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Here at InsideFlyer UK, we try to help you choose the frequent flyer scheme(s) that’s right for you. Most of our readers probably focus on British Airways Executive Club for oneworld flights – myself included. But some of us fly more with Star Alliance airlines, and so today I’d like to introduce you to the programme that provides a relatively easy route to gaining Star Alliance Gold status. Ever heard of Greek flag carrier Aegean Airlines? Some of you will and some of you won’t, but the airline was named “Best Regional Airline in Europe” by Skytrax in 2014 and its ‘Miles +Bonus’ loyalty programme is well worth a look if you are interested in Star Alliance Gold status.
Although Aegean only operates short and medium-haul flights within Europe, the Greek airline is a full member of Star Alliance, allowing you to earn and redeem miles on any Star Alliance member. It also means that once you reach Aegean’s top-tier status in its Miles + Bonus frequent flyer scheme, you will receive all Star Alliance Gold benefits on any Star Alliance airline.
I will introduce Aegean’s status levels in a minute, but let’s just get one thing out of the way. Achieving Aegean’s top-tier gold status, which will make you a Star Alliance Gold member, is relatively easy. You will only need to earn 36,000 tier miles on any Star Alliance carrier (including 6 segments on Aegean). Compare this, for example, to the draconian 100,000 status miles you will need in Lufthansa‘s Miles & More frequent flyer scheme to achieve their Star Alliance Gold status equivalent, which they call “Senator”. Sure, as these are two different schemes, I submit that we are talking about comparing apples to pears here, but this is just to give you an idea of the different elite status qualification requirements out there.
Aegean Miles + Bonus benefits and tiers
So let’s briefly take a look at the tiers and benefits of Miles + Bonus:
As you can see from the list, the Blue tier–which all members get simply by joining–doesn’t actually get you that much.
Things start getting interesting from the Silver status (Star Alliance Silver) onwards. Not only will you now be earning a modest 10% tier bonus on any Aegean and Olympic flights, but you will be able to reserve seats free of charge at the time of booking. On qualification and re-qualification, you will also receive two upgrade vouchers as well as four vouchers to use the Aegean lounges at Athens, Thessaloniki and Larnaca.
As a Miles + Bonus Gold member (Star Alliance Gold), you will benefit from a 20% tier bonus on Aegean and Olympic flights, access to Aegean and Star Alliance lounges and priority baggage handling, as well as a more generous luggage allowance. You can also use fast-track security lanes, priority boarding lanes and priority check-in facilities. You will receive four upgrade vouchers on qualification and re-qualification. See table above for a full list of benefits.
So how do I qualify “relatively easily”?
The first hurdle you will need to take, in order to qualify for Gold status, is to achieve Aegean’s Silver tier. For this, you will need to earn, within 12 months, 12,000 status miles (including 2 Aegean or Olympic Air segments) or 24,000 status miles on any Star Alliance airline (no Aegean or Olympic Air segments required).
Once you have qualified for Silver, you then have another 12 months to achieve Gold. You will need to earn an additional 24,000 status miles (including 4 Aegean segments) or 48,000 status miles on any Star Alliance airline.
Why is this relatively easy to achieve? Well, look at the mileage accrual rates in the examples below:
You can check the earning rates for all Aegean Miles + Bonus partner airlines on this page here.
As you can see in the examples above, a business class flights earns you 200% of the miles flown in most cases, making the programme a great option for premium travel.
But check out the earning rate for SAS! You will earn a whopping 100% of miles flown in economy class, and a whopping 200% in SAS Plus (premium economy)! Let’s crunch some numbers here: imagine you fly from Stockholm to Los Angeles with SAS in premium economy. The distance between ARN and LAX is 5521 miles according to the airmilescalculator. You will earn 200% of miles flown, so 11,042 miles each way, or 22,084 miles for the return trip.
To qualify for Miles + Bonus Silver, you need 12,000 miles plus two Aegean segments. Just one segment in SAS Plus between ARN and LAX almost gives you enough miles to qualify for Star Alliance Silver! Build in two Aegean segments (from more or less anywhere in Western/Northern Europe) around a nice weekend trip to Greece, and you are there!
Remember that you would now receive your two upgrade vouchers, plus four lounge passes, which you can use of course in your efforts to qualify for the top-tier Gold status level!
To qualify for Gold, you need to earn an additional 24,000 miles and complete an additional 4 Aegean segments.
With your return SAS premium economy segment between LAX and ARN you will reduce the needed miles by 11,042, bringing the required grand total down by almost half! (You need 36,000 tier miles in total for Gold, minus the ~12,000 miles from your Silver qualification, minus the 11,042 miles from your return segment on SAS).
You could now book a standard economy return trip on SAS between, say Copenhagen and Los Angeles. According to airmilescalculator, the distance between the two airports is 5,624 miles. A standard economy class ticket will earn 100% of miles flown, so will earn another 11,248 tier miles for the return trip, putting you within touching distance of reaching Miles + Bonus Gold status.
Of course you still need to complete four segments on Aegean, but you can easily do this via a routing like this: Copenhagen-Athens, Athens-Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki-Athens, Athens-Copenhagen. And Aegean flights are cheap. Best of all, you can use your two upgrade vouchers (you got these when you qualified for Silver) to upgrade the longer Aegean legs between Athens and Copenhagen!
Let’s recap! It’s easily possible to gain Star Alliance Gold with only 10 segments: 1 premium economy return trip between ARN and LAX, 1 standard economy round trip between between LAX and CPH, and 6 segments on Aegean!
Best of all, to re-qualify for Aegean Miles + Bonus Gold Status, you only require 12,000 status miles (including 4 segments on Aegean). Yes, only 12,000 tier miles. Do one long-haul standard economy class round trip on SAS and fly the 4 Aegean segments and you will have re-qualified. Remember that you could now upgrade these 4 Aegean segments into business of course thanks to the four upgrade vouchers you received when you initially qualified for the Aegean Miles + Bonus Gold tier. You will receive four upgrade vouchers, every single time you re-qualify for Gold!
If top-tier status with Star Alliance is what you are after, you should definitely consider Aegean’s Miles + Bonus scheme. The qualification criteria are relatively easy to begin with, and the re-qualification requirements are very easy to meet. To put it plainly, once you have achieved Gold status with Aegean, you wouldn’t want to give it up again. The cherry on the cake here really are the upgrade vouchers, which you can use to make your 4 Aegean segments more comfortable. And Aegean flights are cheap!
If I have piqued your curiosity, you can find out more about the Miles + Bonus scheme on this page here.
I will look at what you can do with your Aegean miles in another post. Stay tuned!