SkyTeam Airport Lounge Access Explained

SkyTeam Airport Lounge Access Explained

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One of the great things about the “big three” global airline alliances is that they offer reciprocal lounge access for travelers. In this post I wanted to take a closer look at the SkyTeam alliance’s lounge access policy, as understanding the nuances of airport lounge access can be complicated.

As a general rule of thumb, you can expect that you’ll get lounge access internationally with SkyTeam if you have SkyTeam Elite Plus status, or if you’re traveling in first or business class. That doesn’t generally apply when traveling domestically, including within the United States on Delta, so I’ll address that as well.

First let me cover the basics of the SkyTeam alliance, and then I’ll talk about the alliance’s policy on lounge access when traveling in first & business class, and when having SkyTeam Elite Plus status. Note that you can always reference the SkyTeam lounge finder for the basics of SkyTeam’s lounge access rules (though I’ll try to simplify it even more in this post).

In separate posts I’ll cover the lounge access policies of oneworld and Star Alliance. Let me say that in general I think oneworld has the most generous lounge access policies, followed by Star Alliance, followed by SkyTeam.

The basics of the SkyTeam alliance

The SkyTeam alliance has 18 member airlines, making it bigger than oneworld but smaller than Star Alliance. The alliance was founded in 2000, by Aeromexico, Air France, Delta, and Korean Air. While SkyTeam has some solid member airlines, personally I find that the alliance is least generous when it comes to reciprocity, whether it comes to award space or elite recognition.

Nowadays SkyTeam has the following member airlines:

Aerolineas Argentinas
Delta Air Lines
Saudia
Aeromexico
Garuda Indonesia
TAROM
Air Europa
ITA Airways
Vietnam Airlines
Air France
Kenya Airways
Xiamen Air
China Airlines
KLM
China Eastern Airlines
Korean Air
Czech Airlines
Middle East Airlines
SkyTeam member airlines
The SkyTeam alliance was founded in 2000

SkyTeam first & business class lounge access

SkyTeam international first & business class passengers are entitled to access to any designated SkyTeam business class lounges:

  • This is valid throughout your same day journey when you have a first or business class ticket
  • Lounge access is provided only at your departure and transfer airports, and not on arrival
  • For connecting passengers, both the domestic and international flights must be operated by a SkyTeam member airline, and all segments need to be booked in first or business class
  • You aren’t allowed to bring any guests into lounges with you
  • To get lounge access, you must have paid for your ticket with cash or miles; staff travel doesn’t qualify

One thing worth noting here is that on an alliance level, there’s no special lounge access for first class passengers. That’s not to say that first class passengers won’t get access to special lounges, but rather that any premium lounge access would be due to an airline’s policy, rather than due to the alliance’s policy.

Just as how SkyTeam doesn’t have reciprocal first class award redemptions, the alliance also doesn’t have reciprocal first class lounge access.

For context, in the SkyTeam alliance, you have several airlines that have international first class — Air France, China Eastern, Garuda Indonesia, Korean Air, Saudia, and Xiamen Air. While these airlines mostly have special first class lounges, there’s not any consistently superior reciprocal lounge access offered for those traveling in first class.

KLM Lounge Amsterdam (AMS)

SkyTeam Elite Plus lounge access

SkyTeam has two elite tiers — Elite and Elite Plus. SkyTeam Elite Plus members receive lounge access on account of their status when traveling internationally:

  • This is valid regardless of your travel class, throughout your same day journey
  • Lounge access is provided only at your departure and transfer airports, and not on arrival
  • For connecting passengers, both the domestic and international flights must be operated by a SkyTeam member airline
  • You are allowed to bring one guest with you, and they must also be traveling on a SkyTeam flight (though it could be a different SkyTeam flight)
  • For these purposes, international travel excludes travel between the United States and the Caribbean
  • SkyTeam Elite Plus members who earn their status through Delta SkyMiles can only access SkyTeam member airline lounges, and can’t access third party lounges
  • To get lounge access, you must have paid for your ticket with cash or miles; staff travel doesn’t qualify

It’s interesting how SkyTeam Elite Plus members don’t receive lounge access when traveling within the United States, even if they earn status with a foreign SkyTeam airline. This contrasts to oneworld and Star Alliance, where those who earn status with a foreign airline still receive lounge access when traveling domestically within the United States.

