Oct302016

California Ticketing Strategy – Star Alliance Gold $1,600 airfare with two nested SAS trips to Scandinavia

This article shows how you can start from zero miles with Aegean Airlines Miles+Bonus frequent flyer program and earn Star Alliance Gold elite benefits with two SAS tickets around $1,225 and two Aegean Airlines economy class tickets from Stockholm to many places in Europe for about $300 to $400.

This morning a post on One Mile at a Time Great Deal: $720 SAS Premium Economy Fares From Europe To The US by Daniel fit nicely into my recently devised travel plans for low cost Aegean Gold elite in 2017-18 with Star Alliance Gold benefits. There is value to me in mid-tier elite status with Star Alliance due to their extensive coverage of Europe and the globe and United Airlines for USA travel.

There are tickets for Premium Economy cabin seats priced in the low $700s with SAS Scandinavian Airlines for travel from Stockholm ARN and Gothenburg GOT, Sweden to Los Angeles and San Francisco from January to May and again in September 2017.

Let me be clear right here. This $720 ticket price for Premium Economy is only available for tickets starting in Scandinavia. Ticket prices are about $1,100 to fly SAS Premium Economy when starting from LAX or SFO for flights to Sweden.

Nested Tickets Fast Track Strategy for Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold

There is an opportunity today with SAS Scandinavian Airlines’ low ticket prices around $500 for Los Angeles and San Francisco to Denmark, Norway and Sweden. This is a SAS ‘Weekend Sale’ ending tonight, Sunday Oct 30 at midnight. Aegean Miles+Bonus members earn 100% tier miles to flight miles on these deep discount economy fares.

Recently I posted articles on Aegean Miles+Bonus and its generous elite qualifying miles the program credits for some discount airline fare codes.

Loyalty Traveler – SAS/United $514-$531 SFO to Norway and Sweden (Oct 29, 2016).

Loyalty Traveler – SAS LAX to Copenhagen $494 Jan 11-March 31 2017 (Oct 28, 2016).

Loyalty Traveler – Choosing my 2017 Star Alliance elite program challenge (Oct 25, 2016)

Loyalty Traveler – SAS + Aegean $625 LAX to Denmark + Greece, Star Gold elite with three round trips (Aug 26, 2016).

Loyalty Traveler – SAS vs. Aegean frequent flyer programs for USA flyers (Aug 30, 2016).

Loyalty Traveler – Perhaps go for both Turkish and Aegean Gold elite in 2017 (Oct 25, 2016). This title was written when I thought Turkish Airlines earned 100% elite miles for United economy K code flights. Turns out the rules changed last year and only 50% miles earned. Still, Turkish Miles & Smiles is another fewer flight miles easier route to Star Alliance Gold, but SAS flights earn far fewer miles with Turkish.

SAS Premium Economy Fare Code A earns 200% Elite Tier Miles in Aegean Miles+Bonus

The deal with SAS Premium Economy fares are tickets are SAS booking code A. This fare class counts the same as Business Class in Aegean Miles+Bonus and earns 200% tier miles and redeemable miles, with 1,200 miles minimum accrual.

Aegean SAS booking code tier miles

The flight distance between LAX and Stockholm round trip is 11,042 miles for over 22,000 tier points. The flight distance between Stockholm to San Francisco = 10,718 miles for 21,436 flight miles.

These high accrual rates on a single $725 ticket mean one cleverly routed trip to Europe can earn Silver elite in Aegean Miles+Bonus and a second trip to Europe can qualify you for Gold elite.

Aegean Miles+Bonus Silver and Gold Elite Tier Requirements

Studying Star Alliance frequent flyer programs this past month for a new primary program for 2017 has me favoring Aegean Miles+Bonus due to its low elite tier miles requirement (Silver 12,000 tier miles + 2 Aegean flights; Gold 24,000 tier miles + 4 Aegean flights).

A member must earn Silver elite in Aegean Miles+Bonus, then Tier Miles counter sets to 0 again for Gold elite qualification. Elite membership renewal has even lower tier miles requirement.

Star Alliance Gold on two trips to Europe.

The one sticky point is a requirement to fly at least two flight segments on Aegean for Silver elite and then four more to reach Gold elite. Since Aegean is primarily a European airline, you need to plan intra-Europe flights to meet those requirements.

I am piecing this itinerary together on the fly to illustrate potential tier miles accrual from two cheap tickets starting in Los Angeles or San Francisco. I am in a better position than most US flyers since I already have SAS flights to Europe and I am actually looking to ticket my way back from Europe to San Francisco in late winter.

Sample nested SAS tickets itinerary from LAX

The example flights shown were picked to illustrate tier miles earning and not for schedule convenience. This is a quick demonstration to show ticket price and miles earned in Aegean.

