The Ultimate Guide to SkyTeam for Canadian Travellers

By Otis De Marie | Published on 18 Aug 2023

the ultimate guide to skyteam alliance

    Welcome aboard, Canadian globetrotters! If you’ve ever dreamed of soaring through the skies to far-flung destinations, then you’re about to embark on an exciting journey through the world of airline alliances. In this comprehensive guide, we’re set to unveil the inner workings of SkyTeam, unravel its fascinating history, and present you with an array of member airlines that span the continents. Whether you’re a seasoned jetsetter or a novice explorer, understanding how SkyTeam operates and how Canadians can seamlessly integrate into this global alliance will undoubtedly enhance your travel experience. So, fasten your seatbelts and get ready for takeoff!

    An Overview of SkyTeam

    SkyTeam is a prominent global airline alliance renowned for its extensive network and seamless travel experiences. Comprising 19 member airlines, it provides travellers with unparalleled connectivity to over 1,150 destinations across the globe. This alliance unites carriers from various corners of the world, offering travellers a wide array of flight options, enhanced benefits, and a streamlined journey.

    With its vast network, SkyTeam members serve an impressive number of airports, connecting major hubs and lesser-known locations alike. This extensive reach ensures that travellers can easily access a diverse range of destinations, fostering both business and leisure travel opportunities.

    SkyTeam’s commitment to passenger comfort extends to its collection of airport lounges, strategically positioned in numerous key airports. These lounges offer an oasis of relaxation, where passengers can unwind, work, or refresh before their flights. Catering to a range of needs, these lounges epitomise the alliance’s dedication to elevating the travel experience.

    Each year, over 630 million travellers choose SkyTeam for its expansive network, seamless connections, and access to various airport lounges. This alliance continues to play a pivotal role in enhancing global travel, fostering cultural exchanges and business opportunities across the world. Now, let’s take a look at SkyTeam’s intriguing history.

    The History of SkyTeam

    SkyTeam, a prominent global airline alliance, traces its roots back to the late 1990s when the need for enhanced collaboration between airlines became apparent. The alliance was founded on June 22, 2000, with a vision to provide seamless travel experiences, extensive connectivity, and shared benefits for both travellers and member airlines.

    SkyTeam was founded by four initial members: Delta Air Lines, Air France, Aeromexico, and Korean Air. These airlines recognized the potential of collaborative efforts to provide passengers with a wider range of destinations, smoother connections, and enhanced loyalty programs. The alliance aimed to facilitate code-sharing, joint marketing, and operational cooperation among member airlines to achieve economies of scale and improved customer service.

    The headquarters of SkyTeam is located in Amsterdam, Netherlands, a strategic hub that aligns with the alliance’s global reach. Over the years, SkyTeam has expanded its membership to include various other reputable airlines, such as China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, and Saudia, among others. These additions have further strengthened the alliance’s presence in different regions, extending its network and benefits to a larger base of travellers.

    KLM, who is a prominent member of SkyTeam, holds a distinguished status as the world’s oldest airline, with roots dating back to 1919. KLM plays an instrumental role within the alliance and offers five direct flight routes from Amsterdam to Canada, showcasing the comprehensive connectivity that SkyTeam offers across continents.

    SkyTeam’s history is one of collaboration, innovation, and evolution. The alliance has grown from its original four members to encompass a global network of airlines, catering to the needs of modern travellers. As it continues to adapt to the changing dynamics of the aviation industry, SkyTeam remains committed to providing a seamless and efficient travel experience for passengers around the world.

    Which Airlines Are SkyTeam Members?

    Now that you know all about SkyTeam’s history, it’s time to explore all the airlines that make up the SkyTeam alliance. In the table below, we have listed the airlines, their country of origin, their individual rewards programs, and which popular Canadian route they offer.

