Star Alliance Adding Intermodal (Non-Airline) Member

Star Alliance Adding Intermodal (Non-Airline) Member

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While details are limited as of now, it looks like Star Alliance will be taking the concept of airline alliances to the next level, by adding an intermodal partner.

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 will be changing soon, as reported by Aero Telegraph. Star Alliance CEO Jeffrey Goh has today revealed that the alliance is “now working on an intermodal partnership model.”

While the first such partner hasn’t yet been named, it’s stated that the first intermodal partner will be a European company. When asked if it was a rail company, Goh stated “I think you’re not that far off.”

Star Alliance is expanding beyond airlines

This is an intriguing concept

Logically speaking, it sure sounds to me like a European rail operator will be the first intermodal partner added to the Star Alliance. A few thoughts:

  • We’re seeing airlines in Europe sell “air & rail tickets,” whereby you can book a ticket that includes travel on both an airline and a train; this is becoming increasingly common as we see European airlines cut some shorter routes, including for climate reasons
  • From a consumer standpoint, the best aspect of airline alliances is that you can take advantage of select elite perks, and both earn and redeem miles, when traveling with these partners; I’m curious to what extent we see elite perks added, and what mileage earning and redemption options will look like
  • It’s anyone’s guess which rail operator will be added as a Star Alliance member; there are many options (especially since Star Alliance airlines in Europe already cooperate with some), but frankly I don’t really have a great guess as to which will be added
  • On the surface it seems most likely that it would be a German or Swiss rail operator added, based on Star Alliance airlines based in those countries, and the ability to sell tickets that include travel on both forms of transportation
  • Star Alliance airlines all have select aircraft in the Star Alliance livery, so will this new partner also have a (probably) train in the Star Alliance livery? That would be cool…

I’m very curious to learn more details here. It sure would be cool to see a major airline alliance add a rail partner as a member. Here’s to hoping that the benefits aren’t watered down too much, especially for those traveling just by rail.

Star Alliance is adding a non-airline member

Bottom line

The Star Alliance plans to add an intermodal member in the near future. It will be a European company, and it sounds like it could very well be a rail operator. This is an exciting extension of the traditional airline alliance concept. Now we just have to learn which company will be the first non-air partner, and what benefits will be like.

Anyone have a guess as to what intermodal member will be added to Star Alliance? What are you expecting in terms of perks?

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  1. Aa Guest

    It might be the private operator Westbahn in Austria (they have trains from Vienna to Salzburg) because you can already earn Miles & More miles on those trains

  2. LP Guest

    It is going to be SBB. Routes from Munich, Germany, Geneva, Lugano in CH and Bregenz in Austria will be connected. Miles earned based on class of onwards flight. Use of DB lounge in Munich, guaranteed connections or rebooking and more.

  3. Max Guest

    Deutsche Bahn hahahaha

    And then you get lounge access at airports with a cheap DB status.

  4. ConcordeBoy Gold

    This week makes 25yrs for Star Alliance. Guess they wanted to shake things up for their 25th anniversary? Mission accomplished.

  5. James Guest

    It must be Flexbus, They are all over the place. Will really extend the alliance's reach

    1. gpb_croppers63 New Member

      I would just love to see someone coming off a First Class LH flight and transferring to a FlixBus! :D

  6. Eskimo Guest

    Unless the quote was taken out of context, I've never heard of intermodal used outside the context of freight or cargo.

    I guess Star Alliance doesn't view us as passengers anymore, just a living piece of freight.

    1. ConcordeBoy Gold

      That's more to do with your own ignorance, than anything to do with Star/pax/cargo/etc.

      "Modal," in this connotation simply means "form of transit."
      "Inter," as nearly always, means "between different."

      Thus, intermodal = between different forms of transit.

    2. Eskimo Guest

      Or more to do with your limited insights.

      "Butter," in this connotation simply means "food."
      "Fly" as nearly always, means "moving through air."

      Thus, butterfly = food moving through air?

      Maybe my ignorance, or maybe yours.

  7. Samo Guest

    This is pretty awesome. If I can get my alliance benefits extended to other modes of transportation, that would be just great. In Europe it often doesn't make sense to fly on many routes so being able to use trains while still receiving my perks can be a major improvement.

