Deutsche Bahn Becomes First Intermodal Star Alliance Partner


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The collaboration will allow Deutsche Bahn and Star Alliance passengers to book integrated international plane and train journeys through one platform.

Essentially under the new cooperation, Deutsche Bahn customers and passengers of Star Alliance member airlines can start or end their journey by train. Germany is the first market where the alliance’s intermodal concept is being tried.

With a few minor tweaks, this is near identical to Delta’s Air+Rail, going as far as using the same integrator, AccesRail, except just on a far grander scale.

As it’s described, this is the Star Alliance “sending another strong signal for the environment-friendly evolution of the travel industry.” Deutsche Bahn is the first Star Alliance intermodal member, but we’re told to expect more railway, bus, and ferry partnerships in the future.

The partnership builds on the Lufthansa Express Rail programme, which has allowed Lufthansa customers to buy a combined ticket for train and flight for more than 20 years. Following this announcement, all other member airlines of the Star Alliance family will be able to include Deutsche Bahn’s ICE trains in their booking systems.

Airline Benefits On The Ground?

There are a few benefits that you get while taking the train because it is applied alliance wide, namely:

Lounge Access

In addition, business and first-class customers of Star Alliance member airlines will have access to the DB lounges.

Mileage Accrual

This is a bit of a hot potato but the good news is that yes you do earn miles. We make sure that you do not miss out on the rewards. Enjoy mileage accrual for the train journey in your preferred Star Alliance member carrier frequent flyer programme. This should help uptake as when airlines approach it individually, like Delta’s Air+Rail, there is mileage accrual on the train segment.

Priority Checkin

At Frankfurt Airport, passengers will also benefit from accelerated baggage handling and other services in the AiRail check-in area.

Is This Anything New?

In reality, this is nothing new, AccesRail has been around for some time, and is actually an underused element of the transportation network. The UK Government actually did quite a bit of work looking into bringing this further to the forefront in fact, looking at the barriers and appetite for such intermodal transport.

But there is a difference between having an ‘add-on’, such as Aer Lingus passengers adding an additional Heathrow Express ticket to their flight when booking between Dublin Airport and Heathrow Airport. Versus something like Express Rail, Rail&Fly or Air+Rail which is all branding for the exact same service – which is a partnership between rail operators, participating airlines and AccesRail which integrates the two together.

The key difference between the two is one is an add-on and once is a complete ticket under one ticket number.

Ultimately though, the benefits are pretty weak, and there are no points-earning opportunities if you’re not booking everything as part of a single itinerary that includes an airline ticket and a flight.

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