This guide takes a look at the SkyTeam alliance, focusing on its carriers that fly into Australia and their respective frequent flyer programs.
What is SkyTeam?
With 19 members, the SkyTeam alliance is one of three major global airline alliances, alongside oneworld and Star Alliance. Unfortunately, it has a somewhat limited presence in Australia with all member airlines being based overseas, and only a handful operating flights to our shores.
Of the alliance’s 19 members, seven usually fly into Australia and are highlighted in bold on the left:
|Airlines flying to Australia||Other SkyTeam Alliance members|
China Eastern Airlines
Middle East Airlines
Saudi Arabian Airlines
The alliance spans across more than 1,000 destinations in 179 countries, so there are plenty of opportunities to earn and redeem miles as well as earning status credits with a SkyTeam alliance program. Frequent flyers of SkyTeam airlines are able to do so when flying with different alliance members in the same reservation.
What is SkyTeam Priority?
Elite members of each SkyTeam alliance frequent flyer program enjoy premium benefits across the board, offered under the SkyTeam Priority moniker, which has two tiers. Each tier corresponds to a particular status level within each SkyTeam airline.
The two broad SkyTeam Priority tiers are:
- SkyTeam Elite
- SkyTeam Elite Plus
For example, with Delta Air Lines, SkyTeam Elite corresponds to the Silver Medallion status level, while SkyTeam Elite Plus corresponds to Gold Medallion, Platinum Medallion and Diamond Medallion status levels.
These vary by airline, and the SkyTeam tier corresponding to other SkyTeam airlines can be found here.
With SkyTeam Priority, eligible frequent flyers are able to access the following benefits when traveling with any SkyTeam alliance airline in any travel class. These include:
SkyTeam Elite and SkyTeam Elite Plus members
- Extra baggage allowance
- Priority check-in
- Priority seating
- Priority boarding
- Priority stand-by
SkyTeam Elite Plus members
- Access to International Business Class lounges
- Guaranteed reservations on sold-out flights
- SkyPriority recognition
- Priority at Transfer Desks
- Priority at immigration and security lines
- Priority baggage handling
To enjoy these benefits across SkyTeam, you will need to first join a member airline’s individual program, and then reach the appropriate status level in that program.
While there is no universal SkyTeam frequent flyer program, the alliance does provide universally-dedicated SkyTeam lounges in addition to individual member airline lounges.
There currently are seven SkyTeam lounges, including a lounge at Sydney International Airport. Other locations are Beijing, Dubai, Hong Kong, Istanbul, London Heathrow and Vancouver.
Key Lounge in Australia
SkyTeam Lounge, Sydney
If you find yourself flying on a SkyTeam flight in a premium class, such as on Korean Air in First between Sydney and San Francisco via Seoul, you will find yourself welcomed into the SkyTeam lounge in Sydney, which is predominantly the main SkyTeam lounge available for Australian based frequent flyers.
Read on for our review of the SkyTeam Lounge at Sydney International.
How do I earn SkyTeam miles?
SkyTeam miles can be earned directly with any SkyTeam airlines through flying or their respective air and ground partners. None of the SkyTeam member airlines that fly to Australia offers a direct-earn credit card in our market, which does limit the ability to earn any significant number of miles from everyday spend.
However, all is not lost, as there are a number of ways to indirectly earn airline miles with your SkyTeam carrier.
One way to do this is to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and transfer them to your SkyTeam frequent flyer program of choice. Marriott Bonvoy points can be earned through staying at any Marriott-portfolio hotels, or by converting American Express Membership Rewards points to Marriott.
Marriott partners with many airlines, including quite a few of SkyTeam’s member airlines — refer to the Marriott Bonvoy airline partner list for confirmation.
Note that Marriott Bonvoy points can be transferred to Velocity Frequent Flyer at a rate of 3:1. From there, Velocity Frequent Flyers are able to redeem their points for any Delta Air Lines flights worldwide.
Which are the best SkyTeam frequent flyer programs for Australian based travellers?
While the number of SkyTeam airlines flying into Australia is somewhat less prevalent than those of oneworld and Star Alliance, you may still find them to be of great value to you, especially if you travel overseas frequently from Australia to destinations covered by the SkyTeam network.
A pitfall of SkyTeam in Australia is the limited non-airline partnerships between its member airlines and Australian companies. For this reason, many of you may turn to Oneworld or Star Alliance carriers instead.
But if you do fly regularly with one of the below airlines, SkyTeam might work out for you.
Delta Airlines SkyMiles
Gaining elite status with Delta will not only give you SkyTeam Priority perks, but it will also grant equivalent benefits on Virgin Australia-operated flights, such as lounge access and priority check-in.
Korean Airlines SkyPass
Korean SkyPass has a great round-the-world offering at just 220,000 points for Business Class, which is significantly cheaper than both Qantas Frequent Flyer at 314,000 Qantas Points and Singapore Airlines at 240,000 Krisflyer miles.
SkyPass is also competitive for Trans-Tasman flights and has a ‘Family Plan’ feature to help share points and redeem flights for family members.
Xiamen Air Egret Miles
For those who regularly travel to China, Xiamen Air represents great value on the redemption front with fairly low redemption rates. However, with no partnership with either Marriott Bonvoy or American Express Membership Rewards, the ability to earn miles from Australia is limited.
How to search for SkyTeam availability
You can search any of the alliance’s airline websites to find reward seat availability. Public commentary suggests that the Flying Blue (Air France/KLM) website is a great place to start. However, you need to become a member of the program in order to access this functionality.
You can also use third-party tools such as ExpertFlyer or Award Nexus to search for reward seat availability as well. Premium memberships may be required to use these features, which are designed for more advanced users.
Below is an example of searching for reward seats with Delta SkyMiles, from New York to Paris. After choosing the dates and cabin class, any available options will show up with the number of miles needed, plus the cash co-payments (usually in the airline’s home currency).
The decision to join a SkyTeam frequent flyer program is likely to be determined by your personal travel patterns, as there isn’t much incentive to join otherwise, at least in Australia.
It’s best suited to those who travel internationally often, between primary and secondary hubs of SkyTeam Alliance carriers. This is due to the limited opportunities to earn miles in these programs outside of actually flying.
If you do fall within this category, there are a number of SkyTeam carriers that fly into Australia. However, some of these fly solely to Sydney or Melbourne, which will require domestic connections for those living outside these cities.
Should your flying be mostly of a domestic nature, or to destinations outside of SkyTeam hubs, then Qantas Frequent Flyer, Velocity Frequent Flyer or rivals Oneworld and Star Alliance may be a better choice.
Supplementary images courtesy SkyTeam.