How to Redeem Korean Air SKYPASS Miles

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Korean Air SKYPASS is one of our favorite frequent flyer programs. Over the last decade, we’ve seen continual consolidation in the U.S. rewards market, accompanied by a slow but steady decline in value of some of our favorite rewards currencies.

Over that same timeframe, Korean Air has been diligently chipping away at improving the SKYPASS frequent flyer program, adding new functionality and high-value redemption options, and working on providing a quality experience for its members. One of Marriott's 40+ airline partners, Korean SKYPASS offers some of the best first-class award availability of any airline and flies to more U.S. cities than any other Asian carrier.

SKYPASS does have its quirks and restrictions, but on the whole, it provides top-value redemptions across a number of quality destinations. Members can transfer high-value, flexible rewards currencies to redeem for awesome experiences — these are the hallmarks of a quality rewards program.

Korean Air SKYPASS

We've covered our favorite sweet spots with Korean, and delivered our top 10 reasons to consider booking SKYPASS awards in previous posts. This post will focus on how to book awards using the Korean Air SKYPASS website, which partner awards can be booked online and which require you to call a Korean reservations agent, and the rules for using SKYPASS miles when booking Korean, SkyTeam, and other partner awards from the likes of Alaska, American, Emirates, Etihad, and Hawaiian Airlines.

How to Redeem SKYPASS Miles for Korean Air Awards

Korean offers rewards outside redeeming miles for flights, but there is much better value in redeeming SKYPASS miles for award tickets. Redeeming miles with Korean Air is a straightforward process.

  • Log into your SKYPASS account at KoreanAir.com
  • Click on ‘Book a Flight’ in the main navigation menu
  • Select ‘Award Booking’ under the Award drop-down

korean-skypass-award-booking

  • Choose Domestic or International (domestic in this instance is flights within South Korea) —> Award Booking —> Korean Air Award
  • Choose from One WayRound TripMulti-City (Korean allows up to two stopovers per roundtrip and also permits open-jaw awards)
  • Select your Cabin Class and Passengers (linked as part of your Family Plan)
  • Click the “Find Flights’ button

jfk-seoul-korean-destination-selection

If award seats are available they will display on the next page. Select your preferred flight/s and if necessary click calculate.

jfk-seoul-korean-select-flights

The award cost + any taxes/fees will display in the bottom right of your page

Click ‘Continue’ to finalize your booking

Are There Restrictions on Korean Award Bookings?

It’s important to understand some of the rules when redeeming Korean SKYPASS miles, as they differ between Korean redemptions and SkyTeam redemptions.

  • You can only redeem award tickets for immediate family members, spouse, children, parents, siblings, parents-in-law, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandparents, and grandchildren. No boyfriend/girlfriend/romantic interest/work buddy allowed. This is one of the more restrictive elements of Korean’s frequent flyer program.
  • Korean does offer holds on both Korean and partner awards but you will need to call the reservations line (1-800-438-5000) to hold the tickets, giving you the time to transfer points from other programs if necessary. Traditionally, Korean offers longer holds on its own award tickets than those of partner airlines, but we've had SkyTeam partner awards held for 6+ months!
  • Infants in-lap on Korean cost 10% of the award fare paid by the parent, but you’ll pay full price if traveling on partners.
  • You can book one-way, round-trip, and multi-city awards, open jaw flights at the destination, and up to two stopovers per round trip on Korean (one each way).
  • Partner awards must be booked roundtrip but you are allowed up to one stopover each way.
  • You can use Family Pooling of miles between registered family members for awards on Korean but not on partners.
  • Rather than blackout dates for peak load times, Korean uses peak season rates (not available on SkyTeam partners), see the image below.

korean-skypass-peak-season-chart

Redeeming Korean SKYPASS Miles on SkyTeam Partners

Korean used to be known as much for the difficulty of booking partner awards as for the value of its redemptions. But that all changed at the start of 2017 with an overhaul of the Korean website which now allows for members to book awards on SkyTeam partners.

korean-skypass-partner-award-chart

The process for booking a partner award is almost identical to redeeming on Korean, however, click on the ‘SkyTeam Award' button at the top of the city/cabin class selection page.

korean-partner-destination-selection

Again, you can see the available award flights on the next page. Select your flights, press Calculate, and you could be on your way to Hawaii for just 25,000 miles round-trip!

la-hawaii-korean-partner-award-flight-selection

Redeeming Korean SKYPASS Miles on Non-SkyTeam Partners

Korean also offers partner awards on non-alliance partners:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • Emirates
  • Etihad
  • GOL
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Jet Airways

korean-skypass-non-alliance-partners

These partner awards can't be searched for, or booked, on the Korean website. You’ll need to search for award availability elsewhere (for example AlaskaAir.com), then call the Korean reservations line on 1-800-438-5000 to book the award tickets.

