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In an effort to expand global coverage, many airlines have formed unique alliances with each other. Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance are the three major players.
As a result, you — the passenger — get to enjoy a more coherent flying experience. You have the ability to book international flights operated by multiple airlines on one ticket, get your checked bags transferred from carrier to carrier, and you have more rebooking alternatives when you miss a connection or a flight is canceled.
Founded in 2000, SkyTeam is the youngest airline alliance. However, given that some members — such as Delta Air Lines, Air France and KLM — have been in business for nearly 100 years, it’s got plenty of experience.
So if you live in a major city and are looking to commit your loyalty to one alliance, here are some pros and cons of SkyTeam Alliance.
The Pros of SkyTeam Alliance
Large list of airline partners
SkyTeam includes 19 full members in its alliance, giving you many options for traversing the globe. SkyTeam airlines cover 1,150 destinations in 175 countries.
Not only do you have ample connection opportunities on your multi-city ticket, but you also have more airlines to redeem miles in your preferred loyalty program for award flights.
SkyTeam member airlines include:
If you fly one of these airlines, you can credit your flight to any carrier’s frequent-flyer program and earn rewards for future flights. Additionally, if you earn status with one carrier in the alliance, you can get some status recognition when flying other member airlines.
» Learn more: The NerdWallet guide to SkyTeam
It’s easy to reach the highest elite status tier
With just two SkyTeam elite levels, reaching the highest tier isn’t too difficult.
The alliance’s two status tiers are:
SkyTeam Elite. SkyTeam Elite members get extra baggage allowance and priority check-in, baggage drop-off, seating, boarding and airport standby.
SkyTeam Elite Plus. SkyTeam Elite Plus members get the aforementioned benefits, plus lounge access; guaranteed reservations on sold-out flights; SkyPriority recognition; and priority at transfer desks, immigration and security lanes, and baggage handling.
Every airline in the alliance has its own SkyTeam elite status qualification requirements, but here’s an example of how to qualify for SkyTeam status when flying Delta Air Lines.
Delta SkyMiles Medallion status
SkyTeam elite status
Gold Medallion members in the Delta SkyMiles elite status program — which is the second-lowest tier in the program — automatically qualify for SkyTeam Elite Plus status and get lounge access and access to priority lanes at the airport.
For most business travelers, SkyTeam elite status isn’t difficult to achieve.
Cons of SkyTeam Alliance
Limited coverage of certain geographical areas
Although SkyTeam partners cover the world pretty well with their enhanced network of routes, the alliance’s weakness lies in South America. With Aerolíneas Argentinas being the only airline based in South America, your options to travel the continent are limited, especially when attempting to redeem frequent-flyer miles.
Oceania is another area where SkyTeam partners don’t have a lot of connections, so you might have to look at carriers in the other two alliances to cover those gaps.
» Learn more: SkyTeam airline lounges worth checking out
Top-tier status tops out at business class
Having two elite levels within an airline alliance is a double-edged sword. SkyTeam Elite Plus offers some nice perks to passengers; however, with only two tiers, the benefits are capped at the business class level.
In comparison, top-tier Emerald members within the Oneworld alliance get access to first class lounges, while SkyTeam Elite Plus members don’t.
Final thoughts on SkyTeam benefits and drawbacks
Although reaching the highest elite tier in the SkyTeam Alliance doesn’t require much effort for road warriors who can earn high enough status with their preferred airline, the benefits don’t provide the highest level of travel experience.
As for global reach, SkyTeam Alliance members share a pretty large network covering most parts of the world, but some geographical areas — such as South America and Oceania — lack coverage. This means you need to pick other carriers to supplement your travels to these destinations.
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