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Ultimate Guide to Korean Air Miles: Part 3 – How to Book Award Flights on Partner Airlines

Ultimate Guide to Korean Air Miles:  Part 3 – How to Book Award Flights on Partner Airlines

Million Mile SecretsUltimate Guide to Korean Air Miles:  Part 3 – How to Book Award Flights on Partner AirlinesMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Savvy travelers know Korean Air SKYPASS miles aren’t just great for booking Korean Air flights.

Using Korean Air miles, you can also book award seats on all 20 Skyteam alliance airlines, like Delta, Air France, and KLM.  Or on 7 non-alliance partners, like Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines.

In this post I’ll show you how to book flights to places like Hawaii, Europe, and Morocco!

Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 3 How To Book Award Flights On Partner Airlines
Booking Partner Award Tickets With Korean Air Miles Can Be a Very Good Deal, Like Delta Flights to Hawaii

I’ll highlight the most important partner airlines and best sweet spots.  And show you step-by-step how to book SkyTeam partner awards online.

Ultimate Guide to Korean Air Miles Series Index

Korean Air Partner Airlines

1.   SkyTeam Partners

Link:   SkyTeam Alliance Members

Korean Air is one of 20 SkyTeam alliance airlines, which means you can use Korean Air miles to book award seats on any SkyTeam airline.  For example, you can book award tickets on:

  • Aeromexico
  • Air France
  • Alitalia
  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern
  • Delta
  • KLM
  • Saudia
Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 3 How To Book Award Flights On Partner Airlines
Use Korean Air Miles to Book Coach or Business Class Flights on Partner Airlines

Korean Air miles are special because you can use them to book First Class seats on certain SkyTeam airlines.  To compare, you can NOT use Delta miles to book partner First Class seats, even though they’re also part of the SkyTeam alliance.

Note:   You can NOT book Air France First Class with any partner airlines’ miles.  Because they only allow First Class award bookings using their own Flying Blue miles.

2.   Non-Alliance Partners

You can use Korean Air miles to book 7 non-alliance partner airlines.  Here’s a chart that shows you which airlines you can book in which class of service:

AirlineCoachBusiness ClassFirst Class
Alaska AirlinesYESYESN/A
EmiratesYESYESYES
EtihadYESYESYES
GOLYESNONO
Hawaiian AirlinesYESYESN/A
Japan AirlinesYESYESNO
Jet AirwaysYESYESNO

SkyTeam and Partner Award Charts

Link:   Korean Air SkyTeam Award Chart

Link:   Korean Air Non-Alliance Partner Awards

Korean Air has an award chart for all SkyTeam airlines from North America.

However, you can NOT book one-way tickets on partner airlines, only round-trip.

Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 3 How To Book Award Flights On Partner Airlines
You Can Only Book Round-Trip Travel on SkyTeam Airlines

Each non-alliance partner has their own award chart.

For these airlines, you can NOT book all flights.  Your desired route must be on that partner’s award chart to book.

Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 3 How To Book Award Flights On Partner Airlines
You Can Only Book Award Seats Between Korea and Japan on Japan Airlines Using Korean Air Miles

Korean Air divides the world into award “zones.”

These zones are defined:

Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 3 How To Book Award Flights On Partner Airlines
Korean Air Partner Award Flights Are Priced Based on Zone, NOT Distance

Award Chart Sweet Spots

On the SkyTeam award chart, there are a few particularly good deals.

1.   Continental North America to Hawaii

North America is defined in the zone chart:

Mexico, United States (including Hawaii), US Virgin Islands, Canada, Puerto Rico

This means that you can fly from anywhere in the continental US to Hawaii for only 25,000 Korean Air miles in coach on SkyTeam partner Delta.

If you used Delta miles, the same seats would cost 45,000 Delta miles!

Note:   You can only book award seats using Korean Air miles that show at the low-level saver rate on the Delta website.

Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 3 How To Book Award Flights On Partner Airlines
Los Angeles to Hawaii Is 45,000 Delta Miles in Coach…

If you select the exact same flights through Korean Air, you only pay 25,000 Korean Air miles.

You can also fly to Mexico, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico for the same amount.

Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 3 How To Book Award Flights On Partner Airlines
… and the Exact Same Flights Are Only 25,000 Korean Air Miles!

This really is an amazing deal.  25,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth ~$313 towards flights in the Chase travel portal when you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Business Preferred, or Chase Ink Bold or Ink Plus (no longer offered).  And worth $375 if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

For example, a round-trip coach ticket from Miami to Honolulu can cost ~$900, so if you transfer your points to Korean Air miles instead, you’re getting over $500 more value than buying flights using the Chase travel portal!

2.   North America to Europe

You can fly round-trip in coach from North America to Europe for 50,000 Korean Air miles, or 80,000 Korean Air miles in Business Class.  And Korean Air is generous with how they classify Europe, which includes:

  • Western Europe
  • Eastern Europe
  • Turkey
  • Tunisia
  • Morocco
  • West Russia
Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 3 How To Book Award Flights On Partner Airlines
Visit Morocco, the “Jewel of North Africa” for the Price of Europe

To compare, the cheapest Delta award flights to Europe cost 30,000 Delta miles round-trip in coach, or 125,000 Delta miles in Business Class.

Since coach tickets to Europe can be quite cheap, the best deal is to use points for Business Class.  United Airlines, a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, charges 140,000 miles for a round-trip partner Business Class ticket to Europe.  By transferring your points to Korean Air miles instead, you’re saving 60,000 miles over United Airlines!

