Aegean, Asiana and Turkish Airlines are three Star Alliance member frequent flyer programs with more favorable conditions for earning Star Alliance Gold elite membership on deep discount economy fares compared to the high spend requirements necessary for United Mileage Plus elite qualification.
Last week I ticketed Aegean/Olympic and SAS Scandinavian Airlines flights in February and March to qualify for Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite. Over the past two years I have been asked, “Why did I choose Aegean as my primary frequent flyer program instead of Asiana or Turkish Airlines?”
This article looks at elite member qualification requirements for these three programs and why I chose Aegean Miles+Bonus. The simple answer is I think it will cost less for me to earn Star Alliance Gold elite through Aegean Miles+Bonus than either Asiana Club or Turkish Miles&Smiles.
A deeper analysis would also consider the program benefits and differences between the three frequent flyer programs for elite members. Honestly, I have not looked deeply into the elite benefit features of these three different frequent flyer programs. My motivation to study the benefits of elite membership status for my travel will increase once I earn Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite in March.
I may find frequent flyer awards, complimentary upgrades, and other status related benefits might be more useful to me as an elite member in Asiana Club or Turkish Miles&Smiles in the long run. Or I may find elite membership in any frequent flyer program is not worth the cost of focusing my flights on Star Alliance airlines.
In previous posts I compared Aegean Miles+Bonus and Turkish Miles&Smiles. I have not previously compared Asiana Club to Aegean or Turkish on Loyalty Traveler.
One of the main advantages of Asiana is two years of elite membership status once you qualify. Another aspect of elite status in all three of these programs is elite re-qualification for the status you have earned requires fewer elite miles to maintain in subsequent years.
Star Alliance Gold Elite Qualification for Aegean Miles+Bonus, Asiana Club and Turkish Miles&Smiles
Aegean Miles+Bonus has two elite levels, while Turkish Miles & Smiles and Asiana Club have three elite levels.
Aegean Miles + Bonus Silver elite: earn 12,000 Tier Miles + 2 Aegean flights or 24,000 Tier Miles with no Aegean flights in 12 months. Elite membership year is 12 months. Star Alliance Silver elite.
Aegean Miles + Bonus Silver elite requalification: earn 8,000 Tier Miles + 2 Aegean flights or 16,000 Tier Miles with no Aegean flights in 12 months.
Aegean Miles + Bonus Gold elite: earn 24,000 Tier Miles + 4 Aegean flights or 48,000 Tier Miles with no Aegean flights. Members have 12 months after Silver elite qualification to reach Gold elite. Star Alliance Gold elite.
Aegean Miles + Bonus Gold elite requalification: earn 12,000 Tier Miles + 4 Aegean flight segments or 24,000 Tier Miles with no Aegean flights within 12 months to maintain Gold elite.
Aegean Miles + Bonus Gold elite membership year is 12 months and requires annual requalification.
Turkish Miles & Smiles Classic Plus (Star Alliance Silver) requires 25,000 status miles in 12 months. Maintaining Silver elite requires 17,000 Status Miles in 12 months or 35,000 Status Miles in 24 months. Classic Plus membership lasts 2 years.
Turkish Miles & Smiles Elite (Star Alliance Gold) requires 40,000 Status Miles in 12 months to upgrade from Classic Plus (Silver). Membership validity is 2 years. Maintain Miles & Smiles Elite membership with 25,000 Status Miles within one year or 37,500 Status Miles in 2 years. (Residents of Turkey need 30,000/one year or 45,000/2 years).
Turkish Miles & Smiles Elite Plus (Star Alliance Gold) requires 80,000 Status Miles in 12 months to upgrade from Elite (Gold). Membership validity is 2 years. Maintain Miles & Smiles Elite Plus membership with 40,000 Status Miles within one year or 60,000 Status Miles in 2 years.
One of the main differences with Asiana Club is 24 months to reach elite qualification requirements.
Asiana Club Gold (Star Alliance Silver). Membership lasts 24 months.
- 20,000 elite miles or
- 30 Asiana flights or
- 15,000+ elite miles + Asiana affiliate credit card miles for 20,000 elite miles.
Asiana Club Gold requalification in 24 months (Star Alliance Silver)
- 15,000 elite miles or
- 20 Asiana flights or
- 10,000+ elite miles + Asiana affiliate credit card miles for 15,000 elite miles.
Asiana Club Diamond (Star Alliance Gold). Membership lasts 24 months.
- 40,000 elite miles or
- 50 Asiana flights or
- 30,000+ elite miles + Asiana affiliate credit card miles for 40,000 elite miles.
Asiana Club Diamond requalification in 24 months (Star Alliance Gold)
- 30,000 elite miles or
- 30 Asiana flights or
- 20,000+ elite miles + Asiana affiliate credit card miles for 30,000 elite miles.
Asiana Club Diamond Plus (Star Alliance Gold). Membership lasts 24 months.
- 100,000 elite miles or
- 100 Asiana flights or
- 75,000+ elite miles + Asiana affiliate credit card miles for 100,000 elite miles.
