An airline alliance is an arrangement between two or more airlines to partner together to ensure quality service is delivered to customers. These alliances are great for all types of flyers, but especially frequent flyers, as they allow you to use your status across different airlines.
When it comes to the SkyTeam Alliance, this means if you have elite status on one airline within SkyTeam, you’ll have status across all of its partner airlines. And even if you’re a less-frequent flyer, the SkyTeam Alliance is still beneficial since it allows you to use the frequent-flyer miles you earn with one airline across multiple airlines.
Regardless of how much you fly, airline alliances help consumers get more value from their loyalty. In this article, you’ll learn what the SkyTeam Alliance is, which airlines are part of SkyTeam, and how this alliance can best benefit your flying experience.
- What is the SkyTeam Alliance?
- Who is in the SkyTeam Alliance
- How SkyTeam Alliance status works
- SkyTeam Alliance status benefits explained
- How SkyTeam Alliance status equates to status with each airline
- How to maximize your miles through SkyTeam Alliance partners
- SkyTeam exclusive lounges
- The bottom line on the SkyTeam Alliance
What is the SkyTeam Alliance?
The SkyTeam Alliance is a group of 20 airlines that joined together to work cooperatively to bring a better experience to their customers. Founded in June 2000, SkyTeam was the last of the three major airline alliances to be created. The first two large airline alliances to be created were Star Alliance and Oneworld.
SkyTeam was originally founded with just four airlines: Aeromexico, Air France, Delta Air Lines, and Korean Air. Since its founding, Skyteam has expanded to 20 airlines with over 1,150 destinations worldwide. So, if you’re looking for a flight, there’s a great chance that a SkyTeam airline will fly to your preferred destination.
Who is in the SkyTeam Alliance
These are the 20 airlines across the world that make up the SkyTeam Alliance along with their individual hub airports and frequent-flyer programs.
|Airline||Hub airport(s)||Frequent-flyer program|
|Aeroflot (currently suspended)||Moscow, Russia: Sheremetyevo (SVO)||Aeroflot Bonus|
|Aerolineas Argentinas||Buenos Aires, Argentina: Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (AEP)||Aerolineas Plus|
|Aeromexico||Mexico City, Mexico:
Mexico City International Airport (MEX)
|Air Europa||Madrid, Spain: Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD)||Suma|
|Air France||Paris, France:
Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)
|China Airlines||Taipei, Taiwan:
Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE)
|Dynasty Flyer Program|
|China Eastern||Shanghai, China:
Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG)
|Czech Airlines||Prague, Czech Republic:
Vaclav Havel Airport (PRG)
|Delta Air Lines||Atlanta, USA:
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
|Garuda Indonesia||Jakarta, Indonesia:
Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK)
|ITA Airways||Rome, Italy:
Rome Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport (FCO)
|Kenya Airways||Nairobi, Kenya:
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO)
Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)
|Korean Air||Seoul, South Korea:
Incheon International Airport (ICN)
|Middle East Airlines||Beirut, Lebanon:
Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY)
|Saudia||Jeddah, Saudi Arabia:
King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED)
Henri Coanda International Airport (OTP)
|Vietnam Airlines||Hanoi, Vietnam:
Noi Bai International Airport (HAN)
|Virgin Atlantic||London and Manchester, England:
Heathrow Airport (LHR) and Manchester Airport (MAN)
|Flying Club Miles|
Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport (XMN)
How SkyTeam Alliance status works
The best part of the SkyTeam Alliance status system is how simple it is. When you earn status with one of the 20 airlines within SkyTeam, you simultaneously (and automatically) earn status within the SkyTeam Alliance rewards program as well.
For example, once you earn status with Delta Air Lines, that status will be recognized across SkyTeam partner airlines when you give your Delta SkyMiles number while booking a flight. Your status will translate to one of two levels within the SkyTeam Alliance — SkyTeam Elite or SkyTeam Elite Plus — and I’ll explain why this should matter to you later.
Once you’ve gained status on one SkyTeam Alliance airline, you’ll have access to these perks on all 20 SkyTeam airlines through SkyTeam status.
|Benefit||SkyTeam Elite||SkyTeam Elite Plus|
|Priority reservations waitlist/standby||X||X|
|Extra baggage allowance||X||X|
|Priority baggage handling||X|
|Priority baggage drop-off||X||X|
|Guaranteed reservations on sold-out flights||X|
|Priority at immigration and security lanes||X|
|Priority at transfer desks||X|
SkyTeam Alliance status benefits explained
But what do each of these perks mean? Here are the explanations of each benefit and how it can positively impact your travels. Your status with a specific SkyTeam airline will translate to these perks below:
|Benefit||SkyTeam Elite||SkyTeam Elite Plus|
|Priority reservations waitlist/standby||This allows flyers with status to board ahead of non-status flyers. This applies to both reservation and standby lists.|
|Priority boarding||Each airline has a different system in regard to boarding order. You’ll be toward the front to board before general customers. This is extremely helpful if you need overhead space for your carry-on and extra time to get comfortable in your seat.|
|Preferred seating||When you’re booking your flight, you'll have the opportunity to select seats reserved for SkyTeam status holders only.|
|Priority check-in||You will be able to get your ticket and check your bag ahead of non-elite flyers. This can save you a large amount of time at the airport ticket counter.|
|Extra baggage allowance (exclusions apply)||You’ll be eligible for one extra piece of luggage. This bag cannot exceed 10 kilograms (about 22 pounds).||You’ll be eligible for one extra piece of luggage. This bag cannot exceed 20 kilograms (about 44 pounds).|
|Priority baggage handling||N/A||Your bag will be one of the first ones off the plane and onto the carousel.|
|Guaranteed reservations on sold-out flights||N/A||You’re guaranteed a seat in economy on sold-out, long-haul flights, at least 24 hours prior to departure.|
|Priority at immigration and security lanes (at select airports)||N/A||This can save you a large amount of time when going through immigration and security lines.|
|Lounge access||N/A||Regardless of fare class, you’ll have access to over 750 lounges, including six SkyTeam-branded lounges. Details on how to access the lounges can be found on the SkyTeam website.|
How SkyTeam Alliance status equates to status with each airline
Now, you may wonder how your status level of your favorite SkyTeam airline translates to the two SkyTeam levels. Here’s a list of each partner airline, its frequent-flyer program status levels, and the equivalent status you earn with SkyTeam.
