Korean Air changed its partner award chart this week. And because of that you can now transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Korean Air (and then fly on Delta) to Hawaii for just 25,000 miles in coach and 45,000 miles in Business Class from the US!
To get to Hawaii, other airlines charge anywhere from 35,000 to 45,000 miles in coach and up to 80,000 miles for Business Class!
This is an amazing deal, because most other airlines charge many more miles for award tickets to Hawaii!
And I’ll explain why this makes Chase Ultimate Rewards points the BEST for getting to Hawaii.
However, note that a supervisor wasn’t able to actually book the flights at the lower level because their systems have not yet updated. But the supervisor acknowledged the new award chart which requires fewer miles.
Until recently, Hawaii was considered a separate region with different award ticket pricing, but it’s now included in “North America” (which also includes the rest of the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the US Virgin Islands).
With the exception of using British Airways Avios points to book American Airlines or Alaska Airlines coach class tickets to Hawaii from the West Coast only (also 25,000 miles round-trip), this is now the fewest number of miles needed for an award ticket to Hawaii!
On September 21, 2014, Korean Air updated its website and award charts. They’ve made some changes to routing and stopover rules on award tickets, but the biggest change is in how they’ve defined their travel regions for SkyTeam alliance partner tickets.
Note: You can NOT book 1-way flights using Korean Air miles on SkyTeam partner airlines, only round-trip.
Have a look at their old SkyTeam award chart. Round-trip flights to Hawaii and Mexico cost 35,000 miles in coach class, and 75,000 miles in Business Class.
Here’s the new SkyTeam award chart, which was released earlier this week.
It almost sounds too good to be true, but according to how they now define regions, North America includes:
Mexico, United States (including Hawaii), US Virgin Islands, Canada, Puerto Rico
This means that you can book a round-trip ticket to Hawaii from anywhere Delta flies in the US, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, or US Virgin Islands using Korean Air miles for only 25,000 miles in coach or 45,000 miles in Business Class.
As long as you can find available low-level Delta award seats! This is important, because Delta doesn’t make it easy to find low-level award seats.
I called Korean Air to check if this pricing was correct and they confirmed that as long as award seats are available, it’s 25,000 miles round-trip in coach class and 45,000 miles in Business Class.
The agent was NOT able to confirm the taxes and fees, but she said on other Delta flights within the US, it’s usually ~$6 per segment. I’m waiting for a call back from the Korean Air SkyPass folks to confirm this!
Note: These award tickets can NOT be booked online. You’ll have to call Korean Air at 800-438-5000 or 213-484-1900 to make the booking.
So do NOT transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to Korean Air, UNLESS there are award seats available. You won’t be able to transfer your points back to Ultimate Rewards from Korean Air!
How Does This Compare to Other Airlines?
Using Korean Air miles for award tickets on Delta is now the BEST deal for travel to Hawaii.
Even using Delta’s own miles, you’d pay 45,000 miles in coach class and 80,000 miles in Business Class for their lowest-level round-trip award tickets.
And with Korean Air’s non-SkyTeam partners, Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines, you’ll still pay more miles. On both of these airlines, it costs 30,000 Korean Air miles for a round-trip award ticket in coach class, and 60,000 miles in First Class (Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines don’t have Business Class).
Here’s what some popular airlines charge for low-level, round-trip award tickets between the continental US and Hawaii.
|Airline Miles||Coach Class||Business Class|
|Alaska Airlines||40,000||80,000 (First Class)|
|American Airlines||35,000 (Off-Peak Only)||75,000|
|British Airways Avios (on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines)||25,000 (From West Coast)||75,000 (From West Coast)
|Hawaiian Airlines||40,000||80,000 (First Class)|
|Singapore Airlines (on United Airlines)||35,000||60,000|
So the only case where you’d pay the same number of miles is using British Airways Avios to fly American Airlines or Alaska Airlines from the US West Coast only. That’s because their award chart is distance-based. And their Business Class award tickets are more expensive.
How Can You Get Korean Air Miles?
1. Transfer Points From Chase Ultimate Rewards
Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Link: Chase Ink Bold
Link: Chase Ink Plus
Link: Chase Freedom
Korean Air is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner. You can transfer points earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred, (no longer offered) Chase Ink Bold, and Chase Ink Plus cards directly to Korean Air at a 1:1 ratio. And if you have 1 of these 3 cards, you can also transfer points from the Chase Freedom!
So for example, you could use the 40,000 point sign-up bonus from the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, plus another 5,000 points from adding an authorized user and meeting minimum spending requirements, and have enough for a round-trip, Business Class ticket to Hawaii on Delta!
2. US Bank Korean Air SkyPass Card
You could get 15,000 Korean Air miles after your 1st purchase with the US Bank Korean Air SkyPass card. You’ll also get:
- 2 miles per $1 you spend on Korean Air
- 1 mile per $1 you spend on everything else
- 2,000 miles when you renew the card
- No foreign currency fees
- Annual fee of $80, not waived for the 1st year
In the past, the sign-up bonus on this card has been increased to 30,000 miles. So this isn’t a very good deal.
And US Bank is usually very strict about approving folks who’ve recently applied for a lot of cards.
Why This Makes Chase Ultimate Rewards Points the Best for Award Flights to Hawaii
Not only can you transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points into the Korean Air miles program, but you can transfer them to Singapore Airlines and British Airways! If you look again at the chart above, you’ll see these are the 3 cheapest ways to fly to Hawaii!
Folks on the West Coast have the option to fly on Delta to Hawaii using Korean Air miles OR on American Airlines & Alaska Airlines using British Airways Avios points OR on United Airlines using Singapore miles.
Other US travelers could consider flying on Delta to Hawaii using Korean Air miles or on United Airlines using Singapore Airlines miles.
For instance, people in the New York City area can now use their Chase Ultimate Rewards points to get great deals to the Aloha state from all 3 major airports. You fly from Newark to Hawaii on United Airlines or from New York City’s JFK or LaGuardia airports to Hawaii on Delta!
With Chase Ultimate Rewards points you have the flexibility to check for available award seats on Delta, United Airlines, or American Airlines and Alaska Airlines (using your British Airways Avios points to fly).
Korean Air has changed their SkyTeam partner award chart, and you can now get a round-trip flight from North America to Hawaii on Delta in coach class for 25,000 miles, and Business Class for 45,000 miles!
Other airlines charge as much as 40,000 miles in coach and 80,000 miles in Business Class for low-level round-trip tickets to Hawaii, so this is an excellent deal!
I’ll post an update on how to use Korean Air miles to book Delta flights soon!
But remember NOT to transfer your points unless you are 100% sure that there are award seats on the flight!