasis (SkyTeam and others) at JFK, Virgin Clubroom at JFK, possibly Swiss at JFK T4, maybe AA and UA at DEN, shared lounge at MKE, AA IFC at their hubs?, possibly one of the CO lounges at IAH or EWR? Others will surely have different opinions.

    In Asia, my list would include both DL lounges at NRT, ANA suites lounge(s?) at NRT, maybe UA IFC at NRT, KE at ICN, all SQ lounges but especially FC side and TPR at SIN, TG at BKK, all CX at HKG (but some folks have favorites),

    Elsewhere NZ at SYD, QF generally, BA IFC at LHR, LH FCT at FRA (plus IFC/HON in regular terminal), both KLM at AMS, AF IFC at CDG, LH IFC/HON at MUC, Swiss IFC/HON at ZRH, former Olympic lounge at ATH (not sure of its status now), TK CIP (?) lounge in IST. In addition, I vaguely remember a decent shared lounge in BCN.
     
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  20. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    LH Senator in IAD isnt too bad, especially if you have a non US based Star ALliance airline gold status.

    First Class Int'l travel is definitely the way to see the best lounges. Places like the first class terminal at FRA is impressive, with Mercedes or Porsche vehicles to get you to the aircraft. Most quality airlines will also have arrival lounges for first class travelers and biz class as well in some cases. Whats nice is that even if you're on a reward ticket, you can still access the lounges.

    One of my favorites used to be the Virgin Atlantic lounges, usually trendy with decent food, + a chauffer to pick you up at the airport and take you to your hotel or other destination with a certain range of the airport. This was years ago. I think today its an addtl cost to have the private transfer.
     
  21. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    My understanding is that *Gold passengers travelling in *A have access to the LH SEN lounges in the USA, even though they can't use UA/CO/US lounges in the USA except when travelling *A international.

    One should also know that the regular Platinum AmEx charge card gets one into US lounges regardless of travel arrangements and DL/AA when ticketed on those carriers, not including codeshares (likewise for CO until about late September).
     
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  22. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    You're understanding is correct. Any class of travel on a domestic *A carrier gives you access to almost any *A lounge in the US, except United First class lounges and US air envoy if you are a *G elite on a non US based *A carrier.

    BMI and Aegean are among the easiest to gain Gold status. BMI has added advantage of relatively low redemption rates for booking trips with miles + probably the easiest access to LH flights when booking through BMI diamond club. Plus their family plan allows you to consolidate miles of up to 8 family members so you can reach redemption levels faster. A caveat is that BMI diamond club has been rumored over the last several months to be merging into LH's miles/more program, so diamond club may go away before you have a chance to enjoy the benefits!! but thats speculation at this point.

    A very active flyer will qualify first for Aegean or BMI for the lounge access and then begin miles crediting back to their core carrier. I think Aegean has ultimately the lowest threshold to reach Gold.

    Its a weird dynamic, but foreign *A airline status holders have better lounge access than a domestic airlines' own elite. I suspect its due to the revenue they generate from the addtl sales of lounge access memberships.
     
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  23. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    True, but I said something more. I understand that if you are *Gold through CO/UA or US and you are traveling on *A domestic flights in the USA, you can use the *A lounges in the USA that are operated by carriers other than UA/CO and US. For example, a UA 1K flying CO or US or UA can use the LH lounges in IAD and DTW if they can get through security to the lounge door. This doesn't include some lounges that are contract or not official *A lounges, such as SQ at SFO, Oasis at JFK (used for some SQ passengers, for instance), or the contract lounge in MKE.

    This risks some orphan redeemable miles on BMI or A3. It might make sense to either purchase a lounge membership--some carriers have one and three month versions--or buy day passes until status is earned, or get a credit card that includes lounge access, or get Priority Pass. Of course, BMI has been useful for people with family members who will never attain earned status, but its future is doubtful as you point out. I've been told that A3 is bad for using miles. There's a real cost to this strategy and it doesn't make sense for everyone, even if they can easily make status on UA/CO or US.

    The *A policy of lounge access at mid-tier (*Gold) levels is quite generous, especially given that USA legacy airlines give free upgrades, which foreign carriers generally don't offer to their FFs. In some sense, the primary benefit to elites in FF programs other than award tickets traditionally has been upgrades on USA carriers and lounge access (where memberships might not be for sale) on most foreign carriers.
     
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  24. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    Its seems you agree with very little that I say (which is perfectly OK!!), but these have been my experiences, and my situation using the strategies I've suggested have worked out perfectly for me and my travel needs. Obviously there's an infinite amount of ways to rationalize and determine what plan to join. I think we may be over analyzing this quite a bit :). I think the OP just wants the basics as to which plan may be more suitable to their needs. Based on the limited info provided, they may very well have a simple need of a good domestic ff program especially if their travel is within the US.

    BTW, in the past when Swiss, LOT, Austrian FF programs/*G equivalents were absorbed into M/M, they were granted a 2 yr Senator status with LH (M/M). For some that may be a valuable perk worth taking the risks with still using/crediting Diamond club. But they'll have to get a lot of miles in short order as I think any announcement of absorbing Diamond Club would occur late q4 of this yr or q1 next yr when BMI historically amends their programs.
     
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  25. ande777emt
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    ande777emt Gold Member

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    The bmi stuff is mere speculation though. BD is similar to US in that they turn a nice profit from their mileage program, subsequently I think LH really has to put some thought into diamond club to see if financially it may be a plus maintaining it.
     

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