Advertiser Disclosure

Airline Programs

SkyTeam Elite Plus Vs Star Alliance Gold: A Head-to-Head Battle!

Last updated: November 02,2022
Originally Published: November 11,2022
by Jestan Mendame

Points Panda has partnered with a variety of financial companies including CreditCards.com for our coverage of credit card products. Points Panda and CreditCards.com may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. For more information please read our full Advertiser Disclosure.

Having an airline status is great, but having an alliance status is even better because you can use your alliance benefits across all members within your alliance. But the question is, which alliance status is the best?

In one of our previous reviews, we compared SkyTeam Elite Plus and OneWorld Sapphire, two top-tier status from two major airline alliances worldwide. But now, we’ll be comparing Elite Plus against another competing top status – Star Alliance Gold.


Read More: Which Is The Best Star Alliance Loyalty Program?


Delta Medallion Gold members can earn a SkyTeam Elite Plus status and earn benefits that can be used across all SkyTeam members.
Delta Medallion Gold members can earn a SkyTeam Elite Plus status and earn benefits that can be used across all SkyTeam members.
(Image courtesy of Isaac Struna on Unsplash)

SkyTeam Elite Plus Overview

There are currently 19 SkyTeam airlines in the SkyTeam Alliance, and it operates more than 10,000+ flights to more than 1,000+ destinations in 170 countries. But Virgin Atlantic is set to join SkyTeam in 2023, increasing the total number of member airlines to 20.

On June 22, 2002, Skyteam was founded in New York by four founding carriers: Delta Air Lines, Aeroméxico, Air France, and Korean Air. Currently, it is headquartered in the Netherlands at the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

SkyTeam is the youngest among the three major airline alliances, with Star Alliance being the oldest and OneWorld being the second oldest.

While it might be the youngest alliance, it’s got decades of experience since some of its members – like Czech Airlines, Delta Airlines, Air France, and KLM – have been in the airline industry for more than 90 years.

How To Earn SkyTeam Elite Plus

There are two status levels in the SkyTeam frequent flyer program – SkyTeam Elite and SkyTeam Elite Plus. You don’t have to sign up or register for anything to earn these two statuses because all you need to do is to have a corresponding elite status from a SkyTeam carrier.

For instance, a United MileagePlus Premier Gold elite member will be awarded with a corresponding SkyTeam Elite Plus status. You can check the list below if you’re an elite member of another SkyTeam carrier.

  • Aeroflot
    • 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

  • Aeroméxico
    • 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

  • Saudia
    • Alfursan Gold = SkyTeam Elite Plus

  • Vietnam Airlines
    • Golden Lotus Plus Platinum = SkyTeam Elite Plus

  • XiamenAir
    • Egret Club Platinum = SkyTeam Elite Plus
    • Egret Club Diamond = SkyTeam Elite Plus

SkyTeam Elite Plus Benefits

SkyTeam Elite Plus members are entitled to receive the following travel perks below:

  • 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

The benefits you’ll get can be used across all 20 alliance members, regardless of the flight you are booked on or your frequent flyer membership.


Read More:


You can earn a Star Alliance Gold status through your United Premier Gold, 1k, Platinum, and Global Services statuses.
You can earn a Star Alliance Gold status through your United Premier Gold, 1k, Platinum, and Global Services statuses.
(Image courtesy of Jason Leung on Unsplash)

Star Alliance Gold Overview

Star Alliance is the largest and oldest among all the three major alliances. It was formed in May 1997 by five founding carriers – Air Canada, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Thai Airways, and United Airlines.

Currently, Star Alliance has 26 member airlines serving more than 762 million customers and operating more than 1,300 flights in over 195 countries worldwide. Its main headquarters is based in Frankfurt, Germany, and it has a subsidiary management company in Singapore.

