Star Alliance Gold Benefits (& Other Things You Should Know About the Status)

If you earn a frequent flyer status with an airline belonging to one of the three major alliances, you will often also get an alliance-wide status at the same time. In the case of Star Alliance, there are two – Silver and Gold – with the latter being incomparably more valuable than the former.

Continue reading this article to learn more about the Star Alliance Gold status – in particular about the benefits it offers.

Star Alliance Gold Status: Benefits & More Explained
Those holding status equivalent to Star Alliance Gold can enjoy benefits across the alliance.

What Is Star Alliance Gold Status?

Unlike airline statuses which primarily offer perks when flying on the frequent flyer program’s airline, Star Alliance Gold is a status that offers perks when flying with any of the more than 20 Star Alliance members.

Rather than being earned “directly with Star Alliance,” Star Alliance Gold is provided as a perk for top-tier frequent flyer status holders with Star Alliance member airlines’ mileage programs. These programs typically have three or four levels of statuses with the lowest tier usually offering Star Alliance Silver and the higher tiers offering Star Alliance Gold.

With Miles & More (the frequent flyer program used by Lufthansa, Austrian, etc.), for example, one has to earn enough status miles to reach at least Senator status to be able to enjoy Star Alliance Gold perks.

Star Alliance Gold Benefits: A Complete List

Star Alliance Gold benefits, unlike the limited perks offered by Star Alliance Silver, are quite extensive and definitely valuable if you find yourself flying on the alliance’s airlines relatively often. The benefits are comparable with oneworld Sapphire and SkyTeam Elite Plus statuses.

Of the offered perks, I value lounge access, priority in various queues at the airport, and extra baggage allowance the most.

Below is a complete list of the perks with more details.

Star Alliance Gold Benefits

Lounge Access

As a Star Alliance Gold member, you can access Star Alliance airline lounges prior to departure on a Star Alliance member airline-operated flight. You can access lounges regardless of the class you are traveling in as long as your flight departs on the same day or by 5AM the next morning. You can also bring in one guest traveling on the same flight as you.

The only exceptions are domestic itineraries on United – when traveling on those, passengers with United MileagePlus statuses equivalent to Star Alliance Gold cannot access lounges using their Star Alliance Gold status. Because of this, if you tend to travel domestically on United a lot, having a non-United Star Alliance Gold-equivalent status might be more valuable. 

At airports with no Star Alliance airline lounges, you will in most cases be able to enter third-party lounges that have a contract with the Star Alliance airline operating your flight. There are rare cases where you end up without lounge access, though.

In terms of the type of lounges you will be able to access, in the vast majority of cases, as a Star Alliance Gold member, you will have access to the same lounges as passengers flying in business class on the same flights. To mention a couple of examples, at Tokyo Narita, you will be able to access ANA Lounges and United Club, and at Seoul Incheon, you will have access to Asiana Business Class Lounges and Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge.

That said, some airlines have separate lounges for business class passengers and for status holders. Lufthansa, Austrian, and Swiss are three such examples, inviting business class passengers to their Business Class Lounges and Star Alliance Gold members and other eligible frequent flyer status holders to their Senator Lounges. EVA Air has separate lounges for business class passengers (The Infinity) and status holders (The Star) too.

As for third-party contract lounges, those will often overlap with lounges that can be accessed using Priority Pass.

To find out which lounges you will be able to access as a Star Alliance Gold member at the airports you frequent, check this page.

Star Alliance Gold Lounge Access
Air Canad Maple Leaf Lounge in Edmonton – one of the lounges Star Alliance Gold members can access.

Priority Check-in

One of the less enjoyable parts of air travel is waiting in various queues including waiting to get checked in. Because of this, the ability to use priority check-in lines even when traveling in economy class is one of the benefits of my Star Alliance Gold status that I enjoy the most.

When you get to your Star Alliance airline’s check-in counters, just look for the Star Alliance Gold logo. More often than not, you will be able to use the same counters as business class passengers. Occasionally, you might be able to use first class counters.

Star Alliance Gold Priority Check-in
ANA Premium Check-in at Sapporo Airport can be used by Star Alliance Gold members.

Extra Baggage Allowance

As a Star Alliance Gold member, you receive an extra baggage allowance in addition to what your ticket includes when flying with Star Alliance members. For tickets with weight allowance, Star Alliance Gold members can bring extra 20 kg (44 lbs) with them. For tickets where baggage allowance is specified in terms of the number of pieces, Star Alliance Gold members can bring an extra piece with them.

