Apr042019

How I earned Star Alliance Gold elite for $1,400 in 15 flight segments

This week I was upgraded from Aegean Miles+Bonus Silver elite to Gold elite with Star Alliance Gold benefits like Business Class check-in lines, extra baggage allowance and worldwide lounge access, including United Airlines lounges in the U.S.

Bottom line is I basically earned Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold and Star Alliance Gold elite with three round trip tickets between San Francisco and Europe averaging $500 each and one Aegean Airlines round trip ticket from Warsaw to Crete for $136 flown earlier this month for $1,630 in spend to earn 24,000 Aegean Tier Miles with 4 Aegean flight segments.

Reducing my total spend was a $290 compensation refund for a $69 LOT Polish flight from Gdansk to Krakow cancelled last June 2018.  Ironically, LOT Polish ended up sending us back to the Sheraton Sopot Resort hotel at 2am, the same hotel we had checked out of 14 hours earlier after our SPG Cash & Points points award stay. Even better than our award stay is LOT Polish provided meal vouchers for the Sheraton hotel restaurants we had not dined in during our time there (we had SPG lounge access). We arrived in Krakow 18 hours after our original flight schedule arrival time.

Sheraton Sopot Poland and our LOT in life

What is EU261 compensation? Our $290 checks for canceled June 2018 LOT Polish flight

Earning Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite

In December 2016, I started crediting all my Star Alliance flights to Aegean Miles+Bonus. My primary reason for moving my frequent flyer program away from a U.S. based carrier are the revenue based mileage and elite earning programs instituted by American AAdvantage, Delta Skymiles and United Mileage Plus.

United Mileage Plus Premier Gold requires 50,000 Premier Qualifying Miles or 60 Premier Qualifying Segments, plus U.S. residents must reach $6,000 Premier Qualifying Dollars. The PQD requirement is waived if you have $25,000 spend on a United branded credit card.

Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite status is a two step process. First, I had to earn Aegean Silver elite by earning 12,000 Tier Miles with 2 Aegean flight segments or 24,000 Tier Miles without Aegean flight segments.

Flying SAS Stockholm to San Francisco on the return portion of a round trip ticket at the end of a Christmas 2016 vacation trip to Vienna, Bratislava and Krakow earned 6,073 Tier Miles.

SAS Scandinavian Airlines has the distinction of earning 100% elite qualifying Tier Miles on deep discount economy class tickets in economy T class. United Airlines and Air Canada deep discount economy K tickets earn 50% flight miles as Aegean Tier Miles.

In February 2017, I flew from Amsterdam to Sofia, Bulgaria with Ryanair for $51 for my first visit to that country, the cheapest tourist destination in Europe. My two Aegean Silver elite qualifying flight segments were completed with a Sofia-Athens-Warsaw Aegean ticket for $106 one way.

The SAS Scandinavian ticket flying Stockholm to San Francisco round trip I flew home on at Christmas holidays in December 2016 was completed in July 2017 when I returned to Europe. We flew home on United Airlines August 1, 2017.

The United flight put me over 12,000 Aegean Tier Miles and earned Aegean Miles+Bonus Silver elite status.

My Aegean Silver elite membership started August 1, 2017, which meant I had until August 1, 2018 to earn 24,000 Tier Miles with 4 Aegean flight segments to upgrade to Aegean Gold elite (or 48,000 Tier Miles without Aegean flights).

Aug 2017-Aug 2018 push for Aegean Gold Elite

October 2017 I flew San Jose to Prague round trip on a cheap $367 British Airways ticket. I planned my push for Aegean Gold elite with 4 Aegean flight segments on that trip. I flew to Nice, France to stay at Marriott Porte de Monaco for a two-night stay I won for $114 in a Marriott auction. From Nice, I flew Aegean to Sofia, Bulgaria again via Athens for $77 one way and a wonderful trip to the ancient city of Plovdiv. Then Aegean Sofia to Warsaw via Athens for $56 one way to pick up the needed 4 Aegean flight segments.

In January 2018, I flew another United round trip ticket to get home to California from Prague after Christmas 2017 break.

Air Canada Copenhagen-Toronto-San Francisco in January 2018 with return via United Airlines San Francisco to Zurich in June 2018 earned 6,005 Tier Miles. Another United Airlines ticket Rome to San Francisco round trip earned 5,775 Tier Miles. The two Lufthansa flight segments between Rome and Germany in economy K class on that ticket did not earn any Aegean Tier Miles. That is why I avoid tickets with long-haul Lufthansa and Swiss economy K flights.

August 2018 came and I was a little over 4,000 Tier Miles short of 24,000 Tier Miles needed for Gold elite qualification.

One of the main issues delaying my achievement of reaching Aegean Gold elite in 2018 was the majority of my flight miles in the past 28 months have not been on Star Alliance carriers. I have flown Oneworld Alliance airlines to Europe several times, Icelandair one round trip SFO to London, Norwegian and WOW one way several times between San Francisco Bay Area and Europe and LEVEL (Iberia) OAK to Barcelona last summer. In addition to loads of cheap international flights, I made several Frontier Airlines domestic trips around the USA.

June 2018 – June 2019 second push for Aegean Gold elite

Since I had re-qualified for Aegean Silver elite June 2018, I had 12 months from then to earn 24,000 Tier Miles + 4 Aegean flight segments.

United long haul flights SFO-ZRH; MUC-SFO; SFO-FRA; SFO-BCN earned 11,734 of the Aegean 24,000 Tier miles over the past year.

My Aegean ticket earlier this month Warsaw to Chania, Crete earned 1,892 Tier Miles + 4 Aegean flight segments.

One SAS Scandinavian round trip ticket Stockholm to San Francisco flown in March 2019 earned 11,546 Tier Miles to go over 24,000 Tier Miles and qualify for Aegean Gold elite with 4 Aegean flight segments.

On March 31, 2019 I was upgraded to Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite with Star Alliance Gold elite benefits.

To requalify I only need to earn 12,000 Aegean Tier Miles + 4 Aegean flight segments. My flight home from Europe is Oslo, Norway to San Francisco on SAS Scandinavian with return flights in June 2019. Those flights will earn 12,000+ Tier Miles needed for Aegean Gold elite next year.

Basically I just need to fly Aegean four flight segments by the end of March 2020 to extend my Aegean and Star Alliance Gold elite membership to 2021.

Aegean Miles+Bonus is a far easier way to reach Star Alliance Gold membership than United Mileage Plus for a leisure traveler.

 

 

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. @shay – vaguely remember the food. It was adequate for our needs. The beer and World Cup football on bright TV in our own little pub is my main memory. We drank so much that the woman kept loading the refrigerator with warm beer and we had to drink ice beer until the ice ran out too. Fortunately the games ended about the same time.

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