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Best Use of Korean Air Skypass Miles

Korean Air Skypass Miles are an official transfer of Chase Ultimate Rewards (for cards that transfer to miles), it’s about time someone did an in depth post on this rewards program… and I’m just the guy for the job.

What you may not have known is that Korean Air Miles allow a stopover and open-jaw on roundtrips, they have some very generously priced awards, maybe the cheapest to Hawaii, and there are many routes without fuel surcharges.

Quick Korean Air Routing & Stopover Rules

  • 1 Stopover
  • 1 Open-Jaw on destination
  • Only roundtrips (on partners)
  • 2 connections per direction

When I say that open-jaws are only applied to the destination, I mean that you can’t apply one to a stopover. So if you’re doing a roundtrip to Turkey, you can’t stopover in London and open-jaw so you fly out of London to continue to Turkey. However, you could open-jaw so you stopover in Paris and then fly into Istanbul, and open-jaw so you fly out of Athens.

Either way, stopovers are as a long as you want, and the routing rules as pretty loose. It’s been a fun program to mess around with. So I just wanted to show the award chart I made for ya’ll, and then give some best uses of it. Although, I hope the post includes everything you need to know.

 

Hot Prices on the Korean Air SkyTeam Award Chart

The prices are sometimes very generous, but their website only displays prices for one region at a time… which is annoying. So I took it upon myself to make the award chart below. Prices are in thousands of miles and are roundtrip:

Korean Air award chart

* At the bottom of the post I’ll list all the region definitions and award chart exceptions.*

25,000 miles for: Roundtrip Hawaii, Mexico, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico

If you look at the award chart is says North America to North America for 25,000 miles. However, the kicker is that the region for North America is “Mexico, United States (including Hawaii), US Virgin Islands, Canada, Puerto Rico” and likely includes Alaska.

This is probably the cheapest award price to many of these routes not including specific routes on British Airways or Southwest.

Hawaii is the obvious one. This is the second cheapest price period for Hawaii, second to Virgin Elevate which is an Amex transfer. But Virgin is a lot more limited in routes than SkyTeam… by a lot. This is the better redemption for 90%.

And it’s still a great redemption on Mexico, Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Despite those destinations being closer, competitors are just more expensive.

Bonuses: Remember, you get a stopover for one of these. And no fuel surcharges.

 

60,000 Miles to Tahiti

Pretty basic award chart, except there are a thousand exceptions. But, they are all good exceptions, so I certainly don’t mind. There are discounts on specific routes flown by a specific airlines.

The best example is US to Tahiti by Air France for 60,000 miles in Economy or 90,000 miles in Business. This is great, as the normal price is 110,000 in economy and 185,000 in Business. And the availability is pretty good, especially when you compare to the main Chase transfer, United. There is basically no Star Alliance availability and it would be 70k/130k.

However, the draw-back is that the only Air France route from the US is from LA, (LAX – PPT).

Read How To Do Bora Bore for Free. This is a great addition to that.

 

The Indonesian Hopper for 20,000 Miles

I recently did a “Hopper” post on the Indonesian Hopper with Korean Air Miles. If you’re not a total geek that’s trying to get 5 islands out of one 20,000 mile ticket, it may not be too interesting. But you still may be interested in a basic roundtrip ticket with a stopover.

Any flight within Indonesia on the partner Garuda is 20,000 miles roundtrip. This is an excellent, cheap way to go from a place like Jakarta or Bali to East Indonesia. Getting to Raja Ampat can be very expensive but Garuda does not have fuel surcharges and Korean will only charge 20,000 miles.

A basic trip could be Jakarta to Sorong (the city from where you’ll take a boat to Raja Ampat) for 20,000 miles. And if you want, stopover in Bali.

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 1.59.02 PM25,000 Miles for a European Hopper: Iceland to Turkey

I’m not trying to go stopover crazy, but I can’t help but notice that Europe includes a lot of area for 25,000 mile roundtrips. The most odd thing is that it includes Iceland all the way to Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and Turkey. It also includes “West Russia”.

This means you could fly into Iceland cheapish and book a roundtrip to Turkey or Georgia for 25,000 miles. Plus you could stopover in Paris or something. In terms of getting around Europe, this is about as cheap as it gets and includes as much as it gets. And fuel surcharges within Europe are very mild, and at the very least, less than the airport taxes.

 

North America to Europe for 50,000 miles economy, and 80,000 Business class

And remember, North American and Europe are huge zones. So that’s 50,000 miles from Hawaii to Georgia. That is a lot of flying for 50,000 miles.

Same with Central America, it’s 50k/80k/100k for roundtrips to Europe.

