Oct112019

Beyond United Mileage Plus. Star Alliance Gold elite cost me $2,075 in 2019.

All the news this morning about how United Mileage Plus will require more spend to earn elite status in 2020 motivated me to analyze my 2019 flights. I dropped United Mileage Plus in 2014 and joined Aegean Miles+Bonus frequent flyer program. I currently hold Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite membership. This elite level provides Star Alliance Gold member benefits like Business Class airport check-in, Group 1 boarding, United Club airport lounge access in USA and Star Alliance lounge access worldwide when flying on a Star Alliance member airline flight and extra baggage allowance.

A similar elite level in United Mileage Plus Gold elite requires 50,000 PQM + $6,000 PQD. In 2020, United Mileage Plus Gold elite qualification will require 24 PQF and 8,000 PQP or 10,000 PQP.

United Mileage Plus elite Qualification 2019 and 2020

Comparison of United Airlines Basic Economy flights for elite qualification with Aegean Miles+Bonus vs. United Mileage Plus

In 2019, I spent a total $3,081 to fly 55,198 flight miles on 29 flight segments on 9 different airlines.

Star Alliance member airline flights applied to my Aegean Airlines Miles+Bonus account amounted to $2,074.37 in spend for 17 flight segments on 3 Star Alliance member airlines: Aegean, SAS, United. These flights met the requirements for Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite with Star Alliance Gold benefits.

My 2019 flights earned 34,542 Tier Miles and award miles in Aegean Miles+Bonus.

To upgrade from Silver to Gold Tier in Aegean Miles+Bonus, all you need to do is

  • fly Aegean or Olympic Air at least four times and
  • earn 24,000 Tier Miles within 12 months
  • or collect a total 48,000 Tier Miles, regardless of which airline you choose to fly with.
  • Whichever you do first will get you there.

To retain your Gold Tier, you have a fixed 12-month period from the date of your upgrade or renewal of your tier to

  • collect 12,000 Tier Miles, including 4 flights with Aegean and/or Olympic Air,
  • or collect a total of 24,000 Tier Miles, regardless of which airline you choose to fly with.

United Mileage Plus Premier Gold qualification is far more costly in 2020 at 10,000 PQP or 8,000 PQP +24 PQF. This is easy to illustrate using the 17 flight segments I flew on Star Alliance airlines in 2019. Aegean and SAS Scandinavian are both considered Mileage Plus partner airlines and earn fewer PQP than Preferred Partner Airlines.

United Mileage Plus PQP is determined by the amount of money spent on tickets.

You’ll receive 1 Premier qualifying point (PQP) for each U.S. dollar you spend. Like before, only the base fare of your flight earns PQP. Taxes and fees don’t count toward your spend requirements. United Mileage Plus Qualification.

  • United Airlines Monterey to Barcelona $176 base fare Basic Economy ticket = 176 PQP + 0 PQF.
  • United Stockholm-Newark-Washington Dulles-San Francisco-Frankfurt $695 Basic Economy ticket with $600 base fare earns 600 PQP + 0 PQF.
  • Aegean Airlines Warsaw-Athens-Chania-Athens-Warsaw $137 ticket earns 50% award miles = 1,159 / 6 = 193 PQP + 4 PQF.
  • SAS Oslo-Copenhagen-San Francisco-Copenhagen $510 ticket. 11,314 flight miles earns 50% award miles = 5,657 award miles / 6 = 943 PQP + 3 PQF.
  • SAS Copenhagen-Prague $47 ticket. 387 flight miles earns 50% award miles = 194 award miles/6 = 32 PQP + 1 PQF.
  • SAS Stockholm – Copenhagen – San Francisco – Copenhagen $477 ticket. 11,296 flight miles earns 50% award miles = 5,648 award miles / 6 = 941 PQP + 3 PQF.
  • [Aegean, Olympic and SAS are Mileage Plus partner airlines. PQP is calculated by taking eligible award miles divided by 6.]