The rules are different again for non-alliance partner awards, with mileage rates, fees, and charges changing from airline to airline.

  • No infant and child mileage discounts
  • Departure and arrival cities must be in the same country
  • Itinerary must consist of single airline, codeshare flights not applicable
  • Only direct flights can be flown between origin and destination with the exception of Alaska Airlines and GOL
  • Partner Airlines Award is valid only for a round-trip.
  • Family Plan or pooled miles can be used
  • Open-jaw travel is applicable once at the destination

Searching Korean Air SKYPASS Award Availability

One of the frustrations members can encounter when booking Korean awards is the booking gate only shows award availability for the date searched. There is no calendar search in the booking gate itself displaying award availability.

There is, however, an ‘Award Seat Availability‘ button found directly under the Award Booking drop-down. Why this function wasn't tied to the award booking process when the website was revamped, we'll never know. As it stands, the award search and booking functions are separate and that is one of Korean's quirks members must learn to live with.

korean-skypass-search-award-availability

Increasing Your SKYPASS Miles Balance

Part of the value in Korean Air SKYPASS come from its U.S. transfer partner, Marriott, which allows members to transfer points earned on some of our favorite rewards-earning credit cards like those listed below:

You can also earn points via the Korean Air co-branded cards offered by US Bank, which earn up to 2 SKYPASS miles per dollar spent on Korean Air purchases.

Final Thoughts

Following Korean’s website updates, booking award travel on Korean and SkyTeam partners is a fairly straightforward process. Rules surrounding Family Pooling and registering immediate family members can be hard to understand at first, but Korean has a page dedicated to registering family members on its website, and the agents on the Korean reservation line are knowledgeable and more than willing to walk you through the process.

For a handpicked selection of top value redemptions using SKYPASS miles, see our post on Korean sweet spots. And if you have any questions regarding booking Korean awards, let us know in the comments!

How to Redeem Korean Air SKYPASS Miles
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Comments

  • Excellent resource!! Have seen the decent reward charts from Korean but have never managed to jump in…

  • This is one of the few programs I haven’t flown actually, though I’ve always heard great things. The stars just haven’t aligned as of yet.

  • Thanks, I’ve been wanting to look more into Skypass miles.

  • I have been looking into this program for a while. Perhaps next year.

  • Adam Parsons says:

    Wow, what a great step by step Tutorial in this article for redeeming. May have to take a closer look now.

  • Jacqueline Parsons says:

    Got to second the above comment. Looks like it’s time to take a closer look at sky miles for use on Korean!

  • Binita Patel says:

    Definitely interesting and something to consider – always wanted to fly Korean first class!

  • Carrier imposed surcharges seem steep for partners. $250 on Delta for economy class to Europe. Tough to justify when that is half the rate of a coach ticket nowadays. $600 ish for a Delta One ticket plus 80k is not too bad for a 3-5k seat.

  • Had I not found this, I would have continued to think it was impossible to book partner awards on Korean. Thank you for putting up this clear post!

  • Very nice info, will be useful when i go to asia next time

  • It’s really unfortunate KE doesn’t allow one-way tickets for Skyteam award tickets.
    One-way award tickets would have been very sweet.

  • Any credit card with from Korean Air with sign up bonuses offered in US?!

  • Seems like this would be a great use of Chase Ultimate Rewards Points. Thanks for the great info.

  • Thanks, I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about this program.

  • With so many Chase UR this could be helpful for getting us to Asia.

  • Love that you can book Hawaii on DL for 25k round trip. Nice that it’s online now, too.

  • thank you for the info

  • Prashant Gangwal says:

    Good info – would love to try Korean air soon!

  • A great value. I really dig their booking system and flexibility.

  • That spouse clause concerns me. We are common law, but my partner and I aren’t “legally” spouses. Would hate to lose miles over a technicality.

    • I had to email over a copy of my marriage license, so I suspect you’d have a problem.

      • Wow, hadn’t realized that… Still, an easy work around would be to just book tickets from separate accounts. Sure you’d be on different PNRs, but those can always be linked. I’ve done that many times. And if transferring points from, say Chase, the only restriction on transferring points is having the same address.

  • great stuff!

  • I’ve never tried using Korean miles before, but your article has inspired me to try next time I have a Star Alliance award to book. Thank you!

  • The spouse rule is funny. My wife has her maiden name for work purposes. Seems like bureaucracy to have to send in marriage certificates!

  • Awesome! Keep the tips on redeeming miles coming. I’m doing great at earning them; just not sure I’m redeeming them at their fullest potential. Award wallet rocks!!