 

50,000 miles to South America

For once an airline doesn’t break up South America into multiple zones… which is to your advantage if you’re going to Argentina and possibly more expensive if you’re going to Colombia. So it’s a decent to good price, but one great advantage is just having another alliance to check availability with. Plus, no fuel surcharges to South America.

 

The African Hopper

Just wanted to point out that flights within Africa on Kenya Airways are 25,000 miles roundtrip, and 20,000 miles on Air France. Except, what flights does Air France have within Africa? I can’t actually pull any up. I hate SkyTeam.

 

Is there a Caribbean/South America Hopper?

The specific rule says, “Within Caribbean-Colombia/Peru/Venezuela by Air France : Economy 20,000/Business 30,000 miles“.

Which doesn’t make any sense as far as I can tell, there aren’t actually routes between the Caribbean and Colombia/Peru/Venezuela on Air France. I can’t possibly understand how they are discounting routes that don’t exist. Maybe they would discount codeshares? Maybe the routes just aren’t showing on the SkyTeam route map? Which reminds me, on AirFrance.us, you can not book flights to many Caribbean locations from France, even though you can book them on Expedia. The entire thing is bizarre.

But the routes I do see are the few following:

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 2.13.09 PM

Not a lot of options for a roundtrip with a stopover, but if you see other routes, PLEASE let me know.

 

Conclusion

Again, having the SkyTeam transfer option for your Chase Ultimate Rewards points is a bonus for availability’s sake. You can check Star Alliance availability for a United (or Singapore) transfer, then check OneWorld for a British Airways transfer, and Korean for a SkyTeam transfer. Then we can check our free agents like Southwest if it’s domestic, or Virgin Atlantic if you actually have a decent non-fuel surcharge route.

But to recap, there are some great uses:

  • 25,000 miles to Hawaii
  • 25,000 miles to Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands and Mexico
  • 60,000 miles to Tahiti
  • 20,000 miles within all of Indonesia
  • 50,000 miles from anywhere in North America (which includes Hawaii) to anywhere in Europe (which goes as east as Georgia)
  • 50,000 miles from anywhere in North America to South America

That’s it for now, except I’ve organized some important info below. Extra routing rules, the countries for each region, and some discount prices. I wanted to make sure all the nerds out there had all the info they needed in this post.

As always, thanks for reading and hope you enjoy playing around with an airline I’ve never written about.

Drew

 

Extra Routing Rules

  • Neither stopover nor transfer in Asia 1 and Asia 2 are allowed in case of traveling Europe-Asia 3 routes.

  • Neither stopover nor transfer in Asia1 and Asia 2 are allowed in case of traveling Middle East-Asia 3 routes.

  • Neither stopover nor transfer in Asia 1 and Asia 2 are allowed in case of traveling Africa-Asia 3 routes.

  • Neither stopover nor transfer in Asia 1 and Asia 2 are allowed in case of traveling Asia 3- Asia 2 / Europe / Africa / Middle East.

List of Award Chart Exceptions

  • USA-Tahiti by Air France : Economy 60,000/Business 90,000 miles
  • Within Caribbean, Caribbean-Colombia/Peru/Venezuela by Air France : Economy 20,000/Business 30,000 miles
  • Mexico domestic by AeroMexico : Economy 20,000/Business 40,000 miles
  • France domestic by Air France : Economy 20,000/Business 40,000 miles
  • Italy domestic by Alitalia : Economy 20,000 miles
  • Czech domestic by CSA Czech Airlines : Economy 20,000/Business 40,000 miles
  • Spain domestic by Air Europa : Economy 20,000/Business 40,000 miles
  • Germany-India by Delta Airlines : Economy 50,000/Business 80,000/First 140,000 miles
  • Romania Domestic by TAROM: Economy 20,000 /Business 40,000 miles
  • Saudi Arabia–Middle East (including Saudi Arabia domestic) by Saudia Airlines : Economy 20,000 / Business 40,000 / First 60,000 miles
  • Lebanon–Middle East by Middle East Airlines : Economy 20,000/Business 40,000 miles
  • Dubai-Colombo by CSA Czech Airlines : Economy 40,000/Business 80,000 miles
  • Between Kenya and Middle East by Kenya Airways : Economy 35,000/Business 60,000 miles
  • Within Africa/Indian Ocean by Air France : Economy 20,000/Business 30,000 miles
  • Within Africa by Kenya Airways : Economy 25,000/Business 45,000 miles
  • Japan-Noumea by Air France :  Economy 60,000 / Business 90,000 miles.
  • When flown with China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines (including Shanghai Airlines) or Xiamen Airlines on routes;
  • – China Domestic : Economy 20,000/ Business 25,000 / First 30,000 miles
  • – Hong Kong – China Domestic : Economy 20,000 / Business 25,000 / First 30,000 miles
  • When flown with China Airlines(including some eligible Mandarin Airlines)
  • – Taiwan Domestic : Economy 20,000 / Business 25,000 / First 30,000 miles
  • – Taiwan-China Domestic : Economy 20,000 / Business 25,000 / First 30,000
  • Within Asia 2 by Air France : Economy 20,000/Business 30,000 miles
  • When flown with Vietnam Airlines on routes;
  • – Within Vietnam domestic : Economy 20,000 /Business 30,000 miles
  • – Between Vietnam and Asia 2 : Economy 30,000/Business 45,000 miles
  • – Between Vietnam and Oceania : Economy 50,000/Business 75,000 miles
  • When flown with Garuda Indonesia on routes;
  • -Within Indonesia : Economy 20,000/Business 30,000 miles
  • – Between Indonesia and Asia 2(excl. Indonesia ) : Economy 30,000/Business 45,000 miles
  • – Between Indonesia and Oceania : Economy 50,000/Business 75,000 miles
  • Colombo-Dubai by CSA Czech Airlines : Economy 40,000/Business 80,000 miles
  • India-Germany by Delta Airlines : Economy 50,000/Business 80,000/First 140,000 miles

