Korean Air SKYPASS Loyalty Program Review

Korean Air SKYPASS Loyalty Program Review

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Korean Air Summary Table

Branded and Partnered Credit Cards

While Korean Air used to provide top value for those with Chase Ultimate Rewards points, the ending of that partnership has resulted in Korean Air having only 1 flexible point program partner in Marriott Bonvoy.

Korean Air Credit Cards

US Bank offers the Korean Air co-branded credit cards, and the bank actually has a couple of good options.

The SKYPASS Visa Signature Card and the SKYPASS Visa Business Card both offer respectable sign-up bonuses as their public offer. You may also get lucky and be offered an elevated sign-up bonus in the mail.

Marriott Credit Cards

The easiest way for most people to earn Korean Air miles is to put your spend on Marriott credit cards.

What’s great about earning Marriott points is that you’ll receive a 5,000-point bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points that you transfer directly to an airline partner like Korean Air.

Marriott points transfer to most airlines at a 3:1 ratio, so 60,000 Marriott points become 25,000 Korean Air miles with the 5,000-point bonus (60,000 / 3 = 20,000 + 5,000 = 25,000)

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Card - earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Get automatic silver elite status each account anniversary year; and a free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - earn 75,000 bonus points (terms apply). A solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Business Card, click here.

Other Hotel Partner Credit Cards

Transfer ratios from other hotels like Hilton or Hyatt typically yield horrendous value, so we don’t recommend earning Korean Air miles in this way.

The only reason to transfer points from a hotel program to Korean Air is if you’re either in a bind or are looking to top off an account for a specific redemption.

Korean Air Overview

Korean Air is one of the 2 major South Korean airlines, the other being Asiana Airlines.

The airline operates out of 2 hubs in Incheon International Airport and Gimpo International Airport, and is a founding member of the SkyTeam Alliance.

Korean Air’s customer service and hard product typically receive positive reviews and are one of the many reasons U.S. travelers utilize the program. It also helps that Korean Air business class and first class are great ways to fly across the Pacific.

Members in the SKYPASS program earn elite status in 2 ways:

  • Flying a certain number of miles on either Korean Air or a SkyTeam partner airline flight.
  • Flying a certain number of segments, all of which must be on Korean Air.

With its SkyTeam membership, customers with Korean Air miles can not only book a Korean Air award flight, but can also book an award flight on a SkyTeam partner like Delta.

Frequent flyer members can also use miles towards other items like car rentals and hotel stays, but you’ll typically receive the most value by using your miles to book an award flight.

Bottom Line: All in all, the SKYPASS program is great to use if you’re interested in leveraging the SkyTeam network or flying in a Korean Air premium cabin.

Joining SKYPASS

Like most airline programs, the Korean Air frequent flyer program is free. Simply complete this application and you’ll be ready to go.

With a SKYPASS membership, you’ll be able to earn and redeem miles for an award flight, among other program benefits.

How to Sign in to Your SKYPASS Account

You’ll head to koreanair.com and fill in your user ID or SKYPASS number and password to log in to your account.

Korean Air Login Screen
Korean Air login screen. Image courtesy of koreanair.com

Hot Tip: Like many other airline search engines, Korean Air requires you to sign in to your account to search for Korean Air or SkyTeam award availability. 

Viewing Your Account Activity

If you want to check out your account activity, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your account
  2. Click My Dashboard at the top right
  3. Click View Mileage Details 
  4. Click View Mileage Details again
  5. Select the search period that you want

Points Expiration

Mileage earned in the SKYPASS program on or after July 1, 2008, is valid for 10 years and will expire if the miles are not used. Mileage earned on or before June 30, 2008 will not expire.

The 10-year mileage expiration is based on the date of the Korean Air flight taken, except for flights with partner airlines — this validity period is based on the date the miles posted to the member’s account.

Korean Air SKYPASS Program

SKYPASS Elite Status

Korean Air Elite Member Status
Korean Air elite member status. Image courtesy of koreanair.com.

Members in the SKYPASS program have 3 tiers of elite status: Morning Calm Club, Morning Calm Premium Club, and Million Miler Club.

Morning Calm Club: The lowest elite tier available in the Korean Air program comes with the following perks:

  • Additional checked baggage allowance
  • Access to the Korean Air Prestige Class lounge (up to 4 times over 2 years)

Morning Calm Premium Club: SKYPASS middle elite tier where members receive these benefits:

  • All Morning Club benefits plus:
  • Off-peak mileage redemption pricing during peak season dates

Million Miler Club: The highest elite tier in the program provides its members with the following perks:

  • All Morning Club Premium Club benefits plus:
  • Waived award ticket change fees
  • Special gift

Bottom Line: Korean Air offers limited benefits to elite members, all of which can be found on the SKYPASS Benefits page.

