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10 Best Ways To Redeem Korean Air SkyPass Miles for Max Value [2017]

Korean Air 747

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Korean Air’s slogan is “excellence in flight.” Its elegant flight experience makes Korean one of the best airlines to travel with, no matter which cabin you choose. From the guava juice in economy to the refreshing Jeju water spray bottles in business class, flying Korean is a delight.

The airline’s bibimbap (a popular Korean dish meaning “mixed rice”) is one of the best and healthiest meals anywhere in the sky.

Korean Air’s SKYPASS frequent flyer program allows you to earn miles and redeem for flights on Korean, Sky Team partners, and additional partner airlines such as Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines.

Serving 45 countries from its hub at Incheon International Airport, Korean Air is a must for world travelers.

Below you’ll find some of the best uses for your Korean Air SKYPASS miles, all of which will allow you to experience this excellent airline in style.

The 10 Best Ways To Redeem Your Korean Air SKYPASS Miles

If you’re ready to redeem Korean miles, then you’ve got plenty to look forward to. The following redemptions will take you to Korea, the Virgin Islands, Australia, and more!

Find something that inspires you, book your award ticket, and enjoy the ride.

1. U.S. to South Korea in First Class (Korean Air)

Korean Air First Class
Experience Korean Air First Class at 80,000 miles for a one-way ticket, with flights departing from many major U.S. cities. Image courtesy of kr.koreanair.com

One of the best ways to use Korean miles is through Korean Air first class, which is an excellent product that’s often easily available.

You’ll likely find flights from Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Honolulu, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington.

This ticket runs 80,000 miles one-way, which is a great value by international first class standards! Getting to Southeast Asia increases the cost to 95,000 miles, or you can go to Australia for 120,000 miles.

2. Free Seoul Stopover (Korean Air)

Korean Air Business Class
Korean Air business class service is a precision flight experience. Image courtesy of kr.koreanair.com.

Flying Korean Air, you have a free stopover of up to a year on a one-way award. Stop to enjoy Seoul for as long as you like before continuing on your journey!

SkyTeam partners need to be booked on a round-trip ticket, though you still can have 1 stopover.

3. U.S. to Australia With Great Award Availability (Korean Air)

Awards to Australia are among the hardest to get on most airlines. However, Korean Air award availability is great, so you can often get to Australia even on short notice.

An economy ticket is 55,000 miles one-way, which is a tad high compared to competition. But one-way tickets in business at 97,500 or first at 120,000 are comparable to competitors who generally have much less award availability.

You can also look for award space on Korean Air’s Asian partners for additional availability, especially during peak periods when awards on Korean Air increase in price.

SkyTeam partners need to be booked round-trip, and will cost 110,000/185,000/260,000 in economy/business/first.

4. U.S. to Hawaii, Mexico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico for 25,000 Miles (Delta)

An award ticket from the continental U.S. to Hawaii is a great value at 25,000 miles round-trip in economy, saving you 5,000-10,000 miles compared to most U.S. programs. This price is the same for flights from the U.S. to Mexico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

Hot Tip: In December 2016, Korean Air finally added Delta Air Lines and most other SkyTeam partner routes to its website for online award booking. The website doesn’t have everything, though, so it is still good to call if you can’t find the award you want.

5. U.S. to Hawaii in New Lie-Flat Business Class (Hawaiian Airlines)

Hawaiian Airlines
Experience great value flying Hawaiian Airlines with their new lie-flat business class. Image courtesy of hawiianairlines.com

Hawaiian Airlines is rolling out new lie-flat business class on its long-haul routes, but award space is hard to find.

At only 60,000 frequent flyer miles round-trip from the continental U.S., this ticket is worth the hunt! Economy is only 30,000 miles.

6. Fly Around the U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii for Cheap (Alaska Airlines)

Korean SkyPass has multiple partners to get you to Hawaii, where you can experience these beautiful islands in person! Image courtesy of hawaii.com.

Korean Air partners with Alaska Airlines for good values on their long flights, including U.S. transcontinental routes like New York to Seattle.

First class is 40,000 miles round-trip within the continental U.S., or 60,000 to Hawaii. You can also get to the farthest north reaches of Alsaka and enjoy a stopover to visit 2 destinations.

For short-distance flights, you can often get better value using Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan or British Airways Executive Club to book those Alaska Airlines flights.

7. U.S. to Tahiti (Air France)

Los Angeles to Tahiti on Air France is a special value at 60,000/90,000 miles round-trip in economy/business. Too bad you can’t redeem SKYPASS miles for Air France first class – for that you need to be an Air France elite and use Flying Blue miles.

8. U.S. to Europe for Few Miles (Delta and European SkyTeam Airlines)

At just 80,000 miles round-trip from the U.S. to Europe in business, this is one of the cheapest miles prices anywhere to cross the Atlantic. In comparison, Delta SkyMiles now charges 125,000 miles for the same ticket.

