The guide to getting status with SkyTeam, Star Alliance and Oneworld.

One of my friends dropped me a message this morning on his way to Amsterdam.  Normally, he flies oneworld and has a British Airways Gold card, but found himself on SkyTeam, with no status, no lounge access, really not liking the experience*.

I sympathised.  After all, who doesn’t like the perks when it comes with our preferred airline’s programme?

He asked me to create a guide for how he can get status with each of the three main alliances, as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The suggestion was for a guide, continually updated, that looks at each of the three major global alliances, suggests a frequent flier programme, and provides pre-planned itineraries on the best routes to status with rough costings, in one handy place.

I thought that was a pretty bloody marvellous idea, so over the next few days I’ll be doing just that.

However there are a few more dimensions that I’ll need to cover, especially with Star Alliance, where there’s a significant breadth of programmes to consider.

Despite the rest of the airline, the British Airways Executive Club I believe is one of the best frequent flier programmes out there.  Not only does it provide a reasonably straight forward route to achieving status with good defined benefits due to the airline’s membership of oneworld, there are also good (and not so good) options for redeeming airline currency for free flights.

After all, if you’re a frequent flier and you start collecting points in a certain programme, and after a while, you’re struggling to redeem for flights, it’s probably not worth considering.

But the objectives of status versus generating redeemable frequent flier currency aren’t always complementary, so that’s something that I’m going to touch on.

My three core criteria are:

  • Priority check-in
  • Lounge access
  • Priority boarding

If a certain status level doesn’t provide those benefits, alliance wide, then it’s something that I’ll be discounting.

What I won’t be looking at in my upcoming articles are status matches – that’s where you ask another airline to give you equivalent status in their scheme based on your flying history with your current programme.  These come and go, are generally a one-time (or once in five year) opportunities and generally in my experience haven’t been too successful in capturing my loyalty.  I will cover them separately as when interesting opportunities come about.

So stay tuned over the next few days.  If you’ve got any suggestions for what criteria you think I should cover, I’d love to hear from you, so tweet me, or comment over on Facebook.

The articles for each of the three alliances can be found here:

*In case anyone was wondering how he survived, he paid for lounge access and made it safely to Amsterdam.  No gingers were harmed in the writing of this article.


  1. Hello,

    Found your blog while searching for travel advice on what airline I should start to use. I just moved to Ireland from Chicago so all of the European airlines are new for me.

    While in Chicago I used United and actually really liked it. – Priority boarding, upgrades, and lounge access when I needed it.

    That being said I’ll be back and forth to London and I suppose back to the states.

    I’m going to read all your above posts, but what would be your recommendation on a program to go after?

    1. Hey there Joe,

      That’s a really good question, and unfortunately I don’t think there a ton of options for you. If you’re going to be travelling between Dublin and London, then you’ve got a choice between the low cost carriers such as FlyBe and Ryanair, or the IAG carriers such as Aer Lingus and British Airways. There’s also CityJet who only fly to London City Airport.

      Ryanair and CityJet don’t really have frequent flier programmes. Which leaves you with either FlyBe, Aer Lingus and British Airways, all of whom use Avios as their frequent flier currency.

      The only one of them to be in a global alliance is British Airways who are part of oneworld, and thus partner with American over the North Atlantic.

      Flying Aer Lingus, you can credit your flights to a British Airways account and you will earn some Avios. You won’t earn what are called tier points, which you need to get status within the British Airways programme. I suspect that will probably be your best bet however if you’re only flying cheap economy tickets, then it can be quite hard to earn any status. American’s AAdvantage might be a better bet if you’re flying trans-atlantic provided you have four flights a year with them and meet the EQD threshold.

      Hope that helps a little, or at least gives you some more data?

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