China Airlines Lounge Taipei (TPE

What about Delta Sky Club lounge access?

Delta is the major SkyTeam airline in the United States. As mentioned above, generally lounge access policies differ in the United States, since the business model is different. Airlines in the United States try to monetize their lounges, and also sell memberships.

If you’re traveling within the United States on Delta, what does that mean for lounge access?

  • A first or business class ticket within the United States on Delta generally won’t get you lounge access, with the exception of a limited number of premium routes
  • SkyTeam Elite Plus status earned through all airlines wouldn’t get you access to Delta Sky Clubs when traveling within the United States

Fortunately there are lots of other ways to get Delta Sky Club access, including having The Platinum Card® from American Express (review), The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card (review), etc.

See my detailed post on Delta Sky Club access access.

Delta Sky Club Miami (MIA)

Bottom line

One of the great things about the global airline alliances is the reciprocal lounge access perks they offer to those traveling in premium cabins, as well as elite members. This is worth knowing, because in many cases you may have access to better lounges than you expect — don’t necessarily just go to the lounge that your airline gives you an “invitation” for.

While there are great perks to SkyTeam lounge access, in general I consider the alliance to be the weakest of the “big three” when it comes to reciprocal lounge access.

SkyTeam first & business class passengers can visit lounges when traveling internationally same day, though all segments must be in first & business class, and no guests are allowed. SkyTeam Elite Plus members also receive lounge access when traveling internationally, and are allowed one guest.

What has your experience been with SkyTeam lounge access?

Conversations (25)
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  1. mike Guest

    At Amsterdam airport you are allowed to enter the Crown lounges on arrival as an elite plus member. But only if you arrived on a KLM/Air France flight

  2. iamhere Guest

    The big advantage to SkyTeam is they are accepting if you have a mixed cabin ticket.
    Also Delta lounges can be accessed with Amex Platinum and some of the SkyTeam lounges overseas can also use it.

  3. BoardingAreaFlukie Guest

    Before boarding and Air France flight out of LAX this year, I went to the Delta SkyClub. The lounge dragon claimed I had to be on a Delta flight to use the lounge. After explaining that as a SkyTeam Elite Plus, I'm entitled to access to SkyTeam lounges before international SkyTeam flights. She hemmed and hawed and then claimed she didn't know I was a SkyTeam Elite Plus despite it saying so on the boarding pass and then let me in.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      LAX Sky Club "dragons" are notoriously deceptive. Probably because they have more fingers than IQ.

      And they've kicked KE pax to use the KE lounge at TBIT.

  4. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

    From a Delta perspective, SkyTeam sucks. With Delta gold elites getting lounge access on international flights, there are way too many elites. It's a nightmare around U.S. departing flights at LHR, AMS and CDG. I've noticed that Air France has reduced what is served and lowered the quality of the wine for the morning/late morning U.S.-bound flights on Delta. They put the good stuff out for their passengers. Likewise, Delta treats the top-tier SkyTeam elites...

    From a Delta perspective, SkyTeam sucks. With Delta gold elites getting lounge access on international flights, there are way too many elites. It's a nightmare around U.S. departing flights at LHR, AMS and CDG. I've noticed that Air France has reduced what is served and lowered the quality of the wine for the morning/late morning U.S.-bound flights on Delta. They put the good stuff out for their passengers. Likewise, Delta treats the top-tier SkyTeam elites of partner airlines pretty bad. Look at how low on the pole Sky Priority boarding is these days.

    1. Gaurav Community Ambassador

      No one is forcing Delta to categorize Gold Medallions as Elite Plus.

  5. Ismail Ramsey Smith Guest

    “For these purposes, international travel excludes travel between the United States and the Caribbean”. What a scam! You’d never get this sort of nonsense in the Land of the Free (by which I mean Europe)

  6. Wayne Guest

    What happens if you bought/purchased your membership? I bought my access through Delta SkyMiles.

