Your Guide to SkyTeam

Ariana ArghandewalSeptember 18, 2019
On a similar note...
On a similar note...

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Chances are you’ve heard of SkyTeam because of its U.S. member airline, Delta. But there’s more to SkyTeam than just one prominent airline. Founded in 2000, the alliance consists of 19 member airlines servicing over 1,150 destinations worldwide. With such a large network of carriers and destinations, it’s worthwhile to familiarize yourself with SkyTeam and all it has to offer.

Airlines in the SkyTeam alliance

The SkyTeam Alliance currently has 19 member airlines serving over 630 million passengers a year:

  • Aeroflot.

  • Aerolineas Argentinas.

  • AeroMexico.

  • Air Europa.

  • Air France.

  • Alitalia.

  • China Airlines.

  • China Eastern.

  • Czech Airlines.

  • Delta Air Lines.

  • Garuda Indonesia.

  • Kenya AIrways.

  • KLM.

  • Korean Air.

  • MEA (Middle East Airlines).

  • SAUDIA.

  • TAROM.

  • Vietnam Airlines.

  • Xiamen Air.

Elite status

SkyTeam has two elite status levels, which you can obtain by earning status with a member airline: Elite and Elite Plus. If you have elite status with any of the SkyTeam members, the SkyTeam website has a tool that helps you figure out which SkyTeam status level you fall into. It’s also helpful if you’re on your way to leveling up your status with an airline and want to know where this will land you as a SkyTeam elite.

Below is a breakdown of the benefits you can expect from the two elite status levels:

SkyTeam Elite

  • Priority check-in.

  • Extra baggage allowance.

  • Priority baggage drop-off.

  • Priority boarding.

  • Priority seating.

  • Priority stand-by.

SkyTeam Elite Plus

SkyTeam Elite Plus members receive all of the above benefits, plus the following:

  • Airport lounge access for members and a guest.

  • Guaranteed full-fare reservations on sold-out flights when booked at least 24 hours before departure.

  • Priority at transfer desks, immigration and security lanes.

  • Access to priority baggage handling.

You can get SkyTeam Elite status as a Delta Silver Medallion member, while Gold Medallion and above gets you qualified for SkyTeam Elite Plus. Below are the requirements for earning status with Delta:

  • Delta Silver Medallion: 25,000 MQMs or 30 MQSs, and $3,000 MQDs or MQD waiver.

  • Delta Gold Medallion: 50,000 MQMs or 60 MQSs, and $6,000 MQDs or MQD waiver.

If you’re not a frequent traveler and mileage running isn’t your style, you can earn Silver and Gold status by meeting certain spending requirements on the Delta credit cards:

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card: In addition to Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) issued when you meet the welcome bonus requirements, cardholders can earn an additional 15,000 MQMs after spending $30,000 in a calendar year. For new cardholders, these MQMs can be nearly enough to earn Silver Medallion status.

You can move toward Gold status by earning another 15,000 MQMs after spending $60,000 on the card in a calendar year. Terms apply.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card: This also earns MQMs as a welcome bonus (though sometimes fewer). You can earn 10,000 more by spending $25,000 in a calendar year, plus another 10,000 when you spend $50,000. Terms apply.

For both cards, this is quite a bit of spending to earn Silver Medallion status. However, for those who are a few thousand MQMs shy of earning status, the card benefit can really come in handy.

SkyTeam lounges

SkyTeam’s six dedicated airport lounges can be found in Beijing, Dubai, Hong Kong, London, Sydney and Vancouver. These spaces offer luxurious amenities like yoga rooms (Hong Kong), wine bars (London and Sydney), shower facilities (Beijing and Dubai) and more. Along with SkyTeam’s member airlines, the alliance offers over 750 lounges worldwide.

To gain access to SkyTeam lounges, travelers must be traveling in business or first class to an international destination. Lounge access is only valid on departure and transfer segments. SkyTeam Elite Plus members also receive complimentary lounge access when traveling on international itineraries, regardless of class, and they can bring one guest for free who’s traveling with a SkyTeam member airline.

