The Star Alliance recently announced the addition of an intermodal partner, Deutsche Welle, As the first non-airline member of the world’s largest airline alliance.
This follows the spring announcement of a Star Alliance credit card from Star Alliance for some time in the near future. At the time, the coalition suggested that more exciting things were about to come, and that this seemed to be a development.
Deutsche Welle has become the first non-airline partner
When the partnership is fully implemented on August 1, 2022, passengers traveling by train in Deutsche Welle will be able to connect seamlessly with any flight left on any Star Alliance airline.
Similarly, passengers will be able to complete their inter-German journey by train after boarding any Star Alliance airline.
For example, you will be able to fly Air Canada in Frankfurt and then continue on the train to Berlin on the same ticket, even enjoying premium service if your flight is in business class.
This is the first such intermodal partnership for the Star Alliance, part of a larger initiative aimed at integrating airline services with trains, ferries, buses and other modes of transport. This model provides passengers with a seamless travel experience, as well as the alignment of the loyalty program.
Deutsche Vehicle has previously partnered with Lufthansa under the Lufthansa Express rail program, which has existed for decades. With the Lufthansa Express train, passengers traveling with or arriving with Lufthansa can combine a train ticket, in any direction, with their airfare at a single reservation.
This week’s announcement is basically an extension of the program to all Star Alliance member airlines.
Once implemented, passengers will be able to book trains sold as flight numbers on their booking platform for all Star Alliance member airlines. After checking in, passengers get boarding passes for both train and flight.
Instead of making separate reservations for air and train travel, both methods of travel will be combined on the same ticket. Seat reservations for trains and planes will also be available after booking.
To sweeten the deal, passengers booked on such trips will benefit from priority services such as priority baggage handling upon arrival at the airport.
In addition, passengers traveling in Business Class and First Class will be given additional benefits, such as access to a rail lounge operated by Deutsche Welle. It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.
After all, these intermodal bookings will be eligible to earn loyalty points in any Star Alliance program, although the earnings structure has not yet been announced.
Will there be more Star Alliance Intermodal partnerships?
In the recent past, some EU countries have banned short-haul domestic flights in an effort to reduce emissions. What constitutes a short-haul flight varies between countries, but in general, flying options between cities with adequate rail service will be much lower than in previous years.
The partnership between Star Alliance and Deutsche Welle seeks to provide convenient door-to-door booking options without relying on short-haul flights.
Such a partnership makes sense in areas with a well-developed and efficient transportation network. A great example of Europe, where traveling by train, bus or ferry is part of daily life.
I would not be surprised to see similar partnerships established in other countries in the near future. In fact, the Star Alliance has announced that it plans to move forward with such a partnership.
In Switzerland, the Swiss Air Rail program already allows uninterrupted connection with air or rail. I imagine that expanding it to other Star Alliance carriers serving Swiss service is a very reasonable next step.
As a train travel enthusiast, I am excited about the idea of booking a train with the same reservation as my air ticket. In some cases, it may be easier to connect to another city by train than by plane when considering the connection time.
Loyalty program points are not given only in the booking of Deutsche Welle. One potential draw to book individual train tickets with Deutsche Welle as an intermodal partner is the ability to earn airline loyalty points.
I am also interested in whether intermodal bookings will be loaded into the loyalty program redemption and if so, what the corresponding costs will be. Connecting to a premium cabin on a train from a business class flight seems quite ideal to me, especially with lounge access.
The Star Alliance recently announced that Deutsche Welle will be the first non-airline partner in the alliance from August 1, 2022.
More planned for the future, especially when countries move to curb emissions caused by short-haul air travel that might otherwise be met by land transport, this is the first step in the alliance’s initiative to add partnerships outside airlines.
I look forward to seeing what further developments the Star Alliance and their intermodal partners have, and to take some of my own integrated air and rail trips in the future.