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Korean Air announced some significant changes to its SkyPass program back in December 2019, just a few short months before the world essentially shut down from COVID-19. The changes were far-reaching, from a mileage devaluation to changes in elite status requirements.
Then, the carrier delayed the implementation of these changes by more than three years due to the pandemic — supposedly taking effect on April 1, 2023.
In a recent move that’s great news for award travelers, Korean has just announced it will no longer be pursuing these changes altogether. Here’s what you need to know!
Korean Air No Longer Changing SkyPass Program
For unknown reasons, Korean has suspended the implementation of its new SkyPass program, which was slated to start on April 1, 2023.
Most of these changes were negative toward flyers trying to redeem their miles, so it’s likely there was major pushback that put a stop to these loyalty program changes.
What Were the Changes?
While Korean has announced that there will no longer be changes to the program, it’s worth taking a look at what changes were on the table for SkyPass.
First, Korean was set to go from a region-based award chart to a distance-based award chart, essentially penalizing travelers who redeem their miles for tickets on longer flights. For example, redeeming a ticket from Korea to the U.S. would charge different amounts depending if you were flying to Los Angeles or New York.
With the new changes, there was a significant increase to mileage redemptions. While it’s not worth going into every example, there were many flights that increased by more than 30% — including partner awards on SkyTeam airlines.
Furthermore, the airline was set to introduce new requirements to earning elite status, utilizing the following tiers:
- Silver: 10,000 tier-qualifying miles
- Gold: 40,000 tier-qualifying miles
- Platinum: 70,000 tier-qualifying miles
- Diamond: 100,000 tier-qualifying miles
Earning miles was also going to take a hit, as Korean planned to reduce the number of miles you’d earn on an economy class ticket, but increase the number of miles you’d earn on a premium class ticket.
One slightly positive change was the introduction of the ability to use cash and miles for your ticket, allowing you to reduce the amount of cash you’d need for the total cost. Interestingly, this change will still go into effect, and U.S. dollars will be added as a payment currency in March.
Hot Tip: Korean Air doesn’t partner with a major U.S. bank as a transferable currency, so you’ll need to earn SkyPass miles mostly by flying with the carrier or utilizing other SkyTeam partners.
Korean will no longer be implementing its negative changes to SkyPass on April 1, which would have devalued the loyalty program altogether. If you have SkyPass miles or status, you’ll continue to use the terms of the old program. As Korean Air and Asiana are merging in the near future, we’ll keep you updated on any other changes to come.
Featured Image Credit: Daniel Gillaspia via Flickr (license)
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