In the world of airline alliances, Skyteam is usually seen as the alliance of rejects.  Admit it – when was the last time you looked forward to a flight on one of these airlines: Aeroflot, Aerolineas Argentinas, Aeromexico, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Czech Airlines, Delta Airlines, Kenya Airways, KLM, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, Saudia, TAROM, Vietnam Airlines, Xiamen Air, with Garuda Indonesia coming soon.


Some of my Skyteam “highlights” include nearly being stranded in Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, as my connecting flight to London was cancelled, and Air France were entirely unhelpful at rebooking a Business Class paid ticket onto not just the next flight but ANY flight to London.  (I finally managed to finagle a middle seat in economy class on the last flight of the day)  Another fine memory is flying business class from Tokyo to Rome on Alitalia and unquestionably having the worst service, food and seat I’ve ever experienced in a premium cabin (followed up months later by my remaining Alitalia miles expiring without notice – luckily not too many).

I wrote this post the other day regarding try to obtain some mileage value from flights on Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways, as at least those airlines are generally worth flying on with decent service and new planes.  But for Skyteam, my experience (shared by many others) is that they are best avoided.

Unfortunately for those who do fly Skyteam occasionally (or even a lot), their frequent flyer programmes are no better.  You know you’re in trouble when Delta Airlines miles are nicknamed “skypesos” and the Air France / KLM Flying Blue programme is often called “Flying Poo”.  Not to mention the Alitalia Millemiglia program, which (assuming you haven’t already lost your miles due to inactivity) shuts itself down every 5 years, only to relaunch a day later, giving you 6 months to jump through hoops to save your miles from extinction…

I’m afraid I have no magic solutions for Skyteam flyers.  I, like many, had speculated that Virgin Atlantic would join Skyteam now that Delta Airlines has bought 49% of it.  But Virgin Atlantic CEO Craig Kreeger was quoted in June saying “For now, Virgin Atlantic remains very happy with the partners we have” so apart from flights on Delta Airlines, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club won’t be a solution in the short to medium term.  Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is another option, with the ability to earn and burn on Delta, Air France / KLM, Aeromexico and Korean Air (as well as British Airways and American Airlines).

But that still leaves 15 airlines where you’re going to struggle.  In the extreme case where you simply can’t manage to travel on a different airline, I would go for Delta SkyMiles.  It is notoriously difficult to redeem them at the lowest award level, and no one-way bookings are allowed.  But at least the miles don’t expire, so perhaps one day you’ll find a use for them…

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