Finally, I’ll spend some time today talking about how to access the United Club if you have Gold status. No, not Premier Gold status with United’s MileagePlus program but Gold status with another Star Alliance carrier.
As I mentioned earlier this week, one of the features that distinguishes United Airlines and US Airways from their international partners is that Gold elite members have access to international airport clubs but not to their carriers’ own domestic clubs. This is probably because the United States is so large that there are many elite domestic travelers who would be a massive drain on resources, though I can’t claim to know the real reason. As such, Premier Gold members — who automatically earn Star Gold status with the Star Alliance — are only granted access to domestic lounges on international itineraries.
The (not so) obvious solution is to get Star Gold status through some other carrier. That way your domestic itinerary will appear to be international for the purposes of access to the United Club. It doesn’t mean giving up your elite status with United Airlines, though it certainly helps if you already travel enough that you can afford to spread the love around by crediting a few flights to someone else.
The longest-running opportunity has been Aegean Airlines, which has unusually low qualification criteria for Gold status. Only 20,000 elite qualifying miles are required. Technically, though, the requirement is 16,000 elite qualifying miles after the first 4,000 — which earn you Blue status (Star Silver). And their qualification period is a moving 12-month period rather than a calendar year. Here are the program Terms & Conditions:
Chapter 2, Section B: Members who hold a BLUE Card and who have earned at least 16,000 Tier Miles within twelve (12) consecutive months from their first miles-accruing flight on the previous tier will receive the GOLD Card.
This means you have any 12-month period to accumulate 4,000 miles for Blue status, and then another 12-month period to earn the next 16,000 for Gold status (Star Gold). Furthermore, you can keep that Gold status without actually flying 20,000 or 16,000 or whatever miles every 12 months in the future. Instead, you just need to have some activity credited once every three years!
Chapter 1, Section 10: If a Blue or Gold Member has not flown for at least once within a period of thirty six (36) months from the date of his/her last registered and Account-validated flight, then his/her Card and Account will be automatically inactivated…
You can sign up for Aegean’s Miles&Bonus program right now and start with 1,000 miles!
If you don’t want to wait to earn your 20,000 miles for Gold status with Aegean, Turkish Airlines will give you an outright match to Elite (Star Gold) status. What’s surprising is that they do this even for existing customers of other Star Alliance airlines, sort of like poaching from a friend.
You will need to create a Miles&Smiles account first, and then visit this website with a copy of your other program’s account statement to request the match. Although there were reports that status matches might be ending soon, this report from LoyaltyLobby says that they remain active and processing delays are being reduced.
Unfortunately, the catch is that requalification criteria are more onerous than with Aegean. You may get your status upfront but will have to credit 25,000 elite qualifying miles every year to keep it. This is still not the 50,000 required of United for Premier Gold, and it will get you access to domestic United Clubs, but it can be a lot. The requirement is reduced to 37,500 elite qualifying miles if you spread it over two years.
In order to re-qualify for Elite membership …Members residing out of Turkey need to collect 25.000 Status Miles either within the first year or 37.500 Status Miles within 2 years of the Elite membership.
You can sign up for the Turkish Miles&Smiles program right now and start with 1,000 miles!
Obviously these are not quite free means to United Club access. You are still paying for whatever flights you credit to Aegean’s program or for the elite status with United that you present for your Turkish status match. But it can be cheaper than buying access if you already travel quite a bit. Do you fly 70,000 miles a year and for whatever reason can’t make it to 75,000 for United’s Premier Platinum? Don’t let those extra PQMs go to waste: credit them to Aegean instead!
You should be sure to check the earnings tables for any airline before you try flying with one carrier and crediting to another. You might find yourself on less generous fares that earn under 100% or not at all. In that case, United may be a safer bet. But hopefully you will have a few tickets that can be put to greater use. Keep this trick in mind the next time you debate whether you should do a mileage run to reach the next level. It might make more sense just to plan ahead and use your leftover miles for something else.
Star Alliance Gold Customers Travelling in Any Class: Customers have access to any Star Alliance member carriers’ owned lounges with the Star Alliance Gold logo at the entrance.
- Customer must present proof of Star Alliance Gold level status via a valid frequent flyer program Star Alliance Gold level card or other valid indication of Star Alliance Gold level status
- Customer must also present a boarding pass for travel on a Star Alliance flight departing from the local airport
- Customer is entitled to one guest
- United and US Airways Star Alliance Gold customers may only access the United Clubs and US Airways Clubs within the U.S. when travelling in conjunction with a Star Alliance international flight.