 

Korean Air Regions: Countries in each region

  • Asia 1 (Korea, Japan):
    Korea, Japan

  • Asia 2 (China, Southeast Asia, East Russia): Guam, Taiwan, East Russia, Laos, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Macao, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Brunei, Saipan, Singapore, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, China, Central Russia, Kazakhstan, Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Palau, Philippines, Hong Kong

  • Asia 3 (Southwest Asia): Nepal, Maldives, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan

  • Oceania: Nauru, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Samoa, Solomon Islands, American Samoa, Kiribati, Tonga, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea, French Polynesia, Fiji, Australia

  • North America: Mexico, United States (including Hawaii), US Virgin Islands, Canada, Puerto Rico

  • Central America: Guyana, Guadalupe, Guatemala, Grenada, Nicaragua, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Martinique, Montserrat, Barbados, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Belize, British Virgin Islands, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, St. Kitts-Nevis, Suriname, Aruba, Haiti, Antigua and Barbuda, Antilles, El Salvador, Honduras, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, French Guiana

  • South America: Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru

  • Europe: Georgia, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Latvia, Romania, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Malta, Monaco, Morocco, Mordovia, Belgium, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, San Marino, West Russia, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Armenia, Iceland, Ireland, Azerbaijan, Andorra, Albania, Algeria, Estonia, United Kingdom, Austria, Ukraine, Italy, Gibraltar, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Turkey, Tunisia, Portugal, Poland, France, Finland, Hungary

  • Middle East: Bahrain, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Oman, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Israel, Qatar, Kuwait

  • Africa: Ghana, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Namibia, Nigeria, Republic of South Africa, Niger, Liberia, Lesotho, Rwanda, Libya, Reunion, Madagascar, Mayotte, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Benin, Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Senegal, Seychelles, Somalia, Swaziland, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Zaire, Zambia, Central African Republic, Djibouti, Zimbabwe, Chad , Cameroon, Kenya, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Togo

 

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48 Comments

  1. Drew – on the Iceland example, I’m not sure I see anyway to actually get from KEF to Europe on Skyteam…

    Reply
    • Hmm, you’re right. You would have to route through the US, which might go over the MPM type structure they seem to have. Will edit soon. Thx.

      Reply
  2. Nice article in theory. However, in practice it is extremely difficult to get through to Skypass by telephone; their systems are purportedly down all the time and they can’t pull inventory from Alaska or several other carriers and thus they are essentially not available.

    Reply
    • Yea, that’s an issue though that’s kind of outside the concept of the rules. Plus, people can pay an award booked to deal with it, if they’re so inclined.

      Reply
    • It’s funny, I know there are issues with some partners and I don’t doubt your difficulties, but I have only had phenomenal experiences with their call center. The last time I had a little issue, their rep took my number and actually called me back later that night to check everything went through!

      Reply
  3. I believe that one ways are possible on Korean metal for half the price of round-trip.

    Reply
    • Oh, for Korean flights that is true, although they have bad fuel surcharges. But I’ll still go back and say “for partners”. Thx.

      Reply
  4. I believe you have to fax in your award or something like that for partner airlines. Drew, what are your experiences speaking with them to actually get bookings done?