Redeeming points for SkyTeam awards

Whether you’re looking for a bargain on domestic flights or want to travel to the far corners of the world, SkyTeam’s member airlines offer great value for your points. Below are some of the cheapest awards you can book from the U.S. on SkyTeam member airlines:

North America (domestic flights)

Korean Air is known for having some great sweet spot awards, and domestic flights are one of them. For just 25,000 miles round-trip in economy and 45,000 in business class, you can travel anywhere in the U.S. or to Hawaii on Delta.

If you’re strictly looking for domestic flight deals, opt for a 20,000-mile economy class flight on Korean’s non-SkyTeam partner Alaska Airlines. First class seats cost 40,000 miles.

Unfortunately, Korean Air is no longer a Chase Ultimate Rewards® transfer partner. However, you can still earn Korean Air miles by transferring Marriott points at a 3:1 ratio or by picking up a co-branded credit card:

Central America

Delta no longer publishes an award chart, but you may find some great fares between the U.S. and Central America using their flight calendar. For example, we found flights between San Francisco and San Jose, Costa Rica, as low as 12,500 miles each way in September. Flights out of Miami were even lower when we checked at just 7,000 miles.

South America

Korean SkyPass partner GOL offers economy class awards between the U.S. and Central America for 50,000 miles round-trip. As a low-cost carrier, GOL unfortunately does not offer first or business class cabins.

Europe

Those Korean Air sweet spots we mentioned? An 80,000-mile round-trip business class ticket to Europe is one of them. That’s an incredible bargain, considering a comparable seat on American Airlines would cost at least 115,000 miles.

Africa

Air France and KLM’s joint Flying Blue rewards program has lots of great sweet spots, including Africa. The program charges as few as 43,000 miles round-trip for an economy class ticket to North African countries like Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya. Below are some examples of these fares:

  • San Francisco - Marrakech = 21,500 miles one-way in economy.

  • San Francisco - Tunis = 29,000 miles one-way.

  • San Francisco - Algiers = 29,000 miles one-way.

  • New York - Marrakech = 21,500 miles one-way in economy.

  • New York - Tunis = 21,500 miles one-way.

  • New York - Algiers = 22,500 miles one-way.

If you can find an applicable Promo reward, you could save up to 50% on these fares.

For business class, SkyTeam member Alitalia offers one of the best deals at just 80,000 miles round-trip.

Middle East

Flying Blue’s flights to Tel Aviv, Israel range from 43,000-50,000 miles round-trip in economy class, depending on which coast you’re flying out of. Interestingly enough, the West Coast flights are cheaper at 21,500 miles one-way while departures out of New York go for 25,000 miles.

Business class costs just 106,000 miles round-trip. That’s incredibly cheap when you compare it to programs like United, which charges 150,000 miles round-trip for business class to the Middle East.

Flying Blue miles are not difficult to get a hold of, either. In addition to a co-branded credit card issued by Bank of America, Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards®, Citi ThankYou Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards. That means you can use these cards to add to your miles balance:

Asia

Alitalia’s rewards program doesn’t get much attention, but it does offer some great redemption rates. For flights between the U.S. and Asia, round-trip economy class tickets range from 60,000-70,000 miles. The real value is in business class, where you’ll pay just 90,000-95,000 miles depending on the region of your destination.

If you’re looking to travel to India, Alitalia requires 80,000 miles for round-trip economy and 100,000 for business class.

Alitalia is a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards, providing plenty of opportunities to earn rewards through the following cards:

Oceania (i.e., Australia, New Zealand, etc.)

Delta’s round-trip awards to Australia start at just 80,000 miles in economy class. Premium cabin award flights are tougher to come by and astronomically priced. Be sure to check out the following credit cards if you’re interested in earning more Delta Skymiles:

How to Maximize Your Rewards

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