    AirlineCountry of OriginReward ProgramCanadian Route
    Aeroflot (Inactive)RussiaAeroflot BonusNone
    Aerolineas ArgentinasArgentineAerolineas PlusNone
    AeromexicoMexicoAeromexico RewardsMexico City – Toronto
    Air EuropaSpainSUMANone
    Air FranceFranceFlying BlueParis – Quebec
    China AirlinesChinaDynasty FlyerTaipei – Vancouver
    China EasternChinaEastern MilesShanghai – Toronto
    Czech AirlinesCzech RepublicOK PlusNone
    Delta Air LinesUnited StatesSkyMilesNew York – Toronto
    Garuda IndonesiaIndonesiaGarudaMilesNone
    ITA AirwaysItalyVolareNone
    Kenya AirwaysKenyaAsante RewardsNone
    KLMThe NetherlandsFlying BlueAmsterdam – Toronto
    Korean AirSouth KoreaSKYPASSSeoul – Vancouver
    Middle East AirlinesLebanonCedar MilesNone
    SaudiaSaudi ArabiaAlfursanNone
    TAROMRomaniaFlying BlueNone
    Vietnam AirlinesVietnamLotusmilesNone
    Virgin AtlanticUnited KingdomFlying ClubNone
    XiamenAirChinaEgret ClubXiamen – Vancouver

    Regrettably, there are no Canadian airlines that belong to the SkyTeam alliance. This can create difficulties for Canadians who primarily fly with domestic airlines and want to engage with SkyTeam. To make the most of the advantages offered by a potential SkyTeam membership, Canadians should opt for one of the member airlines listed in the table whenever they travel internationally. Luckily, KLM offers flights from five Canadian cities: Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal. From these cities, you can fly across the pond to Amsterdam and hop on a connecting flight to anywhere else in the world with KLM or one of the SkyTeam member airlines.

    SkyTeam Membership in Canada: All You Need to Know

    The SkyTeam membership program is a strategic alliance of various global airlines, aimed at providing seamless travel experiences to passengers across an extensive network of destinations. Like the other airline alliances, SkyTeam doesn’t operate its own distinct frequent flyer program. Instead, member airlines maintain their individual frequent flyer programs, enabling travellers to earn and redeem miles across a diverse range of carriers.

    SkyTeam offers two distinct status tiers for its loyal customers: SkyTeam Elite and SkyTeam Elite Plus. SkyTeam Elite status is typically achieved by accumulating a certain number of qualifying miles on member airlines within a calendar year. Benefits include priority check-in, preferred seating, and access to airport lounges. SkyTeam Elite Plus status offers enhanced privileges, such as extra baggage allowances, priority boarding, and access to more exclusive lounges.

    One highlight of the SkyTeam experience is its array of lounges located around the world, which offer a sanctuary of comfort and amenities for travellers. Canada boasts several SkyTeam lounges at key airports, including Toronto Pearson International Airport and Vancouver International Airport. These lounges provide a retreat for passengers to relax, work, and enjoy premium services before their flights.

    SkyPriority is another feature that enhances the travel experience for SkyTeam Elite and Elite Plus members. It provides a suite of priority services, including expedited check-in, security screening, baggage handling, and boarding. This ensures a smoother and more efficient journey through various touchpoints at the airport, minimising stress and enhancing overall travel comfort. In the next part of this article, we’ll take a closer look at these benefits.

    SkyTeam Membership Benefits for Canadians

    As mentioned before, SkyTeam has two different membership tiers: SkyTeam Elite and SkyTeam Elite Plus. Unlocking each tier offers travellers different benefits when flying with SkyTeam member airlines. Let’s explore these benefits in the table below.

    SkyTeam Membership BenefitEliteElite Plus
    Priority Reservation Waitlist/StandbyYesYes
    Preferred SeatingYesYes
    Priority Check-In CountersYesYes
    Priority BoardingYesYes
    Extra Baggage AllowanceYesYes
    Priority Baggage Drop-OffYesYes
    Priority Baggage HandlingNoYes
    Guaranteed Reservation on Sold-Out FlightsNoYes
    Airport Lounge AccessNoYes
    Priority Security LanesNoYes
    Priority Immigration LanesNoYes
    SkyPriority RecognitionNoYes
    Priority Transfer DesksNoYes

    How to Gain SkyTeam Membership as a Canadian

    Becoming a SkyTeam member and attaining status is a beneficial journey for Canadian travellers seeking enhanced travel experiences. To embark on this path, Canadians can start by selecting a SkyTeam member airline and enrolling in their frequent flyer program. This typically involves creating an account on the airline’s website and providing personal details. Accumulating miles or segments by flying with any of the SkyTeam member airlines will contribute to earning status.