How To Earn Star Alliance Gold

Just like SkyTeam, you can only earn a Star Alliance Gold status through a frequent flyer program of any Star Alliance member airline. Check the full list below:

  • Aegean Airlines – Miles+Bonus
    • Miles+Bonus Gold Status

  • Air Canada Aeroplan
    • Aeroplan 50k
    • Aeroplan 75k
    • Aeroplan Super Elite 100k

  • Air China – PhoenixMiles
    • PhoenixMiles Gold
    • PhoenixMiles Platinum

  • Air India – Flying Returns
    • Golden Edge Club
    • The Maharajah Club

  • Air New Zealand – Airpoints™
    • Airpoints Gold
    • Airpoints Elite

  • ANA – ANA Mileage Club
    • Platinum
    • Superflyers
    • Diamond

  • Asiana Airlines – Asiana Club
    • Asiana Club Diamond
    • Asiana Club Diamond Plus
    • Asiana Club Diamond Platinum

  • Austrian Airlines – Miles & More
    • Senator
    • HON Circle

  • Avianca – LifeMiles
    • LifeMiles Gold
    • LifeMiles Diamond

  • Brussels Airlines – Miles & More
    • Senator
    • HON Circle

  • Copa Airlines – ConnectMiles
    • Gold
    • Platinum
    • Presidential Platinum

  • Croatia Airlines – Miles & More
    • Senator
    • HON Circle

  • EGYPTAIR – EGYPTAIR Plus
    • EGYPTAIR Plus Gold
    • EGYPTAIR Plus Elite
    • EGYPTAIR Plus Platinum

  • Ethiopian Airlines – ShebaMiles
    • ShebaMiles Gold
    • ShebaMiles Platinum

  • EVA Air – Infinity MileageLands
    • Infinity MileageLands Gold
    • Infinity MileageLands Diamond

  • LOT Polish Airlines – Miles & More
    • Senator
    • HON Circle

  • Lufthansa Miles & More
    • Senator
    • HON Circle

  • Scandinavian Airlines – EuroBonus
    • EuroBonus Gold
    • EuroBonus Diamond
    • EuroBonus Pandion

  • Shenzhen Airlines – PhoenixMiles
    • PhoenixMiles Gold
    • PhoenixMiles Platinum

  • Singapore Airlines – KrisFlyer
    • KrisFlyer Gold
    • PPS Club
    • Solitaire PPS Club
    • Solitaire PPS Club Life

  • South African Airways – SAA Voyager
    • Gold
    • Platinum
    • Lifetime Platinum

  • Swiss – Miles & More
    • Senator
    • HON Circle

  • TAP Air Portugal – TAP Miles&Go
    • TAP Miles&Go Gold

  • Thai Airways International – Royal Orchid
    • Royal Orchid Plus Gold
    • Royal Orchid Plus Platinum

  • Turkish Airlines – Miles&Smiles
    • Elite
    • Elite Plus

Star Alliance Gold Benefits

Here are the benefits that OneWorld Sapphire elite members will get.

  • Lounge access for you and 1 guest to more than 1,000+ lounges worldwide
  • Priority waitlisting
  • Priority Reservations Waitlist
  • Priority airport standby
  • Priority check-in
  • Priority boarding
  • Priority baggage handling
  • Move through airport security and immigration faster with Gold Track priority lanes
  • Extra baggage allowance (an extra 20 kg (44 pounds) if the weight concept applies or an extra piece if the piece concept applies)
  • Heathrow Express Upgrades


Read More: Which Airline Programs Offer A Status Match?


Point Of Comparison

Star Alliance

SkyTeam

Number of Members

26

20

U.S. Airline Members

United

Delta

Destinations Served

Over 1,300 destinations in 195 territories.

Over 1,062 destinations in 170 countries.

Status Levels

Two: Star Alliance Silver & Star Alliance Gold

Two: Elite & Elite Plus

Number of Lounges

6 branded lounges and 1,000+ partner lounges

6 branded lounges and 750+ partner lounges

Continents With A Member Airline

6

6

SkyTeam Elite Plus VS Star Alliance Gold: Which Is Better?

Most of the benefits offered by the SkyTeam Elite Plus and Star Alliance Gold statuses are pretty much the same, like priority services and extra baggage allowances.

The only way to find out which status is better is to look at the benefits at the alliance level and not at the status level. This means that we have to look at alliance partners, destinations served, lounge partners, etc.

