If you passport wallet packs a Gold or Platinum frequent flyer card from the likes of Qantas and Virgin Australia, this SkyTeam status match will unlock similar VIP perks with the likes of Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Delta, Garuda Indonesia, Korean Air, Vietnam Airlines and more.
Your free SkyTeam Elite or Elite Plus status will let you enjoy many of the benefits of business class – including access to airport lounges, priority check-in and boarding and a boosted baggage allowance – even if you're flying in economy on any of the 20 airlines belonging to the SkyTeam alliance.
SkyTeam Elite and Elite Plus cards are usually issued as a reward for flying tens of thousands of miles with SkyTeam airlines – so how can you get this gratis status?
A 'status match' promotion currently offered by SkyTeam member China Southern Airlines delivers free Gold or Silver status in its Sky Pearl Club frequent flyer scheme, which are equivalent to the Elite Plus and Elite tiers of all other SkyTeam airlines.
Who can get a SkyTeam Elite, Elite Plus status match
You'll ideally be sitting on the top rungs of the frequent flyer ladder with a Platinum-grade or Gold-grade frequent flyer card with any airline, including Qantas and Virgin Australia.
Similar status with other Oneworld and Star Alliance member airlines also counts, as well as non-aligned airlines such as Emirates and Etihad.
You can even get a China Southern Sky Pearl Club status match against any other SkyTeam member, provided you've got Elite or Elite Plus status– although we'd expect most applicants to be holding status with airlines other than SkyTeam.
If your status match application is successful, your new SkyTeam Elite or Elite Plus status will be valid through the end of February 2019 – that's a solid 18 months of SkyTeam perks!
How SkyTeam Elite Plus status match tiers line up
Here are some of the most common frequent flyer tiers which will qualify you for China Southern Sky Pearl Gold / SkyTeam Elite Plus status:
- Oneworld Emerald: such as Qantas Platinum or Platinum One, Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Diamond, Malaysia Airlines Enrich Platinum, British Airways Executive Club Gold and so on
- Oneworld Sapphire: this includes Qantas Gold, Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Gold, Malaysia Airlines Enrich Gold and British Airways Executive Club Silver
- Virgin Australia Velocity Platinum
- Emirates Skywards Platinum, Etihad Guest Platinum
- Star Alliance Gold: including Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold (as well as PPS Club and Solitaire PPS), Air New Zealand Airpoints Gold and Elite, and Lufthansa and Swiss Miles & More Senator and HON Circle
SkyTeam Elite Plus status gives you business class lounge access before international flights on any SkyTeam member (although lounge access doesn't extend to domestic flights such as in the USA with parter Delta) and fast-track your way through the airport with Sky Priority queues.
Your alliance-wide extra baggage allowance is also boosted by 20kg over and above the allowance shown on your ticket, with priority baggage handling; you can even secure an economy seat on already-full SkyTeam flights when booking at least 24 hours before departure.
How SkyTeam Elite status match tiers line up
Here are some of the most common frequent flyer tiers which will qualify you for China Southern Sky Pearl Silver / SkyTeam Elite status:
- Oneworld Ruby: such as Qantas Silver, Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Silver, Malaysia Airlines Enrich Silver, British Airways Executive Club Bronze and so on
- Virgin Australia Velocity Gold
- Emirates Skywards Gold, Etihad Guest Gold
- Star Alliance Silver: including Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Silver, Air New Zealand Airpoints Silver, and Lufthansa and Swiss Miles & More Frequent Traveller
SkyTeam Elite doesn't include airport lounge access, but you can still use the priority check-in and boarding queues of all SkyTeam member airlines. You also gain an extra 10kg of baggage or one extra piece when flying with SkyTeam.
How to get your free SkyTeam Elite, Elite Plus status
If you're not already a member of China Southern's Sky Pearl Club rewards scheme, join for free on the airline's website. You'll need a mobile phone number for this, because China Southern sends an SMS verification code as part of the sign-up process.
(For Australian mobile numbers, be sure to drop the leading '0' from the number – so select 'Australia +61', then key in your mobile number beginning with '4'.)
Once your membership is active, use your membership number and PIN to login at the same website, then browse to Member Profile > Contact Info and enter a mailing address so you can receive your membership pack.
Next, download China Southern's official Microsoft Excel status match form [28kB] – we've hosted this on our own AusBT server to make things easier.
Enter your Sky Pearl Club membership number, first and last names, email address, your employer's company name, the airline with which you currently hold elite status, and your status tier with that airline, and save the Excel file.
Tip: if your existing status comes from a Oneworld, Star Alliance or SkyTeam airline, keep things simple by entering "Oneworld Emerald", "Star Alliance Gold' or "SkyTeam Elite Plus" in this field, rather than the likes of "Qantas Platinum", as shown below:
China Southern also requires a copy of your current frequent flyer card (either a clear photograph, scan or screenshot of a digital card) plus either a photo of your business card or your most recent frequent flyer activity statement.
Bundle these together in an email addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org (this is China Southern's North America marketing department) to request your matching Sky Pearl Club card.
Getting your frequent flyer activity statement
We'd suggest most business travellers would submit a copy of their business card to qualify for the China Southern status match, but if you'd rather include your most recent frequent flyer activity statement, here's how to get that for Qantas and Virgin Australia.
Qantas Frequent Flyer members can generate an activity statement by logging into their Qantas Frequent Flyer account, clicking 'View Activity Statement' on the top menu, and then 'Print Your Activity Statement' (it'll be easier to attach your statement to the email if you choose to save this as a PDF file).
Velocity Frequent Flyer members should log into their Velocity account, click 'My Activities' in the Velocity site's main menu, select the most recent month from the list available, click 'search', and then click 'print history' at the bottom of that month's table to generate a similar statement, which you may again create into a PDF file (or save as an HTML file if you don't have a PDF generator).
Getting your China Southern status match
After submitting your status match request, you'll receive an automated reply from China Southern promising a reply "in 3-5 business days."
While China Southern advises that this "Overseas Elite membership status match program is designed for invited customers," anybody can apply – it's just that "invited customers" will be placed at the top of the status match queue.
The airline advises that following the receipt of a valid status match request, "we will confirm your new Sky Pearl Club level by email in one month."