Apr132015

Flashback 2002 Star Alliance 5th Anniversary 55,555 Bonus Miles

Deep in the heart of taxes today and somehow a spreadsheet from 2002 ended up in my tax files. Star Alliance in 2002 celebrated its 5th anniversary with a bonus miles promotion for 55,555 bonus miles after flying five different Star Alliance member airlines. There were already quite a few airlines in Star Alliance in 2002, but nothing like today.

Each airline frequent flyer program among the Star Alliance member airlines had slightly different sets of qualification rules to earn the 55,555 bonus miles, dependent on booking class codes and routes. In general, the promotion bonus in second quarter 2002 was fly one segment on five different Star Alliance marketed and operated flights and earn 55,555 bonus miles.

The Star Alliance promotion appeared two years after I earned 300,000 bonus miles for the Oneworld Alliance five year anniversary. Their promotion was similar with 100,000 bonus miles for flying five different oneworld alliance airline members in late 1999. We earned 100,000 bonus miles each in British Airways Executive Club and redeemed those the following Christmas holiday for a trip in British Airways First Class to London.

Kelley and I missed out on 100,000 bonus miles in the Oneworld Alliance promotion due to an economy booking code on Cathay Pacific flight being ineligible for earning miles in American AAdvantage. We could have each earned an extra 50,000 American AAdvantage miles by paying $50 more for our Cathay Pacific tickets. I opted for 50,000 miles in American Airlines AAdvantage program instead of taking a gamble on Canadian Airways for 100,000 bonus miles.

I could have gambled and sent my flight coupon receipts and boarding passes to Canadian Air, an airline and frequent flyer program going under in late 1999, and bought out by Air Canada. Turned out I would have earned miles in the Canadian Air program for the Cathay Pacific flight segment and those 100,000 bonus miles would have become 100,000 Aeroplan miles a few months later in 2000. This travel game is a learning experience.

By 2002 that kind of rookie mistake in travel ticketing with the oneworld airlines was long past as I had gained knowledge of the significance of airline booking codes when it comes to promotions and upgrades over the previous 30 months.

I purchased five round trip airline tickets on five different Star Alliance airlines in 2002, consisting of four segments each. Each ticket had four flight segments, with two outbound and two inbound on the return. Amsterdam-Frankfurt-Munich-Frankfurt-Amsterdam is four flight segments on Lufthansa. Each flight segment requires a separate boarding pass. I collected four boarding pass stubs from each flight with Lufthansa and then applied for frequent flyer credit retroactively in four different Star Alliance frequent flyer programs, including Miles & More. I purchased all my tickets through online travel agencies making sure no frequent flyer numbers were associated with the reservations. This allowed me to submit boarding passes and ticket receipts for retroactive flight credit after I returned from Europe upon completing the promotion requirements for 55,555 bonus miles. Four times over.

No duplication of flights happened when I submitted 20 boarding passes for credit. Four Oneworld Alliance airline frequent flyer programs received a unique boarding pass for five different oneworld alliance airlines.

Lufthansa Airlines flight segment AMS-FRA was one boarding pass and I earned credit in ANA Mileage Club for that flight segment. Lufthansa FRA-MUC boarding pass was sent to Air Canada for Air Canada Aeroplan miles credit. On the return flights, MUC-FRA boarding pass was sent to Lufthansa Miles & More for credit and Lufthansa flight segment FRA-AMS boarding pass went to Mexicana Airlines for Star Alliance 5th anniversary 55,555 bonus miles credit.

One round trip airline ticket Amsterdam to Munich in four Lufthansa operated and marketed flight segments counted for credit as one airline flown in four different Star Alliance airline frequent flyer programs. Kelley and I repeated this on four other trips.

  1. United Airlines Monterey-San Francisco-Seattle-Portland-Los Angeles-Monterey $199.50 x 2 tickets.
  2. Air Canada Seattle-Vancouver-Victoria-Vancouver-Seattle $210.76 x 2 tickets.
  3. Austrian Airlines Munich-Vienna-Budapest-Vienna-Munich $282.05 x 2 tickets.
  4. Lufthansa Amsterdam-Frankfurt-Munich-Frankfurt-Amsterdam $307.74 x 2 tickets paid for with a $577.28 voucher from a voluntary bump the year before on a Lufthansa flight. Net price $38.20 for two tickets.
  5. British Midlands bmi Amsterdam-London Heathrow- Belfast, Northern Ireland-London LHR-Amsterdam $223.60 x 2 tickets.

These five tickets and trips to Victoria, Seattle, Amsterdam, Belfast and Budapest priced under $1,250 each and with my Lufthansa voucher, our ticket price dropped to under $1,000 each for all five tickets.

The first trip was Monterey to Seattle in a United Airlines five segment trip over a long weekend connecting to Seattle Victoria flying four segments on Air Canada. I volunteered us for voluntary denied boarding in San Francisco on the outbound. We stayed in the city and earned a free flight award each in United Airlines vouchers. We missed dinner with my sister in Seattle.

On the return we were bumped for $600 each in United flight credits at Portland, Oregon PDX. Some big auto race in Portland and June airport delays along the west coast had a lot of international flyers getting the available seats and those of us who could take a delayed flight were rewarded nicely.

Our 2002 summer of travel during the Star Alliance 5th Anniversary bonus netted about 60,000 miles in Lufthansa Miles & More, and 60,000 miles in ANA Mileage Club, and 60,000 miles in Mexicana Frecuenta and 60,000 miles in Air Canada Aeroplan. Those miles paid for trips to New Zealand in Business Class and a few trips to Europe in Business Class. Mexicana Frecuenta was a bust. The frequent flyer program shut down and we lost 200,000 miles I had hoped to use for a trip to South Africa.

All in, the flight tickets only cost about $1,000 each to earn 240,000 frequent flyer miles each for Star Alliance reward flights and $1,200 in United Airlines vouchers and two free domestic United Airlines award tickets.

AMS houses

Now back to my taxes.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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