The Complete Guide to Korean Air SkyPass

There’s no need for you to be a frequent traveler to Asia for you to enjoy the perks of being a Korean Air SkyPass member. You can use Korean Air SkyPass miles to book flights all around the world with partner airlines, taking you to destinations like Europe and Africa on partners ranging from Alaska to Delta. Plus, if you do get an opportunity to fly Korean Air, you certainly won’t regret it; the airline is lauded as one of the best in luxury travel in the entire world.

Intrigued? Keep reading to find out how you can get started with Korean Air SkyPass and how to make the most of the loyalty program.

Korean Air
Korean Air. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

The SkyPass Elite Status Program

With any airline loyalty program, you likely want to try to earn your way into the elite status program, as that’s where you’ll enjoy some additional perks during your travel. The SkyPass program is made up of the basic membership and then sorted into three different tiers: Morning Club Calm, Morning Club Premium Club and Million Miler Club.

You earn your way into these tiers through taking flights on Korean Air or flying miles on Korean Air and SkyTeam partners combined.

Here’s how it breaks down:

  • To earn Morning Calm Club status, you have to accumulate 50,000 miles or more on Korean Air OR 40 qualifying flights on Korean Air OR 50,000 miles on Korean Air and SKYPASS partners combined, with at least 30,000 of those miles on Korean Air.
  • To earn Morning Calm Premium Club status, you have to accumulate 500,000 miles or more on Korean Air and other SkyTeam Alliance airlines.
  • To earn Million Miler Club status, you obviously need 1 million miles or more on Korean Air or other SkyTeam Alliance airlines.

Once you’ve earned these statuses, you can keep your Morning Calm Club status for two years, but the other two are valid for a lifetime.

Korean Air Skypass
Fly with Korean Air to earn elite status. Photo: Pixabay

To maintain your Morning Calm Club membership past the two years, you need to fly 30,000 miles or more on Korean Air, fly 20 qualifying segments or fly 30,000 miles on Korean Air and partner airlines combined (with at least 20,000 miles on Korean Air).

With Morning Calm Club status, you enjoy:

  • Your own check-in counter just for Morning Calm Club
  • Additional baggage allowance
  • Priority baggage handling
  • Priority reservation waitlist
  • SkyTeam Elite Member eligibility
  • Access to the Korean Air Prestige Class lounge (up to four times over two years)

With Morning Calm Premium Status, you enjoy all of the above, plus:

  • An exclusive Million Miler and Morning Calm Premium check-in counter
  • Unrestricted access to the Prestige Class lounge
  • Redemption of off-peak mileage for award travel during peak season
  • Exemption from reissue charges on bonus tickets

With Million Miler status, you enjoy all of the above, plus:

  • Exclusive hotline access while in Korea
  • Special gifts for Million Miler members only

Earning SkyPass Miles

There are several different ways to earn Korean Air SkyPass miles. Although unfortunately due to some changes last year, there aren’t as many ways to earn the miles for U.S. residents as there previously were. Last year Chase and SkyPass terminated their relationship. However, it is still possible to earn and use your SkyPass miles relatively easily.

Miles Earned from Flying

If you do have a chance to fly Korean Air, you can easily earn miles that way. Miles earned are determined by the route and booking class.

You can see in the chart below the destinations in North America that Korean Air services, and the miles that you stand to earn by flying the routes between Incheon and those North American destinations.

Image: Korean Air

If you’re looking to earn the most miles on a Korean Air flight possible, the North American routes do offer the most miles, obviously because of the long distance, but you can earn similar amounts by taking routes between Incheon and destinations in Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania.

Your mileage accrual rate likewise differs by class, so that you can earn more miles in first or Prestige classes.

Image: Korean Air

Miles Earned Via Credit Cards

As stated, previously you would’ve been able to earn SkyPass miles with any credit card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case, and you’ll have to look into the actual Korean Air co-branded cards to find a credit card that makes sense for your miles earning purposes.

