Milecards

Advertiser Disclosure

Korean SkyPass cheat sheet for using your miles

by on Fri May 13, 2016 • 20 Comments
Google+TwitterFacebookEmailLinkedIn
koreanairlines

What airlines can you book?

Korean Airlines, as a SkyTeam member, benefits from the alliance’s earning and redemption network. Additionally, Korean Airlines has partnerships with a number of other carriers: Emirates, Etihad, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian, GOL, and Jet Airways.

A full list can be found here.

RegionAirlineWhere to search?
EuropeAeroflotAirfrance.us
South AmericaAerolineas ArgentinasAirfrance.us
North AmericaAeroMexicoAirfrance.us
EuropeAir EuropaAirfrance.us
EuropeAir FranceAirfrance.us
EuropeAlitaliaAirfrance.us
AsiaChina AirlinesAirfrance.us
AsiaChina EasternAirfrance.us
AsiaChina SouthernAirfrance.us
EuropeCzech AirlinesAirfrance.us
North AmericaDeltaAirfrance.us or delta.com
AsiaGaruda IndonesiaAirfrance.us
AfricaKenya AirwaysAirfrance.us
EuropeKLMAirfrance.us
Middle EastMEAAirfrance.us
Middle EastSaudiaAirfrance.us
EuropeTAROMAirfrance.us
AsiaVietnam AirlinesAirfrance.us
AsiaXiamenAirAirfrance.us
North AmericaAlaska AirlinesAA.com
Middle EastEmiratesAlaskaAir.com
Middle EastEtihadEtihad.com
South AmericaGOLDelta.com
North AmericaHawaiianAA.com (intra-island/int'l routes only)
South AsiaJet AirwaysCall Korean Airlines Skypass

Note: Note that for non SkyTeam partner awards, you can’t mix and match airlines. Only one airline per partner award.

Also for most non Skyteam partners additional miles apply for additional segments. (Exception: Alaska Airlines and GOL awards let you fly more than one segment for the same price).

Where to search for award space

Korean Airlines flights can be searched and booked easily online. Without signing up for a Skypass account, one can go here and navigate to the ‘View Bonus Seat Award Availability’ section. After entering the details of the itinerary you want to search, a calendar view will come up. Blue dates are available, orange are unavailable, and white dates do not have a flight operating. If you want to do a more converntional search you can sign up for a free Skypass account, and read our overview of how to search for Korean award space.

Korean Airlines’ online booking tool does not allow members to search any partner award availability, be it SkyTeam or not. An excellent tool for searching SkyTeam partner awards is on Airfrance.us. If you don’t have a Flying Blue account, it only takes a few minutes to sign up, and it allows a comprehensive search of SkyTeam’s partner award availability.

Once partner award space has been found, you must call the Korean Airlines Skypass hotline to book. The call center may advise the need to call back while they check award space.

The US call center can be reached at: 1-800-438-5000

How much do awards cost?

Awards are priced based on the regions involved and whether or not it is a designated “Peak” season. Peak Awards are 50% costlier than standard awards.

A round-trip itinerary from the US to South Korea, Japan, China (incl Hong Kong), Taiwan, and the Russian Far East costs 70,000 miles in Economy Class, 125,000 in Business Class, and 160,000 in First Class. Travel during designated Peak periods costs 105,000 miles in Economy Class, 185,000 in Business Class, and 240,000 in First Class.

For a few more miles 85k/150k/190k, you can go to South East Asia. The costliest awards are to Oceania, at 110k/195k/240k.

Fuel surcharges vary significantly based on the final destination, and you can see a sampling here. An award flight from the United States to the Philippines will only incur $90 in charges, whereas flying to Fiji would cost $682. The lowest-surcharge destinations are Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. All are below $200 roundtrip all-in. Beware that Korean passes on fuel surcharges on all partners, including Delta flights to Europe. Flights within North and South America have no fuel surcharges.

One-way awards are available and cost one-half the round-trip prices quoted above.

The Korean Airlines award chart for its own flights can be found here.

SkyTeam Partner awards price out slightly to moderately higher than awards on Korean Airlines’ own flights.

Here are links to the partner airline award charts:

One should note the difference in what destinations are assigned to which award regions. The SkyTeam redemption region chart can be found here, while the Korean Airlines redemption region chart is here.

  • Significant differences include putting China/Hong Kong/Macau, Taiwan, and the Russian Far East in “Asia 2”, where redemptions cost 90k/155k/200k (Econ, Biz, 1st) for a round-trip versus Korean Airlines’ own 70k/125k/160k.
  • SkyTeam awards can be booked one-way, but the round-trip price will still apply.
  • An award booking on Emirates between the US and the Gulf (UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain) costs 70k/140k/210k round-trip, plus hundreds of dollars in surcharges. Beware that Emirates flights are charged by segment, so if you want to go beyond the Gulf you will pay for a second award.
  • An award on Etihad between the US/Canada and the UAE costs 70k/140k/210k round-trip, plus lesser surcharges than Emirates.
  • Awards on non-SkyTeam partners can only be booked as round-trips.
  • A Round-the-World award ticket is available for 140,000 miles in Economy Class and 220,000 in Business Class. Only flights Korean Airlines and SkyTeam partners are eligible for inclusion on a RTW itinerary.
  • Mixed cabin awards (first class one segment, economy the next segment) are challenging to book.

