Photo: Flickr / Vox Efx
Go for the gold, because silver is worthless. Getting status on an airline is, after all, practically the modern day equivalent of the Olympics, but for travelling.Most airlines have their own frequent flyer program, where the people who fly the most can reap some serious rewards. Once you hit Silver (names differ, but its usually the first tier), you can start enjoying perks — on that airline only.
But if most of your flying is geared internationally, you’ll have to get Gold to actually enjoy anything. What’s the trick to getting it faster? Most airlines participate in an alliance, where they’re practically required to respect another airline’s fliers. And some airlines, more so than others, have waaay lower requirements for getting your foot in the business lounge.
If you’re rarely “home,” how much sense does it make to fly someone its harder to hit status with? Its not like you still can’t redeem miles for free trips; you’d just be doing them under a different program. Star Alliance is pretty much the largest alliance with 25 members. They’ve also got another five airlines joining in the next two years, making them a pretty good choice if you’ve got no allegiance.
The only way to make it to Gold is by actually putting your damn patootie in the aeroplane seat and flying all those miles. It entitles someone to first-class/business check-in, first-class/business boarding, extra baggage allowances and baggage priority. Arguably, the best perk is airport lounge access for you and a friend, as long as you fly on a Star Alliance flight.
Here are four airlines that will get you there the fastest:
Aegean Air / Miles & Bonus
- Star Silver – 4,000 miles
- Star Gold – 20,000 miles
- Mileage Expiry – Your points will never expire as long as you fly at least one Star Alliance flight every 2 years. Gold members must fly once every 1.5 years.
- Good to Know – Pay attention to which airlines you are flying with and to what fare codes qualify on Aegean’s program. It’s been said that Aegean can be quite restrictive, so take a look at what airlines you generally tend to fly the most so you’re not dumping money into a credit-less flight.
Air Canada / Aeroplan
- Star Silver – 25,000 miles
- Star Gold – 35,000 miles* (this will change to 50,000 miles in 2013)
- Mileage Expiry – As long as you have one transaction with them every 12 months, your account will be kept active. But no matter how gravy it is, miles expire after seven years. Better use those miles…
- Good to Know – In order to qualify for any type of status on Air Canada, the airline has now imposed a rule saying that you must take at least 5 Air Canada flight segments or have accumulated 10,000 miles with them. On the plus side, redeeming awards seem to be quite generous and they are more flexible with their restrictions. They also seem to credit all paid United and US Airways flights.
Asiana Airlines / Asiana Club
- Star Silver – 20,000 miles within 2 years (status valid for 2 years)
- Star Gold – 40,000 miles within 2 years (status valid for 2 years)
- Mileage Expiry – Like Air Canada, miles expire after a fixed period. After five years, you can start saying sayonara to your miles. But if you’ve attained some sort of status, you can keep your miles for up to seven years.
- Good to Know – A big plus, Asiana has generous qualification periods. As Boarding Area notes, “If you earn the status quickly enough, it can actually last for a full four years before dropping down and having to requalify again” by flying with any member airline. Bank of America also has an Asiana Visa Business Card which earns miles toward Asiana Club.
Turkish Airlines / Miles & Smiles
- Star Silver – 25,000 miles (status valid for 2 years)
- Star Gold – 40,000 miles (status valid for 2 years)
- Mileage Expiry – This program is not for hoarders. If you thought Air Canada’s policy was bad, miles in Turkish’s program expire after three years. Three.
- Good to Know – The silver lining of the cloud is that it’s pretty easy to keep your status alive. (Extra baagage!) As long as you don’t live in Turkey, you just need to fly 25,000 miles the first year to keep your Gold status. And if you can’t make that, fly 37,500 miles within the first two years. Turkey residents have higher requirements to requalify, but they’re not much higher. Just make sure to take a look at their partner chart.
- What Is the Difference Between Redeeming and Qualifying Miles?
- Is It Worth It Joining a Frequent Flyer Program?
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