The SkyTeam alliance has grown once again, adding Aerolíneas Argentinas, their first South American carrier, to the network. The national airline of Argentina provide access to 52 destinations including 35 airports within the country. Forty of these destinations are cities not previously served by a SkyTeam member carrier.
In addition to the marketing benefits which come through joining the alliance the new partnership opens up a number of frequent flyer-related changes. For starters, the deal opens up a number of new opportunities in Round-the-World tickets, both revenue and award. Aerolíneas Argentinas offers direct flights between Sydney and Buenos Aires, adding a significant link on the map for RTW trips. It also significantly eases award travel within South America because of the new connections and destinations available in the alliance.
From an earning perspective, adding the new airline is just an OK deal for members of partner programs. Delta SkyMiles members, for example, will earn only 25-50% on the cheapest fares. The news is even worse for Flying Blue members, with even more fares earning at less than 100% credit. Yes, the earning is something, but it isn’t much.
On the redemption side the Aerolineas Plus charts are also not so great. Redemption is based on non-stop flights only, similar to the Avios program. Flights within the United States run 16250 points in coach and 32500 in business class. Oh, and those are one-way rates from what I can tell. At least I’m pretty sure that’s what this fine print on the charts means, "El millaje informado corresponde a un solo tramo por lo tanto el pasaje de premio requerirá el doble de millas." And if you want to connect on partners the cost will go up. And there are redemption fees which vary based on destination. Ouch.
Yes, having more choices is always a good thing. And this meets that criteria. But the earn rates are pretty poor. Hopefully decent award availability will make up for that, though I haven’t started looking for it yet.
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