Korean Air SkyPass Online Award Search Improved

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I’ve written extensively about Korean Air SkyPass in the past. It’s one of my favorite frequent flyer programs, and after American AAdvantage, it’s the mileage currency I’ve redeemed the most for my own travels this year. So far this year I’ve flown the following flights using Korean Air SkyPass miles:

Korean-Air-First
Korean Air A380 first class

For those of you not familiar with Korean Air SkyPass, here are some posts that might be helpful:

Summing it up, the best thing about Korean Air SkyPass miles is that they can be redeemed for SkyTeam first class, which very few other mileage currencies can be redeemed for. As a result, availability is generally excellent. Back in the day it wasn’t easy to accrue Korean Air SkyPass miles, though nowadays they’re transfer partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards, so quite easy to rack up with the following cards:

There’s no doubt there are several downsides to Korean Air SkyPass miles, though:

  • You can only redeem your SkyPass miles for family members
  • You need to fill out a redemption nomination form in order to ticket an award for a family member
  • You can’t search Korean Air award availability through their website unless you have enough miles for the award ticket (which is a bit of a “chicken or egg” situation, since how are you supposed to know how many miles you need if you don’t know what’s available?)
  • All partner awards have to be booked by phone

Anyway, Korean Air has made some pretty awesome updates to their website, which make it much easier to book awards. The most exciting update is that it’s now possible to search Korean Air award availability online without having enough miles in your account.

Let me start by saying in theory that they new website kind of annoys me. They’ve gone for the overly-digital magazine looking website which prioritizes “bubbly” looking graphics over functionality, a bit like Virgin America’s website. So I wouldn’t be thrilled about the changes if there weren’t also functional improvements, and if the old website weren’t so bad.

Korean-Air-Website

But fortunately there is added functionality once you log into your SkyPass account. Previously you couldn’t view award availability on Korean Air unless you had enough miles for that award. Now SkyPass lets you search Korean Air award availability regardless of how many miles you have in your account. Beyond that, the new interface allows you to view a bit more information at once, even if the display is a bit clunky.

First you can enter your origin, destination, dates, and desired class of service.

Korean-Air-SkyPass-10

Then you’ll be brought to a calendar which shows the award seat availability over a 30 day period. You can easily switch months to get a great overview of availability (hopefully the below search between Los Angeles and Seoul Incheon shows the unreal amount of award space that Korean Air releases).

Korean-Air-SkyPass-11

Korean-Air-SkyPass-12

Once you select dates you’ll be shown all the options, and can even easily zoom a few days forward or back. The award price, including taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges, will be displayed.

Korean-Air-SkyPass-13

Of course if you hit “Continue” and try to go to the next page you’ll get an error message if you don’t have enough miles.

Korean-Air-SkyPass-15

At the top of the screen you can also change the class of service you’re searching, so can easily search business class instead of first class, for example.

Korean-Air-SkyPass-14

You’ll be shown similar results for business class.

Korean-Air-SkyPass-16

This is a huge improvement. Previously I used ExpertFlyer to search Korean Air first class award space, though ExpertFlyer doesn’t display Korean Air business or economy class award space.

Korean-Air-SkyPass-ExpertFlyer

Given that there was no other website to search all Korean Air business or economy class award space, this is great news.

Bottom line

This makes the process of redeeming Korean Air SkyPass miles much easier. Since transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards to Korean Air SkyPass are instant, you can now search for award space, transfer points, and then book immediately.

Now if only they would start displaying SkyTeam award availability on their website…

(Tip of the hat to Mac)

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Comments

  1. “the best thing about Korean Air SkyPass miles is that they can be redeemed for SkyTeam first class” — note that skyteam is a tricky alliance in that it’s not like oneworld where you can redeem on any partner’s cabins. The only guarantee from all skyteam members is redemption in business & economy. I think each carrier has to have a special agreement between other carriers for redemption of First class (i.e. Korean can redeem first class with China Eastern & Southern but not Garuda or Air France.)

  2. Lucky, what is their award list looks like ? I just did a sample search from LA to Bkk oneway in F and it came out 142k miles. is that ridicules.

  3. @ tom — It should, except for all the blackout dates Delta has. Keep in mind that Korean Air has blackout dates by region, while Delta applies all blackout dates for all routes.

  4. @ Joey — That’s true, though I interpret it slightly differently. I view the Air France situation similarly to the Swiss situation in Star Alliance. It’s not that they’re blocking the space from other airlines, but rather only making it available to their own elite members, and at a price premium.

