Aegean has an incredibly low threshold for achieving Gold status in its own frequent flyer scheme.
The majority of Australian travellers hold some status with the Qantas Frequent Flyer scheme, with regular jetsetters clutching either a Qantas Gold or Platinum card which packs plenty of perks on other OneWorld airlines such as American Airlines, British Airways and Cathay Pacific and JAL (as well as Qantas's new chum, Emirates).
Plenty of people also enjoy Gold or Platinum status with Virgin Australia, which offers privileges through Virgin's own selection of partner airlines.
But if you want to add another airline VIP status card to your travel wallet, there's an incredibly simple way to score top-tier Gold status across the entire Star Alliance group with just one return flight.
That'll give you lounge access, additional checked luggage, priority baggage plus first shot at those at-the-airport or even in-flight upgrades on some two dozen airlines – among them Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Thai, United, Air Canada, Air China, ANA, Asiana and Lufthansa.
The next time you're booked for a long-haul flight with any Star Alliance airline – especially if you're in business class – sign up with the free Miles&Bonus frequent flyer program of Greece's Aegean Airlines, which is part of the Star Alliance family, and list your Miles&Bonus number as the account to be credited with points for that flight.
Aegean doesn't fly to Australia, and indeed you may never have reason to fly Aegean within Europe. But that doesn't matter.
The reason to sign with them is that Aegean has an incredibly low threshold for achieving Gold status in its own frequent flyer scheme – just 20,000 "tier miles" within a year compared to, say, the 50,000 miles needed to reach KrisFlyer Gold with Singapore Airlines (you'll even get 1000 miles just for enrolling in Miles&Bonus).
On top of this, many Star Alliance airlines let you earn double or 1.5-times the mileage in business class for Aegean, including status-generating tier miles, making Aegean the supercharged shortcut to Gold status.
Once you achieve Gold status under Aegean's Miles&Bonus plan, you automatically enjoy reciprocal Gold status with all other Star Alliance airlines.
Let's assume you travel every few months between Australia and Singapore on Singapore Airlines, but only in economy class. It'd take you years to climb your way up the ladder to SQ's KrisFlyer Gold.
But if you've got the chance for a long international flight with SQ or any Star Alliance partner, using your Aegean Miles&Bonus number is the smart shortcut to getting equivalent status to KrisFlyer Gold.
Go Gold with a single trip
Here are some examples of trips that will earn you the necessary 20,000 Aegean Tier Miles to reach Star Alliance Gold:
- One-way United business class (Melbourne-New York)
- Return Air China business class (Sydney-Beijing)
- Return Thai Airways business class (Sydney-Bangkok-Hong Kong)
- Return economy class (on certain fares) from Australia's east coast to London
- Two United business class returns (San Francisco-New York)
(Not every airline's business class earns double, though, so make sure you check the earning tables for your airline and booking class fare code.)
Even a shorter trip can let you hit Aegean's Miles&Bonus Silver, which once again equates to Star Alliance Silver - and is better than no status at all.
Aegean is also very generous when it comes to holding onto your status.
For example: I flew Air Canada business class from Sydney to Toronto in February and put the trip against a just-opened Aegean account. My new Miles&Bonus Gold is now valid until December 2016, delivering almost three years of Gold-grade perks with any Star Alliance airline.
Once you've got Aegean Gold status, you can go back to crediting Star Alliance travel to your frequent flyer program of choice.
Don't forget that Star Alliance members Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines are Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer partners, so you can funnel points and status credits from your NZ and SQ flights into Velocity, too.
Australian Business Traveller is Australia's leading independent website for business travellers and frequent flyers.