Deutsche Bahn Becomes a Star Alliance Partner – What Does That Even Mean?

InterCity Bahnhof Ostseebad Binz

Today Deutsche Bahn, Lufthansa, and the Star Alliance held a joint event in Frankfurt. A new partnership between Deutsche Bahn and the airline alliance was announced there. It is the first “intermodal partnership” of this kind – but probably not the last. In the future, the Star Alliance would like to enter more of these agreements.

In the run-up to the event, some news were already circulating. Among other things, it was said that Deutsche Bahn would join the alliance and that this would have meant that frequent flyers with Star Alliance Gold status could visit the DB lounges in the future – and vice versa.

But it will not come to that. In fact, it is probably just an extension of Lufthansa’s existing Express Rail concept. In practice, this means that United, Singapore Airlines, Aegean & others can book flights and train journeys on a single ticket in the future. However, that was already partially possible.

Deutsche Bahn Becomes a Partner of the Star Alliance

The partnership announced today will take effect on August 1, 2022. From then on, all 26 Star Alliance member airlines will have access to corresponding rail connections. These can be booked seamlessly on the same ticket. Anyone departing from Frankfurt can use the existing AiRail terminal and drop off their luggage there, for example. The most important advantage: Anyone who misses their flight due to a train delay will be rebooked free of charge.

It should also be possible to earn miles at Star Alliance frequent flyer programs with bookings of this type. What the exact remuneration looks like is still open. Anyone who books a train ticket via will probably not receive any frequent flyer miles, but can only earn them at BahnBonus. The partnership applies only to combined train and flight tickets.

Access to the DB Lounges is only available with a business or first class ticket. Status customers apparently get nothing, as the press releases say nothing about frequent flyers with Star Alliance Gold status. The previous Express Rail concept, on the other hand, offers lounge access for Miles&More Senators.

DB Bahn ICE erste klasse
If you book a business class ticket, you will probably end up in 1st class on the DB train

The Star Alliance special livery of an ICE that was posted on Twitter today appears to have been made exclusively for the press event. Andreas Sebayang from found out that the foil is not approved for high-speed travel. Too bad.

What Is Really Changing?

All that is described above is not really new. The whole thing works exactly like the existing Express Rail system. So the question is if there are any changes at all.

We considered the following aspects:

  1. It will be possible to earn miles with other frequent flyer programs with the train journeys
  2. So far, only a few Lufthansa partners have had access to the Express Rail connections. In the future, other Star Alliance members such as Aegean or Eva Air will also be able to sell corresponding tickets.
  3. It is possible that further DB trips can be booked in connection with a flight in the future. So far, the offer has been limited to certain train connections between Frankfurt and fewer than 30 German train stations.

As far as point 3 is concerned, there are not many changes in sight so far. Initially, the concept appears to be limited to Frankfurt Airport (source).


It was unlikely from the start that Deutsche Bahn would become a full member of the frequent flyer alliance. The means of transport and frequent flyer programs are too different. Nevertheless, the new partnership falls short of expectations.

How advantageous the partnership really is in the future must be shown in practice. That depends primarily on how many train connections can be booked through the new cooperation – and what the pricing looks like. As someone who lives in Rostock (and thus away from the busiest railway lines), I don’t expect to benefit greatly from the new partnership.

Sources: Lufthansa & Deutsche Bahn

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