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Everything You Need to Know About SkyTeam Alliance

9 minute read 24 June 2024
Delta plane in the air
Written by: Sanjay Sharma

There are three major airline alliances in the world: SkyTeam, Oneworld, and Star Alliance. Each of these airline alliances contain a number of member airlines, including the big U.S. carriers. The SkyTeam alliance is the newest of the three — but that doesn’t make it any less valuable for travelers.

Here’s a look at SkyTeam, its member carriers, and all the details you’ll need to know to make the alliance work for you.

Who is part of the SkyTeam Alliance?

SkyTeam alliance members comprise 19 airlines on four continents:

Aeroflot (temporarily suspended)Aerolineas ArgentinasAeroMexicoAir Europa
Air FranceChina AirlinesChina Eastern AirlinesCzech Airlines
Delta Air LinesGaruda IndonesiaITA AirwaysKenya Airways
KLM Royal Dutch Korean AirMiddle East AirlinesSaudia Airlines
TaromVietnam AirlinesVirgin Atlantic

How does the SkyTeam Alliance work? 

The SkyTeam alliance works like this: When airlines become members, they commit to seamless travel between each member airline in the global network. This means that guests can book a single ticket from one point to another and will only need to check in once, check their bags at the beginning, and pay for their flight in one go.

In practice, this means you can book a ticket with Delta from Atlanta to Ho Chi Minh using Delta’s website. You’ll be on a flight operated by Delta Air Lines and then Vietnam Airlines, but only ever need to check in at Delta’s desk. You’ll get boarding passes for your entire journey and transfer your bags from Delta to Vietnam Airlines automatically.

The process is the same whether you’re flying from San Francisco to London Heathrow, on Korean Air to Kenya Airways, or any other combination of routes and SkyTeam member airlines.

What are the SkyTeam status levels?

One of the best benefits of flying with the SkyTeam alliance is that frequent flyers will receive reciprocal benefits on member airlines. While they won’t be as full as the benefits you’ll get with your home airline, there are definitely some nice perks.

There are two levels of SkyTeam alliance elite status: SkyTeam Elite and SkyTeam Elite Plus.

SkyTeam Elite benefits

Those who have SkyTeam Elite status will receive a number of elite benefits when flying with member airlines, including:

  • Priority reservation waitlist (when fares permit)
  • Preferred seating
  • Priority check-in counters
  • Priority baggage drop-off
  • Priority boarding or boarding at leisure 
  • Extra baggage allowance

SkyTeam Elite Plus benefits

SkyTeam Elite Plus is the highest level of SkyTeam elite status. In addition to the above benefits, SkyTeam Elite Plus members get:

  • Guaranteed full-fare Y-class reservations on sold-out long-haul flights, at least 24 hours prior to departure
  • Access to airport lounges worldwide for members in possession of a boarding pass, plus a guest, no matter the class of travel
  • Priority baggage handling on arrival, whatever the class of travel
  • Increased baggage allowances

How do I get SkyTeam Elite or Elite Plus status? 

Earning SkyTeam alliance elite status is done through a member airline’s loyalty program. For example, let’s say that you fly with Delta Air Lines often enough to earn Silver Medallion status (along with a whole boatload of Delta SkyMiles). As a benefit of Silver status with Delta, you also have SkyTeam Elite status.

Beyond this, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond Medallion elite members have SkyTeam Elite Plus status.

SkyTeam lounges

Nothing feels as nice as an airport lounge when you’re traveling. A respite away from crowded terminals, SkyTeam lounges give eligible passengers the ability to wind down and recharge before a flight.

Who gets access to SkyTeam lounges? 

There are two types of passengers who can have SkyTeam lounge access:

  • Those flying same-day international business or first class on a SkyTeam member airline
  • Those with SkyTeam Elite Plus status, flying on a SkyTeam member airline that day

SkyTeam Elite Plus members are also allowed to bring one guest with them into SkyTeam lounges. The guest must also be flying on a same-day SkyTeam ticket, but they do not need to be on the same flight as the member with SkyTeam Elite Plus status.

There are some limitations to lounge access for SkyTeam Elite Plus members, however. Aside from the rare exception, travelers with Delta Air Lines elite status are not able to access lounges on domestic flights.

