One of the best secrets for Big Travel with Small Money is Korean Air’s SKYPASS frequent flyer program. You can redeem Korean Air miles (a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards and Starwood points) for award seats on Korean Air, or partners like Delta, Air France, or Alaska Airlines. You can get amazing deals to places like Hawaii, Japan, and China!
Some routes are priced more cheaply than other airlines. But the best thing about Korean Air’s frequent flyer program is the number of award seats they release in all cabins, including First Class!
However, Korean Air miles can be a challenge to use. I’ll explain step-by-step how to open a Korean Air account, and how to search for and book award flights on Korean Air.
Ultimate Guide to Korean Air Miles Series Index
- Part 1 – Introduction to Korean Air Miles
- Part 2 – How to Book Award Flights on Korean Air
How Do You Open a Korean Air Frequent Flyer Account?
You can open a Korean Air frequent flyer account for free online.
Step 1. Go to the Korean Air Website
Navigate to the Korean Air sign-up website. Click on “New Member Registration” on the left side of the website.
Step 2. Fill in Your Details
Complete the registration form using your details. It’s essential your name matches your passport! Korean Air will book your ticket as it’s written when you open your account.
Step 3. Note Your Korean Air Number and Password
You’ll instantly get a Korean Air miles number so you can earn, redeem, or transfer flexible points!
Korean Air Award Chart And Sweet Spots
1. Korean Air Award Chart
For now, we will look at redeeming Korean Air miles on Korean Air flights. There’s a specific award chart just for Korean Air flights (NOT partner flights).
Korean Air has “on-peak” and “off-peak” dates. If your travel dates are within an on-peak travel period, your ticket will cost more miles.
For flights to and from North America, Korean Air charges the following miles (numbers are round-trip, 50% discount for one-way tickets):
|China &Northeast Asia||Off||70,000||125,000||160,000|
Award regions are defined by city:
You can only use the Korean Air award chart if all your flights are on Korean Air. If you have a single flight on another airline, like a connecting flight on Delta, you would use the SkyTeam award chart (more on that in a later post).
2. Sweet Spot: Between North America and South Korea, Japan, China, & Northeast Asia
For only 70,000 Korean Air miles, you can fly off-peak, round-trip in coach between North America and:
- China (including Beijing, Shanghai, and more)
- Japan (including Tokyo, Osaka, and more)
- Northeast Asia (including Hong Kong, Taipei and more)
- South Korea (including Seoul, Busan, and more)
While coach requires fewer miles, you should consider flying in Business or First Class. You can often get flights to Asia for under $1,000 in coach, in which case using 70,000 miles may not be a good choice. Business and First Class is far more expensive, and you’ll get better “bang for your buck” than redeeming for coach.
And you’ll pay just 125,000 Korean Air miles for a round-trip Business Class ticket on the same routes. To compare, Delta charges 160,000 miles or more for the same ticket!
Because 125,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards convert 1:1 into Korean Air miles or $1,250 cash back, and the purchase price of a round-trip Business Class ticket from New York City to Seoul, South Korea costs ~$4,500, that’s amazing value! Of course, flying Business or First Class will give you an amazing experience, but it’s only worth it if you value luxury travel.
You can also use 160,000 Korean Air miles to fly round-trip in Korean Air’s amazing First Class – it’s one of the few SkyTeam alliance partners that lets you book First Class (Delta, on the other hand, does NOT)!
3. Stopover On a One-Way Ticket
Korean Air lets you book a free stopover on a one-way ticket! You can visit another city on a one-way ticket for as long as you want. If you book 2 one-way tickets, you could have 2 free stopovers.
For example, you could fly from New York – JFK to Seoul, spend a week in Seoul, then fly to Tokyo. On your return, you could fly from Tokyo to Busan in South Korea, spend 2 days there, then fly home via Seoul. You can do this in Business Class for only 125,000 Korean Air miles!
Step-by-Step: Book Korean Air Award Flights Online
Here’s how to book Korean Air award flights on Koreanair.com.
Step 1. Sign-In To Koreanair.com
Go to Korean Air, click on “Login” on the upper-right hand corner of the website, and enter your SKYPASS user ID or number, and your password.
Step 2 . Go To Award Search Engine
Click on “Book a Flight” and then click on “Award Booking”.
You do NOT need to have the required number of Korean Air miles in your account to search for award flights!
Step 3. Search For Award Seats On Korean Air
By default, the search engine will search for Korean Air seats. Suppose you wanted to search for a one-way ticket from New York – JFK to Seoul. This costs 35,000 Korean Air miles in coach or 62,500 Korean Air miles in Business Class.
- Select “One Way”
- Type in “New York” and “Seoul” into the “From” and “To” boxes
- Use the calendar to select your travel date
- Select “Economy Class” under “Cabin Class“
- Select which passenger is traveling
- Then click “Find Flights”
You can only book award seats for yourself or family members. You must register your family members prior to booking, which is a complex process. I’ll explain in a later post!
If there are no award seats on your preferred day, the website will show a calendar to select alternative days. Days in white have available seats.
If you do not have enough miles to book your ticket, you can call Korean Air at 800-438-5000 and ask them to make an award hold by giving them your flight details. They will hold your seats for 14 days for free.
This is useful if you want to secure seats before transferring flexible award points to Korean Air.
Step 4. Book And Pay
Once your seats are selected, you can finalize your booking by entering passenger details and paying taxes and fees with a credit card.
A one-way ticket from the US to South Korea costs ~$105 in taxes and fees, and a one-way from South Korea to the US costs ~$41.
It’s cheaper to book your trip as 2 one-way tickets instead of a round-trip ticket. Booking your ticket round-trip costs ~$244, but only ~$145 booked as 2 one-way tickets!
If your trip has multiple flights, you may not be able to book online and instead need to call Korean Air.
And to book a ticket that lands in Seoul, Incheon (ICN) airport and leaves from Seoul, Gimpo (GMP) airport, you’ll have to pay additional miles.
It you are booking a stopover online, make sure to click the “Calculate” button to calculate taxes and fees.
Booking flights to Asia on Korean Air is a terrific use of Korean Air miles, because you’ll often pay less compared to other programs. And Korean Air usually makes plenty of award seats available.
It’s easy to earn Korean Air miles by transferring flexible points from Chase Ultimate Rewards and Starwood. Searching for Korean Air award seats online is straightforward, although in some cases (like multi-segment itineraries) you might have to call.
Chase Ultimate Rewards transfers to Korean Air are typically instant. But with Starwood, transfers can take 1 to 2 weeks!
But even if you have no interest in flying Korean Air, Korean Air miles are still useful. Next, I’ll show you how to redeem Korean Air miles on partner airlines like Delta, KLM, and Alaska Airlines.