Continental ended their association with Skyteam and headed on over to the greener pastures of Star Alliance yesterday. It seems that most folks see this as a positive move for travelers (Gary Leff at View from the Wing outlines the reasons, with first class options, lounge access and choice of carriers leading the way). He’s right – those are all good things. As is the ability to book many Star carriers on Continental’s website. That’s a great thing. Well done all around.
But I’ve read quite a bit of Skyteam bashing (Gary, again) and I feel a slight twitch where I need to defend Skyteam for a bit. Was it the best alliance out there? No. Did they have a large array of world class carriers associated? No. Did Continental and Delta have miserable – truly miserable – reward availability, especially in business? Yes. That all said, I was never unable to book a reward ticket where I wanted to go. Air France, Alitalia, and KLM (to an extent) all had pretty good availability, even in business class. Gary loves (understandably) first class awards to Asia and the insane pampering that goes with that. Star is great for that with first class awards available on a number of top airlines to Asia. But for many of us (especially with twin 3 year olds), a 10-day trip to Asia isn’t in the cards. I cared more about quick trips to Latin America, or a long weekend in Europe. And Skyteam served that need for me, with a great choice of flights and availability.
Don’t get me wrong, Star will be great…but Skyteam wasn’t nearly as bad as we think.