A Great Deal Comes Crashing Down: The End of Lifetime Star Alliance Gold Status

When Aegean Airlines joined Star Alliance about four years ago it offered the easiest path towards top tier Gold status within the alliance.

Indeed, what they’ve been offering is lifetime Star Alliance Gold status.

They’d give you 1000 miles just for signing up. Then if you earned 19,000 more qualifying miles within the first year you’d earn Gold status. For life. With the only caveat being that you had to keep your account active by earning a qualifying mile every three years.

(There were occasionally signup bonuses that would do 2000 miles, which count towards status.)

Things got a little harder with US Airways leaving the Star Alliance. US Airways flights all earned 100% of flown miles when crediting to Aegean. Discount United miles only earned 50% credit. Still, for lifetime status many found it worth it.

Star Gold meant, for a United traveler:

  • Priority check-in and boarding
  • Free checked bag
  • Lounge access

Of course the caveat on lifetime status has always been:

  • Your life or theirs? The Greek airline wasn’t guaranteed to be around forever.
  • Until they changed the rules. Airtran status was lifetime, until it wasn’t, for instance.

Now Dan’s Deals reports that Aegean will be rolling out a change to elite qualification.

We’ll see with certainty what the details are when they notify members, but Dan suggests that next month they’ll be telling folks qualification is:

[F]rom now on you’ll need either 4 Aegean/Olympic flights+12,000 miles or 24,000 miles per year to earn gold status.

Earning 24,000 miles a year on United discounted fares means 48,000 flown miles — again, every year — and no longer a value. I expect that I may lose my Aegean Gold status (actually given to me through a comp of my old bmi Diamond Club gold status).

On the other hand, 8000 miles in paid first class at triple miles would suffice, so crediting a mistake fare like this one would still work. But you’d need such a mistake fare every year.

As I often say, any benefit that is several orders of magnitude better than the median offering isn’t going to last. You don’t know when it will change, so you need a pretty high discount rate. Enjoy it while you can.

This isn’t confirmed officially from the airline yet. Aegean changes its terms and conditions to reflect even the addition of a new mileage partner, and I have a change alert set for their terms. Nothing has been re-written at this time in terms of how status earning and expiration works. But it certainly looks plausible and I’ll be framing my own expectations as though it’s how things will happen.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. You don’t even need a mistake fare to hit 24K. I just did a 24 hour MR last week: LGA-IAH-SEA in United A class, $768. Got me 20K on A3 and *G, at least for this year! Another cheap flight or 2 and you’ve got your yearly *G for under $1000. Might as well put all those GC from the Amex Plat/Chase RC/Citi Prestige to use! Or the TYP from last years Citi TYPreferred 5X bonanza!

  2. Those who qualify before the official communication of the change may get grandfathered into the old agreement, which will give *G for 3 years, which is still a great deal. Many who have earned this in the past have cards valid till 2017.

  3. The 3 yrs bit is long gone. Cards now only have 12 month expiry. As a new member, the Best u can hope for is to get to end 2015

  4. Flew my final qualifying flight about a week ago. Sure hope it posts before the change is enacted.

  5. I think anyone who got it knew that lifetime really meant “until Aegean realizes it’s a bad idea.” It was nice while it lasted, and I hope to be grandfathered in for a bit!

  6. “lifetime” until Aegean realizes that it’s getting taken advantage of and decides to put a stop to it.

  7. How shocking. I guess the accounting department finally brought the lounge access bill over to the loyalty department and asked how they intend to pay it.

  8. Hi Gary – a question. If I’ve got Aegean Gold (which I did a few minutes back!), that means I’m *A Gold right? So if I’m not flying Aegean, how do I demonstrate my *A gold status to get the other Gold benefits? It isn’t like another * Alliance airline (say LH) will also equate my status to Gold on their card. So how? Thanks.

  9. f***! my *G qualifying itinerary is during thanksgiving week. Idk what I should do now. 🙁

    Are there any other star programs which are easy? I keep hearing about OZ and TK.

  10. @AsIndia – they will mail you a card which will work for lounge access, some airlines will let you in based on the status that shows up on your boarding pass, other benefits like priority checkin, any free checked bag that applies, etc will just attach if you have your account number in the reservation

  11. Looks like you nailed it Gary. The web site now clearly states that you need 24k miles per year to retain A3 Gold starting 11/24/14.

  12. Just got an email from Aegean about this “even fairer way of accruing and redeeming miles”. Looks to be going into effect 24th of November. It’s unclear to me if we’re grandfathered in for the remainder of the 3 years, but it’s not looking that way. Anyone have a different read?

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