Where are SkyTeam lounges located?

With more than 750 SkyTeam lounges worldwide, it’s rare to find an airport without one.

Most are operated by SkyTeam member airlines, though there are a few SkyTeam-branded lounges accessible to SkyTeam elite members. These are located in:

  • Istanbul
  • Vancouver
  • Dubai
  • Sydney
  • Santiago de Chile
  • São Paulo

What facilities and benefits do SkyTeam lounges offer?

The amenities at SkyTeam lounges are going to vary, but generally you can expect to find food, drinks, seats, a place to charge your phone, and restrooms. Other amenities can include nap pods, showers, relaxation rooms, and more.

SkyTeam’s lounge website can help you find a lounge in your airport, as well as let you know what’s on offer.

How do I redeem points and miles for SkyTeam awards?

Even better than becoming a SkyTeam elite is using your miles for first- and business-class flights. If you’d like to redeem miles, there are many ways to do so.

If you’ve already earned miles with SkyTeam members, you can simply log in to any of your accounts and look for flights — so if you have miles with Air France KLM Flying Blue, for example, you can browse and book flights with Air France, Delta, Virgin Atlantic, or any of the other SkyTeam members.

However, you don’t need to have earned miles with a SkyTeam airline to redeem miles. If you’ve earned points with any transferable points currencies, you can move them over to a SkyTeam airline alliance member and then redeem.

A good example of this is Virgin Atlantic. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club partners with American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Bilt Rewards, and Citi ThankYou points — and you can transfer any of them over to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

Then you’ll need to head to the Virgin Atlantic homepage, complete a search using points, and find the flight you want to book, whether that’s with Virgin Atlantic, Air France, or even one of Virgin’s non-SkyTeam partners.

How makes booking award flights simpler

Whether you want to fly with SkyTeam or any other alliance, booking a reward flight can take a lot of time — you’ll need to figure out which airlines fly where, what kind of points you need for an award, and if there’s even award space available when you need to fly.

Rather than doing the legwork yourself, can handle it for you. All you need is your dates of travel, where you’re going, and how you’d like to get there. will then search all airline alliances and award seats in one go. More than that, it’ll tell you the best ways to maximize your miles and give you step-by-step instructions on how to book.

Frequently asked questions about SkyTeam

What airlines are part of the SkyTeam Alliance?

There are 19 members of the SkyTeam Alliance: Aerolineas Argentinas, AeroMexico, Air Europa, Air France, China Airlines, China Eastern airlines, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Garuda Indonesia, ITA Airways, Kenya Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, Saudia, Tarom, Vietnam Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and Xiamen Airlines.

How do I join the SkyTeam Alliance? 

Only airlines can join the SkyTeam alliance. Those who have elite status with airlines that are part of the alliance will automatically be given elite status with SkyTeam.

Is SkyTeam membership free?

Again, you can’t join an airline alliance directly, but earning elite status with SkyTeam is free.

What are the differences between SkyTeam Elite and Elite Plus status?

Travelers with SkyTeam Elite Plus status are entitled to more benefits than those with SkyTeam Elite, including an additional checked bag and airport lounge access.

How do I become a SkyTeam Elite or Elite Plus member?

If you have elite status with a SkyTeam member airline, you’ll automatically receive SkyTeam elite status.

How many frequent flyer miles do I need for SkyTeam Elite status?

Each year, you’ll need to qualify for elite status with a participating airline to be awarded SkyTeam elite status. Requirements vary by airline.

Which SkyTeam frequent flyer program is best?

The easiest SkyTeam airline for U.S. flyers to join is Delta, though Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles are much more valuable.

Can I transfer my Elite status from one frequent flyer program to another?

No, you only get elite status on the airline with which you’ve earned it.

How do I get access to SkyTeam lounges?

SkyTeam lounges are available to business and first class passengers on same-day SkyTeam flights. Those with SkyTeam Elite Plus status can also access lounges.

Is Virgin Atlantic a SkyTeam member?

Yes, Virgin Atlantic is a member of SkyTeam.

Is SAS in SkyTeam now?

SAS will be joining SkyTeam later in 2024.

Are day passes for SkyTeam lounges available to buy?

Yes, you can usually buy day passes for SkyTeam lounges, though the cost will vary according to lounge.

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