Award change and booking fees

Korean Skypass is among the most generous programs when it comes to changes and cancellations.

  • Change fee: None until August 1, 2017. 30,000 KRW after that (which is about $30 USD)
  • Cancellation fee: None if canclled within 12 months of the original ticket date (after August 1, 2017, there will be a 3,000 mile charge for refunds). 10,000 mile charge on refunds for tickets cancelled 12 months after original issuance.
  • Booking fee: None.

When are award seats made available?

Award seats can be booked 360 days from the date of departure.

Can you put awards on hold?

Korean Airlines allows members to put flights on hold, though not online. One would need to call. Its policy is very generous, though it seems to depend on the origin country and the time in between booking and departure. Generally partner awards can be held for about a week. Awards on Korean’s own flights can be held for much longer. Call and ask.

Can you waitlist awards and upgrades?

You can waitlist if the cabin you want isn’t available on a Korean Airlines flight. So for example if you want a Business Class award, but only Economy Class is available, you can confirm the Economy Class seat and but put on a waitlist in case Business opens up. You can request the waitlist by calling Korean, and you can check the status by logging into your reservation on the Korean website.

What stopovers are allowed?

Korean Airlines allows one stopover each way on its own awards. Korean Airlines’ rules are here.

SkyTeam awards permit one stopover per round-trip. SkyTeam stopover award regulations can be found here. Alaska, Jet Airways and GOL awards also allow a stopover.

What are the best award values?

Business Class flights between the US and Hong Kong for 125,000 miles and under $200 in surcharges are a steal. Bali is also an attractive option at 150,000 miles + $160 for those seeking a beach getaway.

Delta Air Lines award flights between the US Mainland and Hawaii require only 25,000 miles round-trip in Economy and 45,000 in Business/First, a relative bargain, especially from the East Coast.

A roundtrip to Tahiti from the US on Air France costs 60,000 miles in Economy and 90,000 in Business.

US to Hawaii on Alaska or Hawaiian Airlines for 30k roundtrip. They have lots of flights from the Mainland to Hawaii, making Skypass miles very useful for getting there. You also get a free stopover on Alaska Airlines itineraries, but you can’t mix and match airlines with these awards. You have to stick to all Alaska Airlines or all Hawaiian Airlines on each ticket.

Upgrades and how much they cost

Upgrades are available on revenue buckets J and C (Business Class) and Y, B, and M (Economy Class), the most expensive fare classes, making them out of reach for most leisure travelers.

Upgrades on Korean Airlines have both Peak and regular pricing. As for a standard award, Peak upgrades cost 50% more than a regular upgrade. Upgrading a round-trip ticket from the US to South Korea for Economy to Business or Business to First requires 80,000 miles, whereas Peak upgrades would cost 120,000 miles.

Only a single-cabin upgrade is permitted, so no jumping from Economy to First.

For example, an upgrade-eligible Economy ticket Los Angeles-Seoul in late May costs $2,441. The cheapest available Economy ticket costs $1,521.

A Business Class ticket in cash outright on Korean Airlines is just over $4,000, but a search of Business Class tickets on other airlines show reasonable itineraries (one brief stop) at a cost of $2,500 and up.

Given how “expensive” upgrades are on top of the cost of an upgrade-eligible ticket and price competition from other airlines, this is a poor value for mileage redemption.

More information on Korean Airlines upgrade awards can be found here.

SkyTeam upgrade awards (Economy to Business only) are available on Aeroflot, Aeromexico, Air France, China Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Saudia Airlines

Round the world

A Round-the-World award ticket is available for 140,000 miles in Economy Class and 220,000 in Business Class. Only flights Korean Airlines and SkyTeam partners are eligible for inclusion on a RtW itinerary.

Effectively, six stopovers are allowed: three on the journey and one in each “Area.” Area 1 is North/South America, Area 2 is Europe/Middle East/Africa, and Area 3 is Asia/Oceania.

Three transfers are allowed plus two in each Area.

The ticket must be continually East- or Westbound. Backtracking is not permitted. The Pacific and Atlantic can only be crossed once.

Round-the-World rules can be found here, and itinerary examples can be found here.

Alternative miles to book Korean Airlines flights

Delta SkyMiles (no fuel charges), Air France Flying Blue, and Alaska MileagePlan (no fuel charges) all offer easily accessible alternatives to book Korean Airlines flights.

What is a Korean Skypass mile worth?

We value Korean Skypass miles at about 3 cents each if you’re using them for international business or first class awards on Korean’s flights, thanks to very generous award availability and decent award prices. If you’re redeeming for flights to Hawaii, we value them at about 2 cents each, and for domestic flights about 1.5 cents each.

Credit Cards that earn Korean Skypass miles

Chase Ultimate Rewards allows members to transfer points for Korean Airlines Skypass miles, and while transfers are usually instant or same day, with Korean offering generous award holds, transfer times are not an issue.

