Joining Korean Air’s frequent flyer program, SKYPASS, may not be on your list of priorities, but maybe it should be. As one of the founding members of the SkyTeam, you can book flights on 20 different alliance members, including Delta, Air France, KLM and Aeromexico. It’s also partners with Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, American, Emirates and Etihad Airways, among others.
Korean Air, the largest carrier in Korea, serves more cities in the U.S. than any other Asian airline. They including most of the major hubs: New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Seattle, Las Vegas and Honolulu. If you often fly between the U.S. and Asia, Korean Air offers a lot of options.
In short, there are a lot of ways to redeem SKYPASS miles, making it a flexible and useful program to U.S. residents.
On top of that, there are a lot of ways to earn those miles thanks to rewards credit cards. Not only has the airline partnered with U.S. Bank to offer five co-branded credit cards, but it’s also part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program and a transfer partner with Starwood Preferred Guest. In fact, SKYPASS is the only SkyTeam member that’s part of the Ultimate Rewards program.
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, for example, you can easily earn a lot of points that transfer to SKYPASS at a 1:1. Add to that a Chase Freedom card, which offers quintuple points per dollar spent in select categories, and you’ll be flying in a premium cabin in no time.
When Should You Use Korean Air SKYPASS Awards?
SKYPASS’s best redemptions are for first class awards. Korean Air offers an excellent product, reasonable prices and a lot of availability, with anywhere from two to four premium cabin award seats on many flights.
You can also purchase first class awards on SkyTeam partners, something you can’t do with Delta SkyMiles. Because the SkyMiles program doesn’t offer first class, there isn’t much competition for those seats.
First class between the U.S. and Korea, Japan or China on Korean Air costs 160,000 miles roundtrip during non-peak times. That’s the same as United and a bit more than American, though you may have a hard time finding available award seats on those carriers. Plus Korean Air’s first class is better.
You’ll also get good value for your miles when you redeem on Alaska or Hawaiian. Flights to Hawaii or Mexico are just 30,000 miles in economy, or 60,000 in first, and that’s without any fuel surcharges.
Business class flights between the U.S. and Europe on SkyTeam member airlines are reasonably priced, too. Those seats go for only 80,000 miles roundtrip, which is a little more than half of what you’d pay if you booked through United.
Partners Bookable Online:
Partners Bookable by Phone:
- Aerolineas Argentinas
- Air Europa
- Air France
- China Airlines
- China Eastern
- China Southern
- Czech Airlines
- Garuda Indonesia
- Kenya Airways
- Middle East Airlines
- Vietnam Airlines
- Xiamen Air
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Etihad Airways
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Jet Airways
When Book by Phone:
- When booking a partner airline
- For itineraries that include multiple airlines
- If you want to hold an award seat
See below for our phone booking tips.
How to Search for SKYPASS Award Seats Online
Go to Korean Air’s website and click on the “book a flight” tab at the top. Choose “award booking” from the drop down menu:
The next page will prompt you to log in to your SKYPASS account:
On the search page, choose “domestic” or “international” at the top and fill in your flight information, including cabin class. Note that prestige is business class.
Note that the price in miles for the ticket is listed below the flights.
The message implies that there may be flights, but you’ll receive the same message even Korean Air doesn’t fly that route.
The advantage of the Award Seat Availability search is that the results include a calendar view showing which days have open award seats. Fill in the search options and hit “search.”
This is the calendar view for San Francisco to Incheon in June 2016:
The dates with the red lines do not have any available award seats.
How to Confirm and Book SKYPASS Award Flights Online
Select the flight you want from the booking search screen and the total cost will appear on the right. Click “continue.”
If you do, you will be asked for payment information before final confirmation of your itinerary.
U.S. Phone Number: 1-800-438-5000
You have to call Korean Air in order to book an award ticket on a partner airline. It’s best to know what flights you want before calling so you can give the booking agent the flight information. You can see use either the partner airline’s website, or Delta’s website for SkyTeam members, to determine flight times and routes.
After reserving your flight via phone, you’ll be emailed a form that must be completed and returned before finalizing the booking. Note that you can reserve seats without having enough SKYPASS miles in your account. If you plan to use Ultimate Rewards points, you can reserve seats before transferring them.
Important Award Booking Considerations
- You can book awards for only yourself and family members
- Partner airlines are only bookable by phone
- Peak season fares cost more than non-peak dates
- Partner awards are roundtrip only
- Mixed airline awards available
- Two stopovers allowed per round-trip award flight