What Are The Benefits Of SkyTeam Elite Plus Status?

What Are The Benefits Of SkyTeam Elite Plus Status?

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There are three major global airline alliances — oneworld, SkyTeam, and Star Alliance — and each offers some level of reciprocal elite recognition. In previous posts I’ve written about oneworld Emerald status, oneworld Sapphire status, and Star Alliance Gold status.

In this post I wanted to take a look at the benefits of SkyTeam Elite Plus status. SkyTeam is a popular airline alliance, and Elite Plus is SkyTeam’s highest reciprocal elite tier.

How airline alliance status works

One of the major benefits of the global alliances is reciprocal elite recognition across airlines. While you’ll generally be treated the best when flying “your” airline, there are certain perks you can expect regardless of which member airline you fly. From the perspective of frequent flyers, this is one of the key value propositions of an airline alliance.

You don’t earn elite status directly with SkyTeam, but rather you earn status with a SkyTeam member airline, and that status maps over to an alliance elite tier. SkyTeam has two elite tiers — Elite and Elite Plus — and it’s the higher tier where the perks really kick in.

For example, if you’re a SkyTeam Elite Plus member through Delta SkyMiles, you can expect some level of recognition, regardless of whether you fly Air France-KLM, Korean Air, China Eastern, Middle East Airlines, Saudia, or Virgin Atlantic, among others.

Alliances offer a level of reciprocity for frequent flyers

Benefits & perks of SkyTeam Elite Plus status

What are the perks of SkyTeam Elite Plus status? Let’s go over each of the benefits, roughly in the order that I value them (admittedly this is pretty subjective, and depends on your travel patterns).

SkyTeam business class lounge access

If you ask me, the most valuable perk of SkyTeam Elite Plus status is the lounge access benefit, as members receive access to most SkyTeam business class lounges when traveling on an international SkyTeam flight the same day in any cabin. They’re allowed to even bring one guest with them (also traveling on a SkyTeam flight).

Unfortunately this is an area where Delta puts its frequent flyers at a major disadvantage. Those who earn SkyTeam Elite Plus through Delta SkyMiles don’t receive Delta Sky Club access when traveling in economy on international flights. However, they can access partner lounges.

Access airport lounges with SkyTeam Elite Plus status

SkyPriority check-in, security, & boarding

As a SkyTeam Elite Plus member you get access to SkyPriority services, which include priority check-in, security, and boarding. You can generally expect that you are grouped in with business class in this regard, so keep an eye on the red SkyPriority signs at airports, as these can save you a lot of time and hassle.

Receive priority check-in with SkyTeam Elite Plus status

Extra baggage allowance & priority handling

While many frequent flyers prefer to travel hand luggage only, for those times where you do check luggage, the extra SkyTeam Elite Plus baggage allowance comes in handy:

  • For tickets that have a weight limit, you get an extra 20kg of luggage
  • For tickets that have a piece system, you get one additional bag

In addition to the extra allowance, you also receive priority handling for your bags, so that they hopefully come out early.

Preferred seating

SkyTeam Elite Plus members are supposed to receive preferred seating when traveling on any SkyTeam airline. The catch is that the execution here differs greatly by airline. Some airlines will allow you to assign exit row and other extra legroom seats at no cost, while others have much more limited options. Meanwhile some SkyTeam airlines apply this policy to companions on the same reservation, while others don’t.

You’ll always want to check with the airline you’re traveling on to see what kind of seating you can get as a SkyTeam Elite Plus member.

Priority on waitlists & for standby

If you find yourself on a standby list or a waitlist for a flight, this is generally prioritized by status. You can expect that SkyTeam Elite Plus status will give you priority on this list. This is useful in situations where you’re trying to stand by for a flight or score an upgrade, but there aren’t many seats left.

Receive priority on waitlists with SkyTeam Elite Plus status

How does SkyTeam status compare to others?

If you’re going to fly with an alliance, you’re of course better off having status than not. All three of the major alliances are quite consistent when it comes to alliance-wide perks, including priority services, an extra baggage allowance, etc.

All that being said, I do think that SkyTeam Elite Plus is generally less valuable than comparable elite tiers at both Star Alliance and oneworld. Admittedly the differences are most noticeable at the margins, and to give you a sense of why:

  • Star Alliance Gold doesn’t restrict lounge access only to international flights, and Star Alliance Gold members sometimes get access to better-than-business-class lounges, and can also sometimes check-in with first class, which you don’t usually find at SkyTeam
  • Similarly, oneworld Sapphire and Emerald also don’t restrict lounge access only to international flights, and oneworld Emerald offers service more on par with first class, rather than business class (first class check-in, boarding, lounge access, etc.)

I think the domestic vs. international lounge access policy is worth emphasizing. For example, if you have Star Alliance Gold status or oneworld Sapphire status through a non-US frequent flyer program, you can access United Clubs and American Flagship Lounges (respectively) with your status. Meanwhile the same doesn’t apply to SkyTeam Elite Plus members through a non-US frequent flyer program.

