Korean Air Adds Online Award Bookings For Partner Airlines

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This news first broke last week when I was in Cuba without wifi, and it just occurred to me I haven’t written about it. So I apologize for the delay, as I figure I’m better off writing about it late rather than never. As of recently, Korean Air lets you book SkyTeam awards on many partner airlines through their website. I’ll explain why that’s awesome news.

Korean Air SkyPass is an Ultimate Rewards transfer partner

First of all, the reason this will be useful to many is because Korean Air SkyPass is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, meaning that Ultimate Rewards points can be converted to Korean Air at a 1:1 ratio.

This is a great use of points earned on cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, for example.

What makes Korean Air SkyPass awesome

My single favorite thing about Korean Air SkyPass is that you can easily redeem them for travel in Korean Air first class, even for large parties. Nowadays snagging multiple transpacific first class seats in advance can be tough, though it’s quite easy with Korean Air SkyPass.

Korean Air often makes 2-4 first class award seats available in advance, and on top of that they fly to more U.S. destinations than any other Asian carrier, and also have an excellent first class product.

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Korean Air SkyPass has very reasonable first class redemption rates, generous hold policies, allows stopovers even on one-way tickets, etc. For a bit of context, here are some of their one-way redemption rates:

  • North America to Japan, Korea, and China: 80,000 miles
  • North America to Southeast Asia: 95,000 miles
  • North America to Southwest Asia: 105,000 miles
  • North America to Oceania: 120,000 miles

korean-air-747-first-class-4

Do keep in mind that there are some catches, though, like that Korean Air only lets you ticket awards for immediate family members, and if you’re forced to book by phone, the process is a real pain.

Korean Air now lets you redeem miles for partners online

Previously you had to call Korean Air SkyPass to redeem miles for travel on partner airlines, which was a real pain. However, now it’s possible to redeem SkyPass miles for travel on partner airlines online, which very nicely adds to the value of SkyPass miles, in my opinion.

To search award availability on partner airlines, follow this link, and select “Award Booking” and then “SkyTeam Award.”

skypass

If you are looking to redeem for international first class, keep in mind that unlike oneworld and Star Alliance, SkyTeam doesn’t offer alliance-wide first class redemptions. Instead first class redemptions are limited to specially negotiated contracts between airlines. So you can only redeem SkyPass miles for international first class on China Eastern, China Southern, and Saudia.

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Fortunately availability on those airlines in first class is excellent, especially on Saudia.

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Korean Air charges just 80,000 miles for business class between the U.S. and Europe, which is a very good value as well.

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Do keep in mind that:

  • Travel on partner airlines can only be booked as a roundtrip, and not as a one-way
  • You can still only redeem miles online for yourself, or a family member “authorized” on your account
  • Korean Air is showing some pretty creative routings online, though best I can tell some of them aren’t bookable; when you click “calculate,” it gives a message saying that the cost couldn’t be determined

Bottom line

Being able to redeem Korean Air SkyPass miles online for travel on partner airlines is a fantastic development for those with Ultimate Rewards points. The process of redeeming Korean Air miles by phone was such a pain, so this is an excellent feature that I’m excited to use, as I have a couple of SkyTeam first class products I still want to review.

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Comments

  1. It costs the same (80k) for biz between US and Europe as it does first between US and North Asia?

    Does Korean ever offer 4 award seats in their first class cabin between US and Seoul and onward to other points?

    While I like the idea that the seats might be available, the reality is that not many of us have that many UR points sitting around.

  2. A dream of mine is to use points/miles to book Emirates first class. This article sounds like you cannot book first class award tickets on Emirates using Korean Air miles — is that correct? I really only have Chase UR points for this dream, so I thought Korean Air was the best chance of making this happen. Can anyone point me in the right direction, or is Emirates first class not possible with Chase UR points?