|Airline||SkyTeam Elite equivalent||SkyTeam Elite Plus equivalent|
|Air Europa||Silver||Gold, Platinum|
|Air France||Silver||Club 2000, Club 2000 Skipper, Gold, Platinum, and all other higher lifetime levels|
|China Airlines||Gold||Paragon, Emerald|
|China Eastern||Silver||Gold, Platinum|
|Czech Airlines||Silver||Gold, Platinum|
|Delta Air Lines||Silver Medallion||Gold Medallion, Platinum Medallion, Diamond Medallion|
|Garuda Indonesia||Gold EC+, Gold||Platinum|
|ITA Airways||Not yet announced||Not yet announced|
|Kenya Airways||Silver||Gold, Platinum, Platinum For Life|
|KLM||Silver||Club 2000, Club 2000 Skipper, Gold, Platinum, and all other higher lifetime levels|
|Korean Air||Morning Calm Club||Morning Calm Premium Club, Million Miler Club|
|Middle East Airlines||Silver||Gold, Presidents Club, Platinum|
|Tarom||Silver||Gold, Platinum, Platinum For Life|
|Vietnam Airlines||Gold, Titanium||Platinum|
|XiamenAir||Silver, Gold||Diamond, Platinum|
How to maximize your miles through SkyTeam Alliance partners
Use a travel rewards credit card
While flying is the larger component of earning status with your airline of choice as well as the SkyTeam Alliance, maximizing your miles earned from the best travel credit cards is another important factor. Building up airline miles earned through credit cards is a great way to eventually fly for free. And whether you’re using your credit cards to travel to Europe, Asia, or here in the United States, there are opportunities to maximize your miles through SkyTeam partners.
If you do travel internationally, be sure to avoid paying foreign transaction fees by using a credit card designed for international travel. Foreign transaction fees can stack up pretty quickly and are easily avoidable by simply having the right credit card.
Credit your SkyTeam miles to the airline of your choice
“Crediting” means you’re earning miles for flying but telling SkyTeam which frequent-flyer program to apply those miles to. When you fly on a SkyTeam airline you typically don’t travel with, you can have the miles credited to the frequent-flyer program of your preference. If you don’t pay attention to where your miles are credited and you credit miles to an airline you’ll never fly again, then you may be tossing valuable miles away that could be used elsewhere.
Let’s say you’re on an international trip to Amsterdam, but you live full time in Atlanta and mainly fly Delta Air Lines. You decide to fly with Delta to Amsterdam, but you fly KLM home. Thanks to the SkyTeam Alliance, when you book your KLM flight, you can have the miles earned from that trip credited to your Delta SkyMiles account rather than KLM’s Flying Blue program.
Book your trip on multiple airlines
Another way to maximize your rewards miles is to book award flights across airlines. A big benefit of earning airline miles within an alliance is the flexibility in using them. For example, let's say you want to fly from Los Angeles to Seoul, South Korea. However, you only have Delta SkyMiles saved up and are unsure if Delta flies to South Korea. You can search on Delta’s website for award flights by clicking on “Shop with Miles.”
Once you hit search for LA to South Korea, you’re met with the following options:
As you can see, none of these flights are operated by Delta, but you can still book with Delta SkyMiles. This is because all of the airlines listed here are part of the SkyTeam and work together to provide a seamless experience for their customers. When you’re able to book award flights across an airline alliance, this maximizes the power of your points.
SkyTeam exclusive lounges
When you have SkyTeam Elite Plus status, you’ll have access to SkyTeam exclusive lounges. These lounges are areas beyond airport security where you can leave the chaos to relax or catch up on work before your next flight.
To access the SkyTeam lounges, you must have Elite Plus status or be flying First or Business Class on a SkyTeam partner airline. These lounges can’t be accessed by holding a specific credit card, unlike many other airline lounges.
There are six SkyTeam lounge locations around the world: Vancouver, Beijing, Dubai, Hong Kong, Sydney, and London. These lounges include amenities like food, showers, drinks, free Wi-Fi, business centers, newspapers, and flight monitors. These spaces are a lifesaver to get away from the headache of a loud airport and to save money, as the food and drinks are complimentary.
The bottom line on the SkyTeam Alliance
The SkyTeam Alliance is a group made up of 20 airlines that have partnered together to create the best flying experience possible for their customers. Whether you’re flying Delta, Korean Air, KLM, or any other of the airlines within the SkyTeam Alliance, your elite status will translate over too, so you can enjoy the same level of service.
This alliance is great for all travelers, as you’ll be able to earn status and spend your hard-earned points across various airlines. So if you frequently fly with any of the participating airlines, it’s good to be aware that you not only have access to perks through your preferred airline but also the SkyTeam Alliance as a whole.
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