Has Chase Discontinued Partnership With Korean Air?

GAH.

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:

Ultimate-Rewards-Partners

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.

Korean-Air-SkyPass-Transfer-Down

However, the website doesn’t currently display any error messagesthere’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 consistently has the most premium cabin award space available between North American and Asia, and a really solid first class product.

Korean-Air-First
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.

Comments

  1. Oh, nice… Just as I had completed family setup/linking of accounts and was thinking of flying through Seoul (& seeing a friend who lives there) on the way to Japan.

    P.S. The new design allows award searches without miles, at least on KE metal. I have 0 miles and it showed me a price for IAH-ICN in F one-way: 80,000 + $174.10 in taxes. What you can’t do is search for multiple seats unless you have that many people linked to your account.

  2. Lucky,

    Ok, dumb question but I’m going to ask it: Any way Korean can cancel my fully ticketed itineraries that were booked 100% using UR’s points? I’m ticketed to fly JFK-CNX and back the day after Christmas and I’m just a little paranoid of them doing something like this, because, well Korean Air is a little “different” with how they do things.

    Again, I’m fully ticketed and all fees paid for, just a bit nervous.

    Thanks Lucky, best travel blog out there…by far!

    Rob

  3. I was on for 45 minutes with Chase. They said it was discontinued. But I called Korean Air and they said they were still partners. Troubling. Had a reservation and was about to transfer for our big trip.

  4. If this is true then I’m REALLY disappointed… was hoping to fly Korean again when I return to Asia; my one trip with them was excellent. Hoping that they are still partners and everything gets cleared up soon…

  5. I placed a RT reservation, JFK-CNX on hold with Korean just yesterday and only have sufficient Skypass miles for one segment; didn’t see the point of transferring until plans were firm. Is Singapore Airlines the next best choice?

  6. Ahhhhh…I’ve already transfer 120K points but need to transfer another 40K to make the trip to Europe for two people. I don’t believe SPG or MR are transfer partners with KE. So the only way is wait for the KE 30K CC offer?

  7. @RT – Maybe Flying Blue? FB already partners with every other transferable program, so they might be willing to link up with Chase.

  8. As you said, losing choices is never good, especially a high quality choice like KE. I flew them between LAX and GRU this year for the World Cup and had no hassles. Availability was great, seats were lie-flat and it was the only non-stop between LA and Brazil. Very unfortunate if true.

  9. What bothers me more is the lack of communication from Chase. Discontinuing a partner, to me, is a huge deal and would appreciate to get a heads up from Chase! Even a one week notice would have been fine. Ugh!

  10. @rob no way. this would not impact bookings made with points previously transfered. try to imagine any argument they could make for canceling your tickets. even with actual cause it is very hard for an airline to get a way with canceling ticketed bookings per DOT rules (assuming the flight touches US soil). and here there is no cause.

    will try to leverage this into annual fee waiver or the like with chase and see how it goes.

  11. Grrr, if this true, and I bet it is; it blows my plans to finally fly KE LAX-GRU as I was planning to next year!

    It’s very disappointing that there was no notice of this impending change at UR. Thanks for sharing the info anyway.

  12. Sadly true. It is confirmed. Korean Air is no longer a partner of Ultimate Rewards as of Friday, November 21st.

  13. I imagine Chase are looking for another Skyteam partner. Wno would offer the best option? Delta is probably off the table or they might have picked them preciously. Thst said UA is less of a valuable partner now so thst discussion may be reopening? I suspect an over sees carrier. who would we prefer?

  14. @Levy Flight

    AMEX says “We’re partners with Delta, find someone else”.

    There’s always Aerolineas Aregntinas. I hear their Condor Class has luxurious business cabins…

  15. no great loss, their bogus fuel surcharges are right up there with BA.

    and a major pain to get tickets for childres

  16. Here is Chase’s response via their secure messaging system:

    Thank you for contacting Chase with your inquiry about
    transfer of rewards.

    Chase is not currently processing point transfers to the
    Korean Air SKYPASS program. We will update the Ultimate
    Rewards Web site when the functionality returns.

    I regret any inconvenience caused to you.

    If you have any further questions, pleasfe reply using the
    Secure Message Center.

    Thank you

  17. if there is any replacement partner, i hope chase gets asiana or ANA.
    just my wish as they serve my biannual travel route.

  18. there is the skypass visa from US BANK which transfers points automatically to KE skypass account.
    but unlike UR, they are so stingy. i have the card but rarely use it.

  19. Hopefully, Chase can bring in both Asiana and ANA as new UR partners. While Asiana seems to have plenty of First and Business availability (especially on their A380s), ANA currently seems to be quite full in Business and very stingy with First.

  20. This seems pretty bad to just stop the partnership with zero notice. If you were saving points for a specific trip, you are now screwed. This almost seems like a CFPB complaint issue. Definitely a bait and switch with no notice.

  21. I called Sapphire Preferred customer service 11/22 and was told this is a temporary problem with transferring points and not a permanent change. The CSR did not have a time frame when point transfer to KE would be back.

  22. I’m betting on continuing issues with their crappy website redesign. I no longer have the option to combine points from my Freedom to my Ink either.

  23. @UnLuCkY

    That’s odd. It works for me. Are the cards on the same Chase account? I just log in to new UR site (on any card), mouse over the points total, and click on Combine Points. That screen lets me transfer from Freedom to other UR cards.

  24. Chase website has been broken for me lately.
    The Ultimate Rewards section doesn’t let me view all the recent activity (e.g. shop through chase, redemptions, adjustments, etc).
    I called the Customer Service line like 15 times but I keep getting an empty promise to call back or email back once the IT guys look at it.
    What the hell is the web support team for?

  25. @ AC — I would hope that the transfer is possible again soon, in which case this is less of an issue. But yeah, otherwise the KE CC is the best option.

  26. Thanks Lucky, I figured as much but now I’m “paranoid free”…about this topic anyway. 😉

    Complained on Twitter and the reply was, “We just heard of this today ourselves”. I then asked if this was a temporary or permanent move…waiting for a response.

    Thanks again Lucky!

    Rob

  27. Singapore Airlines “Star Alliance” probably replaced Korean Air. They gave no notifications although I transferred 75000 points to my skypass about a month ago.

    Poor customer relations on Chase’s part & I will stop doing business with them.

  28. @Polk – It displays the option to combine from the Freedom card with the UR balance to my other Freedom card. Below that, the only option is “Add spouse/domestic partner” – clicking that option
    contains the language “I certify that this card belongs to me or my spouse/domestic partner.” Previously I had the explicit option to transfer to a different card.

  29. What legal actions can we do to be able to at least transfer our existing points to KE?
    Is canceling without notice legally possible for them?

  30. This cancellation without notice has ruined my families travel plans this coming Spring. Today we just got enough rewards points to transfer to Korean Air to cover our flights. Now we have a ton of wasted points in Korean Air and useless points Chase rewards points with no way to combine them. There was no notice given. Both my husband and I will be cancelling our preferred cards and will not be doing business with Chase again.

  31. @Pissed – Assuming this IS a permanent cancellation, do you really think they’d be dumb enough to do something like this without lawyers signing off? The CSP/UR terms & conditions (https://chaseonline.chase.com/resources/RPC0444.pdf) explicitly say (under Right to Change/Modify/Cancel): “We reserve the right to alter or waive any Program feature or benefit prospectively or retroactively, including, without limitation, participation fees, point accrual or redemption criteria, or to cancel or temporarily suspend the Program at any time without prior notice.”

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