Star Alliance plans Gold Track priority airport immigration lanes

By David Flynn, December 18 2015
Star Alliance plans Gold Track priority airport immigration lanes

Business and first class passengers along with top-tier frequent flyers on Star Alliance airlines will enjoy VIP treatment at the immigration desks of selected airports from next year.

The new Gold Track Immigration program will complement the existing Gold Track security lanes (below) already established at the hubs of many Star Alliance member airlines – a 28-strong roster which includes Air New Zealand, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Thai and United.

"We are in conversation with a number of airports around the world where the immigration authorities do contemplate the possibility of offering priority services to premium customers" Star Alliance CEO Mark Schwab told Australian Business Traveller on the sidelines of the consortium's six-monthly meeting in Chicago.

"We've done a worldwide inventory of where those possibilities exist at key (member airline) hubs," Schwab added, "and the conversations we're having at these locations are progressing quite well."

Schwab predicts the first Gold Track Immigration lanes will open "at the end of Q1 or the beginning of Q2 next year".

Although premium passengers can check-in for their flight at priority desks and can typically breeze through express security lanes, immigration checkpoints often become chokepoints where every traveller – regardless of ticket type or frequent flyer status – is herded into the same snaking queue.

That's something which Schwab wants to change, although he realises this won't always be possible.

All flyers are created equal..?

"Many governments think of this as an egalitarian process where they treat everybody the same no matter what class they're flying in, so the immigration authorities prefer not to offer premium services," Schwab admits.

"But you can imagine that for busy business travellers, the opportunity of whizzing through immigration is highly attractive."

Different countries also have different approaches to streamlining immigration, ranging from handing out 'express path' cards to registration programs for frequent travellers.

This will make for a far slower roll-out compared to Gold Track security, "but whatever can be done to speed your way through the entire airport process is really important," Schwab stressed.

Also read:  How to get a free Star Alliance Gold frequent flyer status match

The writer travelled to Chicago as a guest of Star Alliance

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

30 Apr 2013

Total posts 20

Hi David,

link at the end of the article points to status match that was only until 30 Nov. Is there any other status match to Gold currently in progress? I would need to organise one for my partner.

Thanks for help.

NZ Elite

03 Jul 2014

Total posts 110

Turkish Airlines.

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2511

Hi banker, our apologies – we've updated the link to our earlier article which covers status matching with Star Alliance member Turkish Airlines, rather than the recent deal with Avianca Brazil which as you've rightly pointed out is no longer available. Note that for a status match with Turkish Airlines you'll need Oneworld Emerald or SkyTeam Elite Plus status with another airline (if you don't already have Star Alliance Gold).

30 Apr 2013

Total posts 20

Thank you to both of you for info.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1252

Would be good to know which airports they're looking to implement this.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

13 Dec 2014

Total posts 80

Those airports that have the Gold Track security lanes already in place will probably be first off the block. The only one I've been to in the last 6 months was ATH that had this. A few weeks ago I was at Changi and didn't notice any. Maybe because there was no lines anywhere and I breezed through or I had tunnel vision. Anyhow you'd think it will be all the major hubs (AKL, SIN, ICN, SFO, FRA etc...) and three or four months is not a long wait to know.


24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2549

And if Mark Schwab had mentioned which airports they were looking at, you'd have read it in the aricle. But he didn't reveal which airports were on the list.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1252

Is that b!tchy tone really necessary to an honest question? A simple no would suffice really.

I'd like to think the place where Gold Track Immigration would be handiest would the one place they'll most likely not permit it..... the USA :( 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards Gold

04 Jul 2014

Total posts 131

Is MEL an official Gold Track airport? I've always received an Express Pass flying Business on Star Alliance airlines, but hoping I'll also get them when flying economy out of MEL as a *A Gold...

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

04 Sep 2012

Total posts 136

No, MEL is not an official 'Gold Track Airport', instead there is just the blanket 'Express Path’ for all airlines/alliances.

My experience is that Air NZ usually gives Business/Gold/Elite’s an express pass. However that is perhaps due to the fact there are less premium passengers compared to QF and other *A. Although it doesn't usually hurt to ask for one at check in.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards Gold

04 Jul 2014

Total posts 131

I usually fly J on Air NZ, so as a gold not sure for which reason I'd gotten the pass.

However the Star Alliance website does list MEL as a Gold Track airport, it does not mention SYD.

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