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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.
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 is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, meaning you can transfer points from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Ink Plus® Business Credit Card, and Chase Sapphire Reserve℠.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
Non-Affiliate Product Disclaimer: The information for the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card has been collected independently by One Mile At A Time. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.