Asiana Club Diamond Plus requalification in 24 months (Star Alliance Gold)
- 75,000 elite miles or
- 60 Asiana flights or
- 50,000+ elite miles + Asiana affiliate credit card miles for 75,000 elite miles.
Earning Elite Miles in Aegean, Asiana and Turkish frequent flyer programs.
Each of these frequent flyer programs counts elite miles for Star Alliance flights and this is one of the greatest differences between the three programs depending on the airline and fare class you travel.
I am a deep discount economy flyer typically flying between California and Europe for under $500 round trip. My flight pattern favors Aegean Miles + Bonus due to the ability to earn more elite miles on low cost tickets compared to the other two programs.
The main advantage of Aegean Miles+Bonus for me is the ability to earn 100% Aegean Miles+Bonus Tier Points when flying deep-discount economy class tickets on SAS Scandinavian and Ethiopian operated flights. My next two transatlantic flights are United Airlines and SAS Scandinavian economy class flights.
United economy K class earning 50% flight miles as Aegean Tier Miles and also earns 50% elite miles with Asiana and Turkish.
SAS economy L class earns 100% flight miles as Aegean Tier Miles. Asiana Club earns 50% flight miles as elite miles and Turkish Miles&Smiles only earns 25% elite miles on SK economy L class flights. The fact that SAS flies San Francisco to Copenhagen nonstop and earns 100% flight miles as elite Tier Points in Aegean is why I favored Aegean Miles+Bonus for my Star Alliance Gold elite quest.
$500 round trip ticket flying Scandinavian SAS San Francisco to Stockholm SFO-CPH-ARN-CPH-SFO earns 12,175 Aegean Tier Points. Aegean awards a minimum 600 Tier Points for an SAS international flight, so CPH-ARN-CPH earns 1,200 Tier Points for the two flight segments, significantly more elite miles than the 680 flight miles distance for the two segments.
There are some deep-discount economy fare classes with Star Alliance airlines that earn more elite miles with Asiana or Turkish than Aegean.
Elite Miles Earned in deep-discount economy class on Star Alliance airlines
Asiana and Turkish elite members have 24 months to meet elite renewal requirements and maintain elite membership level. Aegean elite members must requalify every 12 months to maintain elite membership level.
For me the opportunity to pick up 12,000 Aegean Tier Points with one $500 SAS ticket makes Aegean the low cost leader when compared to Asiana and Turkish. Four Aegean flight segments is an inexpensive requirement too. My Aegean ticket for Warsaw-Athens-Chania, Crete round trip in March 2019 cost $136 for 4 Aegean/Olympic Airlines flight segments.
Asiana Club only requires 30,000 elite miles in 24 months to maintain Diamond elite, the lower elite level with Star Alliance Gold recognition. But that might mean having to fly as many as 60,000 flight miles on Star Alliance deep discount tickets.
Turkish Miles & Smiles requires 30,000 elite miles in 12 months or 45,000 elite miles in 24 months to maintain Elite with Star Alliance Gold member recognition.
I sampled a few airlines for their deep-discount economy class booking codes and elite miles earned among the three programs for Aegean, Asiana and Turkish.
- Aegean 50% flight miles = 2,959 elite miles.
- Asiana 70% flight miles = 4,142 elite miles.
- Turkish 50% flight miles = 2,959 elite miles.
- Aegean 25% flight miles = 3,624 elite miles.
- Asiana 25% flight miles = 3,624 elite miles.
- Turkish 25% flight miles = 3,624 elite miles.
- Aegean 0% flight miles = 0 elite miles.
- Asiana 50% flight miles = 7,610 elite miles.
- Turkish 50% flight miles = 7,610 elite miles.
This Asiana T flight that definitely favors Asiana or Turkish elite credit over Aegean.
- Aegean 100% flight miles = 13,112 elite miles.
- Asiana 0% flight miles = 0 elite miles.
- Turkish 25% flight miles = 3,278 elite miles.
This is just a small sample of Star Alliance flights. The ability to pick up 100% flight miles as Aegean Miles+Bonus elite miles on long-haul deep discount economy class airline tickets with SAS and Ethiopian is the factor I consider for my travels in choosing Aegean as my primary Star Alliance frequent flyer program. Aegean Miles+Bonus offers a cheap route to Star Alliance Gold elite for my travel pattern.
Some readers might find Asiana Club or Turkish Miles & Smiles or some other Star Alliance frequent flyer program offers more favorable elite miles earning based on your flight pattern.
Of course, there are many other elite member benefits to consider when comparing benefits across different Star Alliance programs besides elite member qualification requirements. Benefits as an elite member in a Star Alliance frequent flyer program and differences in benefits among different programs may be even more highly valued than the ease to reach elite membership.
Miles needed for flight awards, availability of award tickets and taxes on award tickets are other important considerations when choosing where to credit your flight miles.
Please share insight on the advantages or disadvantages of elite membership qualification and benefits for these Star Alliance airline frequent flyer programs and other programs that you find valuable. I am sure there are many other aspects of elite membership in these three programs and other programs I have not considered for competitive advantages.