Got a question for the Director of Skyteam Loyalty? Post them here…

It's just over 3 weeks until I'll be presenting to eager travel hackers at the Frequent Traveler University in Amsterdam. My prejudices against Skyteam have  occasionally crept into some of my posts, Mike who runs Ik Vlieg Veel did a guest post here one on why Dutch people should follow Star Alliance instead of Skyteam, though the Flying Dutchboy did come to their defence.

But what if you had the opportunity to either vent your frustration at the man who steers Skyteam's business decisions?


Michael Schutzbank, the Director for Customer Loyalty at Skyteam will be there to present, though on what topic I don't know. But I plan to engage him in some hard talk, and get to the bottom of any issues that any of my readers have. Try to keep questions ‘open' rather than ‘closed', i.e. give him a chance to develop an argument behind the answer rather than a yes/no/number answer.

Hopefully we can all ask some pretty though-provoking questions to him. I'm after quality rather than quantity here.

And as we are talking about Skyteam as a whole rather than a specific airline, please make sure the questions can be answered by someone in such a capacity!

I'll kick off with my set of questions:

  • Why are Skyteam's lounge access rules for higher tier members so much more restrictive, with the international segment rule, than the other alliances?
  • With the exception of Korean Skypass, why do other member airlines tend to disallow first class award bookings on partner airlines?


What else would you like to ask Michael? Post your questions below.


  1. OK, I’ll bite.

    It’s been a big week for Delta craziness, but staying on point, my biggest gripes :

    (a) integration, integration, integration The integration between bookings and their SkyTeam KLM and AF siblings are absolutely horrible. Seat assignments get lost, don’t stick. Information with regard to the delta PNR on doesn’t match the KLM/AF PNR on their respective web sites.

    (b) Confusion over upgrades, particularly when using Delta SkyMiles. Rules are vague, agents ill trained.

    (c) With regard to AF/KLM horrible communication regarding upcoming premium cabin enhancements and inconsistency between Delta/AF/KLM. For example, Delta now has a 1-2-1 widebody BusinessElite fleet. Air France business is going to 1-2-1; but KLM is just starting modifications on their A330s and 777s; but these will be 2-2-2. Not only, are the modifications taking such a long time, why is there not some level of coordination between Delta/AF/KLM hard products. (not to mention, Alitalia is a 1-2-1 configuration in business class).

    I guess, the problem with SkyTeam (and I focus on the European/Delta alliance) is that they say they are integrated; but they really act like separate entities and not a coordinated alliance. This is especially bad, when you have a situation like KLM and Delta at AMS. They basically share/split the flights to the USA. Sometimes, they even share a given route (for example Delta and KLM both service JFK and ATL, whereas only Delta services BOS). When you try to attract premium passengers, having an inconsistent hard product is very confusing. Especially, since many can’t tell in advance if they will be on KLM or Delta metal when flying to cities like JFK or ATL.

  2. Here’s a list of questions from reader Zinneken

    Question 1:

    StarAlliance has partners within the alliance that offer easy status matches. So it is relatively easy to move away from Skyteam to Star Alliance without loosing status benefits.

    Oneworld has partners within the alliance that offer easy status matches. So it is relatively easy to move away from Skyteam to Oneworld without loosing status benefits.

    Skyteam does not have partners within the alliance that offer easy status matched. Skyteam only offers (very few) status challenges, meaning changing from Star Alliance or Oneworld to Skyteam is a nono, unless a frequent traveller wishes to loose status benefits and start from scratch for the benefit of Skyteam.

    Why do you make it next to impossible to have an easy transition from other alliances into Skyteam?

    Question 2:

    Why do Star Alliance and Oneworld offer great additional baggage allowances (both weight and piece) to their status members, and Skyteam only offers only very limited additional baggage allowances?

    Question 3:

    How would you justify Skyteam provides greater value to its status members? (amount of awards, easy booking of awards, luggage allowances, lounge access and quality, better seat access, faster luggage delivery, etc.)

    Question 4:

    What prevents Skyteam to truly innovate how the alliance works for the benefit of its frequent travellers?

    Question 5:

    As far as I know, Skyteam is the only alliance that is moving away from offering miles for discounted flights. Why does Skyteam not value frequent business travellers that due to the crisis choose discounted economy fares?

  3. I hope he is familiar with oneworld & star alliance since a lot of thought-provoking questions would involve comparing those other alliances to skyteam. From reading his profile on LinkedIn, he actually used to be the Loyalty director at Star Alliance! Wow! I wonder if he has read Mike’s post on why folks in AMS should be in star alliance not skyteam.

    Anyway, some questions:
    1) What are his main goals for skyteam loyalty in the short-term? Long-term?
    2) Since he used to work in star alliance, in what areas does star alliance have an advantage over skyteam (and vice versa)?
    3) Does he have any input or influence on skyteam airlines’s decisions on how much points can be earned from flying skyteam partner airlines? I ask because skyteam alliance seems to be the most divided/confusing out of the 3 alliances when it comes to points earning on partner airlines. Example is flying Korean Air and crediting the miles to Delta Skymiles. As Director of Customer Loyalty in skyteam, what can he do to make earning miles from skyteam partners simpler and more straightforward?

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