For many of the past 30 years I have been a frequent flyer elite in one airline loyalty program or another. Over the past five years my primary airline loyalty program has been Aegean Miles+Bonus. Aegean Airlines is the flagship airline of Greece and a Star Alliance member airline.
The primary reason I am loyal to Aegean Miles+Bonus is relatively few flight miles are needed to maintain Gold elite status at 12,000 Tier points + 4 Aegean or Olympic Airlines flight segments in a rolling membership year. Alternatively, Miles+Bonus Gold elite can be retained with 24,000 Tier points through Star Alliance member airlines without any Aegean or Olympic flight segments. My Miles+Bonus membership year begins September 28.
The value of Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite to me is the status confers Star Alliance Gold elite with lounge privileges on international flights and a free checked bag on most flights. As an Aegean Miles+Bonus member, United lounges at USA airports are also accessible to me when flying United Airlines.
What is in a Name?
I learned my name was too much for my April 2022 trip San Francisco to Venice.
2022 has been an airline mess for me, as well as thousands of other travelers. My name has never been the source of problems in more than 30 years of frequent flyer credited flights until the past few months for me.
In April 2022, I flew United Airlines from San Francisco to Munich, then connected to Air Dolomiti for a flight to Venice. After my return trip I noticed my wife Kelley’s Aegean Miles+Bonus account was credited with 50% flight miles as Tier points for the United Airlines flights booked in Economy K class. No Aegean Miles+Bonus Tier points showed up in my account for the United outbound flight San Francisco to Munich, although I did receive Aegean Miles+Bonus Tier points for the return flight from Frankfurt to San Francisco.
After we returned from Italy and a week or two passed, I called both Aegean Airlines and United Airlines customer service centers to see what the problem might be. Turned out that when I booked our tickets to Venice through Orbitz.com our booking reservation combined our first and middle names on the tickets. My name was listed as Richard David.
Kelley received flight credit due to her Miles+Bonus frequent flyer account officially including her middle name, whereas, my account did not include my middle name.
Easy solution I thought. I made a formal request to have Aegean Airlines Miles+Bonus add my middle name to my account. I resubmitted my missing flight credit for the United Airlines flight to Aegean Miles+Bonus after the name change was made to my account. I promptly received the Tier points for the April flight with United when I resubmitted my missing flight request online.
My United Economy K class flights in April for my ticket to Venice earned 5,651 Tier points in Aegean Miles+Bonus.
- United Express – Monterey MRY to San Francisco SFO = 40 Tier points.
- United Airlines – San Francisco SFO to Munich MUC = 2,932 Tier points.
- United Airlines – Frankfurt FRA to San Francisco SFO = 2,679 Tier points.
To requalify for Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite I needed 6,349 Tier points including 4 Aegean or Olymmpic flight segments. I could also requalify with 18,349 Tier points through Star Alliance airlines with no Aegean flight segments. Earning 18,349 Tier points on deep discount economy fares means 36,000 flight miles and my travel plans would not allow that by September 28, 2022.
Flying Air Canada to SFO – Montreal YUL – Lisbon round trip in June 2022 would add 5,786 more Aegean Miles+Bonus Tier points, leaving me needing only 563 Miles+Bonus and 4 Aegean/Olympic flight segments to retain Miles+Bonus Gold elite.
Olympic Airlines is a Greek domestic subsidiary of Aegean similar to how United Express operates as a domestic flight partner for United Airlines. Miles+Bonus members accrue Tier points for Olympic flights, but at a different rate than Aegean flights.
So I planned a quick excursion to Thessaloniki, Greece for June while we were vacationing in Portugal. Our quick two day planned trip to Greece turned into a week-long unplanned hotel isolation stay at Holiday Inn Thessaloniki when Kelley and I tested positive for Covid-19 the night before our planned flights back to Lisbon. We missed our ticketed flights back to Lisbon, so I still needed two Aegean/Olympic flight segments to retain my Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite.
Meanwhile ticket prices back to Lisbon from Thessaloniki were in the $500 one way range for the first week of July. This prompted my decision to fly Thessaloniki SKG – Athens ATH-Madrid MAD, Spain for $171 one way each and take Flixbus on a 9 hour bus ride from Madrid to Lisbon for $30 each to get back in time for our Air Canada flights home to California. Our original Lisbon to Thessaloniki tickets were $225 round trip when I purchased in February.
What is in a Name? Part 2
I learned my name was not enough for my June 2022 trip Lisbon to Thessaloniki.
Kelley and I arrived at Lisbon Airport in the evening to take a 12:30am flight to Athens. Kelley and I had applied upgrade credits from our Miles+Bonus accounts to our flight. That morning I received an email indicating we would be flying business class.
