While Delta SkyMiles are the mileage currency we like to make fun of, I actually think they’re sort of undervalued (at least for now). No, you can’t redeem SkyMiles for international first class, and yes, SkyMiles award rates for travel on Delta flights are ridiculous. But there are some really good options for business class travel on partner airlines.
For example, it’s fairly easy to redeem SkyMiles for travel to Asia in business class, as Delta partners with China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Korean Air, etc.
Anyway, if you’ve been looking for Korean Air business class award space using partner miles, you may have noticed a lack of availability lately. While this isn’t brand new, as a general rule of thumb it seems like:
- Korean Air is releasing no more than one business class award seat to partner airlines per flight
- Korean Air is releasing no more than two economy class award seats to partner airlines per flight
Korean Air A380 business class
While Delta and Korean Air aren’t exactly the closest partners, this lack of availability isn’t limited to Delta. Rather, Korean Air is applying the same policy to all their partner airlines.
For example, looking directly through Korean Air’s SkyPass program, they have 13 business class seats between New York and Seoul Incheon on March 21, 2016 (four on the earlier flight, and nine on the later flight).
Meanwhile if you look through Delta SkyMiles, you’ll see that they have exactly one business class award seat on the earlier flight, and none on the later flight.
Again, this restriction isn’t limited to Delta SkyMiles. For example, Alaska Mileage Plan only has access to the same one seat as well.
If looking for space on Korean Air using partner airline miles, you’ll notice that a decent number of dates have availability, but in all cases it seems to be just for one business class seat per flight. This is true to the US, Europe, for short-haul flights, and just about anywhere else.
Ultimately you can’t fault Korean Air for wanting to preserve as much space as possible for their own members. Korean Air SkyPass is an excellent program, and also a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner (although this unfortunately changed in 2017), so it’s not too difficult to accrue miles in their program directly.
That being said, Korean Air miles can also be redeemed for travel in Korean Air first class, so it’s sort of tough to justify redeeming those miles for business class when first class is so readily available.
Korean Air A380 first class
This is just something to be aware of if you’re trying to redeem partner airline miles for travel in Korean Air business class. If you’re looking for two seats, you might as well give up before even starting your search.
China Airlines 777-300ER business class
Have you experienced the lack of award availability when booking Korean Air using partner airline miles?
(Tip of the hat to The Points Guy)