Home Points & Miles What Program Should I Use For Star Alliance Award Flights?

What Program Should I Use For Star Alliance Award Flights?

by joeheg

Each of the major airline alliances has its strengths and weaknesses. It all depends on the airlines in each alliance and the rules of each program. Award flights with oneworld to eastern Europe are costly because partner airline British Airways tacks huge fuel surcharges to award flights. However, flights to Asia in business class for 60K American Aadvantage miles are a relative bargain.

The same goes for me with flights to Asia with Star Alliance airlines. Here are the member airlines:

  • Aegean Airlines
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air India
  • Air New Zealand
  • All Nippon Airways
  • Asiana Airways
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Avianca
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Copa Airlines
  • Croatia Airlines
  • EgyptAir
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • EVA Air
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • Scandinavian Airlines
  • Shenzhen Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • Swiss International Air Lines
  • TAP Air Portugal
  • Thai Airways
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United Airlines

So you can choose from ANA, Asiana, EVA Air and Singapore Airlines to get from the US to Asia. Considering that these airlines offer a great product, even in economy class, it makes sense to focus some of your points earned towards one of the Star Alliance loyalty programs. Luckily, many airlines partner with banks and allow transfers from flexible point cards to their programs.

Until now, most of my redemptions through Star Alliance has been with United MileagePlus. That’s because I had many points in the program from the sign-up bonuses Sharon and I earned with the MileagePlus Explorer credit card.

After my most recent redemption for 2 seats in ANA First Class, I’ve accomplished my goal. I have less than 1,000 MileagePlus points in my account!!!! This was the last thing tying me to United and I can’t be happier to be done with them.

So now I have the question of which airline I should use for Star Alliance redemptions? Looking at the list, several options stand out as contenders.

Air Canada Aeroplan has suffered through a tough couple of years with the airline saying they’d ditch the independent loyalty program just to absorb it back into the airline. The new Aeroplan launched in 2020 to almost universal praise and they’ve recently announced that they’ll launch a US-based credit card from Chase and become a transfer partner for Ultimate Rewards in 2021.  Since Aeroplan is already partners with Membership Rewards and Capital One, it will be relatively easy to earn points in the program. That plus a generous award chart makes them an early frontrunner.

ANA Mileage Club has the best award chart of any of the Star Alliance airlines. If you’re looking to book a round trip on ANA, there’s no cheaper way to do it with points. Even flying with partners, the prices are darn cheap, like when I booked my dad and his wife flights in business class to Bali and home from Bangkok for 136,000 miles each. ANA is a partner with AMEX Membership Rewards, so it’s not difficult to wrack up miles. The one downside is that ANA requires you to book a round trip ticket. No one way’s allowed.

While I’ve used the two programs above in the past, the next one I have no experience with. While I know it takes fewer Avianca miles to book flights than other airlines; it’s the nightmare stories about dealing with the airline that’s keeping me away. I’ve never taken advantage of one of the sales where they are almost giving miles in the program away. Instead of the negative, do you have any positive stories about using Avianca miles that can change my mind?

The next airline program on the list is Singapore KrisFlyer. They’re partners with Chase, Citi and American Express, so it’s easy to earn points to use with their program. I transferred points from all three banks to book us flights on Singapore from New York to Frankfurt. The downside of the program is that points expire three years after earning them. The upside is that Singapore opens up way more award space to their own loyalty program than they do to Star Alliance partners.

The last program on the list I’m interested in is Turkish Miles & Smiles. It’s a program that I don’t know much about than the ability to book cheap flights to Hawaii on United, which is of no interest to us. Any other good uses for this program?

While there are plenty of options available to book Star Alliance flights, I have limited experience with them. Besides booking with United MileagePlus, what’s your go-to program to book Star Alliance flights???

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

3 comments

Christian January 13, 2021 - 1:00 pm

I was a huge Aeroplan fan until the massive devaluation last year. Early in 2020, a friend and I went on a guys trip to Asia for 77,500 miles one way in business class on Turkish. Now the same itinerary is 105,000. That’s pretty gruesome. Now I’m looking into ANA. Doesn’t ANA require specific family relationships in order to get someone an award ticket from your account? That’s my big sticking point.

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Enore Antonio Bondan Filho January 13, 2021 - 2:07 pm

I use Aegean and TAP a lot nowadays. Bought millions of poins from Avianca, but today they are in hot water, unfortunately, so i zeroed.

Reply
christ January 13, 2021 - 10:36 pm

i continue to use avianca miles (obviously fingers crossed). i find their miles to be great value. last month i had to fly SFO to PHX at short notice. to get on a UA flight, UA wanted 13,000 miles, SQ 12,500, and AV 6,500. SQ miles are useful for SQ flights but not much else, plus their expiration policy is difficult.

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