Star Alliance Loyalty with Asiana Club

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In a previous post we’ve talked about airline alliances, the merits of flying with an alliance member, and how to decide on one. The Star Alliance is the largest airline network in the world and is one of the top choices of frequent flyers. Under this alliance is Asiana Airlines which is based in South Korea and rewards loyal customers through the Asiana Club program.

What is Asiana Club? Asian Miler explains why it could be the best fit for you.

 

Asiana Club

Asiana Club Loyalty Program

The Asiana Club is the frequent flyer program offered by Asiana Airlines where members can accumulate and spend miles for travel flown on Asiana or partner carriers. Registration is free, and everyone starts out in Silver, the lowest membership tier.

Elite Status and Perks

What are tiers? These are basically membership levels awarded according to the frequency of travel or the distance traveled and credited to the loyalty program.

Every Star Alliance airline (or just about any other major airline) has membership tiers which provide more perks and rewards as you climb up to program. How do you get promoted up these Club tiers?

Silver

This is the regular member tier. Anyone 12 years or older can register as an Asiana Club member and start on this tier. You basically start here to accumulate and redeem miles upon registering with the program.

A few things to remember as you start with Asiana Club Silver:

  • One term in a membership tier lasts for 24 months after the registration date, and gets renewed every 24 months thereafter.
  • The miles earned expire by the end of the last calendar month of the tenth year they are earned. In other words, miles earned last for 10 calendar years.
Gold

You get promoted to this tier after boarding 30 Asiana flights OR crediting 20,000 miles on Asiana or Star Alliance airlines to the program within the current membership term (in other words, within 24 months). This is generous compared with most other programs where only flights from the last 12 months are considered.

Once you satisfy the requirements, you immediately get upgraded to this tier and enjoy its benefits for the rest of your current term AND your next term. If you joined October 2018 and credit enough by December, you enjoy the benefits of Gold in this term until October 2020 AND the next one until October 2022.

Here are the other benefits of Asiana Club Gold:

  • Miles also last for ten calendar years, as with Silver.
  • You are awarded two tickets to Asiana Club business lounges at South Korean airports.
  • You earn a 5% bonus on eligible miles traveled on Asiana planes.
  • When boarding Asiana, you are allotted an extra 9 kilograms baggage allowance.
  • Your baggage gets priority handling at the Asiana check-in counter.
  • You earn Star Alliance Silver Status and its benefits.
Diamond

This tier is for members who board 50 Asiana flights OR credit 40,000 miles on Asiana or Star Alliance airlines within the membership term.

Members likewise immediately get upgraded to this tier for the rest of the current term AND the next. If you joined October 2018, credited Gold by December and Diamond by March, you enjoy the benefits of Gold from December to March 2018, AND those of Diamond onward to October 2022.

Asiana Club Diamond comes with the following perks:

  • On this and other higher tiers, miles earned are valid for 12 calendar years; they expire in January of the 13th year.
  • You and one companion can use any lounge of Star Alliance members at airports all over the world, as long as you are boarding a Star Alliance flight.
  • You earn a 10% bonus on eligible miles traveled on Asiana planes.
  • When boarding any Star Alliance flight, you are allotted one extra bag allowance.
  • You can use the Star Alliance priority queue at check-in.
  • Your baggage gets priority handling both at check-in and pick-up.
  • You are awarded Star Alliance Gold Status and its benefits.
Diamond Plus

Boarding 100 Asiana flights OR crediting 100,000 miles on Asiana or Star Alliance aircraft promotes you to this tier.

As with the previous tiers, eligible members immediately get upgraded to this tier for the rest of the current term AND the next.

Gaining Asiana Club Diamond Plus unlocks the following benefits:

  • You and one companion can use any lounge of Star Alliance members at airports all over the world, as long as you are boarding a Star Alliance flight. Alternatively, you and a companion get access to the highest class of Asiana lounges in South Korea.
  • You earn a 15% bonus on eligible miles traveled on Asiana planes.
  • When boarding any Star Alliance flight, you are allotted one extra bag allowance.
  • You can use the Star Alliance priority queue at check-in.
  • Your baggage gets priority handling both at check-in and pick-up.
  • The 50% peak season extra redemption cost is also waived.
  • You keep Star Alliance Gold Status and its benefits.

In addition, boarding Asiana 500 times OR crediting 500,000 miles from the time you registered into Asiana Club entitles you to Lifetime Diamond Plus. On top of the benefits above, you get two discount coupons for redeeming or upgrading flight bookings every time you satisfy the Diamond Plus crediting requirements in a given membership term.

This lifetime elite status is yet another generous offer as this equivalent Star Alliance Gold status is usually awarded by other programs only after crediting a million miles, even on rival alliances! This is really the way for avid frequent flyers to get the best benefits out of any loyalty program much sooner.

Platinum

Finally, at this most exclusive Asiana Club tier, members get this lifetime status by boarding 1000 Asiana flights OR crediting 1,000,000 miles on Asiana or Star Alliance flights from the start of your membership. This is the true million mile flyer tier.

The benefits at this level are almost the same as in Diamond Plus, but you instead get a 20% bonus earned on eligible miles with Asiana.

 

Asiana First Suite Class cabins

Earning Opportunities

So now that you know how Asiana Club tiers work, how do you start earning miles under the program?

Flying

First, the most straightforward way of earning miles and gaining status is by flying Asiana, Star Alliance or other airline partner aircraft. When you make bookings online be sure to provide your Asiana Club membership number, and make sure that the booking class earns miles. Not all tickets earn full miles (if at all) so make sure to find out beforehand. You can use planning tools to find out how much you can earn with every flight; the route mileage calculator and crediting tables will be very helpful.

