You can now book SkyTeam partner airlines’ award seats on koreanair.com; previously you had to call in.
This is huge news because it makes booking 25,000 mile roundtrip awards to Hawaii much easier! This is also the new easiest way to book China Southern and China Eastern First Class.
Korean SkyMiles–a 1 to 1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards–is mainly famous for two things:
- Ridiculously cheap awards on Delta planes to Hawaii. Korean charges just 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy and 45,000 in First Class including flat beds. Delta and most other legacy carriers charge about double that.
- The best First Class award space of any airline. Almost every flight features 2+ award seats in First Class that you can book for as little as 80,000 Korean miles plus taxes and small fuel surcharges from the US to Asia or as little as 45,000 miles within Asia.
Now, those Delta flights to Hawaii and other SkyTeam partners have gotten much easier to book because they are searchable and bookable right on koreanair.com.
How to Search
On koreanair.com, scroll down to the flight search. Select “International” and “Redeem Miles.”
You will be required to sign into your Korean SkyPass account. Sign up for a free one here.
Search is completely intuitive. The only problem is that if you search a date without award space, you get an error message instead of a calendar showing when there is award space.
For that reason, it may actually be a time-saver to search Delta award space on delta.com and then go to koreanair.com to search and book award space you already know exists.
Any Level 1 award space on delta.com is bookable with Korean miles. Unfortunately since Delta no longer labels its award search results Level 1-5 and deleted its charts, the only way to know whether the space is Level is to compare it to this Delta chart I’ve created.
Remember when searching on delta.com, you will not pay the prices you find there. You will book the Level 1 award space with Korean miles on koreanair.com and pay the prices on the Korean Air award chart.
Korean has different rules for awards on its own planes and SkyTeam awards. For SkyTeam awards, you can have one stopover and one open jaw. Awards always price at the roundtrip price, so booking a one way award makes no sense.
Delta to Hawaii
I searched for Delta flights from the US to Hawaii. First, I went to delta.com and found Level 1 award space in economy for 22,500 Delta miles each way.
Then I went to koreanair.com and searched dates I knew had award space. After selection the flights, I clicked the “Calculate” button.
The award space priced–as expected–at 25,000 Korean miles roundtrip + $11.20 in taxes.
That’s unbelievable from the East Coast to Hawaii!
Then I searched multi-city on koreanair.com, adding a stopover one direction in Los Angeles.
Again–as expected–the award prices at 25,000 Korean miles + $11.20.
If you prefer to pay 45,000 Korean miles roundtrip to Hawaii in Delta First Class, follow the same procedure. Award space is much less prevalent in First Class, but if you have total flexibility, the award is possible.
China Southern and Eastern First Class
Delta allows you to book China Eastern and China Southern economy and Business Class on delta.com, but Delta doesn’t allow you to book SkyTeam First Class awards with its miles.
Korean SkyPass does allow partner First Class redemptions, and now the award space is right on koreanair.com.
The award space is excellent. Unfortunately it has fuel surcharges. (Korean collects fuel surcharges whenever the same cash ticket has them. Luckily Delta flights to Hawaii don’t have fuel surcharges.)
China Southern flies Los Angeles to Guangzhou with an A380, among other routes to the United States. The award is 200,000 miles roundtrip in First Class plus $279, of which $208 is fuel surcharges.
China Eastern flies from New York to Shanghai, among several US routes. The award is 200,000 miles plus $429 roundtrip in First Class.For whatever reason, Korean Air has miscounted fuel surcharges as taxes. Fuel surcharges are really $358 on the route.
The One Big Problem Searching on Koreanair.com
The one insanity when using Korean miles is that you can only redeem them for yourself, parents, grandparents, siblings, children, grandchildren, parents-in-law, and children-in-law, and you have to provide proof of the relationship, which means scanning and emailing a marriage certificate or birth certificate. (Most miles programs allow you to redeem miles for anyone.)
Until you add a family member to your approved list, you can only search for award space for one person. Once you add them, they should show up on the search screen, allowing you to search for more than one seat.
Luckily, even when searching for only one person, the results tell you how many seats are available. For instance, from Los Angeles to Guangzhou on February 8, there is one first class award seat, and the return has four on February 15.
Getting Korean Miles
Transfers from Ultimate Rewards to Korean SkyPass miles are 1:1 and instant. This is the easiest way to get Korean miles with the current 100k bonus on the Sapphire Reserve, 80k bonus on Ink Preferred, 55k bonus on Sapphire Preferred, and up to 5x earning capability on the Freedom.
Starpoints are also a 1:1 transfer partner with the standard 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred. SPG transfers take approximately five days. Initiate these transfers after putting the award on hold because Korean award holds are of essentially limitless duration.
Korean SkyPass miles just got a lot easier to redeem by adding SkyTeam partner availability to koreanair.com.
The main SkyTeam redemptions you’ll want to make are Delta flights to Hawaii (much cheaper than with Delta miles) and China Eastern and China Southern First Class (unbookable with Delta miles.)
Korean miles are easy to get as a 1:1 partner of Ultimate Rewards and SPG Starpoints.