Best Skyteam Rewards Program

Reader Simon T. was asking me what I thought to be the best Skyteam frequent flier program to earn miles for his many flights to China, usually on China Eastern or China Southern.

Across all programs, generally I find North American programs to be the most generous, Asian programs the most stingy, and European programs in between. When accruing partner miles, you need to pay attention to the fare class you are booked in, as different fare classes accrue at different rates, some classes may not even receive miles. As long as you are not booking deeply discounts coach fares, you should be able to accrue miles, but check each FF program for details.

Skyteam airlines which fly to HKG are China Eastern, China Southern, Delta, Airfrance, Korean Air, Vietnam Airlines and Aeroflot (which I will not include in this post.) Normally I wouldn’t even recommend Skyteam compared to OneWorld or Star Alliance but if you don’t have a choice, here are my thoughts:

I cannot recommend China Eastern since I couldn’t even find a link to their FF program on their  homepage. Once I clicked on a random “sign-up” link, I found something called Eastern Miles, but I couldn’t find any information about earning or redeeming miles. Oye vey!

China Southern has a program called Sky Pearl Club. The tacky web site really turned me off though, and I really didn’t want to dig around for information. (I thought Chinese people were supposed to be good with technology?) In any case, I persevered and summarized the information here:  (see how nice I am to you guys?)

The redemption values for Skyteam partners are very poor, so I won’t even address mileage accrual. 145,000 km (yes they use km) = approx 90,000 mi for a coach ticket from HKG to North America, Europe, or North Africa. Most programs charge only 60,000 miles. For 80,000 km = 50,000 mi you can fly from HKG to North Asia.

Delta Skymiles provides status benefits at 25,000 mi/30 segments and goes up at that interval from there. Skyteam lounge access at Gold: 50K/60 segments.

Skymiles or (Skypesos as others say, because they’re so worthless for Delta redemption) are middle of the road for redemption from HKG. The awards to North Asia are 25,000 miles roundtrip, 70,000 miles to North America, and surprisingly 40,000 miles to Hawaii

Delta’s partner accrual chart – Decent accrual on economy fares on MU or CZ.

For travel from Northern Asia

Japan; Korea, Republic of; Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of; China; Hong Kong SAR; Taiwan, Province of; Micronesia; Philippines

Award mileage shown is each-way based on a required round-trip or multi-leg Award Ticket purchase. Customers can combine Economy, First, Business and BusinessElite® cabins and dates at various mileage levels and can search Award Ticket inventory availability up to the last seat.

From Northern Asia:Economy ClassFirst Class or BusinessElite
LowMediumHighLowMediumHigh
Within Northern Asia112,50020,00030,00022,50030,00040,000
To Continental US, Alaska and Canada35,00060,00080,00060,000110,000170,000
To Hawaii20,00045,00065,00035,00070,000150,000
To Caribbean40,00065,00085,00060,000120,000185,000
To Mexico40,00065,00085,00060,000120,000185,000
To Central America40,00065,00085,00060,000120,000185,000
To Northern South America50,00075,000105,00075,000125,000195,000
To Southern South America60,00080,000110,00080,000130,000200,000
To Europe40,00060,000
To Africa50,00075,000
To Middle East40,00060,000
To South Asian Subcontinent25,00035,000
To Southeast Asia22,50040,00050,00035,00055,00075,000
To Southwest Pacific35,00055,000
Miles shown are each way based on round-trip purchase.
1Within Northern Asia:Economy ClassFirst Class or BusinessElite
LowMediumHighLowMediumHigh
Japan to/from Korea7,50020,00030,00015,00030,00040,000
Within Korea5,0007,5006,0009,000
Within China
(Short Haul)*
6,0007,500
Within China
(Med Haul)**
15,00017,500
Within China
(Long Haul)***
30,00045,000
Miles shown are each way based on round-trip purchase.
*Short haul is 1-800 km.
**Med haul is 800-3,000 km.
***Long haul is 3,000-5,000 km.

Air France provides decent status accrual for non-French and Monegasque (Monaco) residents, Gold benefits are easier to attain vs Delta and provides Skyteam lounge access.

Check partner accrual fare classes.

Required thresholds for the rest of the world

Membership levelNumber of Level MilesNumber of one-way flights*
Silver25,00015
Gold40,00030
Platinum70,00060

When redeeming awards, the values are poor for long distance, but intra-Asia 2 Region seems good at 20K. HKG to TPE / HKG to SIN, etc. I couldn’t find a list of Asia 2 Region countries though, but assume it’s HKG and South. Other redemptions include 80K miles from HKG to CDG or JFK; 40K from HKG to NRT or ICN; 25K for HKG to PEK.

Flying Blue Mileage Calculator

I would recommend Air France for the low threshold to reach Gold, but your redemption probably needs to be in the Asia 2 region for best values.

Korean Airlines has absurdly high mileage redemption requirements for tickets. I wouldn’t even consider this program after looking at the chart. 40K for intra-NE Asia…are you serious? We can fly to Hawaii, U.S.A. for that many miles on Delta.

Departure
Arrival
Economy
Business
First
Northeast Asia (including Korea)
Northeast Asia
40,000
60,000
80,000
Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia
50,000
75,000
100,000
USA/Canada, Mexico/Hawaii/Central America, Europe, North Africa, Middle East/Near East, South Pacific
80,000
120,000
160,000
Latin America 1
90,000
135,000
180,000
Latin America 2, Central & South Africa, Indian Ocean
100,000
150,000
200,000

Vietnam Airlines’ FF program is similar to Korean Airlines, very high redemption for tickets, not worth investigating further.

Arrive/Departure
Class of Service
South East Asia
North East Asia
South West Asia
South West Pacific
North America
Central America
Zone
1
2
3
4
5
6
South East Asia
1
Y
45,00050,00080,00070,00090,00090,000
C
70,00075,000120,000110,000135,000135,000
F
100,000110,000180,000170,000200,000200,000
North East Asia
2
Y
50,00035,00070,00060,00080,00080,000
C
75,00055,000110,00090,000120,000120,000
F110,00085,000165,000140,000180,000180,000

In summary, I think Air France or Delta are the best FF programs in Skyteam for someone based in HKG.

Air France is the easiest qualify for elite status, but redemption levels for long-distance flights to Europe and North America are expensive.

Delta on the other hand has relatively cheaper redemption levels overall, so if you fly a lot and aren’t worried about qualifying for status, this may be the way to go.

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