Here's a status match opportunity for Qantas and Virgin Australia which could come in very handy if your travel plans include Taiwan.
Starlux Airlines – the ambitious startup that's challenging both China Airlines and EVA Airways – is offering two years of complimentary status in its Cosmile frequent flyer scheme.
That's right: instead of the usual 12 months of status, you'll get a full two years from the date your status match application is approved, which means you'll be a Starlux Cosmile elite through to the end of 2023.
This should see you well and truly out of the pandemic and back in the air, and Taiwan is tipped by many to become a very appealing destination for travellers seeking something different to their usual Asian haunts.
The Starlux status match isn't limited to just Qantas and Virgin Australia, of course: in fact, it's open to any airline: they can be a member of the Star Alliance, SkyTeam or Oneworld groups, or independent and unaligned.
If that airline has a frequent flyer scheme, and you've got status in that scheme, you're eligible for the Starlux Cosmile status match.
However, for the sake of our mostly-Australian readers, we'll use Qantas and Virgin Australia as our top-line examples.
Just don't dawdle, as the offer closes this coming Sunday October 31, 2021.
Starlux Airlines 101
If you've not been following our reports on Starlux, here's what you need to know.
Starlux Airlines was founded in 2018 by long-term Taiwanese aviation executive and former EVA Air chairman Chang Kuo-wei, scion of one of the island-nation's richest families (the Evergreen Group shipping and transport conglomerate is the jewel in its crown) with an estimated net worth of US$1.45 billion.
After years of planning, Starlux launched in January 2020 – only to fly headlong into the Covid-19 pandemic from which it's now emerging, intent on rebuilding its nascent network.
The Taipei-based Starlux describes itself as a "luxury boutique airline".
"We believe flying should be part of the journey that people enjoy, rather than just an unavoidable process to get to their destination," explains Starlux executive KW Nieh, who tells Executive Traveller that attention to details and design is part of the Starlux approach.
For example, legendary jazz artist Peter White composed six exclusive pieces of smooth inflight jazz music for the airline, "taking the enclosed inflight environment and the engine noise into consideration (to) carefully choose suitable instruments to create happy and uplifting music, which also convey a sense of travel, escape, and adventure."
Starlux checkin desks, airport lounges and aircraft cabins are enveloped by the airline's bespoke 'Home in the Air' fragrance, notes of which also appear in its hand wash and lotion.
Starlux currently flies Airbus A321neo jets to a number of key destinations within Asia – Singapore is the most recent pin to be pushed into the network map.
These single-aisle jets have eight lie-flat seats in business class, where passengers enjoy a menu prepared by Taiwan's Michelin-starred restaurant Longtail; behind the curtain are 180 economy seats.
Starlux will take delivery of the first of eight twin-aisle Airbus A330neo jets in February 2022 to blanket premium routes across south-east Asia and potentially extend to Australia.
They'll be followed at the end of 2022 by as many as 18 Airbus A350s – an order split between the A350-900 and A350-1000 – to launch into the North American market.
In addition to lie-flat business class beds, each Starlux A350 will be graced by a compact first class cabin (although this could be more of a ‘business plus’ design which makes the most of the extra legroom and privacy available at the front row of the cabin).
Starlux Cosmile tiers
Starlux' frequent flyer program is dubbed Cosmile, and has four tiers: Traveller, Adventurer, Explorer and Insighter.
Cosmile Traveller is the most basic level, at which all Cosmile members start; Adventurer, Explorer and Insighter are considered the 'elite' tiers and come with practical benefits when flying with Starlux such as lounge access, additional checked luggage allowance and priority services.
Cosmile Adventurer gives you an extra 10kg of checked luggage plus priority check-in and baggage handling.
Cosmile Explorer doubles that luggage boost to 20kg and adds access to Starlux VIP Lounges, and is the sweet spot in the Starlux loyalty.
Cosmile Insighter extends the luggage perks and lounge access to up to two guests, while also waiving 'service fees' for award ticket changes and cancellations.
