While the Covid-19 pandemic continues to keep the entire planet on pace and ruins travel plans everywhere, some unique opportunities arise in these situations. One of them is the chance to gain two statuses that grant alliance wide lounge access for less €1,000.
The objective here is to qualify for Flying Blue Gold membership by taking advantage of the program’s double XP promo going on for the rest of the year. In addition, this run will happen entirely within Europe. We will showcase a way to get that tier by buying two single tickets or even buying the same ticket twice. Afterwards, you can match your Flying Blue Gold status with TAP’s status match to claim Miles&Go Gold, which grants you Star Alliance Gold, as well.
There are several reasons that make this run a high risk, high reward endeavor.
- Airlines’ flight plans are a scattershot right now. Flights might change without notice. If either Air France or KLM expands their networks, you might lose some valuable legs on your itineraries and therefore miss the goal of 280 XP (100 XP for Silver and 180 XP for Gold).
- The travel restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19 are on-again-off-again. Even four to six weeks in advance, it seems almost impossible to say if travel between certain countries will be possible at that point in time.
- We cannot say how big your chances are to actually enjoy the perks you earn with either one or both of the statuses, since long haul travel seems to be a long shot. At least for the remainder of 2020.
Getting SkyTeam Elite Plus
Example Part 1: Bergen to Rome
In order to gain Flying Blue Gold and with it SkyTeam Elite Plus, you’ll need to accumulate 280 XP (100 XP for silver and 180 XP for gold). This run gets your from multiple cities in Europe to Bergen, then to Rome and back home. It focuses on non-domestic Air France and KLM business class flights within Europe. Under the current rules, each flight of this kind results in 30 XP. The first goal is to earn 180 XP on a single ticket.
In the first step of this example, the desired 180 XP ticket takes us from Bergen via Amsterdam and Paris to Rome. Each of these flights is worth 30 XP, adding up to 90 XP. A roundtrip doubles the accrual, so you’ll earn 180 XP on this ticket alone. Roundtrips including two stops are available as cheap as €453.
Google Flights shows quite a lot of possible dates for this trip at the aforementioned fare. Our availability calendar shows you all trips at the lowest price up to a week.
You can buy this ticket in both directions. However, spending a few days in Rome might be more appealing than in one of Europe’s rainiest cities.
There is an even cheaper option as we found out now. You can get from Bergen to Stockholm for €389 on other dates. Therefore, this whole run is also possible for 844€.
Example Part 2: Hometown to Bergen
The second ticket is getting you from your home city to Bergen before your trip to Rome begins and getting back after you have returned from your trip to Italy. The ticket will cost almost the same as your trip to Rome. The flight we’ve selected gets you to Norway the evening before your trip to Rome and leaves the day after. We’ve chosen London as an example:
Flights with at €474 are available on these dates:
If your build your run around the ticket from Bergen to Rome; any flight to Bergen with a stop in Amsterdam or Paris serves as a positioning flight and gives you the necessary XP, too.
By using our example, you can gain SkyTeam Elite Plus status for less than €1,000 with departure from the following airports (there are more):
All links above are part of an itinerary you can follow through. It looks like this:
- September 4
- Hometown – Bergen
- September 7
- Bergen – Rome
- September 12
- Rome – Bergen
- September 13:
- Bergen – Hometown
This trip is available at €453 + €387 = €840 (from Madrid) and grants SkyTeam Elite Plus status. Not included in this price is food and lodging. This trip may get more expensive when purchasing tickets directly with the airlines instead of online travel agencies.
Of course, you do not have to center your journey around the Bergen-to-Rome trip. The key is to include one transfer flight between Amsterdam and Paris in each leg of your itinerary to get 180 XP on at least one of your tickets. Basically, your journey should look this:
- City 1 (not NL) → Amsterdam
- Amsterdam → Paris
- Paris → City 2 (not FR)
It is possible to add the AMS-CDG or CDG-AMS leg manually in most Air France/KLM itineraries. However, this usually doubles or even triples the initial price. It is way easier to start or end your journey at an airport that is served exclusively by one of the carriers. This way, you make a transfer between AMS and CDG necessary to reach your destination. Here is a list of all European airports that are served by one, but not both airlines:
- United Kingdom
- Durham (Teesside)
- Kingston upon Hull
- Palma de Mallorca
Since both airlines currently serve fewer destinations at a lower frequency than they used too, it pays off to experiment with certain airports. For example, it seems like there is no KLM-service to Rome right now.
In order to get the remaining 100 XP, any flight within Europe with just a single stop in Amsterdam or Paris will do the trick.
When building your own run, here are some facts to remember:
- You need 280 XP to gain SkyTeam Elite Status
- Only flights with an AF or KL flight number earn double XP.
- Business class tickets earn thrice the points (30 XP) of economy class tickets (10 XP).
- Domestic flights (i.e. within France) earn less (12 XP) than international flights (30 XP).
You can find detailed information here:
Getting Star Alliance Gold
Now it’s time to put your golden Star Alliance cherry on top of your SkyTeam Elite Plus Sundae. TAP Air Portugal currently runs a status match challenge. It has announced that it will match Flying Blue Gold to Miles&Go Gold, which also grants Star Alliance Gold status.
To participate in this challenge, you need either a new TAP Miles&Go account or one that hasn’t been created earlier than January 1, 2020. Secondly, after the match has been accepted, you need to spend at least €70 on miles to maintain your status. You can find detailed information here:
Perks of SkyTeam Elite Plus
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 20 kg 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
Perks of Star Alliance Gold
There are quite a few benefits you’ll be able to enjoy once you call a card with the Star Alliance Gold logo on it your own. And you’ll profit from them every time you choose to fly with a Star Alliance member, no matter which travel class:
- Priority Airport Check-in
- Airport Lounge Access to over 1,000 Star Alliance Gold lounges, including a guest
- Priority Boarding
- Extra Baggage Allowance and Priority Baggage Handling
- Gold Track (Where available)
- Priority Reservations Waitlist
- Priority Airport Stand-by
Getting a single frequent flyer that allows alliance wide lounge access and free checked bags for less than €1,000 is usually almost impossible. This run is a unique chance to get two. You’d still need to take some risks, as we’ve showcased in the beginning of this article. Further, a frequent flyer tiers may mean a lot less in the near future than they used to.