Many Australians have status with Qantas or Virgin Australia. But very few Australians are even members of a SkyTeam frequent flyer program – let alone have SkyTeam status.
The good news is that earning SkyTeam status is not that difficult. And holding SkyTeam Elite Plus status can be very handy if you ever fly with SkyTeam airlines such as Delta, Garuda Indonesia, Vietnam Airlines, China Airlines, China Eastern, Korean Air or Air France/KLM.
Once you have status with one SkyTeam airline, you’ll enjoy the benefits of your SkyTeam status when flying with any other airline in the alliance. SkyTeam Elite status is the equivalent of Silver status with most airlines, or Oneworld Ruby. But the real benefits, such as lounge access, kick in at SkyTeam Elite Plus. This is the highest tier and equivalent to Gold status, or Oneworld Sapphire.
Which SkyTeam frequent flyer program should I join?
There is no one-size-fits-all frequent flyer program in any alliance. But there are a few SkyTeam programs that we would suggest targeting if you live in Australia.
If you want to earn status with a SkyTeam airline but also want benefits when flying with Virgin Australia or Qantas, it could be worth joining the program of a SkyTeam airline that partners with one of our domestic airlines. Both Alitalia and Delta Air Lines partner with Virgin Australia, and China Eastern partners with Qantas. However, Alitalia is on the verge of financial collapse so we would not recommend using Alitalia’s MilleMiglia as your main frequent flyer program. The value of Eastern Miles, the loyalty program of China Eastern, is also questionable – especially as you can’t generally earn elite qualifying miles on Qantas flights.
Delta’s SkyMiles program could be a good option, though, if you often fly on Virgin Australia.
Another SkyTeam program that could be a good option is Flying Blue. This is the frequent flyer program of Air France, KLM, Kenya Airways, Tarom and New Caledonia’s Aircalin. Flying Blue status does not offer benefits with Qantas or Virgin Australia, but it may be easier overall to earn and maintain status with Flying Blue from SkyTeam flights.
There is an AFF thread where members discuss which SkyTeam frequent flyer program to join: Skyteam Which program ?
How to earn Flying Blue status
Flying Blue status is earned with “XP Points”, which are earned on SkyTeam airlines and other Flying Blue partners including Aircalin. These are the requirements for earning Flying Blue status:
- Silver (SkyTeam Elite): Earn 100 XP in 12 months
- Gold (SkyTeam Elite Plus): Earn 180 XP in 12 months
- Platinum (SkyTeam Elite Plus): Earn 300 XP in 12 months
XP points are earned based on the distance flown and class of travel, according to the following chart:
Clearly the sweet spot here is not long domestic flights, such as US domestic routes! Rather, the sweet spot is very much international flights in Premium Economy or Business Class that are over 2,000 miles in length. Considering most SkyTeam flights from Australia are to destinations in Asia (and normally very well-priced), you can see how the XP points could quickly add up if you’re flying with SkyTeam airlines out of Australia.
One other advantage of Flying Blue is that any XP points earned during your membership year in excess of the requirement for your status tier will be rolled over to the following year.
How to earn Delta SkyMiles status
Delta SkyMiles uses a different system for status qualification. To earn SkyMiles status, you would need to earn a minimum number of either Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) or Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQSs) during a calendar year. These can be earned on flights with Delta, SkyTeam airlines or other partners, which include Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic.
Medallion Qualifying Miles are earned as a percentage based on the distance flown and the fare class purchased. All flights on Delta, Virgin Australia and other selected partner airlines earn a minimum of 500 MQMs.
Delta also has a minimum spend requirement. If you’re a US resident, you’ll also need to earn a minimum amount of Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs). However, this rule does not apply to non-US residents. If your SkyMiles account is registered in Australia, you won’t need to worry about this.
Here are the Delta SkyMiles status earning requirements:
- Silver (SkyTeam Elite): Earn 25,000 MQMs or 30 MQSs (+ $3,000 MQDs for US residents)
- Gold (SkyTeam Elite Plus): Earn 50,000 MQMs or 60 MQSs (+ $3,000 MQDs for US residents)
- Platinum (SkyTeam Elite Plus): Earn 75,000 MQMs or 100 MQSs (+ $3,000 MQDs for US residents)
- Diamond (SkyTeam Elite Plus): Earn 125,000 MQMs or 140 MQSs (+ $15,000 MQDs for US residents)
Clearly Diamond status is well out of reach for anyone that’s not flying Delta a lot. But Gold status will already get you the maximum possible benefits on SkyTeam partner airlines, as well as the equivalent of Velocity Gold benefits when flying Virgin Australia. And Platinum SkyMiles status is, more or less, equivalent to Velocity Platinum.
Delta SkyMiles status match challenge
If you already have status with a non-SkyTeam airline, you can get a fantastic head-start on Delta SkyMiles status! By simply applying online, you can get 3 months of Delta status for free. By completing a challenge, you can also extend this status for up to 19 months.