The 4 Easiest Ways to Obtain SkyTeam ELITE PLUS Status

Just like their competitor, Star Alliance, the airline alliance SkyTeam runs its program with two different status levels. There’s the Elite status and the Elite Plus status. And the later is the one that will grant you access to frequent flyer lounges worldwide – besides other benefits, of course. Naturally, the Elite Plus status is the one that you want to have as someone who travels a lot.

If you are familiar with frequent flyer programs, you will know that there may be some common ground if it comes to advantages that frequent travelers enjoy on all flights with alliance partners. But the ways to obtain a status with an airline are manifold. So we decided to have a close look at all programs that are part of SkyTeam and sort out the easiest ways to become a travel-VIP.

Advantages of being a SkyTeam Elite Plus member

If you obtain the highest SkyTeam elite status with any airline, you will benefit from some very lovely perks on all of your flights, no matter which cabin class you’re traveling in:

  • Lounge access – you can visit any SkyTeam lounge worldwide and even bring one companion with you.
    Caution: in contrast to the two other big alliances, SkyTeam will only grant access to their lounges if you are on an international flight on the same day. Domestic flights are not eligible for lounge access!
  • Extra baggage allowance – depending on the concept that an airline has implemented, you can either bring an extra bag or add up to 20kg of extra luggage
  • Priority check-in at the airport – you can just approach any Business Class check-in desk at the airport. Even if you’re flying Economy
  • Priority boarding – no need to wait in line until your group is being called. You will always be one of the first passengers to get on board
  • Priority baggage handling – leave the airport while others are still waiting for their suitcases. Your bags should be the first on the luggage belt
  • Priority seating – chose from selected seats at the time of booking
  • Guaranteed reservation on sold-out flights – great, if you really have to be somewhere
  • Priority on waitlists and when on standby
  • SkyPriority – on selected airports, you will enjoy exclusive VIP treatment, including priority at transfer desks, immigration, and security lines or baggage drop-off

Sounds great, doesn’t it? So, let’s have a look at the programs that will get you all these excellent benefits.

KLM/Air France Flying Blue

Flying Blue Gold Card

Flying Blue used to be the leading program within the SkyTeam alliance offering great ways to become recognized as a frequent flyer. And it still is. Well, at least kind of. Since Flying Blue – a partnership between Air France, KLM, Kenya Airways, TAROM, Transavia and Aircalin – introduced significant changes in early 2018, things are different for some travelers.

The most significant modification is that you can’t obtain elite status anymore by flying a certain amount of segments. While you used to be able to earn Gold status ( and consequently Elite Plus) with 30 one-way flights or 40,000 miles, now there is only one way left: Experience points. Similar to what we know from British AirwaysExecutive Club, a chart specifies how many points you will earn according to your cabin class and the distance flown.

What is interesting about this new system is that the booking class doesn’t matter anymore at all. You will receive the same amount of XP (that’s how Flying Blue promotes its Experience points) for all, e.g., domestic Economy Class flights. And that makes Flying Blue interesting for travelers that fly a lot without spending too much money. An international short-haul flight within Europe will earn you 5 XP with an Economy Class ticket. Since you’ll need 280 of those Experience points, 48 segments will do the trick.

Correct, this is more than you used to need. But once you obtained Gold status, things get a lot easier. You will only need 180 XP to keep your tier level. And your XP surplus will be carried to the next year. Let’s say you are a Gold member and earn 220 XP points during your membership year, 180 XP will be deducted, and you will start your new status hunt with 40 XP in your account.

Facts

  • Qualification: 280 Experience points (100 XP for Silver and 180 XP for Gold)
  • Validity: The membership period at your new level will last 15 months (till the end of the month)
  • Additional benefits
    • Discounted or free seat options (free standard seats on KLM and Air France flights, 50% discount on most other options, free Comfort+ seats on Delta flights)
    • Keep your miles for life
    • Keep surplus XP
    • Maintain status after maternity leave
  • Re-qualification: 180 XP within 12 months
  • Softlanding: Yes, Silver

Bottom line

Flying Blue made quite some changes but is still an excellent program for those traveling on SkyTeam frequently. It may seem a little complex at first sight. But it is actually straightforward to find out how many XP you will earn. The first qualification is rather tough (but manageable) whereas the re-qualification should be a breeze. Especially the fact that a surplus of Experience Points can be carried into the next year makes the program attractive in the long run.

Czech Airlines OK Plus

OK Plus gold card

The Czech national carrier is operating a frequent flyer program named OK Plus. There are three different tier membership cards that you can reach by flying with the airline or its partner: Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Now the names might not be super innovative. But the program offers one of the easier ways to obtain SkyTeam Elite Plus, which is included in the OK Plus Gold tier.

To take away an unpleasant surprise right at the beginning: Czech Airlines obviously is not willing to put a lot of money into the website promoting their frequent flyer program. So if you already went ahead and googled the name, you will have noticed that the site is not fancy or modern. But that doesn’t really matter to us. We just want to obtain Gold status.

And one of the significant advantages of OK Plus is that you can reach their elite status only by flying a certain amount of segments with Czech Airlines and its partners. You will need 30 flights to receive the golden card and with it all the SkyTeam Elite Plus benefits. And out of these 30 segments, only 6 have to be on Czech Airlines flights.

