Star Alliance Adds Deutsche Bahn As First Intermodal Member

Star Alliance Adds Deutsche Bahn As First Intermodal Member

20

In mid-May, Star Alliance revealed a couple of exciting developments, though details were initially limited. Not only is Star Alliance introducing a co-branded credit card, but the world’s largest airline alliance is also adding an intermodal partner. We now know the rail operator that’s joining the alliance, and the full details have been revealed.

Star Alliance adding intermodal member

Star Alliance is the world’s largest airline alliance, with 26 member airlines. Historically the alliance has been specifically for airlines, but that’s changing. As of August 1, 2022, Deutsche Bahn will be joining the Star Alliance as the first intermodal member.

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.

With this development, Deutsche Bahn customers and passengers of Star Alliance member airlines will be able to start or end their long distance journeys by train. This is intended to link loyalty systems and facilitate seamless transit.

Deutsche Bahn is joining Star Alliance

Deutsche Bahn joining the Star Alliance builds on the Lufthansa Express Rail program. In the future, all Star Alliance member airlines will be able to include Deutsche Bahn ICE trains as flight numbers in their booking engines, and customers will benefit from the following advantages:

  • In just one booking, airline customers will receive a combined ticket for the flight and train journeys, including seat reservations
  • Customers will benefit from priority baggage handling and other services in the AiRail check-in area in Frankfurt
  • For bookings of combined train & flight journeys via Lufthansa Express Rail, travelers can collect points or miles in their preferred Star Alliance program
  • First & business class Star Alliance airline passengers will receive additional benefits, such as access to Deutsche Bahn lounges
Star Alliance recognition on Deutsche Bahn is limited

This is a cool development, but…

In general it’s fantastic to see an airline alliance try to make connections to other forms of transportation more seamless. The way people travel is evolving, and this is a win-win. This is just the beginning of this concept for Star Alliance, and it sounds like we should expect lots of trains, ferries, buses, and more.

I suppose the execution here is exactly what I should have expected, though am I the only one that was hoping for more? It sure would’ve been nice if these intermodal partners joining Star Alliance actually offered similar benefits to Star Alliance airlines, even if you’re not booking them in conjunction with a flight.

Star Alliance is expanding beyond airlines

Essentially this is just an extension of the existing air & rail programs we see between airlines and train operators. However, 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.

It would have been nice to see reciprocal points redemptions, and some sort of elite perks or points earning if just booking an intermodal partner not in conjunction with a flight.

Like I said, I can’t say I’m surprised that this is the execution, though it sure would have been nice if Deutsche Bahn’s participation in the alliance were a bit more comprehensive.

There’s even a train in Star Alliance livery

Bottom line

As of August 2022, Star Alliance is adding Deutsche Bahn as its first intermodal member. This is only the first intermodal member, and we’re told to expect more trains, ferries, and buses to be added to the alliance in the near future.

The bad news is that as a Star Alliance traveler, you won’t get the same level of recognition on Deutsche Bahn that you’d get on an airline. Benefits and points earning only apply if you book a journey involving a flight and train, and even then the benefits are pretty weak.

So it’s better than nothing, but not quite as exciting as I was (maybe too optimistically) hoping.

What do you make of Star Alliance adding Deutsche Bahn, and what do you make of the execution?

Conversations (20)
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  1. tohtem New Member

    Disappointing. Booking seems complicated with too many if and butts. Would be nice if DB was a full fledge SA member. I would consider Frankfurt to Paris by train but will fly to get better rewards.

  2. Samo Guest

    Very disappointing. Not a member a lot, they are just slightly improving codeshares.

  3. KK13 Guest

    Something very unique and very helpful for travelers: If your train arrives late at the airport, causing you to miss your connection, you will be automatically rebooked onto a later flight.

    But, I thought this isn’t the first time a Star Alliance member partnered with a train line. Didn't Lufthansa Express Rail began provide a combined train-plus-flight booking experience in 2000s?

