How seamless is the *A?

Old Mar 13, 03, 7:18 pm
  #1  
WKS
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How seamless is the *A?

Apologies if this has been covered previously, but I am new to the *A & I have spent 45 minutes looking through old *A threads - can't find an exact match, so looking for help from seasoned *A flyertalkers.

Fly loads, for work and play, but most of my flying has been with the 'may-someday-be-launched' Wings carriers [KLM Platinum Elite until 2009], but recently comped by BD to *G [they courted me], and have done a lot more flying with them as a result - treated well usually & generally pretty satisfied...but apart from 1 transatlantic flight, BD does not fly anywhere outside Europe, and my flight patterns take me outside these boundaries regularly.

So, flew with LH 2 weeks ago [MAN-FRA-VCE] to test the waters on a possible move to make them my preferred long-haul carrier. Shocked by how little BD Gold counted - No priority boarding, on 2 of the 4 sectors given possibly the worst seats on the plane [e.g. On VCE-FRA, asked for window seat as far forward as poss - allocated aisle seat in last row of an A321 next to 2 large passengers when the 2 rows directly in front were completely empty!]. When I asked where the lounge was at VCE [showing my BD *G card], the check-in agent told me only LH Senators had lounge access...and appeared never to have heard of the *A!!

Was this typical, or was I just unlucky? i.e. Should I switch my allegiance to the *A, but I'd only do so if the *A is more integrated than my recent experience proved.

Thanks in advance for all help.



[This message has been edited by WKS (edited 03-13-2003).]
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Old Mar 13, 03, 9:01 pm
  #2  
 
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in my limited *A experience, integration seems ok to me in N America.

Air Canada and United have always seen my *G status and i've never had problems with reciprocal lounge access. A small but noticeable perk is the ability for me to secure E+ seating on UA with the *G status - not as great as when CP was partnered with AA in 1W (when we could use our u/g certs to u/g on AA metal!) but still not bad.

No problems with priority boarding (although they seem to let everyone on at once like a bizarre quarterback rush play). The one inconsistency i've occasionally had is with priority check-in. Sometimes the lines aren't clearly marked with *G so it confuses both me and the check-in agent, but again, it's not bad (DEN was the worst for some reason!).
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Old Mar 13, 03, 11:45 pm
  #3  
 
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G'day WKS and welcome to the Star Alliance! I'm not going to ask how you got top tier at KL till 2009 (!) but well done. At any rate I'd say your experience with LH is partially the LH atttude in general but also incorrect. *G holders should be allowed into LH senator lounges, so I suspect the CSR in VCE was misinformed and unfortunately gave you bad information.

I have to say LH have usually (until I boycotted them, that is!) given me decent seat assignments and been happy to change when I've gotten one I didn't like. However SK are far more apprieciative of the *G statuus, so you might want to consider flying SK for some of your longer haul routes. I've been upgraded several times on SK just due to my *G status and I can't see that happening on LH anytime soon. The alternative of course is to invest your flying with LH and join miles&more (M&M) to get their *G status (I doubt they'd comp you too, but you never know). You'd get treated much better by them that way. However certainly you should get into the Senator lougnes. Only SQ is specific about NOT allowing *G into several of its lounges (eg: SIN, ADL). Next time go to the lounge in question and look for the *G logo outside. If it has one, you can get in no matter what a CSR says.

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Old Mar 14, 03, 3:33 am
  #4  
 
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According to my very trusty little black book, there is no Star Gold lounge in VCE, so the LH lounge would indeed be for their members only or for applicable classes (Intnatl J/F etc). *G access is at "designated" Gold lounges only - and they are in the minority of the total lounges operated by the * carriers.

As for seamless, it can be hit or miss at times, but for the most part it seems to work okay. It would certainly help if they get Starnet working to full potential !!
How long have you been G with BD? If their system is not as yet updated completely, information may not be transferring to the other carriers correctly, or if you went through a third party (agent) they may not have entered the details correctly.

LH and SQ are very much "by the book" which goes someway to explaining LH's attitude on occasions and SQ's consistent profits!
In the end, the alliance you want to be with is the one that satisfies your normal travel requirements the best. Star can do much more for me than any of the others can and offers me far more options for my travel habits.

Cheers.
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Old Mar 14, 03, 10:53 am
  #5  
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I fly UA/LH IAD Italy frequently. The boarding pass impass between LH and UA is very bad.

LH cannot issue BP's in Italy for the UA flight. So, with an hour connection, if the UA plane is full, there is long line at the ticket counter, a lot of checking, crossreferencing, and no seat(and the plane is gone) when you finally get to the ticket counter. No comp, since you were not there at 45min in advance. This has happened to me 3 times.

[This message has been edited by slawecki (edited 03-14-2003).]
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Old Mar 14, 03, 4:01 pm
  #6  
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There is in general no Elite preboarding on any LH flight.

The Lounge in Venice is only a contracted lounge (and only for Senators).

In general, LH's future policy in airports with two lounges (Senator and business) seems to be to only let Senators and First-class passengers passengers into the Senator lounges, for all o'others' it will be (in the probably not so far future) the business-class lounge. Looking at the overcrowded Senator lounges in FRA and MUC I can understand and support this policy - and the LH business-class lounges still offer more than any inner NorthAmerican RCC.

