Sweet Spots of Korean Air SKYPASS Awards Sweet Spots of Korean Air SKYPASS Awards

Sweet Spots of Korean Air SKYPASS Awards

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There are plenty of reasons to love the Korean Air SKYPASS rewards program, and the main one as far as we're concerned is the number of sweet spots within the Korean Air SKYPASS award charts.

To understand the SKYPASS award program and potential sweet spots, there are a few things you should first know:

  1. Korean offers award rates at “Peak” and “Off” peak levels. Travel dates determine which rate applies to a given booking. Peak dates vary by year. Peak Dates for 2016 and 2017 are:

Korean Air SKYPASS Peak Dates 2016-2017

The actual number of peak dates is relatively small, particularly for travel from/to North America. It is important to keep in mind that Peak rates apply to both Korean awards on their flights and partner awards.

2. Korean allows one-way award bookings on their flights. However, partner bookings must be round-trip.

3. Korean has several award charts.

4. Korean is a member of the SkyTeam Alliance. They also have non-alliance partnerships with airlines such as Emirates and Alaska Airlines.

Korean Air SKYPASS Award Sweet Spots

Roundtrip SkyTeam Business Class Awards between North America and Europe

For only 80,000 Korean miles you can book a SkyTeam roundtrip business class award between North America and Europe. To put how good this rate is in perspective, consider that partner Delta (whose rates are on par with other airlines) requires 70,000 miles EACH WAY for business class awards between North America and Europe for travel in 2017 and beyond (62,500 miles for 2016 dates). Among the Korean SkyTeam partners that fly to Europe are Air France, Delta, KLM, Air Europa and Alitalia.

Roundtrip SkyTeam Business Class Awards between North America and Africa

Some airlines require close to 100,000 for one-way business class awards between North America and Africa. With Korean, only 120,000 miles are needed for a round-trip between these two regions. This rate is practically unbeatable for travel to South Africa and many other countries in Africa. Keep in mind, that same rate applies to travel between North America and the Middle East.

Round-Trip Delta Awards between North America and Hawaii

Korean is one of the very few airlines that includes Hawaii within the same region as the rest of North American. As a result, their award prices for roundtrip awards between North America and Hawaii with SkyTeam partner Delta are exceptional: 25,000 miles in economy class and 45,000 miles in business class/domestic first. For what it's worth, Korea's award prices for travel between North America and Hawaii with partners Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines are not bad, but not as good as the rates on Delta — you'll pay 30,000 miles in economy class and 60,000 miles in business class/domestic first with Alaska and Hawaiian.

Korean Air First Class Awards from North America to Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong and Northeast Asia

If you want to fly on Korean's excellent first class product from North America to Korea, Japan, China and Northeast Asia (Hong Kong, Irkutsk, Taipei, Ulaanbaatar, Vladivostok) or vice-versa, you will only have to redeem 80,000 miles each way to do so. Many popular rewards programs require more than 100,000 miles for such first class award itineraries. With Delta, you cannot even book first class awards.

Any Awards that Include at Least One Stopover

Korean is extremely generous when it comes to stopovers. While they will only allow one complimentary stopover on one-way awards on their flights (which can still be great if you are interested in visiting Seoul), they are one of the few airlines that allow TWO complimentary stopovers on roundtrip awards, including partner awards. As such, assuming you can take full advantage of these stopover rules, any Korean award that includes at least one stopover tends to be a great deal and an automatic sweet spot. If you can include two stopovers, even better.

Bottom Line

Keep the aforementioned itineraries in mind when considering award options. Even if you have never flown Korean Air before, you likely have access to tens of thousands of Korean miles thanks to their points-transfer partnerships with Marriott Rewards.

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  • Howie,

    I know this post is old, and things have probably changed a bit. However, I am sitting on a ton of SkyMiles through Delta and planned to use them for a family trip. I was shocked to see how bad the redemption rate has become since I last redeemed miles. What are my options for maximizing my miles? I had hoped to book a stellar international trip (NZ, Australia, Africa, etc). Can I convert to SkyPass? Any other options? Ugh. I’m so disappointed with Delta right now.

    • Yes, sadly Delta has really transitioned to a revenue-redemption-style of program. It’s hard to really get outsized value from SkyMiles. Most redemptions are around 1.2 cents each. You can sometimes get a slightly better redemption rate on partner business class award flights. Here’s the Delta award chart that we’ve compiled based on award searches. However, since Delta ditched its award chart, this is subject to change at anytime: https://awardwallet.com/blog/unofficial-delta-skymiles-award-chart-flights-us/

  • Howie, on the Korean site, assuming I am following instructions correctly, if I request a Business Class seat for a Delta flight from North America to Europe, and the site says there is nothing available, should I call Korean Air and request assistance? Especially if I see the Delta site showing Business Class availability? Thank you.

    • MV, Delta.com will show flights that are not available to Korean. Only the lowest priced flights (of which there may be none available from Delta) are available for Korean to book.

      I would suggest also searching AirFrance.us. If you don’t see it on Korean AND you don’t see it on AirFrance.us, I would be confident that you can’t use Korean miles for it.

      The reason for this is the general rule: If a seat is available for one partner to book it is available for all partners to book. So if Air France can book a Delta seat, Korean should be able to as well. Just because a Delta seat is available at Delta.com doesn’t mean Korean or Air France can book it.

      Make sense?

      You can, of course, try calling Korean, but remember, just because it says it is available at Delta.com doesn’t mean you can use Korean miles for it.

      Give this a read: https://awardwallet.com/blog/find-airline-partner-award-availability/

      • Howie:
        Thank you for suggesting airfrance.us. It worked out great. Please confirm if it is normal to see the exact same itineraries on DL flights costing $300 more in taxes using Korean Skypass miles vs. FlyingBlue miles. If yes, then it is great that Flying Blue is a transfer partner of both Thank You and Chase UR. Please let me know your thoughts.

  • I an sitting on a bunch of SkyMiles, but Delta’s awards chart to Europe is exorbitant. Is it possible to book these 80,000 miles Korea Air Skypass awards to Europe using SkyMiles? Or convert SkyMiles to Skypass somehow?

  • Erika Aresta says:

    Hello. I’m currently a delta SkyTeam member. I just lost my gold medallion status 🙁 I’m traveling to Vietnam and back on Korean Business prestige class. I am so sad that I do t get the full bonus or any bonus for that matter for flying business on my delta sky team mileage account.
    Do you think since I travel a lot with SkyTeam and I also love delta one products that I should for this trip , switch to a sky pass account instead and earn some miles plus a bonus with Korean air instead of trying to claim delta mileage? Last year I spent 220,000 delta miles to book delta one to Argentina from Hawaii and it has left a very sour taste in my mouth. My only concern is that if I plan to travel to Europe from hawaii via delta , I wo t accumulate proper miles on Korean 🙁 I’m so confused. I don’t know what to do. Get a chase sapphire and earn miles on Korean? Change my mileage on my Korean air flight to Vietnam from hawaii to sky pass from delta?
    Ugh !!!! Help please guru !!

    • For this trip specifically, I’d look at the site wheretocredit.com. It’ll help you identify where you should credit your miles to get the best value. As for going forward, earning Chase Ultimate Rewards is a great program to earn in due to the transferability of the points. Flexibility is key and you get that with Ultimate Rewards.

  • Wow, very solid redemption rates. Any easy way to accumulate Korean Air miles other than flying?

  • I see on KoreanAir’s award chart that first class round trip tickets from U.S. to Europe are 100,000 points with SkyTeam airline partners. Is it possible to book these flights as well through KoreanAir? Or only business class?