OK, it’s time for a post I’ve been meaning to make for a long time now, which I finally was pushed to make after a comment I read yesterday. I hear on an almost weekly basis, “Yeah, the Star Alliance is starting to suck, they’re letting EgyptAir, Air China, Shanghai Air, Air India, etc. into an otherwise good alliance.”
There’s no doubt in my mind that all those airlines aren’t particularly good overall, definitely not up to the standard of the previous Star carriers. At the same time, let’s think about this for a minute. When you’re flying within Egypt, what are you choices for airlines? Well, frankly I’m not too familiar with Egyptian aviation, but I’d say EgyptAir is about as good as they get. Similarly, while China has several carriers, none really stands out as a “gem.”
Let me put it in terms of an example. Last summer I had an award ticket in business class to China, back before Shanghai Air or Air China were in the Star Alliance. I booked the award into Shanghai and out of Beijing, since booking the intra-China segment on miles wasn’t possible as part of a Star award. So as a result I had to buy a revenue ticket for PVG-PEK and got treated like any other passenger. Had they been a part of the Star Alliance I could have flown PVG-PEK as part of the award ticket in business class. Similarly, even if I had purchased a revenue coach ticket I would have had priority check-in (I waited in line for nearly 30 minutes), lounge access, extra baggage allowance, priority seating, etc.
As I’ve recently posted about, I’ve been planning an award to Egypt for my mom and brother in first class. They want to fly into Cairo and out of Luxor. Since EgyptAir is in the Star Alliance I’m able to book them a ticket into Cairo and then out of Luxor as part of the same mileage award ticket. They’ll be saving the money they’d otherwise have to pay for a revenue ticket, not to mention will get business class seating and a bunch of other benefits.
Simply think of the additions of these airlines as more options for your travels, especially when you’re traveling in a region without any premium carriers. Air India is an exception here since there actually are quality airlines in India (like Jet and Kingfisher).
Be it the ability to include domestic segments within China and Egypt as part of an award or be it the extra benefits you receive on a revenue ticket, it’s a win-win.
Lastly, and maybe I’m a bit naive on this point, but I don’t get the feeling that Air China and Egypt Air frequent flyers present a huge threat to common Star award inventory.
Just my two cents….