Founded in 2000, SkyTeam was the last of three airline alliances established to unify airline companies around the world. With the slogan "Caring More About You," the 20 carrier members of this airline alliance (and 11 cargo-only members of SkyTeam Cargo) links travelers with over 1,000 destinations in 177 countries, operating some 16,000 daily flights for over 730 million passengers annually.
Members who join the SkyTeam alliance can expect access to over 600 airline lounges around the world, dedicated check-in lines, and expedited security screening. Provided members earn enough points in affiliated airlines' frequent-flyer programs the services included with SkyTeam include priority reservation waitlisting, booking, and boarding.
The 20 airlines that are members of SkyTeam include Aeroflot, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Aeromexico, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Garuda Indonesia, Kenya Airways, KLM, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, Saudia, TAROM, Vietnam Airlines, and XiamenAir.
History and Expansion
SkyTeam was first established in 2000 by founding airline members Aeroméxico, Air France, Delta Air Lines, and Korean Air, who met in New York City to establish the world's third airline alliance. Shortly after, the team created SkyTeam Cargo which featured Aeromexpress, Air France Cargo, Delta Air Logistics, and Korean Air Cargo as founding cargo members.
The first significant expansion in the SkyTeam fleet came in 2004 when Aeroloft joined the ranks, marking the first Russian carrier in such an organization. China Southern Airlines, Continental Airlines, KLM and Northwest Airlines all joined the SkyTeam later that same year, marking a new era of expansion for the latest airline alliance.
SkyTeam continues to expand and change, as new airlines are included, such as China Eastern, China Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Saudia, Middle East Airlines and Xiamen Airlines, which all joined in 2010 or later. The addition of these new airlines, provided SkyTeam much stronger coverage in the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America, and the partnership is looking to continue to expand in areas like Brazil and India.
Airline Membership Requirements
SkyTeam members must meet the over 100 specific safety, quality, IT, and customer service standards (covering things from elite mileage recognition to lounge access) that are set by the organization; additionally, audits of member airlines are performed routinely to ensure that all requirements are being fulfilled.
Each carrier membership program level will match to either SkyTeam Elite or SkyTeam Elite Plus. The Elite level status on SkyTeam is recognized across all the partner airlines.
A key benefit of flying on SkyTeam airline alliance partners is the organization's partner airline check-in. The check-in partnerships allow an agent from any SkyTeam airline assign seats and issue boarding passes for a traveler's connections on other alliance airlines.
Perhaps even more critical for business travelers, if you're a SkyTeam Elite Plus member, you are actually guaranteed a reservation (full-fare Y-class) on any SkyTeam long-haul flight, even if that flight is sold out—all you need to do to take advantage of that perk is call the airline at least 24 hours in advance.
For those who travel even more than most business-class passengers and earn enough rewards points in the frequent flyer programs, priority reservation waitlisting, standby, boarding, baggage handling, and check-in are offered. Additionally, the perks include preferred seating, additional free checked luggage, lounge access, and guaranteed reservations on sold-out flights.