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If you have an elite status from an airline that’s part of the SkyTeam or OneWorld alliance, you probably have a SkyTeam Elite Plus or OneWorld Sapphire status too.
In this article, we’ll compare the differences between these two statuses and also help you decide which one is best for you!
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SkyTeam Elite Plus Overview
Founded in 2000, SkyTeam Alliance is the youngest among the three major airline alliances. As of this writing, it has 19 SkyTeam airlines that operate more than 10,062 daily flights to 1,062 destinations in 170 countries. However, Virgin Atlantic is set to join SkyTeam next year, increasing the number of members 20 in 2023.
But despite being the youngest alliance, SkyTeam isn’t considered a rookie because some of its members are some of the oldest carriers in the airline industry. For example, Czech Airlines, Delta Airlines, Air France, and KLM have been in the business for more than 90 years.
The SkyTeam frequent flyer program has two status tiers – SkyTeam Elite and SkyTeam Elite Plus – and they come with travel benefits that can be used across all alliance members.
How To Earn SkyTeam Elite Plus
In order to earn SkyTeam Elite Plus status, you need to have a corresponding elite status from a SkyTeam airline. You can check the list below.
- Aeroflot Bonus Gold = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Aeroflot Bonus Platinum = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Aerolíneas Argentinas
- Aerolíneas Plus Platino = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Aerolíneas Plus Diamente = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Club Premier Platinum = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Club Premier Titanium = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Air Europa
- SUMA Gold = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- SUMA Platinum = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Air France/KLM, Kenya Airways, TAROM
- Flying Blue Gold = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Flying Blue Platinum = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Flying Blye Platinum for Life – SkyTeam Elite Plus
- China Airlines
- Dynasty Flyer Emerald = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Dynasty Flyer Paragon = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- China Eastern Airlines
- Eastern Miles Gold = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Czech Airlines
- OK Plus Gold = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- OK Plus Platinum = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Delta Air Lines
- SkyMiles Gold Medallion = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- SkyMiles Platinum Medallion = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- SkyMiles Diamond Medallion = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Garuda Indonesia
- Garuda Miles Platinum = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- ITA Airways
- Volare Premium = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Volare Executive = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Volare Executive Per Sempre = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Volare Limiteless = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Korean Air
- SKYPASS Morning Calm Premium Club = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- SKYPASS Million Miler Club = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Middle East Airlines
- Cedar Miles Gold = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Cedar Miles Platinum = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Alfursan Gold = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Vietnam Airlines
- Golden Lotus Plus Platinum = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Egret Club Platinum = SkyTeam Elite Plus
- Egret Club Diamond = SkyTeam Elite Plus
SkyTeam Elite Plus Benefits
In addition to the benefits that elite members receive from their respective frequent flyer programs, they will also be entitled to the following benefits below, courtesy of their SkyTeam Elite status.
- Dedicated check-in counters
- Priority boarding
- Preferred seating
- Access to 6 SkyTeam lounges and more than 750+ member lounges
- Priority reservation waitlist/standby
- Extra baggage allowance
- Priority baggage drop-off locations
- Complimentary access to SkyTeam lounges
- Guaranteed reservation on sold-out fares
- Priority baggage handling
- Priority security lanes at select airports
- Priority immigration lanes at select airports
- SkyPriority recognition
- Priority transfers
Read More: How To Get Star Alliance Gold Status
OneWorld Sapphire Overview
OneWorld Alliance was founded on February 1999, and it has 13 airline members that fly to more than 900 destinations in more than 170 countries. However, Oman Air will soon join the alliance, increasing the total number of members to 14.
The OneWorld Alliance frequent flyer program has three tiers: One World Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald. Just like other alliances, members can earn any of these statuses through a frequent flyer program of a OneWorld airline member.
How To Earn OneWorld Sapphire
To earn a OneWorld Sapphire status, you need to earn the following elite statuses from any of the airlines below.
- Alaska Airlines
- Alaska MVP Gold = Oneworld Sapphire
- American Airlines
- AAdvantage Platinum = Oneworld Sapphire
- British Airways
- Executive Club Silver = Oneworld Sapphire
- Cathay Pacific
- Cathay Gold = Oneworld Sapphire
- Finnair Plus Gold = Oneworld Sapphire
- Iberia Plus Gold = Oneworld Sapphire
- Japan Airlines
- JGC Sapphire/JMB Sapphire = Oneworld Sapphire
- JGC Crystal/JGC Member = Oneworld Sapphire
- Malaysia Airlines
- Enrich Gold = Oneworld Sapphire
- Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold = Oneworld Sapphire
- Qatar Airways
- Privilege Club Gold = Oneworld Sapphire
- Royal Air Maroc
- Safar Flyer Gold = Oneworld Sapphire
- Royal Jordanian
- Gold SPARROW = Oneworld Sapphire
- S7 Airlines (Temporarily Suspended)
- Priority Gold = Oneworld Sapphire
- SriLankan Airlines
- FlySmiLes Gold = Oneworld Sapphire
OneWorld Sapphire Benefits
Here are the benefits that OneWorld Sapphire elite members will get.
- Access to more than 650+ Business Class lounges. OneWorld will have its first branded lounge in Moscow.