2,885 PQP and 11 PQF in Mileage Plus would have been earned from my $2,075 in Star Alliance flights. All my United Airlines flights were Basic Economy flights and do not earn PQF credit.

My 2019 flight pattern would not meet qualification for Mileage Plus Silver at 12 PQF + 4,000 PQP, let alone come anywhere near the 8,000 to 10,000 PQP needed for Star Alliance Gold through United Mileage Plus.

Glad I moved beyond United Mileage Plus several years ago. Aegean Miles+Bonus provides good value for this Star Alliance Gold frequent flyer.

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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Comments

  1. Nice post Ric! The issue I have with Aegean is the 4 A3 flight requirement so I used Turkish M&S after dumping MileagePlus last year. But really informative. MileagePlus was still ok for some international folks as there was no PQD requirement but now it’s gone.

  2. Here is how I keep my A3 *G.

    I paid 370 USD for 4 sectors CAI ATH TIA ATH CAI as I have never visited Albania
    and I happened to be in Egypt to position for another deal.
    That is 4 sectors for 370.

    Got HKG BKK on TG in business class (which is not needed in the end).
    This came from JNB HKG in KQ business class for 900 USD and KQ cancelled BKK HKG and was rebooked to HKG BKK on TG. (only 2 sectors on TG) BKK HKG BKK.

    Finally. 470 USD for KWI TPE CGK in busienss class on BR. Due to strike
    I was rebooked that KWI PVG HND CGK which is over 10000 miles for A3.
    so 370 + 470 = 840 USD is enough to keep my star gold for one year.

    —-
    In the previous year, I flew BKK – ADD – YYZ on ET mistake fare, ET refused to honor the fare by letting me to do a date change. Amex dispute refunded the entire amount
    + BKK HKG on TG is 24000 miles (BKK – ADD – YYZ is earns at 200% that is over 22000 miles!)


    every year is the same cost wise.

  3. Yeah but I recall reading you didn’t really fly with all that quality of travel. You would barely carry enough language washed your laundry and hotel sinks and you’re not even putting the value of the additional hotel times that you had to do for your positioning flights so it’s not that relative. Yeah you could chalk it off to travel but sometimes I think you penny pinch a little too much and you missed the big opportunity . For example like the time when you miss connected on AAand you had to stay in Miami for a few days. I’m 1 million miler on your way I don’t have to worry about the new program in platinum for years 1K as well And I have Global Entry as well. By the way keep the blogging but I would leave the political stuff out because I think you’re gonna lose readership

  4. I’ve chosen a different program, but have a similar *G story. I could look at my cost, but it’s ~$3,800, give or take. I get UC access in the US in exchange for never getting E+ seats on domestics; my international economy flights are all in seats that UA would call E+ but which are standard on better airlines. My next renewal will be 25% – 50% cheaper. True, I’ll never get a free upgrade, but I doubt I’d see any with UA Gold status. And 1 free checked bag vs 2 is immaterial to me.

    I don’t see any incentive for mid-tier elites to renew with UA, or with DL/AA when they follow this path. And you don’t have to hate flying to get status for less. I actively avoid UA ultra long-haul because my airlines is simply better at it.

  5. @Ken – Turkish Miles&Smiles elite has some advantages to Aegean elite. Two years and better earning for some airlines. SAS 100% flight miles on cheap economy booking codes is the main reason I went with Aegean. Works with SAS routes to LAX and SFO.

    @Alan – I studied Albania a few months ago for potential trip locations.

    @Flying Machine – Garrido unfiltered. Being political paid my graduate school education and got me an invite to a party at the White House in 1993.

    Gotta do laundry at times on 7 day trips and 17 day trips. Laundry businesses are convenient, but generally take as much time as hand laundry in the room. Self-laundry is preferable to me early in morning or the evening. Paying a hotel fee for laundry service is a waste of money in most places.

    I’ve been stuck in many places like Fort Lauderdale and Miami after missed flights. Not really an issue of penny-pinching. More the nature of travel. I’ve been stuck when flying Business Class too and forced to take an economy seat back to California or wait a day or two to finish the journey in Business Class.

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