With StarGold, you can check-in for LH flights at the first-class desk and you have an extra 20kg luggage allowance (total 40kg) if the weight concept applies.

LH can't give you UA boarding passes (but you get your luggage checked-through).
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Old Mar 14, 03, 7:34 pm
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Thanks for the corrections re the lounge in VCE. Perhaps the agent could have been a little more helpful then and said "I'm sorry but we don't have a Star Alliance Gold lounge here. You'll be welcome to use the one in FRA when you transit there, however." Still, this is LH we're talking about

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Old Mar 17, 03, 5:31 pm
  #8  
WKS
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Many thanks for all your posts - learned a lot from them.

Incidentally I did get into the lounge at VCE as I 'found it myself' and saw the Star Alliance Gold sign on the door [amongst others], so thought I'd chance it...the lounge keeper [what is the correct title for them?!] happily let me in; In fact she said that the bmi cards were her favourite in terms of 'style', so I was on to a winner there! [It is the 'Marco Polo Lounge' - up the escalators after security; May be useful info for other *A Gold members in the future (also, the bar is not self service - there is a lovely person who will mix your drinks for you). Thanks a lot to all of you who took your time to look up the VCE lounge; I am sorry I did not say in my original posting that I managed to get in; It was the inconsistency of what I was told at check-in that had baffled me].

I entirely agree that LH should rightly look after its Senators, especially if the lounges are small and over-crowded - they deserve priority for their loyalty to the brand.

Thank you once again - I think I will continue giving the *A a chance.


[This message has been edited by WKS (edited 03-17-2003).]
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Old Mar 17, 03, 11:21 pm
  #9  
 
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by Rudi:
... and you have an extra 20kg luggage allowance (total 40kg) if the weight concept applies.</font>
Rudi

I thought it was only 10kg extra...bringing it to 40kg total on a c-class ticket.
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Old Mar 18, 03, 6:03 am
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*G gives you first class luggage allowance, which is either 40kg (if weight concept) or one extra piece (if PC).
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Old Mar 19, 03, 3:42 pm
  #11  
 
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"The baggage allowance for Senator Card holders comprises three items or 20 kg in addition to the baggage allowance of the carrier class"

I went back to check myself and this is what I found on the LH website for Senators on LH. This would mean that with a C-class ticket one would actually be allowed 50kg.

I don't know how I could possibly have thought that Rudi was wrong! Maybe a case of "jugendliche Uebermut"......

[This message has been edited by Snoopy (edited 03-19-2003).]
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Old Mar 19, 03, 8:47 pm
  #12  
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*A Gold benefits:
Priority Reservations Waitlisting (Not permitted for *A Award tickets) : When there aren't any seats left on your preferred flight, gives you priority should a seat become available.
Priority Airport Standby (Not permitted for *A Award tickets & Government restrictions apply on Varig in Brazil): Gives you the flexibility to change plans at the last minute when you don't have a reservation.
Priority Airport Check-in: Avoid long lines regardless of paid fare or class of service.
Priority Baggage Handling: Like you, your bags get priority treatment and are among the first to be unloaded.
Extra Baggage Allowance: An additional 20kg (44 pounds) or one additional piece of luggage (applies on flights between North and South America) which means you can check in three bags instead of two.
Priority Boarding (where available): Enjoy the freedom of boarding at your convenience along with First and Business Class passengers.
Airport Lounge Access: Available worldwide for you and a friend (guests must enter with eligible *A Gold customer and must depart on a *A airline, though not necessarily on the same flight) when you travel with any *A airline regardless of your class of travel.
 
Old Mar 19, 03, 11:17 pm
  #13  
 
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Okay, I'll take the bait... WKS how did you get KLM PE status through 2009???
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Old Mar 20, 03, 6:50 am
  #14  
WKS
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Under the old KLM Flying Dutchman programme, status points [as they were called then] carried over; KLM did NOT explicitly advertise that fact, but each year they deducted only the 24,000 points required for Royal Wing status [the top tier under the pre-Oct 02 scheme] and left the rest in our accounts, so if I had earned more than 24,000 points [which I did regularly], they just accummulated in my account for future years.

Unfortunately when FD was revamped in Oct 02, they moved to a scheme like everyone else's, and now 'zero' our accounts each year, irrespective of excess. [It now also costs 75,000 miles to be Platinum Elite, a considerable hike, even accepting that the old points and miles don't actually equate 1=1].

You can imagine the furore of Royal Wing members when they suggested that our 'banked years' were all going to be wiped out on 23 Oct 02....thankfully, KLM recognised the injustice of that, and calculated our PE status to match what we already had, and as a gesture of goodwill even rounded up the years, and threw in 1 extra year on top!!

To which I am very grateful, but from that point of view, it is not as great a programme now because of the changes e.g. By mid-Feb this year, my flying patterns had earned me another year of Royal Wing under the old scheme [if that still existed], and I will actually have flown enough to exceed the 75,000 miles for PE this year, but all that is now going in the bin as they'll just disappear on 31 Dec 03 [No, they won't extend my PE to 2010 because of that!! ].

Sorry about the length of that answer....and if you want 1 sad [very] frequent flyer's analysis of all the pluses and minuses of the changes to KLM FD, I'd happily provide you an even lengthier answer [who's going to take the bait then?!]

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