Ralph the Flying Dutchboy defends Skyteam.

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Last November I invited Mike from Ik Vlieg Veel to write a guest post about why you should fly Star Alliance instead of Skyteam if you're based in The Netherlands.

skypriority

Ralph, another fellow blogger based here in The Netherlands, responded with his own critique last month. The text is all in Dutch, so use Google or Bing to translate the page if you struggle!

As a quick filler, Mike and I both share a common dislike for Skyteam for their lack of ‘prestigious' airlines and their comparatively poor redemption rates. These are both arguments that Ralph acknowledges, but he defense comes as the following:

  1. If you are flying out of Amsterdam and around Europe, it makes little financial and time sense to connect in other cities unless you have no choice. KLM's in-flight product and service is adequte and flights aren't too expensive compared to its competition. Ralph does acknowledge that for long-haul services you may be better off going to another alliance in some cases though!
  2. Skyteam Elite level offers more published benefits than Star Alliance Silver, and even guarantees extra baggage allowance. This isn't even an alliance-wide benefit on OneWorld until you hit their top Emerald level, as it is controlled by airlines at Ruby and Sapphire level.
  3. Skyteam's alliance-wide treatment of their “Sky Priority” passengers is good. Also given the conspicuous signage around Skyteam hubs, it's easy to tell if you're meant to head to the front of the security check queue or not.

Let's go through the list. In general, it makes no financial sense to optionally take a connection around Europe. Even if the base fare of the ticket remains the same, the taxes and airport fees are simply too high to make it worthwhile if only for air miles. (With the notable exception of the Amsterdam to Jersey tier point run.) However if you can spend time visiting the cities I can see that as a justification for taking (long) intra-European connections.

At Silver level, Star Alliance offers priority airport standby and priority reservations waitlisting. In other words, nothing. One exception to this is that Lufthansa Frequent Traveller status (Star Alliance Silver) does give access to Lufthansa's Business Class Lounge if flying with them on the same day.

Whilst I strive for cabin luggage-only travel, extra baggage is a genuine money-saving benefit if you occasionally take an extra piece. Only individual travel patterns can dictate whether this is of any value to you.

Finally on the signage, I won't try to invalidate Ralph's point, as clear signage is almost always a good thing. I do love breezing past airport security and other necessary checks, though I would prefer to do it with some level of discreetness rather than in the face of 30 infrequent travellers waiting in line. Being British it feels so awkward to be jumping ahead of queues, that I feel embarrassed when I feel the other passengers' eyes staring at the back of me!

So what do you think readers? Has Ralph gotten it spot on? Do you have anything to add?

Comments

  1. I’m one of those people who really doesn’t care about redemption value. I prize service, comfort and general happiness above all else. I’m a Delta PM, and all of my air travel stays within Skyteam (100% in 2013). While they may not have the prestige of Emirates or redemption value of…whoever, I have always had the best experiences with my main airlines (Delta and KLM).

    Delta will get you almost anywhere in Asia with not too much hassle, and KLM will get you anywhere in Europe with a smile from a handsome dutchman (or pleasant Dutch woman). IMHO, I’d rather connect once or twice, and be treated well the whole time. That beats the hell of out a +11 hour direct flight where everything just pisses you off.

    I wish I had the opportunity to try out fun things like Singapore suites and Air New Zealand Premium Economy, but when it comes down to it, Skyteam just works for me. Meanwhile, my miles just sit there…I’ll figure out a way to use them…maybe for my mom or something.

  2. Hands-down agree on the SkyPriority. I’ve been FB E+ for three years by now (very low by FF standards), and in all those years, I had to take out my FB card exactly twice (once in CPH and once in VIE) to get the SkyPriority benefits (lounge access). Everything else worked by looking/scanning my BP.

    I’m also *G, since June, but my card never arrived. Though my *G status is always on my boarding pass, I was a few times denied lounge access, few times denied priority baggage tags and sent away from *G counters (in VIE). All because I could not show my card. In some *A carriers (hello, SK!), the concept of priority boarding is unknown.

    So I do see benefits of SkyTeam…

    [as for redemption rates – as long as you take PromoAwards as a source of inspiration, the redemption rates are not atrocious, but the fees are!]

  3. Fully agree with SkyPriority. At the Silver level, which is reachable with 15 segments/year, it’s the most you get system-wide with any alliance. Plus, in Amsterdam you have the Elite+ connection, which is worthwhile if travelling from Schengen to non-Schengen areas. But most of all, going with two hold bags within Europe when none is normally included in the ticket is a memory of good travel days.

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