There are many things to love about the Korean Air SkyPass program, which is transfer partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards, meaning the points can easily be earned with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card.
In addition to all around lucrative redemption rates, Korean Air SkyPass is also one of the few SkyTeam frequent flyer programs to allow international first class redemptions. While international first class redemptions are fairly standardized in onewworld and Star Alliance, in SkyTeam they’re only available when an agreement is specifically negotiated between programs.
So historically you’ve been able to redeem Korean Air SkyPass miles for travel in first class on Korean Air, China Eastern, China Southern, and Saudia. The great news is since most members of SkyTeam programs don’t have access to this award availability, award space is plentiful. It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to book way in advance or close to departure, finding SkyTeam first class award tickets is (almost) always a breeze.
Redeem Korean Air SkyPass miles for Saudia first class
However, unfortunately it looks like one negative change has been made to these redemption opportunities. As of November 1, 2017, it’s no longer possible to redeem Korean Air SkyPass miles for travel in China Southern’s international first class. The following notice shows up when doing a SkyTeam partner award chart on Korean Air’s website:
I’m not sure what exactly prompted this decision, though I’m sad to see this development. China Southern was the first airline I ever redeemed SkyPass miles for, as I flew their A380 in first class from Los Angeles to Guangzhou. While the experience was almost comically bad, it was nice to have access to a readily available first class award product between the US and China.
China Southern A380 first class
China Southern first class
Fortunately it’s still possible to redeem miles for China Eastern first class, and they have first class on all their 777-300ER aircraft.
(Tip of the hat to Richard Birnbaum)