- Access to Business Class priority check-in.
- Access to preferred or pre-reserved seating.
- Priority on waitlists and when on standby.
- Priority boarding.
- Extra baggage allowance.
- Priority baggage handling.
Read More: Which Airline Programs Offer A Status Match?
Point Of Comparison
Number of Members
U.S. Airline Members
American & Alaska
Over 900 destinations in 170 territories.
Over 1,062 destinations in 170 countries.
Three: Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald.
Two: Elite & Elite Plus
Number of Lounges
1 branded lounge (upcoming) and 650+ partner lounges
6 branded lounges and 750+ partner lounges
Continents With A Member Airline
SkyTeam Elite Plus VS OneWorld Sapphire: The Verdict
The SkyTeam Elite Plus and OneWorld Sapphire statuses offer very similar benefits, such as lounge access, priority boarding, priority check-in, and extra baggage allowance. To find out which is better, we must look at the bigger picture and the benefits each alliance offers as a whole.
SkyTeam has a larger list of partners and coverage, giving you more flexibility to earn and redeem miles in your preferred loyalty programs.
U.S.- Member Airlines
While SkyTeam may have more members, OneWorld has a slight advantage in the North Americas since it has two U.S.-based members, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. Delta Airlines is the only U.S. member of SkyTeam.
If you live in the U.S., you’ll benefit more by having a OneWorld status since you can enjoy SkyTeam perks at two US carriers.
SkyTeam has a wider coverage serving 1062 destinations in over 170 countries, opening up many route possibilities on how you want to travel the world. You can plan out multi-city itineraries while enjoying SkyTeam benefits across all 19 airline members.
SkyTeam has only two status tiers, so it’s easier to earn the highest tier, SkyTeam Elite Plus. For instance, here are the status conversions for Delta Medallion members.
- Diamond – Elite Plus
- Platinum – Elite Plus
- Gold – Elite Plus
- Silver – Elite
Medalion members who have a Gold, Platinum, and Diamond status will all have the same status benefits. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars and take hundreds of flights to earn an Elite Plus status.
Meanwhile, OneWorld has three status tiers, which means you have to work a little harder if you want to move from Sapphire to Emerald status. Here’s a sample status conversion for the AAdvantage program.
- AAdvantage Executive Platinum – Oneworld Emerald
- AAdvantage Platinum Pro – Oneworld Emerald
- AAdvantage Platinum – Oneworld Sapphire
- AAdvantage Gold – Oneworld Ruby
To earn Emerald status, you must first earn Platinum Pro, which requires more Loyalty Points.
Number of Lounges
SkyTeam has 700+ partner lounges and 6 branded lounges, while OneWorld has 600+ partner lounges and one upcoming branded lounge.
Looking at the numbers, SkyTeam is the better option because you’d have more lounge access when traveling the world. However, the only problem is that SkyTeam doesn’t offer First class lounge access, but OneWorld does.
SkyTeam only has two status levels, so the benefits are limited at the business class level only. For example, regardless if you’re flying First or Business class, you can only have access to business class lounges according to the SkyTeam lounge policy.
That doesn’t mean the First class passengers won’t get first-class lounge access – they still can – but it’s not because of their Elite Plus but rather their respective frequent flyer benefits or airline benefits.
Meanwhile, OneWorld has three status tiers, and each level offers more premium benefits. For example, Sapphire members will get business-class lounge access, while Emerald members will get First class lounge access.
How To Earn OneWorld Sapphire Or SkyTeam Elite Plus Without Flying
Flying isn’t the only option to get an alliance status because members can do it through credit card spending.
For example, you can earn SkyTeam Elite Plus status through a Delta Medallion Gold status courtesy of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Credit Card.
Members have to earn 50,000 MQMs and an MQD waiver to earn Gold status. Normally, that would take hundreds of flights to earn these numbers, but with the Reserve Card, you can sit earn up to 60,000 MQMs and an MQD waiver just by spending money.
- Earn 15,000 MQMs whenever you spend $30,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. You can do this up to four times per year which totals 60,000 MQMs.
- Get an MQD waiver for Gold or Platinum status if you spend at least $25,000 in a calendar year.
Alternatively, you can also get the business version of the card, which is the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card. It offers the same path toward Gold status, but the earning categories are more focused on business expenses.
Other cards that also offer bonus MQMs are the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business American Express Card.
Now, if you want to earn a OneWorld Sapphire status, you can do it through the AAdvantage Platinum status courtesy of Citi/AAdvantage cards.
For example, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® lets you earn a bonus of 10,000 Loyalty Points after spending $40,000 in eligible purchases. On top of that, you also get to earn 1 Loyalty Point for every dollar you spend on the card.
If you meet the spending requirements, you’ll instantly get 50,000 Loyalty Points which is just 25,000 points away from getting AAdvantage Platinum status.
Looking at statistics alone, SkyTeam Elite Plus members would have the upper hand over OneWorld Sapphire members, but both alliances still have advantages and disadvantages.
When choosing an airline alliance, you must choose the best frequent flyer program that suits your needs. Do you live in a hub city? Do you travel abroad? How many times do you travel a year?
Once you’ve picked the right program, start earning an elite status that will award you the corresponding alliance status that you want.
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