Europe Ticket #1 San Francisco to Stockholm in SAS Scandinavian Economy Class $533

SAS Scandinavian Airlines San Francisco SFO – Copenhagen CPH – Stockholm ARN – CPH – ARN (All SK operated flights).

$532.52 round trip  Thursday Jan 19 – Sunday March 19, 2019

SFO-ARN $532 SK Jan19-Mar19

SK Booking Code Economy T earns 100% elite tier and redeemable miles in Aegean Miles+Bonus. Flight distance is 10,974 miles for SFO-CPH-SFO. Aegean gives a minimum 600 miles per SK economy T flight segment. Another 1,200 tier miles for CPH-ARN-CPH flights = 12,174 tier miles for this $532 SAS SFO-Stockholm round trip ticket. This single ticket earns all the tier miles needed for Aegean Silver elite. But you still need two Aegean flight segments.

Stockholm to Athens round trip on Aegean Airlines $153 round trip with two nonstop flight segments

Aegean Airlines Stockholm ARN – Athens ATH (nonstop)

$135.08 round trip (122.94 EUR) Sat Jan 21 – Sat Jan 28

ARN-ATH $135 A9 Jan 21-28

This Stockholm-Athens round trip ticket earns 2,264 Aegean tier miles and meets the flights requirement for Aegean Silver elite.

Return to Stockholm and fly SAS Premium economy Stockholm to San Francisco.

SAS Ticket # 2 Stockholm ARN to San Francisco in Premium Economy booking code A for $724.70 on Expedia

SAS Scandinavian Airlines  Stockholm ARN – Copenhagen – San Francisco SFO – Copenhagen CPH – Stockholm ARN

$724.70 round trip  Saturday Jan 28 – Thursday March 9

ARN-SFO $725 SK Jan28-Mar 9

 

Europe Travel Itineraries segmented with Aegean Tier Mile Count

SAS Flight segment #1: Thursday January 19 San Francisco SFO – Copenhagen, Denmark CPH

  • SAS Economy booking code T = 5,487 flight miles = 5,487 Aegean Tier Miles.

SAS Flight segment #2: Friday January 20 Copenhagen, Denmark CPH – Stockholm, Sweden ARN

  • SAS Economy booking code T = 340 flight miles = 600 Aegean Tier Miles (600 miles minimum earn rate).
  • Aegean qualifying miles for Silver elite = 6,087 Tier Miles

Aegean Flight segment #3: Saturday January 21 Stockholm, Sweden ARN – Athens, Greece ATH

  • Aegean Economy booking code U = 1,132 Aegean tier miles (75% flight miles ARN-ATH).
  • Aegean qualifying miles for Silver elite = 7,219 Tier Miles

Aegean Flight segment #4: Saturday January 28 Athens, Greece ATH – Stockholm, Sweden ARN

  • Aegean Economy booking code U = 1,132 Aegean tier miles (75% flight miles ARN-ATH).
  • Aegean qualifying miles for Silver elite = 6,087 Tier Miles = 8,351 Tier Miles

****

At this point you are 3,650 tier miles short of the necessary 12,000 Tier Miles for Aegean Silver elite. United discount economy fares earn 50% tier miles. The best strategy is to have already earned the additional 3,650 tier miles by whatever flights necessary. Then the completion of Aegean flight Athens to Stockholm meets Silver elite requirements. You want to earn Aegean Silver elite before flying SAS Premium economy segments.  ****

My assumption is the requirements for Aegean Silver elite with 12,000 tier miles will be met and the arrival in Stockholm after second Aegean flight earns Silver elite.

Aegean Silver to Gold 24,000 Tier Miles and 4 Aegean Flights for $900

SAS Flight segment #5: Saturday January 28 Stockholm, Sweden ARN – Copenhagen CPH

  • SAS Premium Economy booking code A = 1,200 Aegean tier miles (200% minimum 600 miles ARN-CPH).
  • Aegean qualifying miles for Gold elite = 1,200 Tier Miles

SAS Flight segment #6: Sunday January 29 Copenhagen CPH – San Francisco SFO

  • SAS Premium Economy booking code A = 10,974 Aegean tier miles (200% minimum 5,487 flight miles CPH-ARN).
  • Aegean qualifying miles for Gold elite = 12,174 Tier Miles

Europe Trip #2

SAS Flight segment #7: Thursday March 7  San Francisco SFO – Copenhagen, Denmark CPH

  • SAS Premium Economy booking code A = 10,974 Aegean tier miles (200% minimum 5,487 flight miles CPH-ARN).
  • Aegean qualifying miles for Gold elite = 23,148 Tier Miles

SAS Flight segment #8: Friday March 8 Copenhagen, Denmark CPH – Stockholm, Sweden ARN

  • SAS Premium Economy booking code A = 1,200 Aegean tier miles (200% minimum 600 miles CPH-ARN).
  • Aegean qualifying miles for Gold elite = 24,348 Tier Miles