  3. I had my first experience booking through SkyPass this week and it was wonderful. I was booking on Korean, not SkyTeam, but wanted to provide a few quick notes for everyone:

    I transferred Chase UR points to Skypass and they transferred immediately.

    First class was already full on this flight, but Korea has an amazing business suite on most of its planes, so we were very happy to book that instead. We live in DC and got the direct Seoul to Dulles flight, on Thanksgiving Sunday, the busiest travel day of the year, for only 62,500 miles each and $40 in fees. I am extremely happy about this!

    The only negative was that I could not find a way to hold the ticket until I transferred miles, so once I knew what was available and how many miles, I had to cancel the search, transfer the miles, and start the search over, hoping that the seats hadn’t filled up in the meantime. There probably is a way to put a ticket on hold online, but I just didn’t find it, so if it does exist then SkyPass is fantastic and so user friendly!

  4. How do you authorize a family member on your account so that you can book a ticket for them? And is that necessary to do if they’re traveling on a reservation with you?

  5. Can you not mix cabin types on awards? I tried to search LAX>ICN(stopover)>HKT in first class and it came back with no results presumably because KE doesn’t fly a first class from ICN>HKT even though there is availability in business class on that flight. Confirmed that there is first class space from LAX>ICN.

  6. Does the website allow one to book an itin in one class one way and in a different class the other way? And does it price out as halfway between each class for the round trip?

  7. Uh – Every blogger has already killed it to death. You could have just skipped this unless you assume your readers never read any other travel blog.

  8. @Guest – I don’t read other blogs (mostly because they are all terrible compared to OMMAT) and I’m sure many others dont’ as well, so I appreciate Lucky posting this even if it’s old news.

  9. Yes, thank you for posting this. It is helpful to me and I generally do not scour other similar blogs so I had not known.

  10. Two years ago the only mileage currency our family had was sky miles and over the years had managed to snag the odd international business class seats for my wife and I over the years. Thanks to OMMAT and TPG deleveraging our spending has opened up so many more possibilities for award travel. We used the KE website search and then they KE cyberchat feature to snag 4 business class tickets one way from ATL-ICN-KIX for our thanksgiving trip. I had made one mistake, I thought I could just add family members using their online family forms upload. They told me each family member had to have their own sky pass number first but within 4 days had it all sorted and we have 4 tickets in business and they would hold them for 2 weeks while we transferred UR points in. We did not quite have enough miles to return that way so we are using 45K sky miles each to fly DL E+ bulkhead from HND-MSP-ATL, the quickest way home except for the DL NRT-ATL nonstop which is 95K each one way for basic coach….please.

  11. @Lindsey J
    Yes, you can book Korean Skypass miles for First Class Emirates. I transferred Ultimate Rewards to Skypass miles last November after going through the hoops of calling Korean Air for LAX-DXB-LAX A-380 availability and then waiting to have Skypass call me back to give me Emirates availability and process the booking. Went off without a hitch and basically gave me a month to hold the reservation before having to pay with miles and $1450 RT fee. Am in Dubai now after having the most indulgent and restful flight of my life- replete with shower and top shelf everything. Definitely worth saving miles for, and presented my boarding pass to the Emirates Chauffeur desk on arrival and was whisked away to the hotel in a nice Mercedes no problem. Can’t wait for the return!

  12. Hi Lucky, do you know if we still have to submit the painful “Award Applications” for KE SkyTeam award bookings? Does this process make those obsolete? Thanks!

  13. Is there something wrong with the booking system? I’m trying to book and I get errors all the time.

    I’m looking to book JFK-LAX-OGG around Nov. 4 2017-Nov. 13 2017. Delta seems to have available flights, but there seems to be a problem when booking it through Korean Air’s website. Should I just call Korean Air instead?

    Is anyone else having the same problem?

    Best regards,
    Eric

  14. same here Eric, getting a bunch of errors where Air France, Delta, and Award.Flights chrome app all say there is Skyteam award space. Hope it gets fixed.

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