Winter in Crete on my final push for Star Alliance Gold

Crete, Greece will be a late-winter 2019 trip for me in my final push to earn Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite status with Star Alliance Gold elite benefits. Aegean Silver elite is a membership status I have had for a couple years since my February 2017 trip from Sofia, Bulgaria to Warsaw gave me 2 Aegean flight segments to go with my 12,000 Tier Points. In October 2017 I flew Nice-Athens-Sofia-Athens-Prague for $130 with 4 Aegean flight segments to qualify for Gold elite, but I failed to reach 24,000 Tier Miles in my membership year that ended in July 2018.

SAS is Best for Frequent Flyer Miles

SAS Scandinavian Airlines is my preferred airline over the past two years for flights to Europe. Not that I love hanging out in Scandinavia. Efficient transportation is one of the most pleasing aspects of Scandinavia travel. Yet, the cost of beer, food and transportation freaks me out about overspending my travel budget. Hotels are the one aspect of Scandinavia I can manage affordably with Choice Privileges hotel points keeping hotel reward rates capped at $80 to $100 per night. Transiting through Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm is affordable to me as long as I keep my visit brief at one or two nights and accept a temporary lifestyle of temperance.

Athens-based Aegean Airlines is the primary reason I prefer flying SAS to Europe. Deep discount economy class tickets on SAS earn 100% flight miles as redeemable miles and elite tier points with Aegean Miles+Bonus. United economy K tickets earn 50% flight miles as Aegean Miles+Bonus Tier Miles and redeemable miles. Lufthansa and Swiss economy K flights earn 0% Aegean Miles.

Last year I ended up 5,000 Tier Miles short of earning 24,000 Tier Points for Miles+Bonus Gold elite. The issue with SAS is they tend to only have two or three sale periods a year for flights to Europe from San Francisco. The most recent sale ended January 14, 2019 with tickets to Oslo or Stockholm priced around $475 round trip.

I now have flights ticketed to Stockholm and Crete, Greece in early March. These flights will earn the 15,000 miles and 4 Aegean flight segments I need to qualify for Aegean Gold elite.

SAS Scandinavian Airlines flight with a view of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

Chania, Crete

One article I read when trying to decide which island to visit in Greece offered this line,

Why Go? If you can only visit one Greek town, make it Chania. It has everything you could dream of and more, so you won’t miss out on a thing.

Top 10 Fairy Tale Greek Towns

Of course, that article left another 9 travel destination options for Greece. Finding a round trip 4-segment ticket on Aegean’s website for Warsaw to Chania CHQ via Athens at $136 round trip sealed the deal.

Aegean Airlines in Athens

Anyone have suggestions on dining, drinking and lodging in Chania?

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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  1. You didn’t say how long you’ll be in Crete. No recommendations on dining except one: go to anywhere where they dont have an English menu and, if they take you into the kitchen to show you what’s cooking, go for it!

    Also, try to make time for hiking the Samarian Gorge.

  2. When in Chania & sitting by the water it is best to be at the quieter ends of town for better food. Most places have English menus & most Greeks can speak excellent English.
    Places to visit, besides the Gorge, Balos beach & Elafonissi

  3. I also qualified for Gold on Star by flying Aegean after having silver for a few years. It took 9 months & 1 trip a month. I live in Athens so it was easier and inexpensive when purchased during one if their many sales.

  4. Hey Ric, thanks for sharing. I wished I had known that deeply discounted SAS flights gives you 100% miles for Aegean. I credit all my flights to OZ, as Asia is mostly our favored destination. It’s also nice that OZ gives you 2 years to enjoy status when you qualify for their *A gold at 40k miles..

  5. Chania is nice, but my wife and I really like Heraklion. If you’re looking at more than 3 nights, you may want to split up your time. Heraklion has much better culture, if that’s a consideration. That said, Chania’s waterfront is gorgeous. How long are you going for?

  6. Lovely, Chania is definitely one of the nicest areas, apart from the beaches like Balos & Elafonissi. Rethymon quite nice too. Iraklio ok it has knossos & closer to visit Spinolonga but my impression of it has always been too industrial compared to the rest of the island. My husband’s family is from there so we have spent countless holidays all over the island for the last 25 years
    Have a great time

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