Korean Air SKYPASS Is Eliminating Free Stopovers In Korea On Award Bookings


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Award programs which allow travelers to take a stopover can be a very economical way of visiting more than one country in a single trip without having to pay any more miles than a regular roundtrip journey would cost.

American Airlines used to offer North American gateway stopovers on its awards before it eliminated the option in 2014 and United made its stopover policy a lot more complicated in 2016….but programs like Alaska’s Mileage Plan and Aeroplan still offer stopovers on award bookings to this day.

Korean Air First Class

Korean Air’s SKYPASS program currently has one of the more traveler friendly stopover policies around as it allows passengers 1 stopover per each one-way trip….but that will be changing from next year.

Korean Air has announced that, effective from 1 July 2020, stopovers will no longer be permitted on award bookings which transit through Korea and all transits will have to take place within a 24 hour period.

The policy will effect all flights taken from 1 July 2020 regardless of the booking date.

Per Korean Air:

Required mileage will be calculated for each flight based on the redemption chart from/to Korea when ticketing for a journey with a stopover.

When a stopover occurs after the start of your journey, mileage will be calculated again for each flight based on the redemption chart from/to Korea and any related fees will be charged.

To get a real-world understanding of how this changes things we need to take a look at the current Korean Airlines award chart:

Click to enlarge

As things stand roundtrip SKYPASS off-peak Business Class award between North America and Southeast Asia costs 150,000 miles and flyers booking this award can take a stopover in South Korea with no penalty whatsoever.

Taking a specific example…

The current rules mean that a traveler can book a roundtrip off-peak Business Class award of Los Angeles – Seoul – Singapore with a one or two stopovers in Seoul for 150,000 miles.

Under the new rules, travelers wishing to take a single stopover in Seoul will have their journey split into three separate awards:

  • Los Angeles – Seoul: 62,500 miles
  • Seoul – Singapore: 35,000 miles
  • Singapore – Seoul – Los Angeles: 75,000 miles

The total cost of the award under the new rules would be 172,500 miles

Travelers wishing to take a stopover in Seoul in either direction will have their journey split into two separate awards:

  • Los Angeles – Seoul – Los Angeles: 125,000 miles
  • Seoul – Singapore – Seoul: 70,000 miles

The total cost of the award under the new rules would be 195,000 miles

In this case the new award rules would increase the cost of an award between 15% and 30%.

Bottom Line

This change may not impact as may North American readers as it would have done before SKYPASS stopped being a Chase Ultimate Rewards partner, but this is a significant change nonetheless.

Stopovers can be a great way to have a two center vacation for the same flight cost as a one center vacation and they’re a big reason why Alaska Mileage Plan miles are so popular…so the elimination of Korean stopovers from the SKYPASS program is definitely something to be mourned.

I guess we should be thankful that SKYPASS has given its members over a year’s warning of the upcoming change so, if you have a sizeable balance of SKYPASS miles, I suggest you make the most of the warning we’ve been given.

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