A terrible aspect of SkyTeam is how the alliance’s largest airline (Delta) doesn’t grant its own frequent flyers Sky Club access on international itineraries, contradicting the standard SkyTeam policy. That’s not something you’ll find at American or United.

I can’t think of any relative advantage that SkyTeam Elite Plus has over comparable status with Star Alliance or oneworld, though someone correct me if I’m wrong.

I love how oneworld Emerald status offers first lounge access

Bottom line

Status with an alliance can be valuable, especially if you don’t always fly with the same airline. Elite Plus is the top elite status in the SkyTeam alliance, and it offers perks like business class check-in, lounge access, and boarding, plus an extra baggage allowance, priority baggage delivery, and priority on waitlists.

There’s definitely value to be had with SkyTeam Elite Plus status, though I think SkyTeam lags a bit behind Star Alliance and oneworld when it comes to reciprocal recognition.

If you’re a SkyTeam Elite Plus member, what has your experience been with the status?

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  1. Alison Guest

    This benefit is definitely confusing. I'm Elite Plus planning to fly Air France. I want to know which of their fare types (Lite, Standard, Standard Plus, Flex) I need to purchase in order to get preferred seat selection and lounge access. Does anyone know if you can purchase Lite and still get that? no one at delta or AF seems to know

  2. Mark Guest

    So, I have a trip to HEL next week. Flying DL to AMS, then KLM to HEL. Return I fly AF to CDG, then DL rest. How do I get on the upgrade list for KLM/AF? I booked all through my works travel agency (so all Delta ticketed flights).

    1. TravelinWilly Diamond

      Assuming you have status on DL, the AF/KL reservations should “know” this.

      I had six segments in paid DL first last week (point being I wouldn’t be on any upgrade lists), and all the boarding passes said “Platinum Medallion / Elite Plus” on them, even though I don’t have any status on DL anymore, but I have Plat status on AF.

      One would hope Flying Blue would know this also, but DL’s technology is...

      Assuming you have status on DL, the AF/KL reservations should “know” this.

      I had six segments in paid DL first last week (point being I wouldn’t be on any upgrade lists), and all the boarding passes said “Platinum Medallion / Elite Plus” on them, even though I don’t have any status on DL anymore, but I have Plat status on AF.

      One would hope Flying Blue would know this also, but DL’s technology is light years ahead of FB. For you this may be a case of call to find out. Good luck!

    2. Mark Guest

      Yes, I'm a DM on Delta. Heck, after this trip, I'll have over $13k spending this year...and I can only book economy for work. So I would assume AF/KLM would know my status. I'll have to go into my Flying Blue account and add my DL number

    3. Reyyan Diamond

      “Upgrade list for KLM/AF“. What upgrade list exactly? KLM/AF doesn’t give free upgrades to Business class no matter your status. Depending on your status you’ll only be able to choose certain seats for free such as exit row seats.

      Btw, if you need a corporate travel agency that truly knows your travel patterns and is able to help out with any request check out: https://www.tripassist.travel/

  3. Sam Kim Guest

    STE+>> *AG when traveling in basic Y. You'll still get baggage and preferred seating benefit on former with most airlines. Not so with latter alliance.

  4. Sam Kim Guest

    STE+ provides baggage and preferred seating benefits even on basic y fares. *AG doesnt privde either for most airlines that one would fly.

  5. Paddy Guest

    Where sky team really shines is the additional free luggage for elites, which is always granted, no matter how cheap a flight you booked. In Oneworld and Star Alliance that is not the case for their most basic economy. So if you have a positioning flight and need to take luggage, that is a great plus for me.

    1. Mark Guest

      This didn't help me last year. I had two checked bags..KLM charged me for one, when I'm a Delta DM, so SkyTeam Elite plus.

    2. DLPTATL Guest

      Mark, that's really strange. I've had countless flights on KLM and AF where I've received the additional baggage weight allowance without a charge.

    3. Jesper Guest

      Zero from the ticket, and one from status? Then it makes sense to charge you for one. KLM has plenty of fares without luggage....

    4. Andrew Guest

      For *Gold isn’t it just LH group basic and Sas light. That doesn’t give baggage but your good with basic and a bag on all other alliance members.

  6. MikaFlyer Guest

    At least ST performs will with low level elites. ST Elite is my favourite low level tier. Star Alliance Silver and OW Ruby are worthless outside the individual airline's program. At least Skyteam Elite grants an extra bag on all members.

    As a CDG based flyer the choice is clear. OW and *A lounges in CDG are not amazing. Qatar requires a premium class ticket. Star alliance lounge is just meh and doesn't compare...

    At least ST performs will with low level elites. ST Elite is my favourite low level tier. Star Alliance Silver and OW Ruby are worthless outside the individual airline's program. At least Skyteam Elite grants an extra bag on all members.

