Fly Around the World on Star Alliance-Member Airlines

They land in 191 countries at 1,300 airports

In the air
••• Aping Vision / STS/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Star Alliance, founded in 1997, is the world's largest airline alliance with 28 member companies serving more than 1,000 airports around the world in 191 countries. Member airlines include both international and regional airlines. You can get virtually anywhere in the world on airlines in Star Alliance.

These passengers are also able to sign up for a two-tiered rewards program—Star Alliance Silver and Gold—that offers members incentives like free upgrades and priority boarding access provided they meet the individual member airline's requirements for their own frequent-flyer programs.

Airlines in Star Alliance

Member airlines include Adria Airways, Aegean Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Avianca, Brussels Airlines, Copa Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EGYPTAIR, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Air, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, SWISS, Tam Airlines, TAP Portugal, THAI, Turkish Airlines, and United Airlines.

History and Growth of Star Alliance

The Star Alliance started on May 14, 1997, when a group of five airlines—United, Lufthansa, Air Canada, Scandinavian Airlines, and Thai Airways—came together to create a program that unified everything from flights to airport lounges to ticketing and check-in. Since then, it's grown to include a total of 28 airlines.

Initially, the five-member alliance operated under the five-star logo and the slogan "The Airline Network for Earth," but it updated that original messaging to its current iteration, "The Way the Earth Connects," and kept the logo throughout its history.

Still, the end goal of Star Alliance has always been to "take passengers to every major city on Earth," and so far it has succeeded in doing so by connecting its members to 1,300 airports around the world in 98 percent of the world's countries.

Although Star Alliance once maintained a membership of more than 30 companies, mergers and company collapse reduced that number to its current value of 28; however, the global market for airlines has stabilized in recent years and Star Alliance's membership seems to be leveling out.

Member Benefits

Passengers aboard Star Alliance flights can enjoy two premium levels (Silver and Gold) of membership advantages, based on each individual customer's status in member airlines' frequent-flyer programs. These premium levels offer a variety of perks that are typically respected around the world—with few exceptions.

Star Alliance Silver members must reach the premium level of a member airline's frequent-flyer program, but once they do they are rewarded with priority reservation wait-listing and faster service on airports' stand-by lists. Individual airlines in Star Alliance may also offer priority check-in and free baggage handling as well as preferred seating and priority boarding.

Loyal members who achieve the Star Alliance Gold status can expect even more premium treatment when traveling on member carriers. Airlines participating in this premium rewards program offer all of the same benefits as the Silver status in addition to granting customers access to exclusive Star Alliance Gold lounges. Additionally, Gold members are sometimes guaranteed spots on fully booked flights, offered special seating on member planes, or even upgraded free of charge.