Star Alliance at ten years

The world's oldest and largest airline alliance turns ten years old today. Star Alliance was founded on May 14, 1997 by Air Canada, Lufthansa, SAS, Thai and United. Today there are 17 member airlines, with 3 affiliates and 3 future members. A brief look at the past ten years, adapted from Wikipedia:
  • 1997 — The alliance is founded by Air Canada, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines System, Thai Airways International, and United Airlines. Varig joins the alliance.
  • 1999 — Ansett Australia, All Nippon Airways, and Air New Zealand become members.
  • 2000 — Singapore Airlines, bmi (British Midland), Mexicana, and the Austrian Airlines group, made up of Austrian Airlines, Tyrolean Airways, and Lauda Air join the alliance.
  • 2001 — Ansett Australia folds under bankruptcy.
  • 2003 — Asiana Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, and Spanair join.
  • 2004 — US Airways joins the alliance. Mexicana's membership ends. Adria Airways, Croatia Airlines, Blue1 inaugurate the alliance's regional network (affiliate members)
  • 2005 — TAP Portugal joins the alliance. After acquiring US Airways and merging under the US Airways name, America West Airlines joins working through US Airways original membership.
  • 2006 — Swiss International Air Lines and South African Airways join the alliance. Shanghai Airlines, Air China are invited to join the alliance. Turkish Airlines submits a request for membership in early December and the request is accepted.
  • 2007 — Varig involuntarily leaves the alliance on January 31.
Of the airlines that have joined, only three have left - Ansett collapsed, Mexicana decided to partner with American Airlines (member of the oneworld alliance), and Varig was forced to leave earlier this year due to major restructuring changes (however, they have the option to rejoin within 18 months).

Star is also promoting its 10th anniversary with the 'Experience of a Lifetime Competition', which sounds interesting - only problem is, if you live in the US, you have to actually fly a Star airline internationally in order to enter.

Ten years on, though, Star has really changed air travel. Since 1997, most of the world's major airlines are part of one of the big three global alliances (oneworld and SkyTeam were created in response to Star), and on each alliance, a person can really fly seamlessly around the world without having to worry about a million different tickets. Alliances have really made things easier for the flyer - especially being able to gain frequent flyer miles on a bunch of different airlines!