The difference? You’ll pay several hundred dollars in fuel surcharges, so decide whether you value miles or cash more.

Economy is 50,000 frequent flyer miles compared to the typical 60,000, but fuel surcharges quickly overwhelm the mileage savings here.

9. U.S. to Southern South America (Delta, AeroMexico, and Aerolineas Argentinas)

Korean Air has only 1 region for all of South America, creating good values to Southern South America where other programs would charge a premium.

Even better, with AeroMexico, you can have a stopover on your way down; perhaps you fancy time in Buenos Aires on your way to Patagonia?

From the U.S., this redemption costs 50,000/110,000 miles round-trip in economy/business.

For instructions on how to book Delta One flights, check out our easy to use instructions.

10. U.S. to Abu Dhabi in First Class (Etihad)

Etihad First Class
Etihad first class is an experience you don’t want to miss; luxury at its finest! Image courtesy of etihad.com

The partner award chart for Etihad prices per segment, not per direction, so your best value is the Etihad non-stop routes to Abu Dhabi from Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington.

These are a reasonable 70,000/140,000/210,000 round-trip in economy/business/first with no fuel surcharges.

SKYPASS also partners with Dubai-based Emirates and charges the same price for U.S. to Dubai, but hefty fuel surcharges reduce the value.

Need help booking? See our step by step guide for booking Etihad first class.

Earn Korean Air SKYPASS Miles

The quickest way to earn Korean Air miles is through credit cards, but there are many other ways to earn Korean miles too.

US Bank Korean Air Credit Cards

Korean Air has several credit cards in the U.S. issued by US Bank. These aren’t the only way to earn lots of Korean miles, however.

Korean Air Credit CardEarned Miles
SKYPASS Visa® Business Card1 mile for every eligible $1 spent
SKYPASS Visa Signature® Card1 mile for every eligible $1 spent
SKYPASS Visa Classic® Card1 mile for every eligible $1 spent
SkyBlue SKYPASS Visa® Card1 mile for every eligible $2 spent
SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card1 mile for every eligible $1 spent

While these will boost your frequent flyer miles directly, we recommend using flexible point rewards cards in order to collect points more quickly!

Chase Ultimate Rewards Credit Cards

You’ll have greater flexibility by earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points with the 6 credit cards below. Not only can you earn points for your everyday purchases, but you can earn a big chunk of points with the sign-up bonus on each of the cards.

Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to Korean SKYPASS at a 1:1 ratio (minimum transfer of 1,000 reward points to 1,000 miles). You’ll have flexibility to use them elsewhere as well.

Loyalty ProgramCredit Card Review
Chase Ultimate Rewards Program ReviewChase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card
Chase Freedom®
Chase Freedom Unlimited℠
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Chase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Credit Cards

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Starpoints also transfer to Korean Air SKYPASS at a 1:1 ratio. Plus, for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred in the same transaction, you get 5,000 bonus miles!

The Starwood credit cards don’t earn as many points for everyday purchases, but typically have a decent sign-up bonus to capitalize on.

Loyalty ProgramCredit Card Review
Starwood Preferred Guest Loyalty ProgramStarwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
 Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

Using the Korean Air SKYPASS Frequent Flyer Program

How to Join SKYPASS

Become a SKYPASS member by signing up for free here.

Award Booking Guidelines

One-way travel is permitted on Korean Air flights only, and you can get a free stopover!

Partner awards require round-trip travel, though you can still get 1 free stopover.

How Much Do Flight Awards Cost?

Korean Air award space is priced by award chart, award region, and peak season.

SkyTeam partner awards are subject to their own terms and award charts by region:

SkyTeam Award Regions
Asia 1SkyTeam Bonus Central America
SkyTeam Bonus Asia 2SkyTeam Bonus South America
SkyTeam Bonus Asia 3SkyTeam Bonus Europe
SkyTeam Bonus OceaniaSkyTeam Bonus Africa
SkyTeam Bonus North AmericaSkyTeam Bonus Middle East

Hot Tip: You can now use the Korean Air website to search many partner awards. Not every partner or route is listed, so call or chat with with Korean Air if you don’t find what you want online.

Additional airline partners also have their own award terms:

Fuel surcharges are added to awards and can range greatly by route and airline. Awards to Asia generally have low surcharges, while some of the highest are on partner flights to Europe.

Round the World Awards

Round the World awards can be a good value if you put in the work to piece together all the award flights. You must travel in 1 continuous direction and cross both the Atlantic and Pacific:

  • Economy: 140,000 miles
  • Business: 220,000 miles
  • First Class: not available

You can only use Korean Air and SkyTeam partners for Round the World awards, not other airline partners.

Lounge Access Awards

You can redeem 4,000 frequent flyer miles for international lounge access or 2,000 miles for domestic lounge access.