    Reply
    • I’ve never actually had to book an award with Korean yet. I have heard it’s the worst.

      Reply
    • what if you need to make changed after the trip has begun, fax KE from durqastan?

      Reply
  5. Also, should say – great job – I’ve gotten so used to your excellent posts that I forget to say!

    Reply
    • 😀 Thanks

      Reply
  6. north america to southeast asia is 95K KE F each way not 180, 200, 230

    northeast asia is 160 for KE F and partners

    Reply
    • Not sure where you’re getting this.

      Reply
  7. Great post. In the future would it be possible for you also to analyze the availability as well?

    Reply
    • I generally try to make note of availability if it’s an issue or abnormal. Like saying AF to Tahiti is good. Or in many posts I say Star Alliance flights to New Zealand are terrible. So if I don’t say anything, it’s probably normalish.

      Reply
    • I would be the last to know.

      Reply
  8. Another awesome post full of original content. Huge applause. The grouping of Mexico and the Caribbean in the same bucket as the US made me ponder potentially killer options when combined with US Airways 90/120K Biz/First redemptions from the more southern regions to Southeast Asia and vice versa in stacking vacations through stopovers. Then my head hurt, I got lazy, and I gave up. Also, US repeatedly denied my last Southeast Asia to Caribbean/Mexico with stopover redemption requests the last two times I called. So that US Airways arbitrary tendencies (they really fought for ways not to sell CX first as a redemption) plus Delta’s limited availability might make my potential schemes purely academic. If anyone is likely to pull off cool combos of the two programs, I’d bet on Drew, though.

    Reply
  9. Drew,
    I’m getting some very different numbers from Korean’s website. Northeast Asia does show 160k in F. Jeremy may be right. I hate to even ask, but are you sure about the numbers?

    Reply
    • Are you sure you’re not looking at the award chart that expired in September?

      Reply
  10. Great info which I’d love to be able to use this year. We want to fly from Seattle to Leon Mexico this November and you say using Korean is 25000iles vs 35000 for Alaska. that’s great but how do I add a stopover. I’ve never added a stopover to flights. Can you explain a sime way to book a ticket like this with a stopover of 3-6 days somewhere?

    Reply
  11. Or maybe just instead of Iceland, use Avios to get from Boston to Dublin.

    So how many European stopovers are allowed exactly for the 25K?

    Reply
  12. I read somewhere you can only book for you and your immediate family and must show some sort of proof via fax, is this correct? So you can’t book awards with companions not in your family?

    Reply
  13. no, we are not looking at an old award chart.
    If you actually knew the rates, it is 80k to northeast asia and china and 95k to southeast asia ie. bangkok, singapore.

    Not sure where you get your info but you should not blog when the numbers are completely wrong.

    Reply
    • You shouldn’t really tell me that I should be blogging for not having updated numbers then “clearly” post a link that has “2013” in the URL, 2 devaluations ago.

      Also, this is beside the fact that I’m posting about a SkyTeam award chart and this is korean. That’s why there are no non korean routes in that award chart, and mine includes combinations that wouldn’t have korean.

      “Not sure where you get your info but you should not [insult others] when the numbers are completely wrong.”

      Reply
  14. if you flew china southern jfk-can first class it is same rate as if you flew korean air first class jfk-icn
    rates dont change because someone is flying skyteam partner..call korean air if you don’t believe me

    Reply
  15. Jeremy you are MORON

    Reply
  16. Another great original post, Drew. Thanks!

    Reply
  17. Air France in the Caribbean – I am on booked on one of these flights and part of the issue with awards is that many are codeshares that Delta can’t access so I assume same for Korean Air. For instance PTP-FDF has one daily Air France flight that you can book a Delta award. The others are codeshares operated by Air Antilles. So maybe that contributes to some of the Air France wackiness you are seeing. Another contributing factor is that a flight like Paris to PTP is a sort-of domestic flight so maybe Air France treats that differently.

    KLM has some nice Africa options to places like Kilimanjaro, but I think few or no intra-Africa flights. Paired with KQ I want to do US-Kilimanjaro (stop) – Seychelles (destination) – US. Adding in cheap intra-Africa options booked through KE will allow more flexibility to build in destinations since Delta and Flying Blue charge so much for intra-Africa awards.

    Palau and Micronesia in Asia 2 looks interesting, intra-region or to Asia 3, perhaps the M&M Island Hopper, Micronesia to Maldives.

    Reply
  18. thank you Drew for your great posts and charts. please tell me how i would go about booking this 25,000 chase ultimate reward travel partner from new york to hawaii for 25,000 points?

