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In recent news, Virgin Atlantic has finally joined the Skyteam airline alliance. IAG has also agreed to buy Spain’s Air Europa. These two news items might seem completely unconnected, but I’ve discovered a potentially intriguing travel hack that might appeal to a few readers…
Air Europa Suma
Recently I’ve been flying on Air Europa far more than usual. Because I have no “default” loyalty programme for Skyteam flights, I decided to open an account with Air Europa’s Suma programme. Besides the fact that new members receive 787 free miles after their first flight – click here for details – I reckoned that any miles earned would eventually become Avios.
As I accumulated derisory amounts of SUMA miles with each flight, I noticed via my AwardWallet account that I appeared to be fast approaching elite status with SUMA.
With a mere 26 paid flights (in any rolling 12-month period) on any Skyteam airline – no matter how cheap – I would become a Gold member with Air Europa SUMA. Gold status is equivalent to Elite Plus status in the Skyteam alliance.
Elite Plus Status Gets You Clubhouse Access With Virgin Atlantic
Now that Virgin Atlantic has joined the Skyteam alliance, Elite Plus status will come in very handy for any Virgin Atlantic, Delta or Aeromexico flights departing from London Heathrow’s Terminal 3.
26 Flights Isn’t That Hard…
Besides Virgin Atlantic, most UK-based readers – especially those who live outside of London – might already fly regularly on KLM or Air France. Every time you connect through Amsterdam or Paris to your final destination, you’d pick up 2 flights. Coming home…. 2 more flights. It’s easy to see how accumulating 26 flights on Skyteam might not be too difficult.
The Future Could Bring Some Interesting Opportunities Too…
IAG has been clear in stating that Air Europa will leave Skyteam once the purchase is completed. As a result, elite status with SUMA could be a very valuable card to hold. I am quite confident that:
- Other Skyteam programmes will offer status matches in order to retain SUMA elite members
- SUMA status will become useful for Oneworld, whether via
- a complete merger of Iberia Plus and SUMA or
- a status match similar to how BMI Diamond Club elites were transitioned to Executive Club
In the meantime, you can play this travel hacking game in full confidence that any Air Europa SUMA miles accumulated will eventually become Avios.
Make Sure Your Cheap Partner Flight is Eligible
One final thing to keep in mind is that not all partner flights will earn miles with Air Europa SUMA. You will want to check the partner page before booking any Skyteam partner flights (with the intention of crediting to SUMA).
If you can manage 26 paid flights on a Skyteam airline within any 12 month period, you will earn Gold status with Air Europa SUMA. I expect that this will be a very useful thing to have – both now whilst Air Europa remains in the Skyteam alliance and in the future…