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Headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, Korean Air got its start in the 1960s with only eight planes. Since then, the airline has expanded to 159 planes and now serves 43 countries and 120 destinations, including 13 cities in South Korea. Korean Air U.S. routes, covered in detail below in this guide to Korean Air, include cities on both coasts and in the central U.S.
Korean Air is a founding member of the SkyTeam alliance, along with Delta Air Lines, Air France and KLM, so the Korean Air miles and elite status you earn can be leveraged with partners across the airline alliance. Here’s everything you need to know about the Korean Air Skypass program.
An overview of Korean Air
Korean Air offers economy, business and first class flights. Flights earn Korean Air Skypass miles based on the type of fare you book. For business and first class flights on Korean Air’s U.S. routes, there’s an opportunity to earn quite a few miles because you earn miles based on distance flown.
Points currency and loyalty program: Skypass is the frequent flyer loyalty program offered to Korean Air members. The Korean Air miles that you earn are called Korean Air Skypass miles. These are the miles that members can use to book award flights on both Korean Air and its partner airlines.
Fare types: There are three classes of service offered by Korean Air: first class, Prestige Class, which is business class, and economy. For paid tickets, the letter of your booking class determines the number of miles you earn for the flight you book from 0% to 200%. For example, a “P” booking class is an international first-class flight that earns 200% of the miles flown.
Main U.S. routes: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, New York-JFK, Boston, Washington-Dulles, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta and Chicago-O’Hare are the cities Korean Air flies to from Seoul-Incheon. Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta have daily service, offering two flights per day.
How to earn Korean Air Skypass miles
There are three primary ways to earn miles in the Skypass program. Members can earn miles by flying, through credit card spending and by transferring Marriott Bonvoy points.
Earn by flying
Skypass members can earn miles by flying Korean Air or its partner airlines. The number of miles you earn is based upon the distance and booking class of your flight. For example, a first-class Korean Air flight from Dallas to Seoul is 6,824 miles and, in booking class P, earns 200% of the miles flown. So, 6,824 miles multiplied by 200% equals 13,648 Korean Air miles earned.
Earn by spending on credit cards
For U.S. citizens, Korean Air offers the SKYPASS Select Visa Signature® Card, SKYPASS Visa® Signature Credit Card, SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card, Skyblue Skypass Visa and Skypass Visa Business. These credit cards reward your everyday spending by paying you miles credited to your Skypass loyalty account.
» Learn more: The best ways to use Korean Air Skypass Miles
Earn by transferring
For example, 60,000 Marriott points will get you a total of 25,000 Korean Air miles. You can then use these miles to book an award flight. Once you transfer your Marriott points, the points cannot be returned to your Marriott account.
Other ways to earn
Certain hotels, rental car companies like Hertz and Avis and other partners, like the CyberSky shopping portal, provide additional avenues to earn Korean Air miles. Korean Air’s Family Plan allows up to five family members to pool miles that can be redeemed for an award flight.
» Learn more: Is the SKYPASS Visa Secured Card worth its annual fee?
How to redeem Korean Air Skypass miles for maximum value
Redeeming Skypass miles for award flights is likely to return the highest value for your miles. However, Korean Air offers additional ways to redeem its miles, some of which are certainly unique.
To determine the number of miles you need to book a flight, the Skypass program has multiple charts: a Korean Air flight award chart, a SkyTeam flight award chart, other charts for non-SkyTeam partners and a Round the World award chart that lets you redeem miles for multi-stop itineraries circling the globe. There is also a separate chart showing how many points you need to upgrade a ticket on Korean Air and another for upgrading your ticket on SkyTeam partner airlines.
Korean Air award chart
With the Korean Air award chart, members have access to peak and off-peak pricing. This means award flights during off-peak dates require fewer miles.
» Learn more: 5 award sweet spots using Korean Air Skypass miles
SkyTeam award chart
Korean Air is a SkyTeam member, like Delta Air Lines, so your Korean Air miles can be used to book flights with any of its SkyTeam partner airlines. For example, you can book a round-trip Delta flight between the mainland U.S. and Hawaii with 25,000 Korean Air miles.
Other partner award charts
Korean Air also has partnerships with non-SkyTeam alliance partners, including Alaska Airlines, Emirates, Etihad, GOL and Hawaiian Airlines. An example of how to use your miles with these partners would be to book a round-trip Alaska Airlines economy flight between the U.S. and Costa Rica with a stopover with 30,000 Korean Air miles.
Round the World award chart
This chart is of interest to only a tiny segment of Skypass members — specifically, travelers who want to fly literally around the world on SkyTeam partner airlines, with up to six stopovers, crossing two oceans, all while traveling in just one direction and landing in the same country you started in.
For example you could book a Round the World trip from Seoul to Los Angeles to New York to Paris to Hong Kong and finally to Busan. If you’re up for it, this trip will cost you 140,000 Skypass miles in economy class and 220,000 miles in either business class or a combination of business and economy class. Read up on the rules, restrictions and booking procedures before trying to redeem this award.
Other ways to redeem miles
You can also redeem miles for Korean Air Lounge access, excess baggage fees, Korean Air logo products, award nights in its partner hotels, car rentals and limousines, and other tourism activities. Redeeming miles in this way is not likely to yield high value, but is an option available to Skypass members.
» Learn more: How to save money on international flights
Korean Air elite status
Morning Calm offers SkyTeam elite status, an additional baggage allowance and Korean Air Prestige Class lounge access. Morning Calm Premium comes with all of the benefits Morning Calm plus access to off-peak award rates during peak season, and no award or upgrade ticket change fees. Million Miler offers all of the benefits of Morning Calm Premium plus an exclusive elite membership phone line.
Morning Calm Premium and Million Miler status are earned by the number of miles you fly. For Morning Calm status, qualification is based upon the number of miles you fly or flight segments. The chart below highlights how to qualify for each elite tier.
Morning Calm Premium Club
Million Miler Club
50,000 miles or more on Korean Air or 40 qualifying flights on Korean Air or 50,000 or more miles on Korean Air and Skypass partners combined (at least 30,000 flown miles on Korean Air).
500,000 miles or more on Korean Air and/or other SkyTeam Alliance airlines.
1 million miles or more on Korean Air and/or other SkyTeam Alliance airlines.
Valid for 2 years.
Morning Calm membership re-qualification.
Members can extend membership validity by any of the following: 30,000 miles flown on Korean Air; 20 qualifying Korean Air flights; or 30,000 miles flown on Korean Air and partner airline flights combined, with at least 20,000 miles or 15 qualifying Korean Air flights.
Korean Air Skypass, recapped
Collecting Korean Air Skypass miles can be a challenge since the airline doesn’t let you convert AmEx Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards® or Citi ThankYou points into Skypass miles. But if you can earn enough miles by flying Korean Air or its partner airlines, redemption rates for award flights can be competitive.
If you’re flying to Asia, Korean Air could be a good choice, including in economy. Most Korean Air economy reviews will agree that the food, service and seats are on par with other major airlines. And if you have a strategy for earning Skypass miles, its loyalty program can offer good value.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card