The Three Easiest Ways to Obtain SkyTeam ELITE PLUS Status

Just like their competitors, Star Alliance and Oneworld, the airline alliance SkyTeam runs its program with two different status levels. There’s the Elite status and the Elite Plus status. And the later is the one that will grant you access to frequent flyer lounges worldwide – besides other benefits, of course. Naturally, the Elite Plus status is the one that you want to have as someone who travels a lot.

If you are familiar with frequent flyer programs, you will know that there may be some common ground if it comes to advantages that frequent travelers enjoy on all flights with alliance partners. But the ways to obtain a status with an airline are manifold. So we decided to have a close look at all programs that are part of SkyTeam and sort out the easiest ways to become a travel-VIP.

Advantages of Being a SkyTeam Elite Plus member

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 20kg 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

Sounds great, doesn’t it? So, let’s have a look at the programs that will get you all these excellent benefits.

KLM/Air France Flying Blue

Flying Blue Gold Card

Flying Blue used to be the leading program within the SkyTeam alliance offering great ways to become recognized as a frequent flyer. And it still is. Well, at least kind of. Since Flying Blue – a partnership between Air France, KLM, Kenya Airways, TAROM, Transavia and Aircalin – introduced significant changes in early 2018, things are different for some travelers.

The most significant modification is that you can’t obtain elite status anymore by flying a certain amount of segments. While you used to be able to earn Gold status ( and consequently Elite Plus) with 30 one-way flights or 40,000 miles, now there is only one way left: Experience points. Similar to what we know from British AirwaysExecutive Club, a chart specifies how many points you will earn according to your cabin class and the distance flown.

What is interesting about this new system is that the booking class doesn’t matter anymore at all. You will receive the same amount of XP (that’s how Flying Blue promotes its Experience points) for all, e.g., domestic Economy Class flights. And that makes Flying Blue interesting for travelers that fly a lot without spending too much money. An international short-haul flight within Europe will earn you 5 XP with an Economy Class ticket. Since you’ll need 280 of those Experience points, 48 segments will do the trick.

Correct, this is more than you used to need. But once you obtained Gold status, things get a lot easier. You will only need 180 XP to keep your tier level. And your XP surplus will be carried to the next year. Let’s say you are a Gold member and earn 220 XP points during your membership year, 180 XP will be deducted, and you will start your new status hunt with 40 XP in your account.


  • Qualification: 280 Experience points (100 XP for Silver and 180 XP for Gold)
  • Validity: The membership period at your new level will last 12 months (till the end of the month)
  • Additional benefits
    • Discounted or free seat options (free standard seats on KLM and Air France flights, 50% discount on most other options, free Comfort+ seats on Delta flights)
    • Keep your miles for life
    • Keep surplus XP
    • Maintain status after maternity leave
  • Re-qualification: 180 XP within 12 months
  • Softlanding: Yes, Silver

Bottom line

Flying Blue made quite some changes but is still an excellent program for those traveling on SkyTeam frequently. It may seem a little complex at first sight. But it is actually straightforward to find out how many XP you will earn. The first qualification is rather tough (but manageable) whereas the re-qualification should be a breeze. Especially the fact that a surplus of Experience Points can be carried into the next year makes the program attractive in the long run.

Air Europa SUMA

ux suma gold
Air Europa SUMA Gold card

The Spanish carrier operates its frequent flyer program under the name Air Europa SUMA. You can reach Silver (Elite), Gold and Platinum cards. While these are not the most innovative status names, it is possibly the easiest way to obtain SkyTeam Elite Plus.

To reach the gold level, you need to fly 26 segments on any SkyTeam flights, with none of them having to be Air Europa flights. Compared to the other programs, it requires the least amount of segments. For example, Czech Airlines’ OK Plus asks for 30 segments, including six with CSA itself. Alternatively, you can obtain Gold status at Air Europa by collecting 32,000 level miles.