    For SkyTeam Elite status, travellers usually need to accrue a specified number of miles or segments within a period of one year. This tier provides benefits such as priority check-in, boarding, and access to exclusive lounges. SkyTeam Elite Plus, the higher tier, requires more extensive travel and provides additional perks like enhanced baggage allowances and priority baggage handling.

    Frequent flyers can accelerate their status progression by concentrating their travel within the SkyTeam network. This entails booking flights with member airlines and strategically choosing routes to maximise miles or segments. For instance, if your travels primarily involve flying to and from the United States, opting for Delta Air Lines would be a logical decision. Conversely, if your journeys frequently take you abroad, KLM and Air France become the clear choices. With that being said, let’s take a look at which individual SkyTeam airline status leads to its corresponding SkyTeam status.

    SkyTeam AirlineSkyTeam EliteSkyTeam Elite Plus
    Aeroflot (Inactive)SilverGold/Platinum
    Aerolineas ArgentinasOroPlatino/Diamente
    AeromexicoGoldPlatinum/Titanium
    Air EuropaSilverGold/Platinum
    Air FranceSilverGold/Platinum
    China AirlinesGoldEmerald/Paragon
    China EasternSilverGold
    Czech AirlinesSilverGold/Platinum
    Delta Air LinesSilverGold/Platinum/Diamond
    Garuda IndonesiaGold/Gold EC+Platinum
    ITA AirwaysTBATBA
    Kenya AirwaysSilverGold/Platinum
    KLMSilverGold/Platinum
    Korean AirMC ClubMC Premium Club
    Middle East AirlinesSilverGold/Platinum
    SaudiaSilverGold
    TAROMSilverGold/Platinum
    Vietnam AirlinesTitanium/GoldPlatinum
    Virgin AtlanticSilverGold
    XiamenAirSilver/GoldPlatinum/Diamond

    How Canadians Can Participate with SkyTeam

    Many Canadians typically consider Air Canada or WestJet first when booking flights. However, there are alternatives. When travelling internationally, Canadians have the option to select SkyTeam airlines and become a member of the SkyTeam alliance. Despite the absence of Canadian partners within the alliance, Canadians can still become SkyTeam members. In the following part, we will explore several methods through which Canadians can make the most of their SkyTeam membership and collect numerous points for the frequent flyer programs offered by SkyTeam airlines.

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    Collecting Points With SkyTeam Member Airlines

    Collecting points with SkyTeam member airlines is a rewarding strategy for Canadian travellers. The process involves two primary methods, both designed to enhance the flying experience and provide travellers with valuable benefits.

    Firstly, travellers can accumulate points by booking flights with prominent SkyTeam carriers like KLM, Air France, and Delta Air Lines. With an extensive network connecting destinations around the world, Canadians can earn points by choosing these reputable airlines for their travel needs. These points can subsequently be used for various travel perks, including upgrades, lounge access, and discounted flights.

    Another effective way for Canadians to amass points is by using one of the best American Express credit cards. By leveraging Amex Membership Rewards points, cardholders can later transfer these points to Flying Blue Miles or Delta SkyMiles at a conversion ratio of 1:0.75. This innovative approach allows travellers to build up their points balance through everyday spending, transforming regular expenses into valuable rewards for future travels.

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    Even though SkyTeam has no Canadian airline, Canadians can still enjoy multiple avenues to collect points with SkyTeam member airlines. Whether through direct flights or one of the best travel credit cards in Canada, these methods offer an accessible and advantageous way to enhance travel experiences, making each journey not only more efficient but also more rewarding.

    Booking Trips With SkyTeam Member Airlines

    Being a part of the SkyTeam alliance opens up a world of convenience and benefits for Canadians, allowing them to seamlessly explore the globe through a network of world-class airlines. One of the remarkable advantages is the ability to book flights, hotels, and car rentals with SkyTeam member airlines, providing a comprehensive and unified travel experience.