    As a CDG based flyer the choice is clear. OW and *A lounges in CDG are not amazing. Qatar requires a premium class ticket. Star alliance lounge is just meh and doesn't compare to AF lounges. Cathay has a good but I don't think it will reopen...

  7. Ralph4878 Guest

    While I'm a SkyTeam fan, the one area where I feel it's really lacking is not necessarily the lounge access for ElitePlus members when traveling domestically in the USA so much as the lounges themselves. Delta SkyClubs are nice but, IMHO, AA's lounges are better (I haven't be in an United one for ages...). Internationally, the difference is even more glaring: there's no comparing Cathay or BA lounges, for example, to Korean or KLM/AF lounges....

    While I'm a SkyTeam fan, the one area where I feel it's really lacking is not necessarily the lounge access for ElitePlus members when traveling domestically in the USA so much as the lounges themselves. Delta SkyClubs are nice but, IMHO, AA's lounges are better (I haven't be in an United one for ages...). Internationally, the difference is even more glaring: there's no comparing Cathay or BA lounges, for example, to Korean or KLM/AF lounges. KLM's lounges in AMS - which I'm in a lot - are nice and updated, but they are far, far too crowded to enjoy or be relaxing recently; their YYZ and IAH lounges are hardly worth going out of your way to visit. AF's lounges are often depressing (especially the ones outside of France: IAD, BOS, and BKK, whew!), too. Haven't been to any of China Eastern's recently, but from what I remember, the one in PVG was lovely. Unfortunately, the SkyTeam lounge is weak!

    1. Jan Guest

      Are you comparing SkyClubs to AA's Flagship Lounges? It's not the same "league" so to speak; DL is opening a few "Delta One" lounges to compete with AA Flagship and Polaris lounges.

      Alos the AF CDG 2F lounge is nicer than the two crown lounges in AMS, with top notch food, but unfortunately it is also crowded in the afternoon.

  8. Eskimo Guest

    You forgot to add how Delta screws it's own Elite Plus.

  9. Lee Nusbaum Guest

    Will a delta platinum get advanced seats assignments for free under the AF/KLM paid seat policy in Biz?

    1. Sam kim Guest

      If it's like VS (prior to joining ST at least) then no. Would be good to see clarification on this.

    2. Stephen Guest

      Yes but only for the member. Others on the res are paid.

  10. TravelinWilly Diamond

    If one is flying in international first on *any* alliance, I don’t see how status gets you anything meaningful, except for lounge access in the USA on domestic flights (which is a HUGE Elite Plus shortcoming).

    1. Andrew Diamond

      More miles, at least with OW. I didn't see that as a perk in this article.

    2. Sam kim Guest

      If one is 7'1" I'm not sure how any alliance status gets you anything either.

  11. Tony Guest

    The domestic lounge restriction doesn’t apply everywhere. China Eastern allows domestic access, so does Air France YMMV depending on your airline.

    Star Alliance limits lounge guesting to people traveling on the same flight which might sound trivial but gosh this is a stupidly annoying policy when you travel with people and split at the end of the trip.

    Also in general Skyteam is a bit less restrictive, you still get priority boarding, security, check-in...

    The domestic lounge restriction doesn’t apply everywhere. China Eastern allows domestic access, so does Air France YMMV depending on your airline.

    Star Alliance limits lounge guesting to people traveling on the same flight which might sound trivial but gosh this is a stupidly annoying policy when you travel with people and split at the end of the trip.

    Also in general Skyteam is a bit less restrictive, you still get priority boarding, security, check-in and extra luggage on basic fares whereas with BA at least its not a 0+1 concept but a 1+1 concept. And with Star you don’t get the extra bag on most light fares with LH group or UA.

    1. Levi Diamond

      It's not an alliance benefit though (and the STE+ lounge benefit is weaker than other alliances' similar benefits in that it apparently allows member programs to pick and choose which ST lounges their elites have access to).

    2. Grey Diamond

      Did United change their policy? Before they have always given *G the free bag even with basic economy...

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Paddy Guest

Where sky team really shines is the additional free luggage for elites, which is always granted, no matter how cheap a flight you booked. In Oneworld and Star Alliance that is not the case for their most basic economy. So if you have a positioning flight and need to take luggage, that is a great plus for me.

3
Sam Kim Guest

STE+>> *AG when traveling in basic Y. You'll still get baggage and preferred seating benefit on former with most airlines. Not so with latter alliance.

2
Tony Guest

The domestic lounge restriction doesn’t apply everywhere. China Eastern allows domestic access, so does Air France YMMV depending on your airline. Star Alliance limits lounge guesting to people traveling on the same flight which might sound trivial but gosh this is a stupidly annoying policy when you travel with people and split at the end of the trip. Also in general Skyteam is a bit less restrictive, you still get priority boarding, security, check-in and extra luggage on basic fares whereas with BA at least its not a 0+1 concept but a 1+1 concept. And with Star you don’t get the extra bag on most light fares with LH group or UA.

2
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