Star Alliance Lounge Access Rules

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Surprisingly very little has been written on this topic even though exceptions can be seen throughout the alliance.

One of the top benefits of being part the “big three” global airline alliances is that they offer reciprocal lounge access for their members.

As with the other two major alliances, Oneworld and SkyTeam, Star Alliance doesn’t offer its own frequent flyer program. Rather, joining any Star Alliance member’s frequent flyer program will allow you to earn and redeem miles across the network. Star Alliance Silver and Gold, the two priority tiers, can make your journey significantly more enjoyable.

The Star Alliance network consists of 26 member airlines, who as a whole, fly to more than 1300 destinations, more than any other airline alliance. The alliances fleet is comprised of more than 4,500 aircraft that transport over 670 million passengers per year.

Generally speaking, only Star Alliance Gold lets you into Airline lounges!

So, What’s the Minimum you need to know?

There are some general rules, but this is not the same for Skyteam and Oneworld lounge access rules who have their own rules and policies regarding lounge access.

Generally speaking, only Star Alliance Gold lets you into Airline lounges, which is in contrast to Oneworld where there are two tiers, Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald, which let you into their networks Business and First class lounges respectively.

Additionally, One of the standout weaknesses of Star Alliance membership is that you have to access a lounge based on the cabin you’re travelling in (ie Business Class lounges when travelling in business class). What’s more, is that it’s the departing flight that counts, so if you depart in Business and then go onto First class, you will only have access to business class lounges.

Again this is in contrast to Oneworld which uses the longest sector when a stopover is involved. However, Star Alliance carriers get around this by branding your ticket as first in a lower cabin – which is a little redundant.

As a general rule of thumb:

This is what you need to know when trying to access lounges

Star Alliance Gold Customers travelling in any class of travel

Star Alliance Gold customers travelling in any class on a Star Alliance member airline operated flight can access Star Alliance member lounges if the following conditions are met:

  • You present your boarding pass of a Star Alliance member airline-operated flight which departs on the same day as your visit or latest by 05:00 AM the next morning.
  • If your boarding pass does not carry the Star Alliance Gold indicator, you will need to also show your valid Star Alliance Gold card.
  • The lounge displays the Star Alliance Gold logo at the entrance.
  • You are entitled to bring one guest travelling on any Star Alliance flight departing from the same airport on the same day. As of May 3, 2021, the guest must be travelling on the same flight.

If you are a United MileagePlus Star Alliance Gold customer, you may only access the United Clubs within the U.S. when departing from that airport on an international Star Alliance flight, not when departing on a domestic flight with United.

International First Class Lounges

As an International First Class Customer, you have access to International First Class and any Star Alliance member carrier’s own lounges at the airport where your flight departs if the following conditions are met:

  • You have access to (the majority) of international first class and any Star Alliance member carriers’ own lounges
  • You must present a boarding pass for travel in first class on a Star Alliance flight
  • Your flight departs on the same day of your visit or latest by 05.00 AM the next morning.
  • The lounge shows the Star Alliance Logo at the entrance.
  • You must be departing from the local airport in first class
  • You must have paid for your ticket with cash or miles; staff travel doesn’t qualify
  • You are entitled to bring one guest, and they must be travelling on the same flight

International Business Class Lounges

As an International Business Class Customer you have access to any Star Alliance member carrier’s owned Business Class lounge at the airport where your flight departs if the following conditions are met:

  • You present a boarding pass in International Business Class on a Star Alliance member airline-operated flight
  • Your flight departs on the same day of your visit or latest by 05:00 AM the next morning
  • The lounge shows the Star Alliance Gold logo at the entrance
  • You are not entitled to bring any guests.

STATUS VS TRAVEL CLASS

IS THE TRAVEL CLASS MORE IMPORTANT?

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One of the more visible interpretations of this rule is when it comes to Airline lounges with varying access criteria designed specifically for their own elite members.

In some instances, your travel class with an airline will hold more importance than the status you hold. There are some important exclusions, as a Star Alliance Gold Member alone won’t consistently get you access to:

The confusion lies in the fact that Star Alliance’s own rules stipulate carriers must maintain a minimum standard to which all airlines must adhere, but member airlines are free to go above and beyond.

However this is not unique to Star Alliance, both Oneworld members British Airways and Qatar Airways operate two first class lounges at their main hub airport. One which is accessible to holders of Emerald status (thereby adhering to the OneWorld Rule) and one which is only accessible, by invitation, or when travelling in first class with the airline (thereby going exceeding their requirement).

IS THE STATUS MORE IMPORTANT?

North America Lounge Access with United and Air Canada

Unsurprisingly, US airlines tend to get in the way of the unified airline policy when it comes to lounge access. That’s because within the United States you generally don’t get lounge access just for flying domestic first class, or on account of having elite status. Rather US airlines try to sell United club lounge memberships.

If you’re travelling within the United States on United:

  • A first or business class ticket within the United States on United generally won’t get you lounge access, with the exception of a limited number of premium routes. Lounge access is reserved for International and transcontinental routes
  • Star Alliance Gold through United Airlines don’t get lounge access when traveling within the United States unless you have United Club Membership

Paid Route

Unsurprisingly, North American carriers United and Air Canada are willing to sell you lounge access at a pretty hefty fee

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Dan
Dan
Travelling on Points is the brainchild of a person who loves to travel and reap the benefits of doing so. Dan enjoys sharing the knowledge of travel as he believes that the more people travel the less narrow-minded, and more tolerant, people will be of each other.

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