Almost all of my travel to Asia is on either OneWorld (Cathay Pacific) or Star Alliance (Lufthansa/Swiss/Asiana/Thai) given that they offer the most “aspirational” award options to Asia. You can’t redeem Delta SkyMiles for travel in international first class on any of their partner airlines, which is why I’ve avoided them to Asia (and just about everywhere else) up until now.
That being said, I’m trying to review as many airline products as possible and I realize y’all just aren’t that excited about reading another Lufthansa first class trip report, so I promise to make every effort to book my next trip to Asia on SkyTeam.
There are two options that tempt me:
120,000 Delta SkyMiles for Korean Air/China Southern business class to Asia
Korean Air seems to have a fairly nice business class product on their Airbus 380, and aside from their blackout dates also has reasonably good business class award space. What spices up a potential business class award to Asia on SkyTeam is that China Southern is launching Airbus 380 service between Los Angeles and Guangzhou in a couple of months (as reported by Gary), and they seem to have a really nice business class product which is even nicer than Korean Air’s. So it’s incredibly tempting to book one direction in Korean Air business class and one direction in China Southern business class. Now, both partners do impose fuel surcharges, though they’re reasonably mild at ~$300 roundtrip (for Korean Air this is a recent “enhancement”).
Fortunately searching China Southern award availability is easy on ExpertFlyer (and there’s tons of business class award space), though sadly the same thing can’t be said for Korean Air business class, for which you have to call Delta SkyMiles to inquire about availability.
80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for Korean Air Airbus 380 first class to Hong Kong
Chase Ultimate Rewards is transfer partners with Korean Air SkyPass. While you can’t redeem Delta SkyMiles for Korean Air first class, you can redeem Korean Air SkyPass miles for Korean Air first class, and it’s actually not too bad of a value.
Here’s Korean Air’s award chart, in part:
One of the best values, in my opinion, is New York to Seoul Incheon to Hong Kong, the whole way in Korean Air Airbus 380 first class.
Korean Air even allows stopover on one-way awards, so we’re talking about a total of 80,000 miles for New York to Seoul Incheon in first class, and then Seoul Incheon to Hong Kong in first class.
Korean Air does also impose mild fuel surcharges on award redemptions booked through SkyPass, though the booking process is painless since you can find award space online.
So this raises the question, which would you rather do (or I suppose which would you rather read about) — Korean Air/China Southern business class using Delta SkyMiles, or a one-way award redemption in Korean Air first class using Chase Ultimate Rewards points? Let me know in the poll and/or comments section below!