This perk is especially valuable when flying on tickets with no free baggage allowance. In that case, like when I was flying on a domestic Air Canada flight in basic economy, having a Star Alliance Gold status means not having to pay extra for your first piece of checked baggage.

Unfortunately, though, this is not possible on all Star Alliance airlines as passengers traveling on the following airlines/fares are not eligible for this benefit:

  • Air New Zealand Seat fare
  • Austrian Light fare
  • Brussels Airlines Check&Go fare
  • Lufthansa Light fare
  • Scandinavian Airlines Go light fare
  • Swiss Light fare

Priority Security and Immigration

In addition to saving some time at the check-in counters, at over 100 airports around the world, Star Alliance Gold status will also save you time when going through security (and immigration). Star Alliance calls these lanes available to Gold status holders and business and first class passengers “Gold Track.”

Among other places, Star Alliance Gold Track is available in domestic terminals at major airports around Japan served by ANA, at Vienna Airport, and at Frankfurt Airport. In total, it’s available at over a hundred airports.

The one thing to keep in mind with this perk is that occasionally, the regular security queue might be shorter than the “fast lane.” I find that to every now and then be the case when departing from Tokyo Haneda on a domestic ANA flight at times when regular lines are relatively short, for example. In those cases, the higher throughput of the regular lines makes up for the exclusivity of the Gold Track.

Star Alliance Gold Fast Track
Vienna Airport’s fast track security check that can be used by Star Alliance Gold members.

Priority Boarding

Depending on whether you like to board as soon as possible or as close to departure as possible, you will either find the priority boarding perk very useful or completely useless. Personally, I like getting on board as soon as possible both to be able to get some relatively people-free photos of cabins for reviews and also to have time to settle in my seat.

With Star Alliance Gold status, you will typically be able to board at the same time as business class passengers even when flying in economy class. That will more often than not put you between passengers requiring assistance, first class passengers, and the operating airline’s top tier frequent flyer status holders, and premium economy and economy class passengers.

Star Alliance Gold Priority Boarding
Star Alliance Gold members typically board together with business class passengers.

Priority Baggage Handling

As a Star Alliance member, when you check baggage in, a “priority” label will be put on your bags. As a result of that, your bags should be offloaded and appear on the belt in your arrival airport’s baggage claim area before “non-priority” bags. In the best case scenario, this will mean your bag will be among the very first ones to be available for pick up.

Sometimes, however, there will be so many “priority” bags that you might still end up waiting a while. Other times, the airport might not do too well in terms of prioritizing the bags so “priority” and “non-priority” bags might end up coming out on the belt mixed together.

Star Alliance Gold Priority Baggage Handling
Priority baggage handling is a useful perk when it works as intended.

Priority Reservations Waitlist

Excluding travel on award tickets, Star Alliance Gold members have priority on reservation waitlists compared to Star Alliance Silver members and passengers without a status.

Considering that I didn’t have to use a waitlist on any Star Alliance airline in the past, I never had a chance to take advantage of this perk.

Priority Airport Standby

The last perk – priority airport standby – is similar to the previous one in that it puts Star Alliance Gold members higher up on an airport standby passenger list compared to Star Alliance Silver members and passengers without a status.

Like with the previous benefit, I never used this one before. In fact, I (and many others) consider the priority reservations waitlist and priority airport standby to be the least valuable out of all the Star Alliance Gold benefits. That said, having these perks is, of course, still better than not having them at all.

Is Star Alliance Gold Worth Getting?

If you fly with Star Alliance member airlines often then making a concerted effort to earn a Star Alliance Gold-equivalent status can be often worth it. In particular, it can be worth it if you value airport lounge access or if you often travel with baggage on flights where having a Star Alliance Gold status means not having to pay the fee for your first checked bag.

As for how far out of your way you should go to earn a Star Alliance Gold status, that will depend on your circumstances. Being located in Japan, it was a no-brainer for me to do an ANA Super Flyers mileage run which essentially got me lifetime Star Alliance Gold. In other countries, the costs are usually considerably higher so more thought needs to be put into figuring out whether getting the status is worth it or not.

Summary

Star Alliance Gold status is the higher of the alliance’s two statuses. Like Star Alliance Silver, the Star Alliance Gold status is not something earned directly with Star Alliance. Instead, it is something provided as a perk to those that have select frequent flyer statuses with Star Alliance member airlines. I wrote more about how to get the status here.

To most Star Alliance Gold status holders including myself, lounge access, priority in various queues at airports, and extra baggage allowance are the main benefits of having the status.

Depending on how much you value those (or some of the other perks), it might be worth it for you to try to earn the status even if it means slightly (or more than slightly) going out of your way.

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