A guide to Star Alliance lounges

If you want to enter the Star Alliance lounges, start gathering those air miles now.

Star Alliance lounge at Rome Airport. Image credit: Star Alliance
Star Alliance lounge at Rome Airport. Image credit: Star Alliance

The Star Alliance could be one of the most unique clubs in the world. Each of the Star Alliance lounges comes with designer furniture, high-speed Wi-Fi, and a restaurant serving up mouth-watering dishes. but what makes it so different to other lounges is that there is no joining fee. You don’t need to hand over one dollar from your wallet, all you need to do is love to fly.

How do you become a member?

Star Alliance is a club of which 28 major airlines are a member. If you accrue air miles with any of its partner airlines, you will automatically be able to claim a Star Alliance membership for the equivalent status. So if you are a Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Elite Gold member, you will automatically be given the Star Alliance Gold membership.

A Star Alliance Gold membership is worth spending some extra time in the air. It includes priority waitlisting, priority airport standby, priority check-in, priority boarding, priority baggage delivery, and extra baggage allowance as well Gold Track – a VIP fast-track through security and immigration. It also gives you worldwide lounge access.

If you have a United Airlines MileagePlus Premier Silver card, you can request a Star Alliance Silver membership. A Star Alliance Silver membership will automatically give you priority waitlisting and priority airport standby.

Do they have a frequent flyer program?

Star Alliance doesn’t have a frequent flyer program of its own. So you need to join a frequent flyer membership with one of its partner airlines that you fly with the most. There are 28 to choose from, but if you’re based in the U.S. you can consider United; if you’re in Asia, you can look at Singapore Airlines or Thai Airways International and if you’re in Europe, you might want to choose Lufthansa. You need to accrue your air miles with one of the member airlines to get their silver or gold card so you can claim one from Star Alliance.

Until you hit your Star Alliance Gold or Star Alliance Silver status, you can still enjoy perks by signing up for a Star Alliance partner’s frequent flyer program, as you can use those miles to claim award flights (free flights) with any airline within the Star Alliance network.

Star Alliance opened a lounge in Amsterdam in March, 2019. Image credit: Star Alliance
Star Alliance opened a lounge in Amsterdam in March, 2019. Image credit: Star Alliance

What do the Star Alliance lounges offer members?

Once you reach gold status with your chosen frequent flyer program, this means that you can claim Star Alliance Gold, which gives you access to more than 1,000 lounges worldwide so wherever you are on the planet, you can find a moment of respite.

As well as the partner lounges, there are also seven bespoke Star Alliance Lounges found in Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, Nagoya, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, and San Paulo. Each lounge has been created by local architects using artisanal design techniques, giving you a chance to embrace a little of that country’s flavor.

The lounge at Buenos Aires brings the Argentinian countryside indoors. From the large ranch-style leather chairs to the sheepskin rugs that decorate the chairs, the natural environment will relax even the most stressed-out traveler.

The Star Alliance lounge at Buenos Aires Airport offers a unique style. Image credit: Star Alliance
The Star Alliance lounge at Buenos Aires Airport offers Argentinian decor. Image credit: Star Alliance

When it comes to a room with a view, the Rio de Janeiro lounge is hard to beat as it offers views across the airport to the famous Rio landmarks such as Sugar Loaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer. Open 24 hours every day, the suite provides the perfect place to relax. If you didn’t have much chance to explore the capital, you can still enjoy the best of Brazil here with handmade Brazilian furniture and a buffet serving up uniquely Brazilian flavors. The Sao Paulo lounge also keeps the Brazilian hospitality alive with a light and bright area sporting funky rope seats as well as soft chairs for you to relax in.

The Star Alliance Lounge at Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris understands that after a hectic day in the city you might need a little alone time. So it has created an array of designer glass dividers throughout the lounge. Each one is decorated with French arrondissement features. They are almost as eye-catching as the photography by Cedric Doux and Michael Levy, which decorate the walls.

Star Alliance's refurbished Charles de Gaulle Airport. Image credit: Star Alliance
Star Alliance’s refurbished Charles de Gaulle Airport. Image credit: Star Alliance

The Nagoya Star Alliance lounge in Nagoya International Airport also sports a refined elegance, which will help you relax before you step on the plane.

But if there’s one lounge that’s a must-visit, it’s the Star Alliance lounge at LAX. This airport hideaway, which featured in our top airport lounges around the world, offers views of the Hollywood hills. During the day you can relax on the lounge’s private terrace and by night when the temperature starts to cool down, relax with a complimentary cocktail around the fire. If you need to freshen up before your flight, you can ease those achy muscles in one of the shower suites.

It should be no surprise that a city filled with celebrities would offer one of the most exclusive clubs. The Los Angeles lounge also comes with a separate lounge for those flying first class, which offers a la carte dishes in a private setting.

The latest bespoke Star Alliance lounge to be created is at Rome Fiumicino Airport. From the stylish Italian furniture to the racks of fashion magazines, it’s not hard to see where you’ve touched down. If you need to catch up on some paperwork, you can find a quiet spot and log on to the high-speed Wi-Fi, or if you just want to toast your successful trip, you can enjoy a beverage from the drinks trolley.

Can you use a Star Alliance lounge if you are flying first class?

If you have an international first or business class ticket with a Star Alliance partner airline, you can still enter the lounges without a Star Alliance Gold card.  Just present your boarding pass to the lounge team to show that you are taking a Star Alliance member-airline-operated flight. You can also bring a guest so that they also get to enjoy the VIP treatment.

Business class ticket holders using Star Alliance partner airlines can also access the lounge, but it’s better if you are flying solo as you can’t bring a guest.

What other lounges can a Star Alliance Gold member use?

If you have a Star Alliance Gold card you might be asking yourself “Which lounge can’t I use?”. If you fly from, for example, Bangkok Airport, you have nine lounges to choose from. As well as the Thai Airways lounge, you can also access the Eva Air, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, and Turkish Airlines lounges – you can do this even if you’re not flying with them. So you could be flying with Eva Air, but if a Thai Airways lounge is closer to your gate, or you like the sound of its complimentary foot or neck massage, you will still be welcomed with open arms.


Claire Turrell

Freelance journalist Claire Turrell has lived and worked in London, Dubai, and Singapore. When she’s not busy writing, she is riding motorbikes off-road in Cambodia, diving in Oman or learning Muay Thai in Thailand.