  4. Levi Gold

    Amtrak used to have a partnership with Continental which carried over for a few years post-merger with UA. It was primarily CO/UA codes on trains stopping at Newark Airport station so they didn't have to run flights from BWI/PHL/PVD/etc. to EWR.

    The noteworthy part was reciprocal lounge access: Amtrak mid/high-elites get Metropolitan Lounge (f/k/a ClubAcela in the Northeast) access and also got CO/UA club access, while CO/UA club members also had Amtrak lounge access.

    I...

    Amtrak used to have a partnership with Continental which carried over for a few years post-merger with UA. It was primarily CO/UA codes on trains stopping at Newark Airport station so they didn't have to run flights from BWI/PHL/PVD/etc. to EWR.

    The noteworthy part was reciprocal lounge access: Amtrak mid/high-elites get Metropolitan Lounge (f/k/a ClubAcela in the Northeast) access and also got CO/UA club access, while CO/UA club members also had Amtrak lounge access.

    I recall many Jersey flyers doing hidden city tickets for Philadelphia 30th Street -> EWR -> XXX as at least on the return you could get off the train in NJ.

  5. Fred Guest

    Its a good idea, but as others have pointed out, long overdue.

    Germany mainly Frankfurt set up a wonderful system about 12 years ago at the airport with the train and airport connected. Get off the plane and walk over the skyway to the train.
    However as you say Ben, flying to Berlin would be a better choice because it is a 5 hour trip.
    But if going more locally say to Dusseldorf...

    Its a good idea, but as others have pointed out, long overdue.

    Germany mainly Frankfurt set up a wonderful system about 12 years ago at the airport with the train and airport connected. Get off the plane and walk over the skyway to the train.
    However as you say Ben, flying to Berlin would be a better choice because it is a 5 hour trip.
    But if going more locally say to Dusseldorf in the north, or Stuttgart in the south, hopping on a train is better than flying.
    Munich is an either/or choice.

    However, as many German citizens have told us on the train, the govt money has gone down in support of the train system and DB is no longer one of the best. Many failures of trains, delays and missed connections. It used to be up there with Japan and Switzerland, but have dropped closer to England trains.

  6. Weareleeds4 Guest

    Deutschbahn’s computer system probably can’t deal with the points side of things

  7. iamhere Guest

    It is being done already with other airlines in other parts of the world. Just new to Europe and a major carrier.

  8. Why not? Guest

    It seems to me that more and more, managers make decisions in their meeting rooms, happy about some great ideas, and then in reality everything because a nightmare.

    As a German, I know what I am talking about. Stuttgart21 (main station), Berlin Brandenburg (airport) - we get the feeling that nothing in our country works anymore. (And do not get me started about green energy, German engineered cars and their cancellation "for climate change reasons",...

    It seems to me that more and more, managers make decisions in their meeting rooms, happy about some great ideas, and then in reality everything because a nightmare.

    As a German, I know what I am talking about. Stuttgart21 (main station), Berlin Brandenburg (airport) - we get the feeling that nothing in our country works anymore. (And do not get me started about green energy, German engineered cars and their cancellation "for climate change reasons", Russian pipelines and our dependence (?) on them, the list goes on...). The "Pippi Langstrumpf" syndrome: the way I wish to see the world, the world shall be...

    More and more, disasters strike.

    Last week, I was on a "Lufthansa Express Rail", which was delayed more than 90 minutes (the train one hour before was cancelled), did not stop for whatever reason at Frankfurt airport even though it was supposed to, was overbooked (there is no system like at the TGV), the air-con did not work, and when I finally made it to FRA, waiting at security for almost 2 hours, most of the flights were cancelled as well.

    So yeah, it sounds great on paper. Just do not count on anything when visiting Germany. It has become Italy of old (no disrespect), and do expect a strike when everything seems fine. And especially lower your expectations regarding German train stations. You are lucky if an escalator to your platform actually works for once. And good luck understanding those speakers saying something...

    If you want to experience smooth train operations, why don't you fly to Japan and board a Shinkansen.......

    In short: Forget about Star Alliance integration or benefits for you. It is really about Lufthansa, and when they cancel their flights again - now you can just find your way to the train station as the perfect solution - without a refund.

