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With American AAdvantage joining United MileagePlus and Delta SkyMiles in raising award prices for Business and First Class trips to Asia and beyond, Korean SkyPass is now one of the most attractive ways to get to Asia and the Pacific in style for less.
You can convert Chase Ultimate Rewards points into Korean SkyPass miles any time and they will hold award space in case you don’t want to risk losing space while you transfer points.
Korean is probably the most generous airline when it comes to Business and First Class award space on long haul flights, and many flights have 9 or more seats available at a time in Business and First Class. Even better, Korean serves more cities in the U.S. than any other Asian carrier so there are lots of gateways to choose from.
You can fly Korean from Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Honolulu, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, or Washington, D.C.
Unfortunately most of their flights use Business Class seats that aren’t quite 100% lie flat beds like these. They’re not as bad as some older angled seats like those American and Air France are phasing out, so you can get a decent rest.
But they’re also rolling out awesome Business Class suites, and currently flying them on most flights from Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. These are a spectacular way to fly.
Online award booking of Korean flights is pretty intuitive once you log in to their site, and here’s a rundown of how to check for award space, but the Korean Airlines award chart is sloppy and doesn’t give many hints about the fuel surcharges you’ll pay on awards.
Here is a condensed chart of roundtrip award prices on Korean Airlines flights (in thousands of miles) for trips starting in the U.S. (there’s a different chart for SkyTeam partner flights which is not quite as attractive).
Korean charges Peak level prices on Peak Season dates, and for for trips starting in the U.S. in 2016 the only dates where the higher prices apply are May 13 – June 30 and December 9 – December 25. For flights returning to the U.S. they are:
So if you fly a roundtrip during a non-U.S. peak date, you’ll pay the Off Peak rate for half your trip (leaving the U.S.) and the Peak rate for the other half.
All awards on Korean Airlines flights involve fuel surcharges, but the size of those surcharges varies a lot.
Below are the all-in taxes and surcharges for flights from the United States to each country Korean Airlines serves that you can book on awards starting in the U.S. Economy and Business Class awards are priced the same, and the amount you pay may vary slightly depending on which airport you depart from, but since all Korean Airlines awards involve only Korean Airlines flights, you’ll always transit Seoul prices won’t vary much.
Korea / Japan / Northeast Asia
Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam are the best deals for Korean awards, with taxes and fees that are below $200 roundtrip all-in.
Getting to Hong Kong or Taiwan for 125,000 miles roundtrip in Business Class at those prices is a steal, and even more so considering the great availability of Business Class award seats to SkyPass members.
No other program or airline can get you from Las Vegas to Bali in one stop for just 150,000 miles plus $160 in Business Class.
There are no change fees on Korean awards, and you can refund your award for a deduction of 10,000 miles.
One way bookings are allowed for half the price of a roundtrip, and on roundtrip awards you get two free stopovers, one in each direction, though that basically limits you to a stopover in Seoul since these award prices only apply to flights on Korean Airlines.
These features combined with outstanding award space and some reasonable surcharges make Korean Skypass awards for Business and First Class on Korean’s own flights an outstanding use of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
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