If you're even a moderately engaged frequent traveler, you no doubt keep an eye on developments in the three global airline alliances: oneworld (U.S. partner: American), SkyTeam (U.S. partner: Delta), and Star (U.S. partners: United, US Airways). And if you don't, you should.
As these alliances add new airline partners, your opportunities to earn and redeem miles in affiliated U.S.-based programs expand. Your elite benefits extend to more airlines, more airports. Scheduling is optimized among allied airlines, making for better connections. And so on.
A case in point is this week's addition of Avianca, TACA Airlines, and Copa Airlines to the Star Alliance, giving the Star group a much-needed coverage boost in Latin America.
As a result, members of United and US Airways' programs can now earn and redeem miles for flights on those airlines.
The three new airlines add around 50 new airports to the Star network and five new hubs: Panama City, Panama; Bogota, Colombia; San Salvador, El Salvador; Lima, Peru; and San Jose, Costa Rica.
For U.S. travelers who fly regularly to Latin America, the move makes Star the go-to alliance, and the programs of United and US Airways the logical choice in mileage programs. SkyTeam has only Aeromexico for a Latin American partner, and oneworld has only LAN, plus American's own considerable Latin American network.
With the latest additions, the Star Alliance network now includes 27 airlines offering more than 21,500 daily flights to 1,356 airports in 193 countries.
Which is why it's called a global airline alliance.
Reader Reality Check
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This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.