In December 2019 – shortly before the start of the pandemic – Korean Air announced a huge devaluation of their frequent flyer program with revenue-based mileage-earning and a new distance-based award chart coming in April 2021.
Korean Air has offered one of the more lucrative frequent flyer programs for many years, and access to outstanding award inventory not made available to its partners. They used to be a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, and before that relationship ended I transferred hundreds of thousands of points into my own SkyPass account.
However they’re also part of a joint venture with (and partially owned by) Delta, so devaluation of their mileage program was almost a given. Under planned changes the price of a business class award from New York to Singapore would have doubled while the cost of short-distance coach redemptions would have gone down.
|Domestic S. Korea||5,000||10,000||15,000||5,000|
|Less Thank 500 mi||10,000||20,000||30,000||10,000|
|500 – 999||12,500||25,000||37,500||12,500|
|1000 – 1499||15,000||30,000||45,000||15,000|
|1500 – 1999||17,500||35,000||52,500||22,500|
|2000 – 2999||22,500||45,000||67,500||30,000|
|3000 – 3999||27,500||55,000||82,500||37,500|
|4000 – 4999||32,500||65,000||97,500||45,000|
|5000 – 6499||40,000||80,000||120,000||55,000|
|6500 – 9999||45,000||90,000||135,000||62,500|
High season redemptions come at a 50% premium to the distance-based chart above.
The partner award chart will become more expensive as well. Flights will be priced one way, with slightly higher mileage pricing for travel on partners than on Korean (ranging from an extra 1000 miles for the shortest coach flights to an extra 15,000 miles for the longest first class flights).
Fly With Moxie reports on local Korean media sharing the airline plans to delay their devaluation. The reason given is that members haven’t been able to use their miles for international travel during the time between the announcement and when changes were scheduled to go into effect.
It’s unclear when the airline plans to make this announcement, or how far out the devaluation will be rescheduled – hopefully indefinitely. Update: Korean Air will postpone their devaluation by two years, until April 2023.