On Friday I wrote about the sudden change to the Chase Ultimate Rewards website, whereby points transfers to Korean Air SkyPass were no longer possible.
While not an especially popular Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, personally it’s one of my favorites.
Korean Air belongs to SkyTeam, and is one of the few SkyTeam airlines through which you can redeem miles for first class at the saver level. What makes Korean Air SkyPass so great?
Korean Air First Class 777-300ER
- Korean Air releases a ton of first class award availability, and there’s not much competition for those seats. As long as you’re not traveling over the peak dates, you should have no trouble finding award space on just about any date.
- Korean Air partners with China Southern, China Eastern, etc., which also have solid first class hard products and release a good amount of award space.
- Korean Air SkyPass first class award redemption rates are extremely reasonable.
China Eastern First Class 777-300ER
So what’s going on with the partnership between Korean Air SkyPass and Chase Ultimate Rewards? Did they really just discontinue it without any notice whatsoever?
I have a hard time imagining that’s the case. When partnerships like this have been discontinued in the past, there has almost always been a good amount of advance notice.
This is especially important with Korean Air SkyPass, because they allow really long award holds, so you can hold an award ticket for ~10 months, and only transfer miles and ticket the reservation a few days before departure. Beyond that, Korean Air doesn’t have any other major partners for transferring points, so it’s really tough to “top off” an account.
Based on emailing Chase customer service, the claim seems to be as follows:
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.
The verbiage does suggest that the functionality will return (they say “when,” not “if). That being said, I’m not sure I’d trust any front line representative in regards to this, regardless of whether they say the outage is temporary or that it’s permanently discontinued.
My guess — and I hope I’m right — is that it’s a poorly communicated temporary outage. I have to imagine they’d give some notice if the partnership were actually intended to be discontinued.
This would be a big blow to the value of Ultimate Rewards points for me, based on my recent redemption patterns. This year alone I’ve redeemed Korean Air SkyPass miles for the following segments:
- 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
That being said, Ultimate Rewards did recently pick up Singapore KrisFlyer as a transfer partner, which I’d consider to be at least as valuable.