Korean Airlines also offers 5 branded credit cards via US Bank.

A business card as well as four tiers of personal cards ranging from a Visa secured up to a Visa Signature card. As one might expect, the business and Visa Signature personal cards offer the best perks. Both offer 1 mile for every net $1 spent, no foreign transaction fee, double miles on Korean Air ticket purchases, 2 Korean Air VIP Lounge coupons each year, and 2,000 Bonus Miles at renewal.

Hotel points that transfer to Korean Skypass miles

Only Accor Le Club and Starwoods SPG allow members to convert points to Skypass miles.

  • Accor Le Club: 4,000 points converts to 2,000 miles.
  • SPG: Conversion at a rate of 1:1. Bonus of 5,000 per 20,000 points redeemed applies.

Can you book awards for others?

Awards can only be booked for those designated as family: you, your parents, your spouse or domestic partner, spouse’s/partner’s parents, and your children.

Designating family members involves scanning or uploading one of these documents: family register, resident registration, household register, marriage certificate, birth certificate or tax return.

Can you transfer miles?

Skypass does not permit mileage transfers

When do Skypass miles expire?

Miles earned on or after July 1, 2008 expire after 10 years from the date of posting. Miles earned before July 1, 2008 never expire.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Miles dont expireas long as card is open
Learn more

Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee, then $95

Annual Fee

$0

Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

Still confused? Have a question?

Leave a comment below -- we'll reply shortly -- no need to use your real name. Or, use the email form at the top of the page for private advice.

"These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered."

20 thoughts on Korean SkyPass cheat sheet for using your miles

  1. Sergio Turbay

    Hi,

    I have a question about redemptions…

    If I have an itinerary booked on first class from ICN to LAX on Korean F for 80,000 miles.

    Then if I decide to add lax-sfo segment on Delta does that mean now my itinerary will double on miles since it involves a sky team airline? Or will it remain the same.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  2. Danny

    I am interested in a one-way award from Tokyo to JFK with a stop in Seoul. I know I am allowed a stopover on an award ticket but am struggling to figure out how to search for this. Is there any way to search for an award ticket with a stopover online or do I have to call? Ideally I’d like to spend 3-5 days in Seoul.

    Reply
  3. John

    I’m looking at Europe to Asia 2 (Vietnam) roundtrip business is 115000 miles when using the Skyteam chart. Can any of the segments include Korean Air or do they need to be exclusively on Skyteam partner airlines?

    Reply
  4. HH

    I’m planning a trip from ATL to ANC this summer. This looks like it would be possible to use 20,000 Korean Air Skypass miles to book a roundtrip flight on Alaska Airlines. Is that correct? How would I go about finding availability and booking? Thanks for your help!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @HH – Yes you are right. Best to call Korean directly to check availability and put it on hold on 1-800-438-5000. Alternatively look on the AA.com site for awards that have Alaska Airlines flights to see dates that are available if you want to shortlist things for the phone agent.

      Reply
  5. Val

    Awesome post. Quick question – would this allow me to fly from NYC to TYO and then stopover in HNL on the way back for 125k points in business?

    Reply
  6. FM

    Are you sure that awards can’t be waitlisted? I think the page needs to be updated.

    I have a trip booked next month for two people where we’re confirmed in business but want to upgrade to F with only one seat available. The agent put the one remaining F seat on hold in one of the reservations and waitlisted the 2nd person’s reservation for award space to open up. I am logged in online and for each of us there’s a second/duplicate reservation in the account where one shows entirely and F and the 2nd one says “waitlisted” under the flight number.

    Reply
  7. FlyerDad

    It looks like one can book an award on Emirates in first class from SFO-JNB for 160,000 Korean SkyPass miles. Am I right about that? I suspect I’m misreading that because it would be an amazing deal (even better than Emirates using Alaska miles under the old chart). Thanks for your help.

    Reply
  8. Dan

    A quick question, I’m trying to use Airfrance.us to find flights from East Coast to Hawaii and the searches come up with nothing, but if I search on Delta, they are definitely there. Am I doing something wrong? If there are any economy seats on a flight to Hawaii on Delta, does that mean that I can use the Korean Air miles to fly it? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Dan – The issue is Delta has several award price levels, and only the lowest level is available to partners.

      Reply
  9. Joe

    Great post. Has something changed with Delta flights to Europe? I priced out an award on Delta metal using the Korean call center two months ago and they were charging almost $1000 in fuel surcharges

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Joe – Good eye – no just mixing it up with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and Flying Blue, which aren’t ‘frenemies’ like Korean / Delta.

      Reply
      1. Paddy

        Great writeup! I am facing a similar case with @Joe. I called Korean Skypass to book a roundtrip between Seattle and Paris. They were asking for $700/person for surcharges which is insane. Any workarounds of that? I don’t quite get it what you mean wrt Virgin Atlantic or Flying Blue.

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @Paddy – If you use Virgin Atlantic miles or Flying Blue miles you won’t pay a fuel surcharge when you use them to book Delta flights.

          Reply
          1. Paddy

            Ok let me try that. 80k redemption to EU is definitely a sweet spot for KE< but it won't justify the $700 surcharges.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *