Star Alliance Gold Status for $2200, No Flying Required

Star Alliance member Avianca outright sells elite status in their LifeMiles frequent flyer program. It’s $1200 for Silver elite and $2200 for Gold. Avianca’s Gold status is Star Alliance Gold.

Here are the benefits of having Star Alliance Gold status:

Reader Leonard B. writes about his experience signing up. I thought I had written about this but couldn’t find a previous post about it, so I thought I’d pass this along.

I was missing my star alliance Gold status. It was the little conveniences of getting in line early, getting preferential seats more baggage on flights. This really came in handy in Asia and Europe for the short flights where you pay a fortune for extra weight.

I decided to try and purchase the $2,200 gold status through Avianca. I called the number no answer other than music on hold for ever.

I wrote to them and was told I have to go to an office which there are very few in the U.S. I explained this and they told me they would arrange to call me. They did but each time I picked up the phone no one was there.

I finally called a number provided in one of the emails and I got though almost immediately. I asked if I could purchase star alliance gold and was told I must go to the office. I explained the emails and after being placed on hold several times I was told no problem. They would want me to call back in 30 minutes or they could call me, I elected for them to call me so I would not have to go through the process of explaining myself.

Thirty minutes later they called took my credit card with a translator on the phone…

It’s worth noting that there are also real substantive benefits to this status if you’re flying Avianca itself, most notably complimentary upgrades (except on Europe flights, and reported results of this benefit are.. mixed).

The 100% mileage bonus is notable as well. While you can use your card to access most of the benefits, or if you want checked bag fees waived keep your account number in your reservation until bags are checked and you can always credit to United MileagePlus or another Star Alliance program after that’s been accomplished — but you may want to credit to LifeMiles.

If you have any status at all though, I’d certainly consider the status match route before forking over $2200.

I’d also consider whether using the cash to buy a lounge membership, and then the remaining 75% towards paid first class tickets (often a cheap buy up on domestic flights) might make more sense.

Still, there’s a market for this and I understand where Leonard was going with it.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I’m sorry, but I hate to see anyone able to buy the benefits that others like myself work hard to earn. It dilutes my benefits! When there are more people trying to collect on these benefits, it makes it harder for those of us who earned these benefits to be able to use them. I really do not think these people should be given the same access to upgrades as the legitimate earners.

  2. I don’t see why it matters if you have to fly it or buy it… it’s a product they’re able to sell. Some would argue it’s not fare for mileage runners to earn status and everything should be 100% revenue, or only business/first class flyers should have access to lounges, or if you really want to draw the entitlement line – no mistake fares should ever be honored….

    I got my A3*G for $1100 last year by dumping a business mistake fare – did I earn it or buy it?

  3. With United setting both a $12,000 spending and 100k miles for the 1k level this year would you expect the Upgrades to get easier for those who continue achieving 1k?

  4. @Rose, you mistake “hard work” and “earning” for “revenue generation.” If someone wants to pay over $2000 for nothing, which is 100% pure revenue for the airline, why shouldn’t the airline throw in some free checked bags, priority check-in, and maybe the occasional lounge visit? Unless you’re flying on Avianca, they’re not “competing” for “your” upgrade. In my experience, airlines rarely give upgrades to partner elites– not even for premium economy.

  5. If you travel often in Latin America, and you like to do it cheap, another nice Avianca niche can regularly be found buying LifeMiles on a 2×1 basis. The miles are useful in closing open-jaws on many longhaul itineraries. And if the past couple years’ track record is any kind of predictor, a LifeMiles sale is actually due pretty soon.

  6. @Rose – you should be thanking anyone that throw’s $2,200 away for such weak benefits. It’ll keep airline more profitable and flights cheaper. (Avianca won’t help most). AA sells gold for cheaper (with significantly more benefits)

    NIMBC – Not in my Business Class.

  7. I am the person that purchased the status and admit it may have been a waste of money. I had star alliance gold for many years, until the separation of US Air from the program. I enjoyed the status for the little benefits in some remote airports. I do not expect to have any upgrades because of this so I won’t be taking anything away from Rose. If I get to carry some extra bags and weight along with earlier boarding and shorter airport lines I don’t think I am taking anything away from anyone. I just have to evaluate if it is worth the money I paid after a year. Check back with me then.