SAS Flight segment #9: Sunday March 19 Stockholm, Sweden ARN – Copenhagen, Denmark CPH 

  • SAS Economy booking code T = 340 flight miles = 600 Aegean Tier Miles (600 miles minimum earn rate).
  • Aegean qualifying miles for Gold elite renewal = 600 Tier Miles

SAS Flight segment #10: Sunday March 19 Copenhagen CPH – San Francisco SFO

  • SAS Economy booking code T = 5,487 flight miles = 5,487 Aegean Tier Miles.
  • Aegean qualifying miles for Gold elite renewal = 6,087 Tier Miles

 

Star Alliance Gold for $1,600 with two SAS nested tickets San Francisco to Stockholm and two round trip tickets on Aegean

A single SAS premium economy ticket for $725 flying Stockholm-Copenhagen-San Francisco round trip earns sufficient tier miles for Gold elite in Aegean Miles+Bonus. The only remaining hurdle are four Aegean flight segments flown on the second trip to Europe. These can be flown between March 8 and 18 on the second trip to Europe. There are many 4-segment routes flying Aegean Airlines to cities across Europe flying from Stockholm via Athens to some destination like London, Paris or Rome for $200 or less.

Ticket 1: SFO-Stockholm SAS economy $533 round trip

Ticket 2: Stockholm – SFO SAS Premium Economy $725 round trip

Ticket 3: Aegean Airlines Stockholm – Athens $135 round trip

Ticket 4: Aegean Airlines Stockholm – wherever in Europe $200 round trip

Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite on two nested SAS tickets and 6 Aegean flight segments = $1,593 in airline tickets for Star Alliance Gold and two trips to Europe from San Francisco. (Assuming you pick up 3,700 Aegean tier miles first from United and other Star Alliance flights before flying these tickets.)

 

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.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Comments

  1. Fascinating, and great timing. I am going to Europe in Jan and again in April, so this could work! But could you give some ideas, please, about how to earn those 3,650 miles? Like–a mileage run in early January before leaving for Europe on the first leg? This is really appealing but I’d hate to go down the rabbit hole only to find I’m missing a key component or two. That said, thanks for sharing this idea! SA Gold’s lounge access is my primary goal, since I’m going to give up my United Club Card when the AF is due. Thanks again.

  2. @Chris – Aegean elite qualification works on a 12-month calendar and not a calendar year. In this example you could apply Nov-Dec 2016 flights to earn tier miles with Aegean before taking the 2017 flights.

    While the SAS sale with $500 fares is over now, there are periodic SAS low fare deals from different USA gateways. The key component of this strategy is flying the SAS Premium Economy A code ticket for 200% miles in Aegean. Those $720 tickets are still available.

  3. Thanks, Ric, I appreciate the tips. I ended up booking the nested itinerary all in SAS Plus (the reviews I found were very good and even from LAX the price was worth it to me for the comfort and the 200% earning).

    (Miles are based on GCM and of course may vary based on airline)

    LAX-ARN — 5,521mi flown on SAS (11,041 at 200% earning)
    ARN-ATH — 1,524mi on Aegean (1,143 at 75% earning)
    ATH-LCA — 579 on Aegean (434 at 75%, 400 min earning int’l flight)
    Total: 12,633 (and that should put it at *A Silver)

    Then a couple days later (all on Aegean):

    LCA-TLV — 210 (400 minimum int’l flight)
    TLV-LCA — 210 (400 again)
    LCA-ATH — 579 (434 at 75%)
    ATH-CDG — 1,312 (984 at 75%)

    CDG-ARN — 959 on SAS (100% credited)
    ARN-LAX — 5,521 on SAS (11,041 @ 200%)

    A couple months later:

    LAX-ARN — 5,521 on SAS (11,041@ 200%)

    Total: 25,259, but then a couple week after that:

    ARN-LAX — 5,521 on SAS (gratuitous, but the fare was worth it for the extra leg room and good grub)

    My big concern would be that, despite putting in enough miles as well as the two Aegean segments, that somehow I won’t be qualifying for Silver. Not sure how it works–does there need to be a waiting period to make sure it all “takes,” or does the clock automatically reset for the Gold portion once I’ve met the Silver criteria?

    Again, thanks for the tip. I spent a little more than necessary but my knees are looking forward to having some breathing room on all the long-haul segments!

    Happy trails.

  4. There should not be an issue with transitioning from Silver Tier Miles to Gold Tier Miles based on the order flights are flown. Elite status has always worked smoothly for me with every airline I’ve earned elite status.

    The issue I have generally had is not having the elite card issued yet when flying as an elite member. I generally print out an email or screen shot once I see elite notification online and if there is an issue I ask the airline agent to look up or phone to verify my elite membership, so I can the benefits.

    My flights to Aegean Silver elite are in December and February, then March, July and September for Gold, unless I book some other trips.

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