It’s finally happening – From 27 March 2016 Korean Airlines will replace the Boeing 777-300ER that currently serves the Seoul – London route with an Airbus A380 super jumbo.
Business Traveller has pointed out that this will be third time lucky for London after Korean was expected to use the city for its European A380 launch (but went for Paris instead) and then chose Frankfurt over London as its second European A380 destination.
This time around things are looking better for London with the A380-800 appearing on Korean Air’s website when you search for flights:
Naturally aircraft changes happen all the time so just because the aircraft appears bookable on the airline’s website don’t guarantee anything…but its a start.
The Premium Offering
The reason why a lot of Miles & Points enthusiast get excited about Korean Air is because the airline manages to combine an excellent premium cabin product with fantastic award availability.
Korean Air’s first class offering gets good reviews from those lucky enough to have tried the product….
…so it’s always good when you find out that it’s not that difficult to snag these seats with some miles.
Using ExpertFlyer.com I can see that, in the first week the A380 begins service to London, there are 3 First Class seats available for award redemption on almost every day – and in both directions!:
Seoul – London (click to enlarge):
London – Seoul (click to enlarge):
A one-way First Class award will set you back 80,000 miles + taxes and fees.
From London to Seoul that comes to 80,000 miles + $454.71 (£300/€410):
From Seoul to London it comes to 80,000 miles + KRW 28,000 ($25/£17/€23)…..
…so if you’re only going to fly the product in one direction it’s clearly a lot cheaper to fly from Seoul than it is to fly the other way.
Business Class awards cost fewer miles (62,500) but you’ll pay the same taxes and fees as you would for a First Class ticket so, if you have the miles, First Class appears better value.
How To Earn Miles
- Fly Korean Air – self explanatory
- Fly SkyTeam – Korean Air is a member of SkyTeam (Delta, Air France, KLM etc….) so you can use miles from SkyTeam airlines to book awards on Korean Air (check the partner award chards for each airline to find out how many miles you’ll need) or you can credit your flying to Korean Air’s SkyPass program.
From Credit Cards:
Korean Air is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards and, as of recently, Starwood SPG. Unfortunately for UK readers they’re not an Amex Membership Rewards Transfer Partner.
- Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer over to Korean Air SkyPass at a ratio of 1:1
- SPG Starpoints transfer over at a ratio of 1:1 but that can be improved to 1 : 1.25 if you transfer Starpoints over in multiples of 20,000.
If you’re a UK reader there is a way of converting Amex Membership Reward Points (MRPs) to Korean SkyPass…but it takes a little bit of work:
- Transfer MRPs to Starwood at a rate of 1 MRP to 0.5 Starpoints
- Transfer your newly acquired Starpoints over to Korean Air SkyPass.
This would give a net ratio of 1 MRP to 0.625 SkyPass Miles as long as you transfer over your Starpoints in multiples of 20,000.
Be Careful With How Many MRPs You Transfer!
The math is a bit more complicated thanks to Starwood’s bonus policy which reads:
[F]or every 20,000 Starpoints transferred within the same transaction, Starwood will automatically add another 5,000 Starpoints
So you’re not getting a 25% bonus if you transfer more than 20,000 miles – you’re getting 5,000 points for every 20,000 miles you transfer over. There’s a difference.
If it was as simple as getting a 25% bonus on your Starpoints transfer, you’d need 64,000 Starpoints (or 128,000 MRP) to get the 80,000 SkyPass miles you need for a First Class reward (64,000 x 1.25 = 80,000).
However, because of the way the Starwood bonus actually works, 64,000 Starpoints would only earn you 79,000 SkyPass miles. Here’s how:
- 60,000 of your Starpoints get transferred over at a 1:1 ratio = 60,000 SkyPass miles
- The same 60,000 earn you a 15,000 bonus SkyPass miles (5,000 bonus per 20,000 transferred)
- And the remaining 4,000 Starpoints get converted over at a 1:1 ratio = 4,000 SkyPass Miles
So you need to make sure you transfer over enough MRPs to leave you with 65,000 Starpoints which will then transfer to 80,000 SkyPass miles exactly. To earn 65,000 Starpoints you need to transfer 130,000 MRPs.
I’m not suggesting that this is a particularly great use of UK Amex Membership Points – but it’s one way for you to try out Korean Air’s First Class product if you don’t fly SkyTeam airlines or have a large Starpoints balance.
130,000 UK MRPs converts to 130,000 Avios or, if you do the above, 80,000 SkyPass miles – which is worth more to you?
Featured image courtesy of Eric Salard via Flickr