Airline Elite status is one of the most valuable an coveted things within the entire travel industry. By being loyal, you’re rewarded with Business/ First Class treatment even in lower cabins. The perks vary massively across various airlines and various statuses, but as any avid traveler knows: miles and status are the keys to happiness!
The next best thing about elite status, is that (if your airline is part of one of the big three alliances: Star Alliance, OneWorld, SkyTeam) the benefits often extend to other airlines, even if you don’t hold a frequent flyer card with them. This in itself can vary greatly in effectiveness and results.
Take for example the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Elite Silver card. When traveling on Singapore Airlines, you’re given very few benefits. A 25% mileage bonus and priority airport standby is hardly exciting. I’ll admit, for the same level of loyalty, many other carriers (generally not Star Alliance) offer priority boarding, check-in and luggage as well as lounge access, all of which are only available once attaining KrisFlyer Gold or PPS Club.
Now, the thing with being part of an alliance, is that the group likes it when the benefits are more or less the same across all airlines for each respective tier status. In the Star Alliance this generally follows, however many offer priority baggage/ check-in services for their own Silver members, even though these aren’t official “Star Alliance” benefits. The official Star Alliance silver benefits that are officially recognised across all carriers only include priority airport and reservation standby, which are pretty much useless given the higher priority given to Gold members. However, whilst airlines aren’t officially supposed to give their exclusive silver benefits to partner airline silver members, the agents often don’t understand/ realise this. When travelling on Thai Airways with a Singapore Airlines Silver card, I have received priority baggage (even though I wouldn’t get this when flying SIA). When travelling SAS I was directed to priority check-in, despite this privilege officially only being available to SAS Silver members. The key thing here is that those benefits would never have been granted on Singapore Airlines, even though I held a Singapore Airlines card… Weird, right?
Anyway, another sweet little trick that many avid flyers area aware of are status matches. These are things airlines do to try and rope you in to flying with them or with their alliance. For example, AirBerlin recently offered to match any elite status of any airline outside of the One World alliance. So, I had them match my KrisFlyer Silver card to AirBerlin Silver. Through a little chain, I also ended up with Alitalia Ulisse Club Silver (SkyTeam). So now I am left with a silver card in each and every alliance… how nice?!
Well, despite being nice and tidy, Silver provides barely any benefits. OneWorld is a little more liberal than Star Alliance, offering priority check-in on top of the priority standby. SkyTeam is even more generous, providing an extra 10kg luggage/ one-piece (piece limits), priority check-in, priority boarding and preferred seating choices. Now that is what Silver should be! Star Alliance and One World may be better overall, with a wider network and better carriers, but WOW, they need to learn from SkyTeam when it comes to frequent flyer benefits! Alitalia is even better, offering all of the above as well as 2 complimentary upgrades to Business Class on medium haul flights. Complimentary upgrades for Silver??!! YES PLEASE.
So anyway, here are the ideas about my recently acquired triple silver…
How? – Frequent flying and status matches!
Why? – Because it was incredibly easy!
So what? – Honestly, there’s nothing that special about a Silver card, unless flying with SkyTeam (which I do almost never)
No, when it comes to Gold, reaching it is pretty much the same across all carriers: earn 50,000 miles within a 12 month period. Now there used to be a super fast track to Star Alliance Gold/ Silver. Aegean Airlines’ program provided Silver after just 4,000 miles in 12 months, and Gold after just 20,000 miles in 12 months! That Gold requirement is less than the usual Silver requirement! People took hold of that while they could, but a recent shake-up of the system saw the requirements shoot back to the Star Alliance standards.
So that’s that. Yay for silver, but now I need triple gold! That’s where the fun begins…
Travel safe, fly well and enjoy the journey. ✈