I just landed in Sydney so let’s mark this as “developing,” until I have a chance to confirm, but it seems more than likely that Korean Air is no longer a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards.
In scrolling through comments (which is always the first thing I do when I land) I noticed a couple of concerning things.
Reader pointie left a comment on the “Ask Lucky” page noting:
Chase UR transfers to Korean Air is currently GONE as an option.
At the exact same time, Mark asked:
Can you confirm that Korean Air is no longer a travel partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards? They are no longer appearing on the UR site.
Logging in to the Ultimate Rewards site confirmed Korean wasn’t listed as a transfer option:
That in and of itself wasn’t too concerning, as they’ve been making updates to the Chase site over the past several weeks, and the transfers to Korean were down in September as well.
That was rather frustrating at the time, given that there was literally no way to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Korean Air, even through the call center. At the time they didn’t have an ETA on when the “link” would be fixed.
However, the website doesn’t currently display any error messages — there’s just no mention of Korean Air on the Ultimate Rewards site.
That was enough to make me drop everything and drag my Dad to the nearest table so I could open my laptop.
I then called the number on the back of my Chase Sapphire Preferred and asked the agent if they could help me transfer points to Korean Air.
The agent promptly said that “the partnership was on hold until further notice.” When I asked if there was going to be any notification sent to customers he said they were working on a website update.
In the spirit of Hang Up And Call Again, I then dialed the number on the back of my Ink Plus.
According to that representative “the partnership with Korean Air has been discontinued as of November 16th.”
Apparently dealing with Korean Air was “too difficult” and they could never get the points transfers to go through in a timely fashion. He had just had a meeting today about the changes. He was also really surprised, because his team over at INK hadn’t had any issues, so apparently it was a broader challenge.
I can personally vouch that Korean Air is not the easiest company to work with:
- 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
Despite that, Korean Air Skypass has been my hands-down favorite mileage program as of late. 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 Class 777-300ER Los Angeles to Sao Paulo
- Korean Air First Class A380 Seoul Incheon to Los Angeles
- Korean Air First Class 777-200 Tokyo Narita to Seoul Incheon
- China Southern First Class A330 Guangzhou to Tokyo Narita
- China Southern First Class A380 Los Angeles to Guangzhou
Korean Air consistently has the most premium cabin award space available between North American and Asia, and a really solid first class product.
Korean Air A380 first class
I likely won’t be able to get this “officially” confirmed until early next week, but if indeed true this is a significant blow to Ultimate Rewards. Fortunately there are several other great transfer partners, but losing options always sucks, particularly without notice.
I’ll post again once this is confirmed one way or another.