Back in 2014 I flew for the first time a Boeing 787 Dreamliner with one of the first carriers to fly it, Ethiopian Airlines. It was on the homebound leg from Adis Ababa to Dulles. Though I really enjoyed the multi-colored LED lighting, the larger and windows, the slick edges throughout the cabin, and the quiet interior of the plane, what I remember most from that trip is a less than great experience at Adis Ababa airport. It seemed like the folks who worked there were paid to be rude and careless. However, that’s not why I’m talking about Ethiopian today. One of the perks of being a United flyer is you have access to the greatest airline network there is in Star Alliance, of which ET is a member. Because of this partnership you earn United miles when you fly any of its SA partners. Via FlyerTalk, however, it was pointed out that United updated Premier qualification for non-016 tickets a.k.a. tickets purchased through Ethiopian.
What this means to you
Again, this change applies to tickets directly purchased through Ethiopian. That being said, if you’re not interested in attaining Premier status or know you won’t make it during the year, then this won’t affect you at all and you can stop reading here. If you’re in pursue of Premier status with United, however, and will be travelling to/from/within Africa, you’ll have to pay close attention to what you’re booking and how you’re booking it. You have three African airline options with Star Alliance: Ethiopian, South African, and EgyptAir. I’ve travelled in all three and all three are decent products; EgyptAir being the one lagging behind some. Still, there are much better products that you can leverage through Star Alliance, of which my favorites are Lufthansa, Swiss, and Turkish. Yet, these will only take you as far as the larger cities, like Johannesburg, Cairo, Nairobi, etc. If you’re looking to travel to smaller cities or less frequented countries in Africa, and want to earn United miles, you’ll have to use one of the 3 Star Alliance African airlines mentioned above, or one of its subsidiaries.
Out of the three, Ethiopian does fly the most Africa destinations. During the process of your booking, ensure that you compare the Premier qualification between Ethiopian and any other options you may have on your desired routes, to ensure you earn the most PQM’s/PQS’s possible for your $. For your convenience, see EgyptAir and South African’s charts below:
In conclusion, every PQM and every PQS counts, so ensure you’re reaping the most from your United and Star Alliance loyalty.