    As far as Garuda Indonesia goes, call me naive, but I think it’s an honest oversight. There aren’t many other programs trying to snag Garuda first class award space, so I genuinely believe the issue is simply that the systems haven’t been updated since they joined SkyTeam.

  5. @Lucky

    ha! so is mine!
    btw, those Loewe amenity kits Garuda gives out seem to be comparable to some $500 leather pouches Loewe sells at Bergdorf… so $3.7k got NRT-CGK-DPS round trip doesn’t seems so expensive after all.

  6. It seems that they aren’t releasing nearly as many seats in 1st. Used to be able to find 4 seats in 1st on most every flight to/from US. Now only see 2.

  7. How are you able to get an entire month to come up? I’m only able to see +/-3 days from the date I’m searching. Also what’s the normal “low” amount of biz miles each way US->SE Asia in Biz? Thanks

  8. Thanks Lucky. This is a better website, but you can’t see multiple F seats available on a given day, unless i’m missing something.

    Anyone have experience booking their final segment of a Korean Air award on a delta flight (ex. ICN-LAX-JFK). Does Korean Air’s system see Delta’s domestic J class?

  9. Ben – What’s your go to (or go tos) when searching SkyTeam award space? For example, BA has all of OneWorld and ANA has all of Star (I think). Thanks!

  10. @ Tim — Can’t say I’m noticing much of a difference. In my experience they were mostly releasing two seats in advance, and then opened more as the departure date approaches. Don’t see that as having changed a whole lot.

  11. @ Daniel — Unfortunately there’s not a single good source like with Star Alliance or oneworld. I use a combination of ExpertFlyer, Delta SkyMiles, Air France Flying Blue, and Korean Air SkyPass to search space. Really is quite a pain.

  12. @ Justin — They should see saver level space, but keep in mind if you include any travel on Delta you’ll be charged per Korean Air’s SkyTeam award chart and not the award chart that applies for travel on their own metal.

    And yep, unfortunately unless you have multiple people attached to your family account, you can still only see one seat.

  13. @Lucky

    Thanks. I figured it was a combination of a few websites and services. Maybe a post on your methods since Sky is not as straight forward as the others. Just a thought 🙂

  14. @ Mike G — Make sure you select the option to search flexible dates, and are on the actual award search page. Don’t just search for a ticket and tick the “redeem miles” box.

    An off peak Korean Air business class award between the US and Southeast Asia costs 75,000 miles.

  15. Any restriction against making my girlfriend her own Korean account and transferring from Chase to their? What’s the issue with that?

  16. I’ve used almost 2 million miles on Korean air and they are the best option to fly to Korea. Very easy to get reward seats vs Asiana airline(also used about 1 million miles)
    You can get few first and business class seats easily vs Asiana. Always had hard time getting multiple award seats from Asiana.
    Only thing I like about Asiana is their first class lounge has way better food and drinks than Korean air.

  17. @ Lucky,

    Thanks for this post!
    By the way, I have a couple questions:

    1. I am new to Korean Air thing. What are the stopover and open jaw rule on Korean Air? If you have written a post on this, can you please kindly point me to that link? I saw the previous post by other people that JFK-ICN-NRT-CGK-DPS is possible.

    2. “North America to Southeast Asia should cost you 95,000 miles one-way in first class.” ===> then how come I saw on the screenshot of your “dummy booking” it shows 125,000 miles from LAX-ICN??

    Thanks!

  18. Lucky, would they recognize a same sex partner if we were legally married in our jurisdiction? (I know there’s no gay marriage in Korea.) Also, I assume the workaround is to transfer points from Chase into separate sky pass accounts and buy totally separate award bookings. Any pitfalls to that?

  19. I already have a skypass visa account. Can I get my wife her own account and then transfer the mileage to her? She flies, I don’t. Thanks.

  20. @ Tom — You can’t transfer your miles to her, but you can redeem your miles out of your account for her travel.

  21. Hi Lucky,

    Thanks for your time and hard work in compiling this information! I have Chase UR, and want to fly to Vienna in Europe with my wife. I’m having a hard time understanding Korean Award redemptions. I’m trying to book out of Boston, where Delta is super active, and BOS isn’t even showing up on the Korean website. Do I search on Delta, and then call Korean to book? Please advise how to best to find awards on Korean, or using some other UR partner.

    Thank you so much!

    Andrew

  22. @ Andrew Gilson — Correct, partner awards have to be booked by phone. So if you see saver level space on Delta then it should also be bookable via Korean Air, but you’ll have to call. That being said, if you’re trying to redeem Ultimate Rewards points to Vienna I’d consider going through British Airways or United instead, as they might offer a better value.

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