Value of SKYPASS Elite Status

The Korean Air program is pretty slim in terms of elite benefits, even at the top tier.

What you need to ask yourself is if the benefits offered align with what’s most important to you when you travel.

If you decide elite status within the SKYPASS program makes sense, I’d recommend focusing on the Morning Calm Premium Club tier to open up off-peak pricing during peak travel dates.

Bottom Line: All in all, you’ll likely be able to find more value with elite status in another program. 

Earning SKYPASS Elite Status

Korean Air Elite Tier Qualification
Korean Air elite tier qualification. Image courtesy of koreanair.com.

The SKYPASS program keeps it simple in the way that elite status is earned in the program.

Korean Air uses a mileage or segment qualification for its lowest tier, and then only uses a mileage requirement for its 2 upper tiers.

What makes the upper tiers unique is that you earn lifetime status once you fly the required number of miles.

In the case of Morning Calm Premium Club (middle tier), members earn lifetime status after flying 500,000 miles on Korean Air and/or a SkyTeam partner airline.

For the Korean Air Million Miler Club, members qualify for lifetime status after flying 1 million miles on Korean Air and/or a SkyTeam partner airline.

In addition to earning elite status by flying, Korean Air credit cards also provide an avenue toward qualifying for elite status.

Both the personal and business credit cards earn miles that count toward Morning Calm Club status, but the 2 upper elite tiers don’t let you qualify in this way.

Bottom Line: Members can earn elite status by flying a certain number of miles or segments, or through the miles that you can earn from credit card spending.

How to Earn Korean Air Miles

After breaking off its partnership with Chase Ultimate Rewards, Korean Air is now down to 1 transferable point program: Marriott Bonvoy.

While it can be challenging to earn Marriott points relative to other programs, there are still a number of ways to accumulate these points for your next redemption!

Earning Miles Through Flying

The SKYPASS program determines the amount of miles that you earn for each flight based on the distance and the type of ticket that you book.

For example, a “W” economy ticket for a flight from Washington (IAD) to Seoul (ICN) will earn 6,944 Korean Air miles.

Korean Air provides a Mileage Accrual Chart for all of the routes that it flies. In addition, you can check out the Mileage Accrual Rate Class to see the earnings multiple for the ticket that you book.

SkyTeam partner airlines have a separate earning chart that you’ll find by scrolling down on the Mileage Accrual Chart page.

When you click on each airline partner, Korean Air will provide you with the earning rate based on the ticket class that you book.

Korean Air SkyTeam Partner Airlines Earn Chart
Korean Air SkyTeam Partner Airlines earning chart. Image courtesy of koreanair.com.

In addition to SkyTeam partners, Korean Air also has individual partnerships with non-SkyTeam partners.

The earning rates for airlines in this group can also be found by scrolling down the Mileage Accrual Chart page.

Korean Air Other Affiliated Carriers Earn Chart
Korean Air Other Affiliated Carriers earning chart. Image courtesy of koreanair.com.

Earn Miles With Credit Cards

US Bank has several personal and 1 business credit card as part of its co-branded partnership with Korean Air.

While Korean Air credit cards may seem the easiest way to accumulate points, you’re better off focusing your spending on Marriott, and also staying at Marriott hotels.

This is because the earning rate on Marriott credit cards is higher, and you’ll receive a 5,000-point bonus for every 60,000 points that you transfer from Marriott to Korean Air.

Earning Bonus Miles in Other Ways

With Korean Air being a major airline, members are provided with additional ways to earn miles that don’t require you to fly.

The first way that you can earn miles in this way is to follow the Korean Air Facebook and Twitter accounts, and also check out the Offers & Promotions Page for potential deals.

Korean Air also offers its members ways to earn miles through hotel stays, car rentals, or hosting an event at Marriott.

The last way to earn Korean Air miles is to use the Cyber SkyShop portal for your duty-free shopping.

Hot Tip: If you add your airline loyalty program to other services, you won’t also earn status points with these franchises — unless it’s a preferred car rental agency that has specifically partnered with the airline; this partnership acts as a sort of alliance between airline and rental agency.

How to Redeem Korean Air SKYPASS Miles

SKYPASS members have a few ways to redeem Korean Air miles, although the best way to use those miles is for an award flight.

The program has peak and off-peak pricing for Korean Air flights,  one set of pricing for SkyTeam, and individual pricing for other airline partners.

Korean Air Peak Season
Korean Air peak season. Image courtesy of koreanair.com.

When you are pricing out an award flight, it’s important to point out a couple of items.

The main thing you’ll want to know is that pricing shown on all of the award charts is round-trip. Korean Air flights can be booked one-way, but partner flights are always charged the round-trip price — so it never makes sense to book a one-way partner flight.

