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9 Best Ways to Redeem Korean Air SKYPASS Miles for Max Value

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Alex Miller
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Alex Miller

Founder & CEO

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Founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, Alex is a leader in the industry and has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles. He frequently discusses the award travel industry with CNBC, Fox Business...
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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 and first class, flying Korean Air 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, SkyTeam partners, and additional partner airlines such as Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines.

Serving 50 countries from its hub at Incheon International Airport (ICN), 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.

Best Ways to 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.

Marriott Bonvoy Credit Cards

You can earn Marriott Bonvoy points and transfer them to Korean Air at a transfer rate of 3:1. Transfer times are quite long, and can take up to 6 weeks in some cases.

One way to get around the long transfer times is to request an award hold that can buy you valuable time when transferring points and miles. Though Korean Air does not officially allow award holds, if you call and specifically mention that you want to book a Korean Air flight using miles and you’re waiting for the points to transfer to SKYPASS, you may be offered an award hold. In our experience, we’ve been able to extend an award hold by a month, which was more than enough time.

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The 9 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 Boeing 777 First Class Flatbed
Korean Air Boeing 777 first class flatbed. Image Credit: Cherag Dubash

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, D.C.

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.

Korean Air’s first class award availability is something that should never be underestimated. With increasing load factors globally, it can be increasingly more difficult to find award space, particularly in first class. If traveling with a companion, you can pretty much guarantee that 2 seats are released in advance on almost all long-haul flights.

Need help booking? Check out our step-by-step guide to booking Korean Air first class.

2. 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 the competition. But one-way tickets in business at 97,500 miles or first at 120,000 miles 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 miles in economy/business/first.

3. 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 to 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.

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

Hawaiian Airlines
Experience great value flying Hawaiian Airlines with its new lie-flat business class. Image Credit: Hawaiian Airlines

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

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

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

Maui Hawaii - Katie Seemann
Jet off to Hawaii! Image Credit: Katie Seemann

Korean Air partners with Alaska Airlines for good values on its 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. For short-distance flights, you can often get better value using Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles or British Airways Avios to book those Alaska Airlines flights.

6. U.S. to Tahiti (Air France)

Air France 777 Business Class Seat 5L
Air France business class. Image Credit: Nick Ellis

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.

7. 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 miles compared to the typical 60,000, but fuel surcharges quickly overwhelm the mileage savings here.

Hot Tip: Need more help? Check out our guide to searching for SkyTeam award availability.

8. 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. Since South America is such a large continent, you can achieve around ~12 hours of business class travel for the same price as ~7 hours of business class travel.

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.

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

Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 First Class Seat
Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 first class seat. Image Credit: Greg Stone

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, D.C.

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 for business class flights from the U.S. to Dubai (partner redemptions for first class awards are still available but for an undetermined amount of time), but hefty fuel surcharges reduce the value.

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

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. Partner awards require round-trip travel.

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:

SCROLL FOR MORE
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 for many partner awards. Not every partner or route is listed, so call or chat with Korean Air if you don’t find what you want online.

Additional airline partners also have their own award terms:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • Emirates (prices are per flight segment, not the typical one-way/round-trip, no first class awards)
  • Etihad (prices are per flight segment, not the typical one-way/round-trip)
  • GOL
  • Hawaiian Airlines (prices are per flight segment, not the typical one-way/round-trip)
  • Japan Airlines

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: 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 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 the relationship.

Infant Award Travel

SKYPASS charges 10% of the 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.

No Award Holds

Korean Air no longer allows award holds, however, if you call and specifically mention that you want to book a Korean Air flight using miles and you’re waiting for the points to transfer to SKYPASS, you may be offered a generous award hold (upwards of a month).

Fees, Changes, and Cancellations

Changing an international award ticket costs KRW30,000 (~$27), while a redeposit will deduct 3,000 miles (or 10,000 if more than a year from the date of booking).

Mileage Expiration Timeframe

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

Final Thoughts

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! Image Credit: Aqtx via Shutterstock

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 its loyalty program. Korean Air SKYPASS miles are the key to awesome Korean Air first class awards.

There’s also 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.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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 its 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 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:

[table id=136 /]

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

Does Korean Air SKYPASS have transfer partners?

Yes. Marriott Bonvoy points can 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).

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About Alex Miller

Founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, Alex is a leader in the industry and has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles. He frequently discusses the award travel industry with CNBC, Fox Business, The New York Times, and more.

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