Starlux Cosmile status match
The Starlux status match provides two years of free status at the Adventurer, Explorer or Insighter tiers, based on the equivalency of your status with any other airline.
So you know what Cosmile status to expect, here's how those tiers generally line up:
Starlux Cosmile Adventurer is equivalent to Qantas Frequent Flyer Silver, Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer Silver, Star Alliance Silver, SkyTeam Elite and Oneworld Ruby.
Starlux Cosmile Explorer is equivalent to Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold, Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer Gold, Star Alliance Gold, SkyTeam Elite Plus and Oneworld Sapphire.
Starlux Cosmile Insighter is equivalent to Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum or Platinum One, Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer Platinum and Oneworld Emerald. (Some Executive Traveller readers with Velocity Platinum status are reporting a Starlux status match to Cosmile Explorer rather than Cosmile Insighter, so your mileage may vary.)
Note that the Star Alliance and Skyteam tier references to more a rule of thumb, as they don't make allowances for the multi-layered structure and higher tiers of many member airlines' loyalty programs.
For example, while Air New Zealand's Airpoints Elite and Singapore Airlines' PPS Club tiers are officially ranked as Star Alliance Gold, they'd more likely see you status matched by Starlux to Cosmile Insighter rather than Cosmile Explorer.
While there's no need to fly with Starlux in order to qualify for the status match, you'll naturally need to make some flights over the two years of your gratis status in order to keep that shiny Cosmile card in your travel wallet.
How to get a Starlux Cosmile status match
There are four steps to applying for a Starlux status match: and remember, the status match offer closes on October 31, so don't leave all this to the last minute.
1. Join Starlux Cosmile
Begin by signing up to the free Starlux Comsile loyalty program – click this link, enter a few details and within minutes you'll be a freshly-minted Cosmile member.
You'll start at the bottom rung, at the Cosmile Traveller tier, but you won't be there for long!
2. Apply for the Starlux Cosmile status match
With your Cosmile membership number at hand, click here to apply for the Starlux Cosmile status match.
From that page, download the 'Other Airline Member Card Tier Match Application Form' – it's a PDF which you can either complete digitally or print out, complete with a pen and then scan back into digital (PDF or image) format.
3. Show your recent travel history
You'll also need to show that within the past 12 months you've flown with the airline against whose status you'll be seeking a Starlux Cosmile match.
This could be a challenge if you hold status with an international airline but travel restrictions have seen you grounded since 2020, in which case we suggest you show your pre-Covid flying and add a note to that effect in your Starlux status match application.
To get your travel record, check under your airline's frequent flyer membership account and take a screenshot of the activity page or scan any printed activity record you receive through the post.
4. Include a copy of your frequent flyer card
Finally, you'll need to send Starlux a copy of the frequent flyer card on which you're basing your Cosmile status match: this is the key to unlocking Cosmile Adventurer, Explorer or Insighter status.
You can take a photo of the card with your smartphone or pop them onto a scanner, to save as an image or PDF.
Note that Starlux requests both the front and back of your membership card, showing your name, frequent flyer number and current status expiry date.
Warning: in the case of a Qantas Frequent Flyer card, all of the necessary status detail is printed on the front of the card. The rear of the card acts as your prepaid Qantas Travel Money Mastercard, complete with not only the Mastercard number and expiry date but the three-digit CVC (card verification code), and armed with that, anybody could use your card to go on an online shopping spree!
So if you're seeking a Starlux Cosmile status match based on your Qantas Frequent Flyer status, just include the front of the card in your application – or if you want to play it safe and include the rear of the card, using image-editing software to remove all of those Mastercard details.
Finally, bundle together all of the above – the application form, flight activity record and copy of your current frequent flyer card – and send those via email to the Starlux Customer Service Centre ([email protected]), and allow up to 30 days for your application to be processed and approved.
Also read: Starlux “will certainly” join an alliance