Star Alliance has celebrated 20 years since founding members Air Canada, Lufthansa, SAS, Thai Airways and United Airlines formed the world’s first global aviation alliance.

The alliance now comprises 28 members and some 40 affiliates, serving over 1,300 destinations in 191 countries, and the group said that its “clear strategic focus has shifted from network expansion, to providing a seamless experience especially to the over 14 million annual customers who connect between member carriers on their journeys”.

Star pointed to the introduction of a new IT hub infrastructure, which has allowed it to improve processes from through check-in on multi-carrier itineraries, to ensuring the fast crediting of accrued miles.

The group said that the recent implementation of a new baggage hub had also allowed baggage message transfer between member airlines, ground handlers and baggage handling systems at airports, with an average of five million messages being processed each day.

“Access to instant information updates online from more or less anywhere has irrevocably changed the expectations of customers as they travel,” said Pedro Heilbron, CEO of Copa Airlines and current chairman of the Star Alliance Chief Executive Board.

“Passengers want to have control over their journey at their fingertips. That means having full access to a wealth of information, but also being able to personalise it to their own particular requirements. Providing such services to today’s ‘digital’ traveller on an alliance level is the central pillar of our new strategic focus.”

To celebrate the anniversary Star Alliance has launched a competition offering entrants the chance to win a million miles (or equivalent) in one of the 21 frequent flyer programmes across the alliance.

Entrants must upload a picture of themselves, and “share a cultural experience they enjoyed” to be in with a chance of winning. The competition runs until July 31 at