Staying

Some of you might already be using online travel agencies to earn miles. You can sign up for the Agoda PointsMAX program which provides bonus miles to your preferred loyalty program (including Asiana’s) with every stay. Alternatively, Expedia Korea also gives 3 miles for every 1,000 KRW spent on bookings.

You can also book directly with hotels, with varying earning rates such as:

  • Hilton: 1 point per $1
  • Intercontinental Hotel Group: 500 points per stay
  • Marriott International: 1-2 points per $1
  • Hyatt: 500 points per stay
  • Starwood Hotels: 2 points per $1
  • Best Western: 250 points per stay
  • Carlson Rezidor: 500 points per stay
Buying Points

Did you know you could convert hotel loyalty program points to Asiana Club miles as well? You can convert Starwood Preferred Guest points or transfer World of Hyatt rewards points (formerly Hyatt Gold Passport) into miles.

The best part is that you can buy these points outright. 1,000 SPG points cost $35 while 1,000 Hyatt points sell for $24. You can buy up to 30,000 SPG points and 55,000 World of Hyatt points a year, and then transfer to Asiana Club accordingly. Both programs offer bonuses for transferring a set number of miles per transaction. Take note that the transfer may take a few days or weeks, and do NOT count towards Asiana Club status eligibility.

Watch out for the discount or bonus promotions the two offer each year. Both SPG and World of Hyatt are known to knock off around 30% or more their usual prices a few times each year. Once year-end comes along and you find yourself lacking Asiana Club points, these could be the way to go.

Spending

Unfortunately for Asians living outside of South Korea, the USA or Japan there are virtually no credit card offerings to earn miles on purchases. For now this is the biggest drawback which can significantly slow your miles earning strategy. If you are lucky enough to be living in any of those three countries you can check the available partner card options.

 

Asiana Airlines routes from ICN. courtesy Star Alliance FlightMaps

Asian Miler says…

So how could Asiana Club frequent flyer program fit into your travel hacking strategy?

Value

Asiana Club’s greatest benefit to the average frequent flyer is the incredibly generous validity period for all earned miles. That miles you accumulate expire only after 10 or 12 years is incredible. The industry standard is 3 years for most programs, while some are invalidated after a year of account inactivity.

Most people cannot be bothered to check their accounts and track when they’ll need to use the miles. A decade would then at least be a very big allowance to choose and schedule award flights.

More importantly, Asiana Club miles have rarely been devalued over the years. This means that the cost of published route awards has not changed in quite some time. Other airlines have introduced drastic loyalty point devaluations, costing loyal members more miles than ever before.

Convenience and Perks

Asiana Club members are only required to credit fewer miles within a longer qualification period to gain the same level of Star Alliance status. You just need to credit 20,000 eligible miles over the span of 24 months to earn Gold (Star Alliance Silver) and 40,000 miles in total for Diamond (Star Alliance Gold). Compare that with Singapore Airline’s KrisFlyer where members have to credit 25,000 miles in just 12 months to earn Silver and 50,000 for Gold!

And then there are the small things. Grabbing a meal or resting at the lounge before a flight. Boarding ahead of other passengers. Getting your luggage out the baggage wheel first. By crediting fewer miles to Asiana Club, you are able to enjoy these benefits sooner. Plus, as a Star Alliance elite you’re getting similar benefits with partner lounges and airlines all over the alliance’s network.

Pooling

The loyalty program allows up to 5 family members holding various accounts to pool miles together. Under this Family Mileage Plan, immediate family members can submit documentation online to prove their relationship. Once verified, anyone can then book a reward ticket for another or pool miles for a big reservation.

Under their strict guidelines, the only immediate family members recognized are spouse, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, son-in-law, daughter-in-law and parent-in-law.

Long-term

If you’re loyal and travel enough, you could become a lifetime elite sooner than in most other programs. Now this is not for the casual traveler; half a million miles is a LOT of traveling. If you earn just the bare minimum 40,000 every two years for Diamond then it’s going to take 26 years to reach Lifetime Diamond Plus! And it’s going to cost you.

You should therefore simply view lifetime Asiana Club elite status as an extra long-term goal to have. It will only be achievable if you have enough discipline to follow your Star Alliance travel strategy; it would be prudent to not spend and travel excessively just for the sake of earning.

Unless a patron sponsors your trips, of course.

Points to Note

Aside from having limited credit card partnerships, Asiana Club has been reported to be challenging to book award tickets on. You can start searching for and booking available award seats through their website but you cannot proceed to final payment without sufficient miles. If you want to use miles to book on partner airlines, you have to reach their call center.

Also, reservations made on published peak season periods cost 50% more miles. These dates are updated annually, so check the charts page for more information. This extra charge, however, is waived for Asiana Club Diamond Plus and Platinum members.

 

Asiana Airlines plane. copyright Kentaro Iemoto

Final Word

Asiana Club frequent flyer membership has been quite overlooked as a useful loyalty program. Its generous miles validity period helps preserve miles, but it has limited card-based earning partnerships.

As a member of Star Alliance, Asiana gains much from the sheer number of airline partners for members to book and credit miles from. This makes it very apparent that the Asiana Club program both benefits from and depends heavily on actually flying.

But the program makes it easier to earn — and keep — elite status and all its Star Alliance perks. Overall, Asiana Club is a balanced loyalty program that can provide enjoyable travel experiences in the long run.

Have you tried this frequent flyer program before? Have you even heard of it? Does it make sense for your travel strategy? Leave some comments for us down below.

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