    For instance, KLM, a prominent SkyTeam member, has forged partnerships that enhance the travel journey. Canadians can relish the perks of KLM’s collaboration with Booking.com, wherein members of the Flying Blue frequent flyer program earn 2 Flying Blue Miles for every euro spent on hotel reservations. This not only enriches their loyalty rewards but also simplifies the process of booking accommodations.

    Furthermore, KLM extends its benefits to car rentals through a special partnership with Hertz. Flying Blue members are entitled to earn up to 12 Flying Blue Miles per euro spent when renting a car, accompanied by a guaranteed 15% discount on all car rentals worldwide. This combination of mileage accumulation and cost savings amplifies the appeal of choosing SkyTeam member airlines like KLM for all facets of travel.

    Incorporating these partnerships into their travel planning, Canadians can optimise their experiences, accumulate rewards, and foster memorable journeys with the SkyTeam alliance. Whether it’s booking flights, arranging accommodations, or securing transportation, the alliance enriches the travel endeavour for Canadian explorers.

    FAQs About SkyTeam

    What is SkyTeam?

    SkyTeam is an airline alliance, a partnership between multiple international airlines to provide shared benefits, such as coordinated schedules, codeshare flights, and shared lounge access, to passengers.

    What airlines are part of SkyTeam?

    The SkyTeam alliance includes well-known carriers such as Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Aeroméxico, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Korean Air, and others.

    Is Air France part of SkyTeam?

    Yes, Air France is a founding member of SkyTeam and continues to be an integral part of the alliance.

    Is Air Canada part of SkyTeam?

    No, Air Canada is not part of SkyTeam. Instead, Air Canada is part of Star Alliance.

    Is Westjet part of SkyTeam?

    No, WestJet is not part of SkyTeam. In fact, WestJet is not a member of any airline alliance. However, WestJet does have partnerships with individual airlines, including Air France, Delta Air Lines, and KLM.

    What is SkyTeam Elite?

    SkyTeam Elite is one of the two elite tiers within the SkyTeam frequent flyer program, the other being SkyTeam Elite Plus. These elite tiers offer various privileges and benefits to frequent travellers who achieve a certain level of status with any of the member airlines within the SkyTeam alliance. These benefits typically include things like priority check-in, priority boarding, access to airport lounges, increased baggage allowance, and more.

    What is SkyTeam Elite Plus?

    SkyTeam Elite Plus is an elite status tier within the SkyTeam airline alliance, offering enhanced benefits to frequent travellers. It provides access to premium airport lounges, priority check-in, boarding, and extra baggage allowance. Elite Plus members enjoy a seamless travel experience across the alliance’s extensive global network.

    How to become a SkyTeam Elite Plus member?

    Becoming a SkyTeam Elite Plus member involves reaching a certain level of frequent flyer status within one of the member airlines of the SkyTeam alliance. Start by selecting an airline within the SkyTeam alliance that you prefer to fly with most often. Enrol in the frequent flyer program of the chosen airline and begin to accumulate a certain number of qualifying miles within a calendar year or a rolling 12-month period. Once you achieve SkyTeam Elite Plus status, you’ll be entitled to a range of benefits that enhance your travel experience.

    Who can use the SkyTeam lounges?

    SkyTeam lounges are airport lounges operated by the SkyTeam airline alliance, which is a global network of airlines that work together to provide various benefits to their passengers. Generally speaking, those who can use the SkyTeam lounges are SkyTeam Elite Plus Members and First and Business Class passengers.

    Which is the best SkyTeam frequent flyer program?

    For Canadians, the best SkyTeam frequent flyer programs are Delta SkyMiles and Air France-KLM Flying Blue. This is because Delta Air Lines, Air France and KLM offer a high number of flights to and from Canada.

    Otis De Marie is a journalist with a diverse portfolio covering business, technology, artificial intelligence, and personal finance. After studying creative literature at the Amsterdam International Community School, Otis has contributed to several notable publications including Brussels Morning, The Brussels Times, Hardbacon, and WallStreetWindow.