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Korean Skypass changes award chart April 1 (Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner)

by on Thu September 12, 2013 • 2 Comments
Part of Korean's new partner award chart

Part of Korean’s new partner award chart

Korean Airlines’ Skypass program is changing its award charts effective April 1st, 2014 though if you book before then, even with dates after April 1st the prior award levels still apply. Why would changes to a Korean frequent flyer program matter?

Because it is a point transfer partner with Chase Ultimate Rewards, so if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Plus® or Bold Business Card this is one of  your options for using your points.

Skypass is a SkyTeam member, which gives you access to Delta, Air France, KLM, Alitalia, and other airlines with your Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

There are changes for most regions, but for trips that go to and from the U.S., the changes primarily increase the mileage cost for business and first class awards to Asia. These are for flights that involve SkyTeam partners like Delta and tickets that involve a mix of Korean Air flights with partner SkyTeam flights, such as Boston to New York (Delta) to Seoul (Korean).

Korean is also getting rid of discounted business and first class awards on flights that don’t have lie-flat seats, which isn’t much of a change since most flights to the U.S. on Korean already have lie-flat seats.

Here are the changes relevant to U.S. based tickets:

Awards with a SkyTeam partner to / from U.S.

Northeast Asia (Korea, Taiwan, East Russia, Mongolia, Japan, China, Hong Kong)

  • Business Class goes from 120,000 to 140,000 miles, and First Class from 160,000 to 180,000 miles

Southeast Asia (Brunei, Cambodia, Guam, Indonesia, Laos, Macau(MO), Malaysia(MY), Myanmar, Philippines, Saipan, Singapore, Thai, Vietnam, Palau Islands)

  • Business Class goes from 135,000 miles to 155,000 miles and First Class from 180,000 miles to 200,000 miles

Southwest Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Central Russia)

  • Business Class goes from 150,000 miles to 170,000 miles and First Class from 210,000 miles to 230,000 miles

South Pacific (American Samoa, Australia, Fiji Islands, French Polynesia, Independent Samoa, Kiribati, Tonga, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu)

  • Business Class goes from 165,000 miles to 185,000 miles and First Class from 240,000 miles to 260,000 miles

Latin America South (Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Paraguay)

  • Business Class goes from 90,000 miles to 110,000 miles

Click here for the Korean SkyTeam partner award chart effective April 1, 2014

Awards only on Korean Airlines

  • Korean used to charge fewer miles for business class awards that weren’t on lie-flat seats. Now that most of their flights are on lie-flat seats all awards will be charged at the ‘sleeper’ seat mileage level, which is unchanged from its prior level.
  • For example, a roundtrip business class ticket from the U.S. to Korea is 125,000 miles off-peak, 185,000 miles during peak times.

Click here for the Korean Airlines award chart effective April 1, 1014

What the changes mean

These coming changes eliminate a disconnect in the old reward chart where flights that involved a partner priced out cheaper than a Korean Airlines only itinerary, even if Korean was one of the segments. For example, at 120,000 miles the prior U.S. to North Asia partner award was  less than the 125,000 for a Korean Airlines only award. Now it will be more expensive than the Korean-only option at 140,000 miles.

For Ultimate Rewards users Asia rewards on Korean weren’t the best deal – United has better availability overall. But Korean’s luxurious First Class availability is pretty generous so the increase does hurt if that’s what you were after.

And relations between Delta and Korean Airlines have become as rocky over the last year, with cuts to mileage earning on paid tickets, so these changes are all part of an overall distancing of Korean from its biggest SkyTeam partner. They were first unveiled last December without much fanfare.

The good news is flights to Europe involving Air France, Delta, and Alitalia are unaffected, so you still have a good option to use your Ultimate Rewards points on SkyTeam flights, albeit with fuel surcharges that United doesn’t impose.

Related reading

U.S. gateways for SkyTeam partners

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2 thoughts on Korean Skypass changes award chart April 1 (Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner)

  1. Paulo Oliveira

    I have skymiles and would like to redeem on Korea Airlines flying LAX to BKK. What would you recommend?


      @Paulo – It’s a good option – will run you about 80,000 miles one way in Business Class, 40,000 in Economy Class.


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