Facts

  • Qualification: 30 flights segments (6 with Czech Airlines) or 50,000 miles with the airline or SkyTeam partners
  • Validity: According to the Terms and Conditions that Czech Airlines has published for its frequent flyer program, the status will be valid for one year after you meet the requirements.
  • Additional benefits
    • 50% bonus miles on each flight
    • Unlimited mileage validity
    • Access to airports lounges across the Czech Republic, also on domestic flights
    • Gourmet menu instead of a snack (with an OK Plus Flex ticket)
  • Re-qualification: same rules as for initial qualification

Bottom line

OK Plus is a great program, especially if you want to take the route to elite status by flying segments instead of miles. 30 flights and six of them with Czech Airlines can be a great deal. Assuming that you actually get the chance to be on board of the carrier’s aircraft from time to time. But there is a downside: not all flights are seen as OK segments. Especially cheap booking classes with Air France and KLM (T, E, N, R, G, V) will not count towards your status. So if you travel short-haul within Europe with the wrong airlines, it might not be that easy to reach elite status.

Alitalia MilleMiglia

Alitalia FrecciaAlata Gold

Well, nobody is sure how the future of this airline might look like. Alitalia has been struggling for quite a while now and could be off the market anytime. So we can agree on the fact that the carrier is not the first choice when booking flights that departure a year from now. But is the frequent flyer program worth a try?

50,000 miles or 60 segments don’t sound like the best deal you can get. And it really isn’t, at least for most travelers. But if you’re flying Business Class, things change. You’ll get an earning rate of 200% with most SkyTeam partners. And 300% if you book and fly with Alitalia – even if your ticket is issued in the lowest booking class! That’s what some other programs will get you for flights in First Class.

So you see that technically one long-haul Business Class flight can be enough to reach Freccia Alata Club, MilleMiglia‘s Gold tier that includes SkyTeam Elite Plus. Since you can sometimes book flights like these for prices below €2,000, it truly is a great way to obtain elite status with a SkyTeam member.

Facts

  • Qualification: 50,000 miles or 60 flights segments within one year
  • Validity: Rest of the qualification year from the time you obtained status + another calendar year
  • Additional benefits
    • Complimentary Comfort seats
    • 50% bonus miles
    • Four upgrades to the next higher cabin class on medium haul flights
    • Rollover program, allowing you to use a surplus of qualifying miles next year
    • Special customer service
    • Easier check-in process
    • MilleMiglia Maternity: enables you to get a one-year extension of membership (only for female members!)
  • Re-qualification: same rules as for initial qualification

Bottom line

Some facts really don’t help Alitalia’s program to become more attractive. The carriers financial situation. Or that MilleMiglia is started over each year and you can’t be sure what the people responsible for the program might change. But if you’re traveling in Business Class at least once or twice a year (preferably with the Italian national carrier), this is probably the best way to obtain SkyTeam Elite Plus status.

Delta Airlines SkyMiles

Delta SkyMiles Logo

At first sight SkyMiles is not on the list of programs we should promote as an easy way to obtain SkyTeam Elite Plus status. 50,000 qualifying miles or 60 qualifying segments doesn’t sound too sexy. But there are reasons why Delta Airlines program made it here.

First of all the fact, that you will be credited with 100% of the miles flown even if your ticket is issued in one of the cheap booking classes. Even flights in Delta’s Basic Economy fare will earn you full Medaillon Qualifying Miles! Same goes for flights with most partner airlines. That way it’s possible to obtain Gold Medaillon status with only about 4 Economy Class flights to the US west coast. And once you reached Gold, there is a nice list of perks waiting for you.

Facts

  • Qualification: 50,000 qualifying miles or 60 qualifying segments
  • Validity: The rest of the membership year you qualified in + another year
  • Additional benefits
    • Rollover MQM – Surplus of qualifying miles can be used the year after
    • 8 miles per Dollar spent (for Delta tickets) or 60% bonus miles (other SkyTeam tickets)
    • Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades (US 50 Delta One and First Class) for you and a travel companion
    • Complimentary Preferred seats
    • Discounted CLEAR membership (only for US citizens)
    • Hertz Five Star status
    • Reclaim my status
  • Re-qualification: same rules as for initial qualification

Bottom line

SkyMiles can de a little difficult to understand, especially compared to other frequent flyer programs that are based in Europe. But due to the fact that there is a waiver for the Qualifying dollars for all members living outside of the USA, it offers a rather smooth path to elite status. Perks such as the complimentary upgrades, the Rollover MQM, the ‘Reclaim my status’ program and the Hertz status that comes with Medaillon Gold make this a great package.

Status match challenge

If you already hold elite status with another frequent flyer program, SkyMiles might become even more interesting to you. 12,500 miles or 15 segments to qualify for the gold tier is definitely the fastest track we have to offer. If you’re interested in the status match challenge, check out this article:

Cover Picture: © SkyTeam

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Comment (1)

  1. Jake says:

    Air Europa’s SUMA is by far the easiest one for the Skyteam Elite Plus status: 32,000 miles per 12 months.

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