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You may often notice when looking at certain airline brand names a flying a symbol with the word “SKYTEAM” wrapped around. This logo means that the airline is part of the SkyTeam alliance, a group of 20 airlines that work in cooperation to provide passengers greater options when traveling the world.
The alliance was founded back in 2000 with four founding members; Delta, Korean Air, Air France, and Aeromexico as the third major airline alliance. Over the proceeding decade several other airlines joined, most notably Continental, and Northwestern in 2004.
Today the alliance has a presence on five continents. This includes Alitalia, Air France, Air Europa, Aeroflot, TAROM, KLM, and Czech Airlines in Europe. In Asia there are China Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, XiamenAir, Korean Air, and Vietnam Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, as well as Middle East Airlines and Saudia. Additionally, Delta and Aeromexico for North America, Aerolineas Argentinas in South America, and Kenya Airways in Africa. Combined these airlines fly 730 million passengers annually to over 1000 destinations across 177 countries.
One notable benefit for passengers with the SkyTeam is the ability to credit frequent flier mileage to your airline of choice. This means if you book a flight with Korean Air, you can credit the miles earned from the flight to your Delta SkyMiles account instead of using SKYPASS. SkyTeam has a two-tiered elite status program that correlates to the elite status level of the individual airline. Sky Team Elite members receive benefits like priority check-in, standby, seating, boarding, and increased luggage allowance.
SkyTeam Elite Plus receive additional benefits including lounge access on international travel and priority baggage handling. Other positive components of the alliance include an extended route network with easier booking for multi-carrier flights and streamlined connections for passengers and baggage. Most importantly (some would say), the SkyTeam alliance allows award bookings across the partner airlines. For example, a traveler can use their Flying Blue miles to book a flight operated by Aeromexico if award space is available.
The SkyTeam alliance is constantly evolving as the airline industry changes. With new airlines emerging, it may expand to offer even more options for passengers. Airlines have also left the alliance, usually through mergers affiliated to another alliance like Continental’s departure in 2010. The SkyTeam alliance is striving to increase consistency across its member airlines to provide passengers the same experience on every carrier. Keep an eye out on the ramp next time you fly, you may occasionally spot a SkyTeam alliance airline operating one of their aircraft with the alliance livery instead of the individual airline brand.