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If you do a quick google search for “which is the best airline to get Star Alliance Gold status,” you will invariably find one answer: Aegean Airlines. It is true that Aegean is a solid program, however, if you look around there is one that is even better, especially for couples or families. With some astute flight planning, you can hit Star Alliance Gold in just one trip! The loyalty program is EgyptAir Plus.
What About EgyptAir Plus
EgyptAir has been a full Star Alliance member since July 2008. The program, EgyptAir Plus, has 4 membership levels: Blue, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The different levels align to Star Alliance tiers as follows:
- Blue = Not Applicable
- Silver = Star Alliance Silver
- Gold = Star Alliance Gold
- Platinum = Star Alliance Gold
EgyptAir has two types of miles:
- Award miles – These are redeemable miles that you use for flight redemptions.
- Tier miles – Your elite qualification miles, which determine your level of status.
The interesting point about these miles is that they're accrued at the same rate. To move between the tiers, you need to accrue the following:
- Blue to Silver: 30,000 miles
- Silver to Gold: 30,000 miles after achieving Silver
- Gold to Platinum: 1,000,000 miles (lifetime)
EgyptAir Plus status is valid for 24 months from the date of upgrade. To maintain Gold status, you need to earn at least 30,000 flown miles within 2 years of being upgraded to Gold.
One of the quirks of the EgyptAir Plus program is that it has a family or household account system. While this is not in any way unusual with other airlines such as JetBlue and British Airways having a similar feature, it is the fact that all miles are pooled that makes it unusual. Indeed, normally with a family account, the award miles earned by the family member are added to the main accountholder’s account; while the status miles are either not credited at all, or are credited to the individual’s account, not the main household / shared account.
Tier Miles Are Credited to Main Account Holder
This is what truly makes the EgyptAir Plus program unique: they credit both the award miles and tier miles to the main account holder. No way! I hear you say. Well, check out my statement from last year showing a flight that I took with my wife from Jakarta/CGK to Sharm El Sheikh/SSH with Turkish Airlines. Looking at the statement, it is clear that I received the award miles earned by my wife, but also as the main account holder, I received the tier miles she earned as well.
This is no fluke; an earlier statement including some domestic flights shows the same double dipping for status.
This double-dipping is a great way to pick up status, especially for those who do not regularly fly for work and would find it impossible to pick up Elite status from the few flights they take every year. So, what is the most efficient way to pick up Gold?
From North America
What is the easiest way to obtain Elite status? Although there is NO requirement to fly EgyptAir, flying them can boost your miles earning since you benefit from a generous fare class bonus as well as a status bonus. The easiest way to pick up status for a couple is a vacation to Thailand, while for a family of 3 or more it is a quick trip to Egypt to visit the Pyramids, for example.
The Thailand Option
Getting to Thailand, the two most rewarding options are either direct from New York to Bangkok via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines, or for maximum earning New York(JFK) to Cairo (CAI) on EgyptAir then on to Bangkok via Istanbul on Turkish Airlines. The mileage earned should look something like this:
|Via Cairo||C,D,Z,K Class fare||J Class fare|
|Segment||Earned R/T||Segment||Earned R/T||Segment||Earned R/T|
|IST-BKK||11,670||1 Pax Earning||29,052||1 Pax Earning||24,210|
|1 Pax Earning||36,008||2 Pax Earning||58,104||2 Pax Earning||48,420|
|2 Pax Earning||72,016||3 Pax Earning||87,156||3 Pax Earning||72,630|
Using EgyptAir with a stop in Cairo first would give you instantaneous Gold status on the completion of your trip. Not only that but also you would have 24 months to earn the 18,000 miles to maintain your Gold status. You can also save some money since you can book a lower business class fare bucket (J). The difference in earning is directly related to fare class bonuses.
Opting for the direct route and skipping out the Cairo leg will leave a couple 1,900 miles short of Gold status, which should not be a problem especially if you don’t live in New York since you can pick those miles up flying United to New York, your international gateway on your trip.
Traveling as a family of 3 or more, you can go direct and use a lower business class fare bucket, and you will hit Gold in one trip.
A Note on Mileage Calculation
Things can be a little tricky when it comes to working out how many miles you will earn with EgyptAir on partner airlines — the only way I have done it is to call them (+1-212-938-3560) and ask, however, there are a few simple workarounds:
- For EgyptAir operated flights, you can use their own mileage calculator
- To work out the fare class bonus you will earn with partner airlines you can use EgyptAir’s partner earning page. The page will not give you exact mileage per trip, just the percentage fare class bonus for various Star Alliance members
- For partner flights, you can use gcmap to work out the mileage for each leg of your flight. It is a good indicator since for most calculations it will yield a slightly more conservative figure than EgyptAir will award.
What to do with EgyptAir Miles?
Obviously, no one wants to park thousands of miles in a mileage program that they can’t cash in. However, EgyptAir is a member of Star Alliance and its miles can be redeemed on United, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and other Alliance members; you can review the EgyptAir Plus Star Alliance redemption chart (prices are round-trip). You can also review different regions and zones.
Redeeming your miles on EgyptAir is very straightforward, in my experience, they don’t seem to have award space allocated. You call the support center and ask for the EgyptAir flight you want, the date, and the class of travel, and they give you the ticket. There doesn’t seem to be any blackout dates.
Redeeming with Star Alliance is slightly more complex since you still have to call EgyptAir up in Cairo to get your redemptions; however, their award chart for partner airlines is relatively generous. 70,000 miles will give you a one-way ticket to or from the US to Frankfurt in Lufthansa First class; while 60,000 miles is enough for a one-way ticket from Europe to Asia or the Far East in Business class, or even a round-trip in Business from the US to Hawaii. Taxes and fees for a Lufthansa first flight from New York/JFK to Frankfurt/FRA is $456.10.
Chasing Elite status when you don’t fly several times a month can be a near impossibility, so any option that allows leisure travelers to earn Elite status relatively easily is welcome. The generous habit of crediting tier miles from the whole family to the main accountholder’s account makes hitting your Gold status a breeze. Once you have it, the generous 24-month validity makes it much easier to plan your next trip to maintain status!
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