    Reply
  19. Good info, as usual. The hard part of all this that I see is the segment limits, if I’m reading it right. From smallville USA to a hub, to Asia hub, to Asia 2 and that’s it. Pretty impossible to mix partners, like TPAC KE, then to CZ hub, then to Asia 2, etc. Could be tough to get from Hawaii to Europe even.

    Reply
  20. I do find your web site interesting but I am so disappointed that the question I asked here 2 months ago was never answered or replied to when I see that that you came on several times to a troll bad mouthing you but you chose to reply to him several times and not to me or other faithful readers of yours here who did ask you specific questions about this post. Seems only the rude get any reply from you and folks that ask for more info on the actual blog posting just get ignored. We ended up not being able to book our flights here with any stopovers as I still don’t know how to do that.

    Reply
  21. I’ve been informed by Korean Air Skypass that each leg of the flight within Indonesia would be 20K miles. Even for JKT-SOQ which is sold as a direct flight with a stop in UPG, the miles required for such a redemption would be 40K miles.I was told it would be 20K miles at first to fly from JKT-SOQ, so I transferred my points from Chase Rewards over to Skypass. They told me it would be 40K miles when I was trying to issue the ticket and pay for the airport tax. Now I am not sure what I will do w/ my miles in Korean Air.If someone managed to issue layover flights for 20K, please let me know how? Otherwise, just wanted to post this so this doesn’t happen to someone else.

    Reply
  22. Drew,

    I have just booked my first Korean Air Award. I got my family of 5 booked to Maui via Delta for a total of 125,000 miles!!! Insanely cheap!!

    I had to try 3 times as the 1st two times I was told that there was no availability (even though I could see level 1 available for 5 on Delta.com) But today I had success and the rep I spoke to was able to find availability on the exact same flights I had been trying to tell them were available, LOL.

    I was also told by the rep today that they do not allow open-jaws on award flights at all?? You haven’t heard of that changing have you???

    Either way, I am so pumped to have this trip booked for so cheap! Keep up the great work!!!!!

    Reply
    • Jeremy (the second one!),

      I’m trying to book flights for 2 to Maui and having the same problem — the first two times I called they let me know they didn’t see any availability, even though it was showing on Delta.com. How long did you wait between calls? I was thinking I should wait a few days to a week before I call back to try again. Thoughts?

      Thanks!

      Reply
    • I had similar situation…. trying to check the availability with Korean Air over the phone (45K for a round trip booking is too hard to pass over), had to wait until they call back, and the told me the flights I am checking were not available (even though Delta website showing level 1 award (coded R) is available on the round trip basis and flying blue website shows classic award on the same flight is available….) I am thinking I should try asking again next week.

      Reply
  23. Thanks Drew,
    It’s a great work!

    I have a question that if i want to redeem a roundtrip using skypass from sfo to phl, can i make a stopover in Puerto Rico since it is also considered in North America ?

    Thank you!

    Reply
  24. Pretty brokenhearted. Finally got Korean to find the 2 business class I wanted from BOS to LHR and back CDG to BOS and then they dropped the hammer with $1050 in taxes per person! Guess this is a dead end for me to get to Europe. Definitely better to collect Delta miles to get to Europe.

    Reply
  25. Hi Drew–
    Great post!
    If I book award ticket through Korean’s portal for 110k miles round trip from you Chicago to Istanbul, will I likely be flying on Turkish Airways?

    Reply
  26. Hi Drew,
    Thanks for the post! I was trying to book a flight from IAD to PVG (as a stopover) and to KIX (final destination), and then leave from Tokyo back to IAD. However, I was told the routing does not work. Is there anyway to fix this?

    Thank you!

    Reply
  27. Hi Drew!

    I Just got off the phone with a Korean Air agent. So this is my RT route on their SkyTeam partner DL:
    Far>MSP>STL & ATL>FAR.
    The agent priced this at 25,000 miles and some $50 in fees. Miles are right, but I am not entirely sure about the fees. Do you know anything about their taxes/fuel surcharges policy on Delta? Thanks !

    Reply
  28. For some reason KE LAX-GRU (disappearing soon) charges $89 in total fees. This appears to be due mostly to YQ because it’s not so high in reverse. The strange part though, is that ITA matrix shows YQ as $0.90 (as in 90 cents) and taxes at around $20. This is in Prestige/Business. At 52.5k it’s not a steal, but it’s still good.

    Reply
  29. I love this blog but how is 50k miles to Europe plus fuel charges a deal? Is there us to Europe low YQ options?

    Reply
  30. Can you book a partner award flight (e.g. on Delta) on the Korean Airlines website,
    or do you need to call in?

    Reply

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