  8. Kiwi Guest

    My guess would actually be Italio in Italy with it being a much more competitive rail market than Germany or Switzerland where the Star alliance expense brings a competitive advantage.

  9. Brian G. Member

    I would stake money on it being Deutsche Bahn, given the close relationship between Lufthansa and them. Closer than the other EU airline and rail operator partnerships.

  10. stogieguy7 Diamond

    Didn't one world have Thalys as a member at one point? This is likely a development much like that - but more seamless. In the EU, governments are trying to discourage short haul flying in favor of rail travel and this could be a nod to that.

  11. jeff Guest

    The other place that is perfect for this, and a fit for Star Alliance, is intermodal ticketing via Newark Airport. It is a major Star Alliance hub as well as a stop on all East Coast Amtrak routes. Even from DC, where I live, it is easier to get to Newark by Amtrak than by flying, but it would be an even bigger deal for those living in the smaller towns of upstate NY and...

    The other place that is perfect for this, and a fit for Star Alliance, is intermodal ticketing via Newark Airport. It is a major Star Alliance hub as well as a stop on all East Coast Amtrak routes. Even from DC, where I live, it is easier to get to Newark by Amtrak than by flying, but it would be an even bigger deal for those living in the smaller towns of upstate NY and New England. BWI airport is also on that major Amtrak route. While not quite as convenient due to xfer, this option would still make sense for Philly airport. SFO also has some rail options, I believe, and there are surely others, such as the improved rail service in Florida. Bottom line is that a direct train ride of under 3-4 hours is almost always a better option than a short flight. Saves time for the passenger, is cheaper for the carrier (short flights don't make sense), and much better for the environment.

    1. Debo Member

      SFO would be an interesting option. BART is the only train service with a station inside the airport, but they have connections around the network with both CalTrain and Amtrak. CalTrain services all points south, into the Gilroy area (south of San Jose). Amtrak stretches east into Sacramento. Definitely better options than driving or the bus. The California High Speed rail will be using the CalTrain tracks, so in the future (2030-ish, sadly) people from...

      SFO would be an interesting option. BART is the only train service with a station inside the airport, but they have connections around the network with both CalTrain and Amtrak. CalTrain services all points south, into the Gilroy area (south of San Jose). Amtrak stretches east into Sacramento. Definitely better options than driving or the bus. The California High Speed rail will be using the CalTrain tracks, so in the future (2030-ish, sadly) people from the far interior Central Valley (i.e. Fresno) could take high speed rail to SFO.

    2. Explore Guest

      C’mon…BART is a rather nasty homeless encampment, and certainly not an intercity rail operator. Take the plane to the local train to the intercity train? You have to be kidding.

    3. Levi Member

      United (previously Continental) historically had an alliance with Amtrak, which mainly extended to mutual lounge access privileges, though not mileage earning or other elite privileges.

      It mainly allowed United to not have to fly much to PHL or serve New Haven at all.

      Upstate NY doesn't have great rail connectivity to EWR: it basically requires a train change at Penn Station.

    4. Aa Guest

      United already issues tickets on Amtrak connecting through Newark

  12. RetiredATLATC Gold

    Could it be this?

    SWISS and SBB to launch a Munich-Zurich Airport “SWISS Air Rail” route

    https://economyclassandbeyond.boardingarea.com/2022/05/12/swiss-and-sbb-to-launch-a-munich-zurich-airport-swiss-air-rail-route/?utm_source=BoardingArea&utm_medium=twitter

  13. Mike Z Guest

    My guess is Deutsche Bahn. They already have a partnership with Lufthansa and sell rail and fly tickets. Which are fantastic by the way since they can be used to travel to anywhere on the day of arrival.

  14. Klaus Guest

    I do not think it will be DB. My suggestion is that it will be SBB as they just announced this week that they will operate trains between Zurich and Munich with a Swiss flight numbers. So far, only Miles&More members can collect miles on these trains and only SEN and HON will be allowed to use the DB lounges in Munich.
    There are no SBB lounges in Switzerland.

    Assuming that it will...

    I do not think it will be DB. My suggestion is that it will be SBB as they just announced this week that they will operate trains between Zurich and Munich with a Swiss flight numbers. So far, only Miles&More members can collect miles on these trains and only SEN and HON will be allowed to use the DB lounges in Munich.
    There are no SBB lounges in Switzerland.

