Details Of The New Marriott & Korean Air Partnership

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Korean Air SkyPass is one of my favorite frequent flyer programs. That’s because SkyPass miles can be redeemed for Korean Air first class, which is probably the most readily available first class product between the US and Asia. Finding more than one award seat in first class between the US and Asia nowadays is very difficult, especially in advance.

Korean-Air-First

The Korean Air SkyPass program is an exception, as I’ve written about several times before. Where else do you see four first class award seats on a single flight months in advance?

Korean-Air-SkyPass

Korean Air SkyPass is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, meaning you can transfer points from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardInk Plus® Business Credit Card, and Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.

On top of that, last August Korean Air SkyPass was added as a Starwood Preferred Guest airline transfer partner, meaning you can transfer over points earned on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express.

KoreanAir-SPG

With Marriott’s takeover of Starwood nearing completion, it’s nice to see that Marriott has just added Korean Air SkyPass as one of their partner airlines.

Marriott Rewards already has over 40 airline partners, so it’s nice to see them add Korean Air to the list.

What are the practical implications of this, though?

How you shouldn’t use the Marriott & Korean Air partnership

In practice you’re not going to want to directly convert Marriott Rewards points into Korean Air miles, given that the transfer ratio makes you lose quite a bit of value in the process (unlike with Starwood, where mileage transfers are a great use of points).

With Marriott you’ll at best be able to convert 140,000 Marriott Rewards points into 35,000 Korean Air SkyPass miles, which isn’t how I’d redeem points. As a point of reference, I value Marriott Rewards points at ~0.8 cents each, while I value Korean Air SkyPass miles at ~1.5 cents each, so a 2:1 transfer ratio seems fair. However, in this case we’re looking at a 4:1 transfer ratio.

Furthermore, you’re not going to want to directly earn SkyPass miles for your Marriott stays. With Marriott you’d earn 1-2 SkyPass miles per dollar spent at Marriott properties (depending on the brand), and that’s in lieu of earning 5-10 points per dollar spent depending on the brand. I value Korean Air miles roughly twice as much as Marriott points, so it’s not worth earning them at a fifth of the rate.

Marriott-Points-1

How you should use the Marriott & Korean Air partnership

The area where you can potentially get the most value out of this is with Marriott’s Flight and Hotel Packages, where you can redeem points for a combination of free nights and airline miles. These packages are arguably the best use of Marriott points, assuming the type of trip suits what you’re looking for.

For example, here are the redemption rates for some of Marriott’s airline partners, including Korean Air SkyPass:

Marriott-Hotel-Air-Packages

The only downside is that you can only redeem these in seven night increments, and all seven nights have to be at the same hotel. As a point of comparison, here’s how much outright free night redemptions would usually cost, where you get the fifth night free:

Marriott-Points

Still, if you’re someone who likes to stay in a hotel for a longer period of time, this is a fantastic use of Marriott Rewards points.

If you want to boost your points balance towards one of these packages, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card is a great card to consider, as it offers a sign-up bonus of 80,000 Marriott Rewards points after spending $3,000 within three months, plus an additional 7,500 bonus points when you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in that same period.

Bottom line

The new partnership between Korean Air SkyPass and Marriott Rewards isn’t life changing, though it’s certainly useful in conjunction with Hotel + Air Packages. It’s generally not worth collecting airline miles in lieu of Marriott Rewards points for your stays, and also not worth converting Marriott Rewards points directly into airline miles.

More transfer partners are always a good thing, especially for a program as useful as Korean Air SkyPass.


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Comments

  1. Agree it’s a good use of points if you’re gonna use the 7 nights anyways, but disagree on KE being a good option. To me, UR are too easy to earn for KE redemptions. I’d focus on airlines that don’t partner with Amex/Chase/Citi and are therefore harder to earn in large numbers. I’m looking at Asiana, JAL and Miles & More as the best deals here.

  2. There is no reason to redeem for Korean Air. I cant see the value of 85,000 Korean Air Miles over 132,000Mileageplus miles.

  3. Lucky, can you fly one partner airline and opt to earn miles from another in the same partner chart? For example could I spend Marriott points to fly on Korean Air but collect Japan Airline miles?

  4. “How you should use the Marriott & Korean Air partnershi”

    Pretty sure it’s not a “partnershi”

  5. Am I reading something wrong? A Cat 5 hotel is 25k/night. That’s 150k for 7 nights (1 night free). But for 7 nights and 50k miles, I’m paying 220k Marriott points? I’m converting 70k Marriott to 50k KE, which is better than usual but doesn’t seem like a great deal to me (it’s only marginally better than the 2:1 ratio Lucky suggests above)

  6. @HKGBOS, I am with LTL.

    On cat 5 hotel, it is 25K/night, with 5th night free. So 7 nights stay takes 150K Marriott points. With flight+hotel, I need to spend 220K Marriott points, to get additional 35K airline miles. I am thinking that this is good only for people with Marriott points. In such scenario, 35K airline miles is 2x the usual conversion rate from Marriott to SkyPass (70K additional Marriott points, netting 35K Skypass, vs the usual 17K5).

    For people with Chase UR as the primary source of points, I think this is a terrible redemption.

  7. @Bob, yah I’m with you guys. I initially thought flights and miles were included which would make this an awesome redemption. With just the miles it’s ok.. I wouldn’t say terrible. Looks like Your exampleof 220k Marriott would actually get you 50k KE, would be using 1.4 Marriott points to earn 1 KE mile. If you use Lucky’s valuations that’s pretty good conversion.

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