I’ve written about Korean Air’s SkyPass program in the past. It’s interesting in that it allows for first class SkyTeam redemptions (which Delta SkyMiles can’t be used for), and also interesting because it’s a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, so the points can be pretty easy to come by if you have one of their credit cards.
The great thing about first class on many SkyTeam airlines is that they release a ton of award space, since not many people have access to those seats. It’s not unusual to see four or so first class award seats per flight on China Southern or Korean Air, so if you’re looking for a first class award for a large party, they’re a program that’s tough to beat.
Four Korean Air first class award seats
Six China Southern first class award seats
Anyway, per an announcement on their website, it appears as if they’ll be adjusting their award chart for bookings made as of April 1, 2014.
First of all, it’s worth noting that they’re giving plenty of advance notice here — this only applies for bookings made as of April 1, 2014, so you can issue tickets up until that date at the old rates, even if it’s for travel after April 1.
It seems they’re making changes to both their Korean Air award chart and SkyTeam award chart. The one thing that drives me absolutely bonkers about Korean Air is how many awards charts they have and how damn complicated they make them.
So I’ll cover the basics, or else this will turn into a research paper as long as a novel.
Korean Air award chart
Previously Korean Air charged a different number of miles whether you were flying their old or new premium class product. With the new award chart they’ll be charging the same number of miles regardless of whether you fly their Prestige or Prestige Sleeper business class seat, and the same number of miles regardless of whether you fly their First Class, First Kosmo Sleeper, or Kosmo Suites seat.
Here’s the old award chart for travel on Korean Air:
While here’s the new award chart for travel on Korean Air:
Best I can tell, for the most part redemption rates remain the same for the Prestige Sleeper business class product and Kosmo Suite first class product, they’re mostly simply getting rid of the differentiation in cost based on the type of product. The award chart is so mind-numbingly complicated, though, that I might be missing something.
SkyTeam award chart
Their new SkyTeam award chart can be found here. This is where most of the price increases seem to be.
For example, here’s the old chart for travel from Southeast Asia:
Meanwhile here’s the new chart for travel from Southeast Asia:
As you can see we’re looking mostly at premium cabin mileage increases. Between the US and Southeast Asia, for example, we’re talking about an increase of 20,000 miles per passenger roundtrip.
Meanwhile here’s the old chart for travel from the US:
And here’s the new chart for travel from the US:
As you can see there are only a couple of increases there, though oddly the chart doesn’t cover travel to many parts of Asia, which have gone up. To see those costs you have to work “backwards” and look at the cost of travel to the US from those regions (as opposed to looking at the cost of travel from the US to those regions).
Anyway, any devaluation is a bad one, though in the grand scheme of things I think this one is pretty mild compared to others we’ve seen. At least they’re giving a good bit of advance notice here, which I can’t say of certain other programs.
(Tip of the hat to Jeremy)