    Assuming that it will be SBB, it will be interesting to see if miles can be collected on any train (even commuter train?) or only specific routes?
    Also interesting to see if Star Alliance Gold benefits are available only on specific routes...and what these benefits would look like. While SBB does not have own lounges, will it be possible to use the lounge at Vienna when travelling on SBB?

  15. WMA Guest

    In addition to the noted comment on misconnect protection, I wonder how EU261 would work for combined air/rail tickets. Presumably compensation would be measured by the difference that the last segment (even if a rail segment) arrived following a delay.

  16. ptahcha Guest

    Eurostar seems like a likely candidate, since they already offer perks for *G members.

    1. Klaus Guest

      ...not sure about that.
      Heathrow Express is also a candidate by the way. Star Gold can upgrade to First Class for free when traveling Heathrow Express.

    2. Jim Guest

      I can't see Heathrow Express happening because I can't see IAG/Oneworld getting shown up in their own home.

      Heathrow Express is also owned by Heathrow itself, and that opens up a hole can of worms if you explicitly align with an airline alliance, particularly one that's not a hub.

    3. Jim Guest

      *whole

      I cannot spell, but I can tell that Heathrow is not about to choose a preferred airline alliance

  17. snic Diamond

    One potentially nice thing about this would be the ability to buy a ticket that includes A to B via air and B to C via rail. Because it's all on one ticket, the rail carrier would be obligated to get you to C if your flight to B is delayed and you miss your train. Unfortunately, the few times I've seen these sorts of tickets, the total price ends up being far higher than...

    One potentially nice thing about this would be the ability to buy a ticket that includes A to B via air and B to C via rail. Because it's all on one ticket, the rail carrier would be obligated to get you to C if your flight to B is delayed and you miss your train. Unfortunately, the few times I've seen these sorts of tickets, the total price ends up being far higher than buying separate tickets and taking your chances. So there isn't really much difference between having an expensive combined ticket and having an air ticket plus a full-fare refundable rail ticket.

    1. Klaus Guest

      Did you really see tickets issued by a rail-operator including flight segments?
      Or did you see tickets issued by an airline using train segments? Lufthansa for example uses trains between Cologne and Frankfurt in lieu of a flight. If the train is delayed, you will automatically rebooked. Same between Strassbourg and Frankfurt or Nurnberg and Munich...only that those routes are operated by a bus...

    2. Debo Member

      It's the latter. Airline issues tickets with train segments. Air France does this with SCNF.

  18. gpb_croppers63 New Member

    My bet would definitely be on Deutsche Bahn. SBB would be my second guess but I find DB more likely.

    1. RetiredATLATC Gold

      I'm guessing DBahn as well. At least I hope so.

  19. Andy Guest

    Presumably - assuming it is a rail operator in Europe - it will also be a rail operator with infrastructure already in existence compatible with the existing benefits of status - e.g. lounges in larger stations that could accommodate status guests in addition to current first-class train passenger loads and provide a service similar to that of an airport lounge; reliable seat selection; etc. That feels like it narrows down the 'who' to a potential...

    Presumably - assuming it is a rail operator in Europe - it will also be a rail operator with infrastructure already in existence compatible with the existing benefits of status - e.g. lounges in larger stations that could accommodate status guests in addition to current first-class train passenger loads and provide a service similar to that of an airport lounge; reliable seat selection; etc. That feels like it narrows down the 'who' to a potential few national rail operators in mainland Europe - DB, would be my guess.

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Brian G. Member

I would stake money on it being Deutsche Bahn, given the close relationship between Lufthansa and them. Closer than the other EU airline and rail operator partnerships.

1
Klaus Guest

...not sure about that. Heathrow Express is also a candidate by the way. Star Gold can upgrade to First Class for free when traveling Heathrow Express.

1
snic Diamond

One potentially nice thing about this would be the ability to buy a ticket that includes A to B via air and B to C via rail. Because it's all on one ticket, the rail carrier would be obligated to get you to C if your flight to B is delayed and you miss your train. Unfortunately, the few times I've seen these sorts of tickets, the total price ends up being far higher than buying separate tickets and taking your chances. So there isn't really much difference between having an expensive combined ticket and having an air ticket plus a full-fare refundable rail ticket.

1
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