3.   Stopovers and Open-Jaws

One amazing thing about Korean Air is their stopover and open-jaw rule.  A stopover is visiting another city for 24+ hours.  An open-jaw is when you fly into one city but fly out of another, making your own way between cities.

On a round-trip SkyTeam award flight, Korean Air lets you have 1 stopover and 1 open-jaw.  You are allowed up to 2 connections from your city of departure and your destination.  A stopover counts as a connection.

The open-jaw must be in the same award zone as your destination, and must occur after reaching your destination.  The stopover can be on the outbound or the return.

Departure -> Stopover -> Destination / Open-Jaw -> Connection -> Departure

For example, you could fly from New York with a 1-week stopover in Milan.  You could then fly from Milan to Casablanca via Paris, which is your destination.  You could then take a cruise from Casablanca to Athens, where you’d fly home with a connection in Amsterdam.  All of this would only cost 50,000 Korean Air miles in coach, or 80,000 Korean Air miles in Business Class!

Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 3 How To Book Award Flights On Partner Airlines
See 5 Cities for the Price of One With Korean Air’s Generous Routing Rules

Taxes and Fees

Korean Air charges the same taxes and fees on award flights as a paid ticket.  For international tickets, this can be expensive, especially with flying to Europe where fuel surcharges are high.

Because airlines have different fuel surcharges, the amount may change based on which airline you’re flying.  For example, a round-trip in coach on Alitalia from New York City to Rome costs  ~$121, but when you add a Delta flight in both directions, it jumps to ~$457!

Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 3 How To Book Award Flights On Partner Airlines
Some Airlines Have More Fuel Surcharges Than Others, so Try Different Airlines to Make Your Trip Cheaper

Korean Air SkyTeam Award Booking Step-by-Step

You can book almost all SkyTeam award seats online at Korean Air’s website.  Korean Air’s search engine is excellent, and you only need to call Korean Air to book if the search engine gives you an error.

But you can NOT book non-alliance airlines online, so you’ll have to call Korean Air at 800-438-5000 to book.

You can mix airlines on SkyTeam award bookings, but can NOT mix non-alliance airlines with SkyTeam airlines.

Step 1.   Search for Flights

Go to the Korean Air award booking page and log-in to your account (free to join!).  

Once logged-in, you’ll see the award search engine.  You do NOT need miles in your account to search for flights.

Suppose you wanted to search for a round-trip ticket from New York – JFK to Paris.  This costs 50,000 Korean Air miles in coach or 80,000 Korean Air miles in Business Class.

You would:

  • Select “SkyTeam Award
  • Select “One Way
  • Type in “New York” and “Paris” into the “Fromand “To” boxes
  • Use the calendar to select your travel dates
  • Select “Economy Class” under “Cabin Class
  • Select which passenger is traveling

Then click “Find Flights.

Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 3 How To Book Award Flights On Partner Airlines
If You Want to Add a Stopover, Click “Multi-City” and Enter Your Flights. You Can Even Enter an Open-Jaw Using the Search Engine

You can only book award seats for yourself or family members, and family members must be registered prior to booking.  I’ll explain in a later post how to register family members under your account.

Step 2.   Select Your Flights

The search engine will give you a list of flights for the outbound and the return.  Select which flights you want.  In this case, I’m avoiding Delta because they have much higher fees than other airlines.

Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 3 How To Book Award Flights On Partner Airlines
Avoid Delta for International Flights Because They Have High Fuel Surcharges

After selecting your desired flights, scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Calculate.”  This will calculate the miles and fees required for the ticket.

Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 3 How To Book Award Flights On Partner Airlines
You Must Click “Calculate” to Get the Final Damage!

Step 3.   Book And Pay

Once you’re happy with the selected flights, click “Continue” under the price quote.  If you have enough miles for the ticket, you will enter passenger information and pay the taxes and fees with a credit card.

If you don’t have enough miles in your account, you’ll have to transfer enough flexible points to proceed.

Bottom Line

Korean Air offers amazing value for flights to Hawaii and Europe when you use their miles for partner award seats. Because you can have a FREE stopover and open-jaw on one ticket, you can visit multiple countries for one price!

Earning Korean Air miles is easy by transferring flexible points from Chase Ultimate Rewards and Starwood.

While Korean Air miles SkyTeam awards aren’t perfect for all trips, they are valuable for several sweet spots.  With a free stopover and open-jaw, you can see multiple cities for the price of one.  Next, I’ll show you how to book flights for family members using Korean Air miles.

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Hi,
I tried random dates in Sept, Nov, and Feb. Then I went to near end of schedule in March trying to duplicate what you did. NYC to Paris. Zippo. Is this no longer possible?

You can still book Korean Air partner awards, but it can be hard to find open awards. Did you try searching on ExpertFlyer first to find seats and then looking on the Korean Air website with those dates in hand?

This post will help you navigate ExpertFlyer if you go that route:

https://millionmilesecrets.com/2015/03/02/use-expertflyer-like-a-pro-part-1-introduction-to-expertflyer/

Can you do a stopover in Europe en route to Asia? If not, which programs allow this? TIA.

I’ve tried for months to get from East Coast to any of the Hawaiian Islands using Korean Air points with no luck.

was able to duplicate example to Europe; but, cannot for Hawaii. Tried departure cities of Atlanta, Denver and Orlando to KOA or HNL. Also, tried multiple dates. Got not results. Does this mean no availability? Can you send example where you got results?
Thanks
Troy

If my trip has 2 connections, do I need to call to book that flight?

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