There are four cards to choose from:

  1. The SkyPass Select Visa Signature card gives you up to $200 in annual travel credits; 2X miles on Korean Air and other travel; a Korean Air ticket discount each year; KAL Lounge vouchers; and a $450 annual fee.
  2. The SkyPass Visa Signature card lets you earn miles at the same rate (the only difference is that you can’t earn miles on car rentals), also comes with lounge vouchers and a ticket discount, but the annual fee is much lower at $95.
  3. The SkyBlue SkyPass Visa has no annual fee at all; you receive 5,000 bonus miles for signing up, and you earn 1 mile per $2 spent on anything and everything.
  4. Finally, there’s the SkyPass Visa Business card, which is very similar to the SkyPass Visa Signature, in that it comes with the same mileage earning potential and perks, as well as the same annual fee, but you can add employees onto the account as authorized users.

Miles Earned Via Partner Brands

Photo: Delta

SkyPass has a large number of partner airlines that you can earn with, so even if you don’t fly Korean Air, you can still earn Korean Air SkyPass miles by flying whatever airline services your area (because, with a list like this, you definitely have an option).

Partner airlines include:

AeroflotAerolineasAeroMexicoAirEuropaAir FranceAlitalia
Czech AirlinesChina EasternChina AirlinesDeltaGaruda IndonesiaKenya Airways
KLMMEASaudiaTaromVietnam AirlinesXiamen Air
Alaska AirlinesAmerican AirlinesChina SouthernEmiratesEtihadJet Airways
Hawaiian AirlinesGOL

The earning rate differs for each partner, but with all you need to make sure you provide your SkyPass membership number when booking and present your SkyPass card at airport check-in, and then keep your ticket and boarding pass until you’re sure the miles have posted to your SkyPass account (three to 14 days after travel).

Hotel stays

Skypass hotel stays
Treat yourself to nights away and earn SkyPass miles too. Photo: Pixabay

Korean Air also has many hotel partners which can help boost your earnings if you stay away from home frequently. 

  • Earn 500 miles per stay at select hotels in Korea specifically, including KAL Hotel, Hotel Lotte and The Shilla Seoul. For hotel partners around the world that might be a little more accessible to the average traveler, the rates vary quite a lot.
  • On hotels.com, you’ll receive 1 mile for every $1 spent on a stay.
  • With AccorHotels, you’ll earn 2,000 SkyPass miles for every 4,000 Le Club AccorHotels points you earn.
  • With Marriott Bonvoy, you can earn up to 2 miles for every $1 spent, though the rate differs according to the brand (either 1 or 2 miles). You can also transfer your Marriott Bonvoy points to SkyPass miles at a rate of 3 points per 1 mile.
  • With IHG, you’ll earn 500 miles per stay at InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Express by Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites properties. The same rate is valid for World of Hyatt properties.
  • At Raffles, Fairmont, Swissotel, Shangri-La, Nikko Hotels International, and Okura Hotels & Resorts properties, you’ll earn 500 miles per stay as well.

Other travel-related earning partners include rental brands like Hertz, Alamo, National, Avis, Hanjin, AJ, and Lotte. For the international rental services, you’ll earn 500 miles per rental.

SkyPass Shopping

SkyPass shopping
Get additional SkyPass miles for shopping. Photo: Pexels

As is the case with many loyalty programs, Korean Air SkyPass offers its own shopping portal. The way the shopping portal communicates with your SkyPass account, however, is a bit out of the ordinary. The shopping portal is the Cyber SkyShop; as you shop for duty-free purchases, you earn SkyPoints. Then, the SkyPoints can be converted into SkyPass miles, at a rate of 1,000 points to 500 miles.

Redeeming Your SkyPass Miles

The hands-down best way to redeem your SkyPass miles once you’ve earned them using the tactics above is on award flights, whether you have the opportunity to fly Korean Air or one of the airline’s many partners.

Korean Air releases a large number of award seats across all its cabins, so you can easily find a seat on a flight you want, and even in one of the airline’s coveted first-class cabins.

Korean Air award prices differ according to on-peak and off-peak dates. Obviously, on-peak travel costs more. See the table below to give you an idea of what some of the award prices are when you’re flying to or from Korea, from anywhere in the world.

To book award flights with Korean Air partners that are located in North America, see the award pricing table below.

Other options for redeeming SkyPass miles include:

  • Hotel stays
  • Rental cars
  • Airport transfers
  • Tourist attractions
  • Merchandise
  • Airport Services

Final Thoughts

Though SkyPass has some issues (such as not allowing any more earnings via Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfers), it does give you some good options with all those redemption partners. If you’ve room in your wallet for another miles-earning credit card, it might not be such a bad idea to give the SkyPass program some consideration.

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