  9. not Stephan X Guest

    Whilst I am aware that DB has terrible
    punctuality (75% last year); I had a great journey today. Köln to Vienna via Nürnberg, booked with a connection because I couldn’t reserve seats all the way as direct. I’d built in a 1hr12 minute connection, based on the punctuality record of the train is started on.

    As it turned out, everything was on time and I got to have a plate of Nürnberg roast bratwurst and a glass of beer in the sunshine of the Altstat between trains.

  10. theebigjuan Guest

    Sounds disappointing. I fly to FRA in August. My wife arrives a day later from SOF. I booked a day early just in case. I am not purchasing an ICE to Cologne when my wife arrives... just in case. I guess I could marry her LH and DB, but it sounds like more trouble than it's worth.

  11. Donna Diamond

    I’m not too familiar with the German Rail system but speaking as someone who regularly uses French and Italian Rail, this initiative sounds like it could be more trouble than it’s worth. The aforementioned rail systems have their own loyalty programs which are solid and easy to book and rebook online in the event of a missed connection or a change in plans. Special (and targeted) discount fares are nearly always available with a little...

    I’m not too familiar with the German Rail system but speaking as someone who regularly uses French and Italian Rail, this initiative sounds like it could be more trouble than it’s worth. The aforementioned rail systems have their own loyalty programs which are solid and easy to book and rebook online in the event of a missed connection or a change in plans. Special (and targeted) discount fares are nearly always available with a little advance planning. Redemptions are also easy. As far as I am concerned, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  12. Andy Diamond

    This is really rather disappointing. It's basically only a codeshare alliance membership, that you can benefit from if a *A member airlines puts their code on a train service operated by DB. This is not something innovative, not even new ... AF/KL also has it with Thalys Rail and so does Swiss with SBB. The only, very marginal, innovation is that it is easier for other *A airlines to put their code on DB rail services.

    1. Klaus Guest

      And you would have Lounge access to DB lounges

    2. LEo Diamond

      For the amount of 29.90 Euro First Class ticket DB is selling already, every DB lounge is overcrowded enough...

    3. Klaus Guest

      If you are referring to the Sparpreis: that does not have lounge access included.

    4. Andy Diamond

      My understanding is that DB lounge access comes with a First or Business Class ticket. It's not yet completely clear, if this has to be on one of the codeshare services or same day connection ... but, anyhow, not *Gold.

  13. rsb29 Guest

    stay away from DB this summer. My recent experience was two levels below amtrak. Normally, they are fine, but what's happening on Lufthansa is happening on the IC and ICE trains as well.

  14. Klaus Guest

    …there already is one ICE train with a Star Alliance livery.

  15. Klaus Guest

    …there is a train with a Star Alliance livery already.

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KK13 Guest

Something very unique and very helpful for travelers: If your train arrives late at the airport, causing you to miss your connection, you will be automatically rebooked onto a later flight. But, I thought this isn’t the first time a Star Alliance member partnered with a train line. Didn't Lufthansa Express Rail began provide a combined train-plus-flight booking experience in 2000s?

1
Levi Gold

Amtrak used to have a partnership with Continental which carried over for a few years post-merger with UA. It was primarily CO/UA codes on trains stopping at Newark Airport station so they didn't have to run flights from BWI/PHL/PVD/etc. to EWR. The noteworthy part was reciprocal lounge access: Amtrak mid/high-elites get Metropolitan Lounge (f/k/a ClubAcela in the Northeast) access and also got CO/UA club access, while CO/UA club members also had Amtrak lounge access. I recall many Jersey flyers doing hidden city tickets for Philadelphia 30th Street -> EWR -> XXX as at least on the return you could get off the train in NJ.

1
theebigjuan Guest

Sounds disappointing. I fly to FRA in August. My wife arrives a day later from SOF. I booked a day early just in case. I am not purchasing an ICE to Cologne when my wife arrives... just in case. I guess I could marry her LH and DB, but it sounds like more trouble than it's worth.

1
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