Korean Air lounges are generally not that special, and they often participate in lounge programs such as Priority Pass; this may not be a useful award for most savvy travelers.

Using Upgrade Awards

Upgrade awards on Korean Air flights are limited to generally expensive fare classes on paid tickets, so your ticket may not be eligible.

Economy can only be upgraded to Prestige (business), and Prestige to first. Check prices on the upgrade awards redemption chart.

Booking Awards for Others

Unlike many programs, you cannot book awards for anyone you choose. You can only book for yourself and immediate family members, and Korean Air requires proof of relationship.

Infant Award Travel

SKYPASS charges 10% of adult fare in mileage for infants. This can be a great deal, since many airlines charge 10% of the full adult cash fare, which can be prohibitively expensive.

SKYPASS Family Plan

The SKYPASS Family Plan allows up to 5 immediate family members to pool miles and redeem awards.

You must register eligible family members, which can include your spouse, children, parents, siblings, parents-in-law, children-in-law, grandparents, or grandchildren. Family proof documents can be submitted through the website, fax, or a local office.

Non-married partners such as boyfriends or girlfriends are not eligible.

Using Award Holds

SKYPASS has among the most generous award hold policies in the world. While no hard and fast rules exist, you can typically hold partner awards for around 5 days.

Korean Air awards often can be held much longer, even up to a few days before planned travel.

Hot Tip: The amazing thing about this is that you can hold awards without the necessary miles in your account! This is a great backup plan for travel you are not ready to commit to, or if you need time to earn/transfer miles.

Fees, Changes, and Cancellations

There are currently no change or cancellation fees.

Starting in August 2017, changing an international award ticket will cost KRW30,000 (≈US$26), while redeposit will deduct 3,000 miles (or 10,000 if more than a year from date of booking).

Even these new fees are very low by industry standards!

Mileage Expiration Timeframe

SKYPASS miles expire 10 years from the date earned, regardless of subsequent account activity.

Conclusion

fly korean air using skypass miles to seoul
Whether you use your Korean SKYPASS miles to travel to Seoul (pictured) or elsewhere, you’ll find some amazing opportunities to fly a great airline!

Now you know some of the best ways to use Korean Air miles, as well as a little more about how to earn miles and use their loyalty program. Korean Air SKYPASS miles are the key to awesome Korean Air first class awards.

In addition, there is great value in using SKYPASS miles for awards on partner airlines, especially gems like traveling from the continental U.S. to Hawaii on Delta.

With flexible credit card and hotel transfer partners, the SKYPASS frequent flyer program is a straightforward, valuable program for the savvy miles traveler.

Photo Credits:
Korean Air Featured Photo: Markus Schmal/Shutterstock, Inc.
Seoul Skyline: DiegoMariottini/Shutterstock, Inc.

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FAQ

What is Korean Air SKYPASS?
SKYPASS is Korean Air’s frequent flyer program. SKYPASS members can redeem miles for travel rewards.

How do you earn Korean Air SKYPASS miles?
Earn Korean Air SKYPASS miles by flying Korean Air and its airline partners. Other ways to earn miles include booking with travel partners (hotel, car rental, etc.) and shopping at Korean Air’s Cyber SkyShop.

How do you sign up for Korean Air SKYPASS?
Register for Korean Air SKYPASS on their website.

What is the Korean Air SKYPASS Family Plan?
The Korean Air SKYPASS Family Plan allows up to 5 immediate family members to pool their miles and redeem awards. The application is available here along with terms and conditions.

Does Korean Air SKYPASS offer a sign-up bonus?
There is no sign-up bonus for joining Korean Air SKYPASS.

How can I contact Korean Air SKYPASS?
Contact Korean Air SKYPASS customer service from the U.S. and Canada by calling 1-800-438-5000. Customer service is available in English, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese.

What are the Korean Air SKYPASS partner airlines?
Korean is a part of the Sky Team Alliance. The Sky Team partner airlines are as follows:

Sky Team Partners
AeroflotGaruda Indonesia
Aerolineas ArgentinasKenya Airways
AeromexicoKLM
Air EuropaKorean Air
Air FranceMiddle East Airlines
AlitaliaSaudi Airlines
China AirlinesTarom
China EasternVietnam Airlines
China SouthernXiamen Airlines
Czech AirlinesDelta Air Lines

Other affiliated airlines include Alaska Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, GOL, Jet Airways, and Hawaiian Airlines.

Does Korean Air SKYPASS have transfer partners?
Transfer Starpoints from your SPG account at a 1:1 ratio after earning them with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express.

AccorHotels points, Marriott Rewards points, and Chase Ultimate Rewards points can also be transferred to SKYPASS miles.

How do I redeem miles for Korean Air first class flights?
Any SKYPASS member can redeem miles for Korean Air first class flights. Availability is often good, partly because Delta SkyMiles members cannot redeem their miles for Korean Air first class (only business or economy).