Starwood’s Starpoints are already the most valuable loyalty program currency.
They have the most airline transfer partners where points transfer 1:1 and of course when you move Starwood points into 20,000 miles you get 5000 bonus miles. That gets you effectively a 1:1.25 transfer ratio with most airline partners.
Now, Starwood has added a new transfer partner: Star Alliance member Aegean Miles+Bonus.
Since I joined they’ve made it possible to change date and time on award tickets and also cancel awards and redeposit miles for only 20 euros. You can’t make changes to a routing though, only change date and time or cancel/redeposit. Still — just a 20 euro fee is fantastic.
Their award chart has some interesting values:
- 42,000 miles roundtrip for United domestic first class (although US-Hawaii awards are bizarrely 110,000 miles roundtrip up front!)
- 90,000 miles roundtrip for US-Europe business class, and North Africa is included in Europe. First class is 120,000 miles roundtrip.
- 110,000 miles roundtrip for US-Middle East business class, 150,000 miles roundtrip for first class
- 150,000 miles roundtrip in business class between US and all of Asia and the South Pacific
- 90,000 miles roundtrip in business class between the US and South America
- 110,000 miles roundtrip for US-Africa business class, 150,000 miles roundtrip for first class
One-way awards are available at half these prices.
The two biggest downsides to the program are:
- They add fuel surcharges to the cost of awards
- They have the strictest routing rules of any program with a region-based award chart.
An award ticket on Star Alliance flights may include one stopover with duration up to 24 hours
This doesn’t mean you get to have a ‘stopover’ — it means you can only have one connection in each direction of your award! That means flying from a regional US airport to a regional European one is impossible without redeeming two awards, since it would require two connections.
Transfers Won’t Prevent Mileage Expiration
I do wish that I could simply transfer 1 Starpoint into 1 Aegean mile and extend the expiration of my account. However that’s not the way it works. Aegean’s terms and conditions say that Gold members get soft landed to Silver and Silver members get downgraded to Blue — and that a Blue member without flight activity in the previous 24 months has their account deactivated.
The terms are poorly drafted, and do suggest that any mileage retroactively credited to an account during the 12 months after deactivation will reactivate the account (and doesn’t say the activity must be flight activity) however I’m not certain that’s correct.
If the Blue Member has not performed a single flight activity within a period of twenty four consecutive (24) months from the date of the last valid flight that registered miles, then his/her card and Account will be inactivated for a period of twelve (12) months in which the Member may retroactively credit Miles to reactivate his/her Account. The card and Account cannot be used during the inactivation period (miles accrual, miles redemption). Should no reactivation occur within the twelve (12) month inactivation period, the Account will be closed permanently.
If you can book awards with a single connection in each direction and are willing to pay fuel surcharges (which vary by destination, and for Asia can be quite low and are usually non-existent for Central and South America) this can be a highly valuable transfer partner.
Starwood points can be hard to come by other than with their credit card, but many people are looking to use their points since Marriott is buying Starwood (I don’t expect big changes to Starwood Preferred Guest over the next year, but it could be a really good idea to get the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express before the merger closes).
It’s amazing in some ways that there’s still a program that will let you book such reasonably priced (in miles) Star Alliance business and first class awards.
It’s not necessarily a place for long term value, for instance they made lifetime elite status no longer lifetime and of course… Greece. But if you have immediate needs for booking awards through the program or are willing to credit perhaps a United flight to your Aegean account every couple of years to keep the account active it’s an intriguing option.