Aegean Airlines, Star Alliance's latest addition, has an interesting mileage program. Some parts of it are attractive, others...not so much.
Star Alliance Gold status after 20,000 miles
This is the lowest rate required for any airline in the Star Alliance network. One carefully planned trip in domestic First Class on United can earn you Star Gold status. The biggest benefit to this status will be lounge access to all Star Alliance lounges (including UA's Red Carpet Club, US' Club, and CO's President's Club), even if you are traveling on a domestic itinerary in economy class.
Star Alliance Silver status after 4,000 miles
That's right, only 4,000 miles. Star Alliance Silver status is not good for too much, but it will get you free checked bags, priority check-in, priority security, priority boarding, and a better position on the waitlist. Leisure and business travelers who take only 2-4 trips each year in economy class in the U.S. should consider crediting their next trip to Aegean to avoid baggage fees on future trips.
300% EQMs for first class fares on select airlines
Earn 300% EQM when you travel in First Class (full fare or discounted) on Air China, Lufthansa, South Africa, TAM, Thai, and United. This is a fast way to earn Star Gold status.
1,000 miles just for signing up for the Miles & Bonus program
Sign up here and you're already 1,000 miles on your way toward status.
Minimum mileage earning on many fares
Not every carrier is included (US Airways is not), but all United and Continental flights earn at least 500 miles.
No remarkable benefits for Star Gold
The benefits for Star Gold don't measure up to mid-tier status on other Star Alliance carriers. No special perks like upgrades or mileage bonuses. Lounge access, free checked bags, and priority check-in and standby aren't that much to write home about.
Cheaper fares do not earn full mileage
For example, W, S, T, L, K fares on United only earn 50% RDM and EQM. Same story with W, E, S, T, N, L fares on Continental. All US Airways fares earn full mileage (but no 500-mile minimum). For the full chart, click here.
300% EQM for first class only on select airlines
US Airways has some decent first class fares available right now, but they only earn a 150% EQM bonus. On British Midland, all "First Class" fares earn a 300% EQM bonus.
Expensive award chart + advance booking requirement
Award prices are not terrible, but not great either. For example, a First Class award from Europe to North America (not including Hawaii) is 120,000 miles. 12,500 miles for an economy r/t within Greece isn't too bad, though. What really makes the program unattractive is a requirement that award tickets be booked 14 days before departure.
I welcome Aegean to the club and am happy to, at least for now, have an alternate way to earn Star Gold status relatively cheaply. I plan on sticking to British Midland for now, however, because of their generous earnings and award chart plus the chance to become a Lufthansa Senator for two years once the Diamond Club is merged into Miles & More next year.
(Tip of the hat to Lucky for bringing this item to my attention)