  • Qualification: 26 flights segments or 32,000 level miles with the airline or SkyTeam partners
  • Validity: One year after the status is achieved
  • Additional benefits
    • 75% extra miles: you get an additional 3,75 miles per every euro spent on Air Europa tickets and 75% extra bonus miles on partner airlines
    • You earn miles from most discounted Economy fares (for example Delta E)
    • SUMA miles can be extended by flying, otherwise they expire in 18 months
  • Re-qualification: same rules as for initial qualification

Bottom line

Air Europa is an amazing program to get SkyTeam Elite Plus status. The program can be extremely beneficial for Americans flying Delta, as you can earn miles from the cheapest ‘E’ booking class. Getting many segments is very easy with most airlines. Either you choose itineraries with connections or you can book very cheap flights: Air Europa has many €10-€15 flights to/from the Baleares. The issue is that you won’t get many award miles for your flights until you reach the status, especially if you book cheap flights.

Delta SkyMiles

Delta SkyMiles Logo

At first sight, SkyMiles is not on the list of programs we should promote as an easy way to obtain SkyTeam Elite Plus status. 50,000 qualifying miles or 60 qualifying segments doesn’t sound too sexy. But there are reasons why Delta Airlines program made it here.

Foremost the fact, that you will be credited with 100% of the miles flown even if your ticket is issued in one of the cheap booking classes. Even flights in Delta’s Basic Economy fare will earn you full Medallion Qualifying Miles! The same goes for flights with most partner airlines. That way it’s possible to obtain Gold Medallion status with only about 4 Economy Class flights to the US west coast. And once you reached Gold, there is a nice list of perks waiting for you.


  • Qualification: 50,000 qualifying miles or 60 qualifying segments
  • Validity: The rest of the membership year you qualified in + another year
  • Additional benefits
    • Rollover MQM – Surplus of qualifying miles can be used the year after
    • 8 miles per Dollar spent (for Delta tickets) or 60% bonus miles (other SkyTeam tickets)
    • Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades (US 50 Delta One and First Class) for you and a travel companion
    • Complimentary Preferred seats
    • Discounted CLEAR membership (only for US citizens)
    • Hertz Five Star status
    • Reclaim my status
  • Re-qualification: same rules as for initial qualification

Bottom line

SkyMiles can de a little difficult to understand, especially compared to other frequent flyer programs that are based in Europe. But due to the fact that there is a waiver for the Qualifying dollars for all members living outside the USA, it offers a rather smooth path to elite status. Perks such as the complimentary upgrades, the Rollover MQM, the ‘Reclaim my status’ program and the Hertz status that comes with Medallion Gold make this a great package.

Cover Picture: © SkyTeam

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Comments (13)

  1. James Park says:

    This is the link about the donation programme, although it’s in Korean.

  2. James Park says:

    The fastest way to get SkyTeam Elite Plus status is to donate 50,000,000 KRW to Inha University in South Korea. This will give you a lifetime membership to Korean Air’s Morning Calm Premium status which includes SkyTeam Elite Plus. 50 Million KRW is approximately 40,000 USD depending on the exchange rate. Inha University is a private university owned by a foundation under Korean Air. However, they are getting rid of this programme this November.

    Although $40K is a lot, if you consider that this is a lifetime membership, I think some people will find it worth it.

  3. Mke says:

    How about GarudaMiles? I saw on their web that 20,000 miles gets you a Gold which is Skyteam Elite. and 30,000 gets you Platinum (Elite Plus)

    • Ditmar Lange says:

      You’re right, definitely an interesting option. However, the following things have to be considered:
      1) The threshold is currently this low due to them being lowered as a result of the COVID pandemic. We don’t know if/when they’ll be reset to the previous 30.000/50.000 requirement.
      2) Especially if you’re flying economy class on SkyTeam’s flagship airlines (KLM, Air France, Delta), you’ll earn max. a fifth of what you’d earn on DL SkyMiles, while the qualification threshold not being 5x lower. So the lower threshold could still be harder to reach than Delta’s 25.000/50.000 or Flying Blue’s XP thresholds – at least in cheap booking classes.

    • Flynn M says:

      Or you can just buy out Garuda Status for $399 a year attainment and then $299 a year for renewal.

  4. Dan says:

    When earning SUMA Level miles, do you get the booking class bonuses, as listed on their website:

    E.g. if you fly Korean Air in booking class J, do you get 25% bonus LEVEL miles that count towards your status?

  5. Alt says:

    Delta requires both Miles status and minimum Spending $

  6. Tim says:

    A Flying Blue status is valod for 12 months (till the end of the month). It used to be 15,but they changed that end of last year.

  7. Jake says:

    Air Europa’s SUMA is by far the easiest one for the Skyteam Elite Plus status: 32,000 miles per 12 months.

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