Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
Reward nights start at 10,000 points. Free anniversary night (no points needed) good at any IHG hotel (Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, more).
$1,000 toward travel or transfer to United, Southwest, and more.
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.
|Region||Airline||Where to search?|
|South America||Aerolineas Argentinas||Airfrance.us|
|North America||Delta||Airfrance.us or delta.com|
|North America||Alaska Airlines||AA.com|
|North America||Hawaiian||AA.com (intra-island/int'l routes only)|
|South Asia||Jet Airways||Call Korean Airlines Skypass|
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).
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 conventional 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 also allows you to search for SkyTeam space. Just choose ‘SkyTeam Award’ when you start your search.
If you want to put an award on hold, or book a non SkyTeam partner, you’ll need to call Korean on 1-800-438-5000.
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.
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.
Korean Skypass is among the most generous programs when it comes to changes and cancellations.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Flights to Africa from the U.S. for 120,000 miles in Business Class plus about $600 in taxes and fees on Air France, which isn’t bad considering how long you’re flying, and decent award space even to South Africa.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Only Accor Le Club and Starwoods SPG allow members to convert points to Skypass miles.
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.
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