  8. It’s so predictable…. there is always someone whining about status dilution. A person who paid $2,200 for relatively minor benefits isn’t really diluting others’ status, but that doesn’t stop the whiners.

  9. If someone wants to spend $2200 than good for them! At the end of the day, how would you know the person in the lounge with you or sitting beside you bought or earned status… or whether they purchased the flight or redeemed it… who cares. Rose is a hater. Good for Leonard. It’s clear he felt justified and why do you care how Leonard spends his money Rose? Do you criticize everyone at the mall or grocery store on their purchases?

  10. I can see both Leonard’s and Rose’s POV. It all depends on what *G it is worth to someone. To be sure for the airline it is 100% profit with little impact on them if leonard buys it. Rose and the rest of us “did the time” so I empathize, but I’d also consider just paying if it was more readily available, and if it was worth it for me (probably not in this case). US Airways had a pretty good Chairman buy up program. I don’t think she is a “hater”. It’s just the frustration of someone “cutting the line” so to speak, but I really don’t see why BIS miles should trump cash.

  11. @Rose, So you actually think you earned and owned something valuable, by which the airline can change the terms anytime they please and told you upfront you have no right? Sighhhhhh . . . . . . Anyway, plenty of FFP are revenue-based, you like Singapore Airlines? All you need to do is to spend $20k and buy a First class Suite ticket between SIN and JKF and you will get top tier elite status (PPS). You can get the round trip done in 3 days. Do you think this is unfair?

  12. 2200 might make sense for me, too. I”m mostly retired (I work/travel-for-biz 10-12x/yr) I chase miles like many here do an earn about 250K/yr which I use for vacation travel.

    I did the TK from CO gold status match almost 4 years ago. I earnfree ed enough TK over the first two years to renew, but now that TK only credits 50% from UA on the lower fare classes I find myself paying more for my tix so I can get the full credit.

    I have to do the math. The extra cost fares to keep *G might be less than the one-time Avianca. Also, I’d buy lounge access, either outright or day passes, and that’s worth several hundred a year. A few years of their *G and I’m pretty sure I’ll be ahead of the game.

    As others have said, I get group 2 boarding, priority check in lines, free bags and lounge. Not eligible for upgrades.

  13. This is really no different than Starwood giving Platinum benefits to AMEX card holders….More crowded clubs, slower Internet, longer check in lines.
    These hotels and airlines want to sell the benefits, fine, but I’m not playing and as a lifetime platinum member with Starwood, have already canceled most of my reservations for the balance of the year.

  14. I’m surprised some are making fun of Rose?? I’m not sure that I would have spent $2200 to get status with the airline, but I’m Million Miler on UA. To each his own.

  15. It has been almost one year since I paid $2200 for the privelage of having *G. Was it worth it. Unfortunately in my case NO. All of my long haul international flights were award seats for business which gave me the privelage. There were a few Asia flights where the benefit paid off. Higher bag allowance easier check in. I.n some countries this is a big benefit when traveling on economy seats between countries. Unfortunately I was diagnosed with cancer late last year and lost six months of use. I jut began flying and the benefit came in handy recently but I certainly did not get my money’s worth. With the landscape of airlines and programs changing not sure what I will do. I think I will try some mileage runs along with credit card spend. I have allot to catch up with the second half of the year here. Not really interested in a Marriott relationship although I am about 7 years in on SPG platinum. I got status match with Hyatt but have not had enough hotel nights to earn enough to keep it. We will see how it goes. Just happy to be back on the road and cancer free.

  16. Leonard Please send me contact with avianca as I wish to purchase gold

    Thanks Dylan chivers

  17. Dylan

    They do not make it easy, not sure where you live. They did this for me via email, when I tried to renew they told me I had to go into an office. The I decided, who cares and did not do it. If you go to an office it needs to be one of their offices, not a partner office. I tried to do this in Switzerland, waited while they researched it and then told me they were just an agent office I had to go to one of theirs.

  18. Leonard. Could I have the email address you used to contact them. Then I might be able to find an office

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