  • KE’s program is pretty clutch, just wish the AS flights to Hawaii were 25k like DL.

  • Pandabear says:

    When I tried booking I couldn’t complete the process so I had to call customer service and they have to call you back. Anyways there was no availability whatsoever for flights to Hawaii in all of 2017. I was calling in January. So while this sounds great. There simply is no availability.

  • Savannah Lawrence says:

    I am trying to search for flights from Albuquerque to Kauai through Korean Air Skypass miles from transferring Chase UR. Every time that I search, it says “We are unable to find recommendations for your search.

    You can search more detailed skyteam flight schedule through Flight Finder menue in Skyteam website (Open in new window) .

    You will be redirected to the search page to modify search criteria and view flight result again.”. Am I doing something wrong? Please let me know. Thanks!

  • Dianne Walker says:

    My experience was NOT like that in the tutorial. I joined the club but every time I entered an itinerary it alerted me that I would have to fly through Seoul. Even fron LAX to Hawaii!

  • I am trying to search for flights from Green Bay, WI to Honolulu through Korean Air Skypass miles from transferring SPG. Every time that I search, it says “We are unable to find recommendations for your search. You can search more detailed skyteam flight schedule through Flight Finder menu in Skyteam website (Open in new window). You will be redirected to the search page to modify search criteria and view flight result again.” Am I doing something wrong? Can Korean Air only be booked out of large cities? Please let me know. Thanks!

  • I tried booking through korean air site as above (award booking), however, no flights show up for me. I’m flying out of NYC area and chose JFK and LGA and nothing shows. Trying to get to hawaii. Any advise?

  • It seems the Award Seat Availability search has changed unless I’m missing something. It is still making me choose a particular date for departure and return so it’s only searching 1 date and it doesn’t have the note about 361 days underneath like your screenshot shows. Am I missing something?

  • Yes, that’s where I went before. It makes you pick a specific date, I guess I thought you were saying this search allowed you to search multiple dates or s range of dates?

  • Thanks for the excellent tutorial. Here is my problem: I need to get to Hawaii in late July- am I out of luck for using award points? Hopeful for Southwest avails, but don’t want to put all my eggs in that basket. Any help would be appreciated!

  • jeffrey san says:

    hi, it does not allow me to check booking from SFO to Honolulu, can you help.

  • Hi Howie,

    My wife and I just used a companion ticket to LAX and moved my chase points to get two tickets to HNL to match our planned dates of travel just as you had described! The skypass tickets are operated through Delta, I don’t see an option to pick my seats, will that not be available until check in? Also as silver medallion, would I be able to use that even though it’s a korean air ticket operated by delta? Any advice will help, thanks!

    • Bryan, you can call Korean to get your Delta confirmation # or you can actually call Delta to get your confirmation as well. Additionally, you can center your SkyMiles number on the ticket and then make a complimentary seat selection. The fact that Korean issued the ticket will have no impact on your ability to do this. Enjoy the trip!

  • I have conducted multiple searches with much success on Korean Air’s Skypass website. I’m able to select the flights that I want (flying Detroit to Maui at the end of March) and I’m able to click “calculate.” It correctly amounts to 50K points for myself and my husband, which to me, means it’s available. I’m much too afraid to actually transfer my chase UR points to Korean Air prior to being certain there are available seats, so I’ve called the customer service line to reserve the itinerary that shows in the results. They continue to tell me there is nothing available, even though I’m seeing the flights right in front of me. Am I out of luck? What gives?

  • Great resource, thanks! Would I just transfer points from the Chase Sapphire Reserve to Korean Airlines to book tickets?

  • While this is great resource, there are many long layovers from Seattle to Hawaii. Hopefully this changes soon in the near future.

  • When booking an award flight from MSY to ICN in business how does KE calculate the award ticket. Would the positioning flight segment be priced separately or would that be included into the 62,500 each way for a total of 125,000. Thanks in advance

  • Thank you for the clear tutorial, I have two main questions that I do not see covered in the article or in the comments. I am booking a trip for me and my parents using Chase Points transferred to Korean Air. 1) Would I need to create Korean Air accounts for my parents separately in order to book their flights? 2) If I find a flight that does not appear on searches on their site but is available on Flight Finder in Skyteam website, would I be able to call Korean Air to book that flight? And does Korean Air charge a booking fee if I call in? Thank you for your advice!

    • Jenny, everyone doesn’t need a SKYPASS account, however, you must submit the family paperwork and proof of relationship to redeem your miles for them. If you don’t find availability online you should absolutely call, however, flight finder on the SkyTeam website doesn’t show availability. So, while you may see a flight on the site, it doesn’t mean you can use miles for that flight as each flight is capacity controlled. As for phone booking fees, there are none.

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