  7. Reno Joe Guest

    Ben, correct me if I'm wrong but I believe that Sky Team tier status excludes club access when traveling within Europe -- say, Paris to Rome -- in the same way as when traveling solely within the US. I believe one must have a business class ticket to access the club on such flights. If I am correct, it's truly a rotten deal.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      You are wrong.

      The truly a rotten deal is excluding US-Caribbean.

    2. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

      Or Mexico. JFK to Aruba or JFK to Mexico City is a pretty long flight for no lounge access.

    3. Eskimo Guest

      Mexico and Canada is now considered International.

      Now you might get confused with the stupid DL F rule. But as a STE+ there would be no problem.

      The stupidity comes from US carriers use of "First" Class.
      In short DL One gets lounge DL F doesn't.
      In stupidity, on the same plane same seat if it was DL marketed, no bueno, if it was AM marketed, welcome to SkyClub.

  8. FrequentFlyer83 Guest

    Actually I experienced that when traveling domestic in Vietnam with Vietnam airlines skyteam elite plus members also don’t get lounge access as officially the lounge is not considered a skyteam lounge

    1. Eskimo Guest

      The VN lounges are officially considered as SkyTeam lounge.

      You didn't get access because you were flying domestic.

      You misunderstood the rules and draw wrong conclusions. Maybe you should work for DL LAX Sky Club, you'd be a good fit.

  9. Laurent Guest

    A guest is also allowed in la premiere lounge ?

  10. Frederik Guest

    Lucky,

    If flying premium economy it says that silver SkyTeam members are eligible to purchase lounge access.

    Do you know how much the this would cost? Cannot seem to find out, so maybe it varies by airport.

  11. wpcoe Member

    I had the following results on the following itineraries for the Delta Sky Club admittance, all booked in J/F:

    MEX-DL-LAX-DL-LAS = entry at LAX permitted
    MEX-DL-DTW-DL-LAS = entry at DTW permitted
    MEX-AM-LAX-DL-LAS = entry at LAX denied

    In the third case, the "dragon" said I had to be on DL equipment to qualify for entry at LAX as the Sky Club was not an arrival club for SkyTeam member flights. Is that correct?

    1. Eskimo Guest

      LAX Sky Club "dragons" are notoriously deceptive. Probably because they have more fingers than IQ.

      They are not correct. But they do have the benefit of doubt because DL never explicitly state that, and they will use it as their excuse.
      They love to mess with Mexico and Canada flights.
      This wouldn't be a case if it was United.

  12. LEo Diamond

    But every skytram airline in China offers free lounge for Elite Plus as a compliment

  13. RetiredATLATC Diamond

    I'm confused as to why you listed Delta 6 times under your SkyTeam Airlines list.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ RetiredATLATC -- Hmm, I'm not seeing that? Could you try a new browser or clearing cookies?

    2. James Guest

      It is on mobile view. It has been this way for all the tables in this new format.

    3. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

      Yeah. For the love of God, get rid of this horrible design.

    4. Owen Guest

      I am seeing at as well. iPhone 13 pro max

    5. Ismail Ramsey Smith Guest

      Yes I’m seeing this also. Same with the other lounge-related posts for the other alliances - it lists the same few airlines repeatedly

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

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Eskimo Guest

LAX Sky Club "dragons" are notoriously deceptive. Probably because they have more fingers than IQ. They are not correct. But they do have the benefit of doubt because DL never explicitly state that, and they will use it as their excuse. They love to mess with Mexico and Canada flights. This wouldn't be a case if it was United.

1
wpcoe Member

I had the following results on the following itineraries for the Delta Sky Club admittance, all booked in J/F: MEX-DL-LAX-DL-LAS = entry at LAX permitted MEX-DL-DTW-DL-LAS = entry at DTW permitted MEX-AM-LAX-DL-LAS = entry at LAX denied In the third case, the "dragon" said I had to be on DL equipment to qualify for entry at LAX as the Sky Club was not an arrival club for SkyTeam member flights. Is that correct?

1
LEo Diamond

But every skytram airline in China offers free lounge for Elite Plus as a compliment

1
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