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 (ever wonder why oneworld starts with a lower case letter? We found out.) 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
- Brussels Airlines
- Copa Airlines
- Croatia Airlines
- Ethiopian Airlines
- EVA Air
- LOT Polish Airlines
- 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.
I’m not tied to United as we no longer have a co-brand card. 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 re-launched in 2020 to almost universal praise, has a co-brand card with Chase, and is a transfer partner for Ultimate Rewards. 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 tickets are allowed.
While I’ve used the two programs above in the past, I have no experience with this one. 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 flights 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 its 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. 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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