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Ultimate Rewards, the rewards currency of various Chase credit cards, transfer to nine airline loyalty programs…

  • Aer Lingus
  • British Airways
  • Iberia
  • Korean Air
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Flying Blue (Air France, KLM)

…and three hotel programs.

  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • IHG
  • Marriott Rewards

As of August 25, you can cross Korean Air off of that list.

How bad is this?

First Class flyers to Asia are probably pretty pissed off. Korean Air flies to lots of American cities, has a modern First Class that gets good reviews, and they release a significant amount of First Class award space which there is very little competition for because Delta SkyMiles can’t book them.

You can still transfer Ultimate Rewards to Korean Air through August 24, so if you’ve been eyeing a Korean SkyPass award or think you might want to book one in the future, it’s now or never. Unless you have SPG/Marriott points, in which case you can transfer those points to Korean SkyPass as well.

The Dying Sweetspots

Korean Air has multiple award charts when redeeming its SkyPass miles. There is one award chart to fly Korean, one award chart to fly SkyTeam partners (click SkyTeam awards on left hand side toolbar), and award charts to fly Alaska, Hawaiian, Gol, and Emirates (click partner airlines bonus on the left hand side toolbar, and then click the appropriate logo).

Here are some deals I think are particularly good redeeming Korean miles on Korean Air flights, which typically have wide open award space and low fuel surcharges:

  • United States to China, Japan, Korea, Northeast Asia: 80,000 miles in First Class
  • Japan, Korea, or China to Southwest Asia or Maldives: 57,500 miles in First Class
  • Japan, Korea, or China to Southeast Asia: 45,000 miles in First Class
Korean Air's various First Class products.
Korean Air’s various First Class products.

There are also plenty of good deals redeeming Korean miles on SkyTeam partners, although you should only book roundtrips since a one way is the same price as a roundtrip.

    • Mainland to Hawaii: 25,000 miles roundtrip in Delta economy, 30,000 miles roundtrip in Alaska or Hawaiian economy
    • Within USA, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, and Hawaii: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 45,000 miles roundtrip in First Class
    • North America to South America: 50,000 miles roundtrip in economy
    • South America Hopper: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 40,000 in Business
    • China Hopper: 20,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 25,000 in Business
    • Indonesia Hopper: 20,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 25,000 in Business
    • Middle East Hopper: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 40,000 in Business
    • Middle East to Europe (CDG, LHR, MXP): 120,000 miles roundtrip in Etihad’s First Class Apartment
    • Europe Hopper: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy

Korean Award Booking Tips

While you can book Korean Awards flying SkyTeam partners online now–which does make the whole process much easier–booking for someone else can be complicated. You can only redeem them for yourself, spouse, 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.

The following applies to SkyTeam partner awards:

      • Roundtrip and one way awards are the same price, so book roundtrip awards
      • You get one stopover per roundtrip award in addition to the destination
      • You can have three segments maximum in each direction
      • You get one open jaw, at the destination only

Bottom Line

If you want to use your Ultimate Rewards for a Korean Air Skypass Award, transfer your points by August 24. Ultimate Rewards is dropping their partnership with the airline as of August 25.

I heard a rumor that Amex Membership Rewards and Korean Air might be partnering up in the future. That would be a welcome addition after this loss. To be totally clear: You do not need to book your Korean award by August 24, just transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to Korean SkyPass by August 24.

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