Airline Partners

Star Alliance is the largest alliance of all, with 26 airline members covering 1,300 destinations in over 195 countries. Meanwhile, SkyTeam only has 20 members that cover 1,062 destinations in over 170 countries.

Looking at the numbers, Star Alliance is the better option since you have more carriers and route options where you can earn and redeem miles on.

One of Star Alliance’s major advantages is its presence in the South American region with the help of its two alliance members, Avianca Airlines and Copa Airlines. SkyTeam, on the other hand, only has one alliance member based in South America, and that is Aerolíneas Argentinas.

Additionally, we want to emphasize that Avianca regularly offers 30%-35% transfer bonuses, potentially giving you high-valued redemptions for partner award flights. For instance, the Points Panda team booked a First Class Lufthansa flight through Avianca Lifemiles with fewer miles than normal because we were able to get a 25% transfer bonus from Capital One to Avianca.

Number of Lounges

Star Alliance has more than 1,000+ lounges in its network, which is the most among all airline alliances. SkyTeam only has 700+ partner lounges, while OneWorld has 600+ partner lounges.

What’s great about Star Alliance is it also provides access to first-class lounges for passengers who are flying on Star Alliance first-class flights, although it’s not always guaranteed.

For example, if you’re flying United First Class, you can only access Senator lounges instead of Lufthansa First class lounges. Only passengers of Lufthansa first-class flights can have access to Lufthansa First Class lounges However, it’s still better than SkyTeam’s lounge access policy that only offers business-class access to SkyTeam first-class flights.

But to be honest, we’d recommend that you join OneWorld because it provides full access to first-class flights for OneWorld Emerald status holders.


Read More: Which Is The Best Star Alliance Loyalty Program?


Earning Elite Plus or Star Alliance Gold status can be done through co-branded cards (Image courtesy of Canva Pro).

Earning Star Alliance Gold Or SkyTeam Elite Plus Through Co-branded Cards

You can earn Star Alliance Gold or SkyTeam Elite Plus through a co-branded credit card of an alliance member.

For example, you can get a Delta SkyMiles Reserve Credit Card or a Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card to earn a Delta Medallion Gold status and, eventually, earn a corresponding SkyTeam Elite Plus status.

You typically have to earn 50,000 MQMs and an MQD waiver to earn Gold status by flying with Delta but with the Delta Reserve Cards, you can earn a bonus of 60,000 MQMs + MQD waiver if you meet the spending requirements.

While the Reserve cards offer the most number of bonus MQMs, you can also earn MQM bonuses on the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business American Express Card.

Meanwhile, you can earn your way through Star Alliance Gold status by getting the Chase United Quest℠ Card. To do that, you need to earn 7,000 PQPs to get Premier Gold status first; then, you’ll be awarded Star Alliance Gold status.

That typically requires hundreds of hours of flying and thousands of dollars on plane tickets, but with the Quest Card, you’ll get a bonus of 3,000 PQPs by spending $72,000 in a calendar year (without flying). This greatly reduces the number of PQPs requirements you need to earn for Premier Gold to nearly half.

Bottomline

Star Alliance is still the king of airline alliances, in our opinion. It has the most member carriers and wider coverage compared to its competitors.

But that doesn’t mean that you should join Star Alliance and pour all your efforts into earning Star Alliance Gold status. Choosing an alliance always depends on your travel habits and preferences.

For example, if you live in Atlanta, a major Delta Airlines hub, your first choice should be to join SkyTeam. If you live in Chicago, a major United hub, go for Star Alliance.

Always choose the best frequent flyer program you will benefit from the most, which will help you decide which airline alliance you should join and the alliance status you want to earn.

Advertiser Disclosure

  • Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 2X on everyday spend.
  • Earn 10X on hotels and car rentals, and 5x on flights booked on Capital One Travel
  • Receive 10,000 bonus miles every account opening anniversary.
  • Get a $300 credit to use on Capital One Travel each year.
  • Unlimited Access to Capital One Lounges and Priority Pass lounges internationally.
  • $395 annual fee.
Learn More

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Leave a Reply

Leave a comment