EXCLUSIVE | As SkyTeam prepares to welcome its 20th active member airline, the alliance is pondering other ways to attract more travellers into its fold. And what better way to begin than by reconsidering the SkyTeam policy of only granting lounge access to international flyers?

That’s one of the considerations on the table right now, SkyTeam CEO Patrick Roux confirms to Point Hacks. As it stands, SkyTeam’s rivals oneworld and Star Alliance offer more generous policies for frequent flyers. While there are some exceptions – namely within North America – these other collectives permit lounge access on domestic-only tickets and as an alliance-wide benefit.

But this period of review is particularly timely. As of September, one of Star Alliance’s five founding airlines, SAS, will officially depart from Star and hop across to SkyTeam.

‘We have been a very proud founder of the Star Alliance, and this is the first time in history actually that a founding partner changes alliance,’ observes SAS CEO Anko van der Werff. ‘That in itself is, of course, something that shows you the magnitude of what we’re doing here.’

Given the difference in lounge policies between the two alliances, how will things shake out for SAS – and for SkyTeam more broadly? Read on!

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Will SkyTeam lounge access extend beyond international flyers?

As we sit down to a catchup on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) AGM in Dubai, both CEOs have a positive outlook. ‘I want to be respectful and really thank everyone in Star,’ says van der Werff. ‘It has been a good relationship for all those years. Yet, here we are, extremely excited about what’s to come. I do think that what we can build with SkyTeam will be bigger and more important for SAS than what we are leaving behind.’

SkyTeam CEO Patrick Roux (left) and SAS CEO Anko van der Werff (right).

But what about those SkyTeam international-only lounge access policies? After all, they remain at odds with the other alliances. ‘Excellent question,’ says Roux. (Thanks!) ‘We are aware of that and working actively on this. I can tell you that loyalty is part of our key priorities for this year. So those are things we’re discussing, among many others.’

What will happen when travellers fly on SAS, though, which currently follows Star Alliance’s more generous lounge access rules? ‘We try to have a consistent policy,’ Roux explains. ‘So whatever would be the policy at the time, then SAS would be following it.’ Hint: If SkyTeam’s policy is still to only offer lounge access to international flyers, that’ll become SAS’ policy, too.

‘We understand that this is a big move for SAS, having been a founding member of Star Alliance,’ Roux elaborates. ‘We know SAS enjoys a global reputation for quality, for service excellence. No doubt, you will be a great fit for SkyTeam and for our members,’ Roux says directly to van der Werff.

SAS will officially join SkyTeam on 1 September 2024. You can be sure that we’ll keep an eye on any developments on the lounge front.

Also read: How to use Virgin Atlantic Flying Club to earn and redeem points on SkyTeam

Photography by Chris Chamberlin, who attended the IATA AGM in Dubai as a guest of IATA.

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SkyTeam plans review of international-only lounge access policy was last modified: June 13th, 2024 by Chris Chamberlin