Now a mature alliance, Star Alliance is no longer in a growing phase, but instead focusing on delivering an improved portfolio of services to its customers. There is much to look forward to.
Simple tasks like assigning seats on partner carriers, receiving frequent flyer credit in a timely fashion, and searching for award space varies widely based upon what alliance carrier you use.
It often feels like the bane of my existence at Award Expert is calling Star Alliance partners for seat assignments. It’s something that consumes the time of my team because it’s simply not an easy process to do.
What if you could assign seats on partner airlines from the app of your favorite Star Alliance carrier, no matter where you booked the ticket? What if you could search for award space on all 28 carriers using any of the 28 alliance frequent flyer programs? Finally, what if you could submit a missing mileage claim (electronically instead of having to mail in a boarding stub) and hear back instantly?
A New Digital Services Platform (DSP)
These are all initiatives Star Alliance is working on. To that end, Star Alliance recently launched its own Digital Services Platform (DSP).
What is that? Star Alliance describes what the DSP can do–
The DSP can gather data provided by an individual member airline or third-party source and make it available to all members, enabling them to build it into their own customer-facing digital applications. The longer-term aim is to allow customers to use any member airline’s website or mobile application to obtain all the information they need for travel on several Star Alliance member airlines.
Star Alliance CEO Jeffrey Goh told me that he hopes to use to blockchain technology to improve alliance connectivity and this may well be the start of it.
Most frequent travellers have a ‘home airline’ in our network and would prefer to control their entire travel experience through a single app or website. We are therefore working to create central capabilities that can be shared for use by our individual members.
I’m so happy that Star Alliance is focusing on the basics. This will be a customer-friendly enhancement that will save every frequent flyer time.
We’ve already seen an example rolled out. You can now assign Singapore Airlines seat assignments on united.com and United Airlines seat assignments on singaporeairlines.com. Lufthansa is also tracking customer baggage, even on partner airlines, using its mobile app. There is more to come.
Four Star Alliance Service Enhancements
Star Alliance is working on four “products” that will make your life easier:
- Seamless partner seat assignments
- Paperless, efficient crediting of miles
- Baggage tracking using the Star Alliance app/carrier of your choice
- Online redemption for all 28 Star Alliance partners when using any Star Alliance loyalty program
On the last point, right now it is really only United MileagePlus, Aeroplan, Avianca Lifemiles, and ANA Mileage Club that offer robust online redemption tools for all alliance partners. Star Alliance hopes to roll out this sort of functionality for every carrier in the alliance. Thus, for example, if you have Asiana miles you can easily redeem for Lufthansa online instead of having to call to book.
Let’s face it: Star Alliance has fallen behind the times, a bit. SkyTeam already does several of the above services quite well. But playing catch up isn’t a bad thing and I am very happy to see Star Alliance focusing on meaningful customer enhancements.