Once you have a handle on how to reference the award charts, you’ll want to keep in mind a few of the sweet spots within the award charts.

Two of the best values in the award charts can be found in the SkyTeam award chart and are as follows:

Hot Tip: In addition to these incredible opportunities, we have an entire post outlining the best ways to use Korean Air miles that I’d recommend checking out.

SkyTeam and Partner Awards

Korean Air utilizes multiple awards charts: one when flying on Korean Air, another when flying on a SkyTeam partner, and yet another when flying on a non-SkyTeam partner.

As you are going through the award search process, it’s important to reference the correct chart, all of which are linked below:

Booking Online

The SKYPASS program is good about showing all of its SkyTeam partner award flights, though the website is extremely slow and you have to search round-trip.

On the flip side, Korean Air award flights can be searched one-way, making the search process for these flights bearable.

As a general rule, you’ll want to use these guidelines when searching for award flights:

  • Search the Korean Air website for Korean Air flights
  • Use the Delta and/or Flying Blue websites for SkyTeam flights
  • Search the Alaska Airlines website for Alaska flights
  • Use the Etihad website for Etihad flights
  • Search the British Airways website for Japan Airlines flights

Hot Tip: If you’re looking for an airline partner that’s not listed above or you can’t find award space on the respective website, consider using Expert Flyer. 


Featured Image: Courtesy of Shutterstock

FAQ

What is the Korean Air SKYPASS program? Is it worth it? What are the benefits?

The Korean Air frequent flyer program is called SKYPASS, and it’s a free program that allows its members to earn miles and elite status, as well as use miles toward an award flight.

Elite status is earned by flying a certain number of segments or miles, with the upper 2 elite tiers only allowing you to qualify by number of miles flown.

Benefits within the elite program are light and hard to compare to other major airlines (there simply aren’t that many benefits).

Korean Air is a founding member of the SkyTeam Alliance. What this means is that you can use your miles to not only fly on Korean Air flights, but also SkyTeam partner airline flights.

In SKYPASS, who are the partners? Can I transfer miles to them?

There are a few travel partners in the SKYPASS program that provide members with the opportunity to either earn or use miles for things other than flying.

With respect to earning Korean Air miles, you can earn them from flying, credit card spending, car rentals, hotels, hosting an event, or the shopping portal.

Members also have the ability to use miles for award flights, lounge access, and upgrades.

As is the case with all airlines, you can’t transfer Korean Air miles to an airline partner, but you can use Korean Air miles to fly on Korean Air or a partner airline.

What is the Korean Air SKYPASS login?

Access your Korean Air account by logging in online.

Where can I sign up for SKYPASS?

Membership in the SKYPASS program is free by completing this application.

What is my SKYPASS number?

You can find your SKYPASS number by signing in to your account, on your membership card, or through a variety of marketing emails they send to you.

If you can’t find it there, try using the “forgot my password” tool to reset your account so you can get in. Alternatively, try calling the customer service desk to find your number.

When do miles post in SKYPASS?

Korean Air miles will typically post within 7 days after the date of your travel.

When do SKYPASS miles expire?

Miles earned in the SKYPASS program on or after July 1, 2008, are valid for 10 years and will expire if the miles are not used.

Miles earned on or before June 30, 2008 will not expire. The 10-year mileage expiration period is based on the date of the Korean Air flight. However, the 10-year validity period for Korean Air partners is based on the date the miles posted to the member’s account.

When does SKYPASS status expire?

Morning Calm Club status is valid for 2 years, while Morning Calm Premium Club and Million Miler are lifetime status levels.

Is there an Korean Air credit card?

Yes! US Bank offers several personal and 1 business Korean Air credit card.

Can you hold an award flight with Korean Air?

As of today, there’s conflicting information on whether Korean Air will hold an award flight. The online function to hold an award flight seems to have been removed, however, you may try your luck with a Korean Air phone agent.

Michael McHugh

About Michael McHugh

Michael grew up in Mobile, AL and took his first international trip to the Caribbean in 2013. From then on, he was hooked. After that trip, Michael has continued traveling both domestically and internationally —primarily with constant travel companion wife, Ashlee, who runs her own travel/style and contracts blog.

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2 comments

  1. Can I join Korean Air’s Skypass program then and transfer Marriott points into it so I can use their Skypass program to book on a partner or non-partner affiliate airline? Or do I have to fly Korean Air and use those points which were earned by flying on their airline?
    Thank you-

    • Stephen Au · February 24, 2019 · Reply

      Hey Maureen,

      You can’t transfer Korean Air miles into Marriott. You are not limited to using Skypass miles on Korean Air flights. You can use them on all of their partners, which include SkyTeam airlines and even Emirates!

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