To my dismay, we checked in for our flight at Lisbon Airport to learn that we did not have business class upgrades to Athens. In fact, we were not able to check-in at all since we did not have assigned economy class class seats either. In the end, we flew to Athens on standby, separated by many rows, and on to Thessaloniki with Olympic Airlines in our originally selected seats.
When we returned to Monterey two weeks later neither of us had received flight credit for the flights from Lisbon to Thessaloniki. I submitted missing flight credit requests online and still no Miles+Bonus Tier points showed up in our accounts. At this point the Tier points are not relevant to maintaining my Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite, but the two flight segments with Aegean and Olympic are vital for renewing my Gold elite tier.
Only this week I finally learned the root of the problem for our Aegean flights from Lisbon to Thessaloniki. It turns out that our tickets from Lisbon to Thessaloniki, Greece only included our first and last names. Since our Aegean Miles+Bonus accounts include our middle names, we did not receive credit for these flights.
A piece of background information relevant to this issue is the fact that I booked our tickets to Lisbon in October 2021 and Greece in February 2022. These flights were ticketed before I requested the name change on my account to add my middle name David in April 2022. So I did not receive credit for a United flight in April 2022 due to my ticket including my middle name David and in June I did not receive credit for my Aegean flight due to David not being in my ticketed name, even though my Aegean frequent flyer number has been in all my ticketed reservations.
At this point I am waiting to see if Aegean Miles+Bonus will ultimately credit the flights to Thessaloniki or not. If not, I will lose my Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite status after September 2022, unless I plan another trip to Greece in September. My plans at this point are to return to Europe in November and return to Greece next April or May. Depending on what Aegean Miles+Bonus does with crediting my ticket to Thessaloniki, a trip to Greece in 2023 may be irrelevant.
Aegean Miles+Bonus frequent flyer credit nuances
Aegean Miles+Bonus has been a beneficial frequent flyer program for me. Using San Francisco Airport for most of my international flights allowed me to book nonstop flights from SFO to Copenhagen in SAS deep discount economy K class and earn 100% flight miles as Aegean Miles+Bonus Tier points. A major change in Aegean Miles+Bonus during the pandemic eliminated SAS Go Light fares from earning any Aegean Miles+Bonus Tier points. Now it is necessary to pay up to SAS Go Smart to get 50% flight miles credited as Aegean Miles+Bonus Tier points. On the plus side, most international itineraries from SFO to Europe on SAS only charge about $56 more to upgrade to GoSmart and the GoSmart fare includes one free bag, in addition to a personal item. My travel baggage is usually a roller bag carry-on and a backpack that I can fit under the seat.
The remaining flight credit sweet spots with Aegean Miles+Bonus I have used in 2022 are United and Air Canada. Their deep discount economy K fares still earn 50% flight miles as Aegean Miles+Bonus Tier points.
Earning Aegean Miles+Bonus Tier points with other Star Alliance airlines.
Lufthansa Airlines flights in economy K class do not earn any Aegean Miles+Bonus Tier points. For this reason I avoid transatlantic flights with Miles&More program airlines Austrian, Lufthansa and Swiss, even though Lufthansa and Swiss often have the lowest fares to Europe from SFO. I did not receive any miles for a Lufthansa Economy K class flight from Venice to San Francisco in April 2022.
Likewise, TAP Portugal low fares do not earn Aegean Miles+Bonus Tier points, so I have not taken advantage of their deep discount rates from SFO to Europe yet.
LOT Polish flies LAX to Warsaw and I have thoroughly enjoyed spending many weeks in Poland since 2016, however, deep discount economy with LOT Polish is U booking class and earns only 25% flight miles as Tier points in Aegean Miles+Bonus.
Still, I might end up flying LOT Polish in the coming year due to EU flight delay and cancellation protections that are not guaranteed by United Airlines. We lost a day in Venice due to a 7-hour flight delay with United Airlines departing SFO in April and spent the first night of our vacation in a Munich Airport hotel rather than in the suite I booked in Venice. United Airlines gave each of us a $150 flight credit for the delayed flight.
As of today, there are $365 Air Canada SFO-Lisbon round trip flights bookable as United codeshare flights where I can redeem our $300 in United Airlines credit.
And I will be sure to book our upcoming airline tickets using our combined first and middle names on the reservations soour flights appropriately credit to Aegean Miles+Bonus.
August 1 update: After posting this article I checked my email to see one from Aegean Airlines this morning and I have been credited the two flight segments for LIS-ATH-SKG. My Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite membership is now valid through Sep 28, 2023.
“To prevent from any similar issue in the future, kindly make sure that the Miles+Bonus number where you wish to earn miles is always captured under your reservations and the name on the ticket fully matches the name under your Miles+Bonus Account; otherwise miles will not be credited to your Miles+Bonus Account.”
– Aegean Customer Relations