As we discussed in the two previous installments of this series, around-the-world itineraries booked with miles and points are highly sought-after, yet not many frequent-flyer programs offer them anymore.
Still, each major airline alliance includes at least one or two programs that offer such ornate bookings, and we’ve already gone over these options for Oneworld and Star Alliance, using Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles, respectively.
In this installment, we’re focusing on how to book RTW trips in the SkyTeam alliance using Korean Air SKYPASS miles.
How Many SKYPASS Miles Do I Need For A Round-The-World Bonus Ticket?
Korean Air allows using miles for two around-the-world ticket types:
- Economy – 140,000 miles
- Business – 220,000 miles
First class is not available for this ticket type. In case some of your segments are in business class and some are in a lower class, the higher redemption rate will apply to your booking.
Keep in mind that SKYPASS miles aren’t as easy to obtain as they used to be. Since the program is no longer a Chase Ultimate Rewards partner, one of the ways to get your hands on these miles is by making a transfer from Marriott Rewards points at a 3:1 ratio. Remember that every 60,000-point block will result in a 5,000-mile bonus.
Another option is to sign up for one of the co-branded Korean Air credit cards issued by U.S. Bank and earn the miles by swiping it for purchases, but both the earning rates and the benefits are lackluster. Three of the four available cards come with a welcome bonus of 30,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases. The fourth card has a much smaller bonus of just 5,000 miles.
Additionally, flying SkyTeam partners and crediting your flights to SKYPASS is another way to earn Korean Air miles, but this is a much longer route to earning a chunk of miles at once.
Round-The-World Bonus Ticket Terms And Conditions
You have to travel continuously in one direction, either east or west, and cross the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans at least once.
You can visit up to nine cities by making up to nine transfers total or up to six stopovers on a SKYPASS RTW award. Transfers are stops shorter than 24 hours (or shorter than four hours on domestic U.S. segments), and stopovers are longer than 24 hours.
Travel areas are defined as follows:
- Area 1: North / South America
- Area 2: Europe / Africa / Middle East
- Area 3: Asia / Oceania
So, you’re allowed up to three transfers plus two additional transfers in each travel area and three stopovers plus one additional stopover in each travel area.
As with many RTW tickets, you must start and end your trip in the same travel area. Backtracking is not allowed unless it’s within the same area. For more conditions, please feel free to consult with this page.
How To Book A Round-The-World Award
To search for availability on Korean Air, you must have an account and be logged in. Make sure to check either “Korean Air Award” or “SkyTeam Award” box. Korean Air awards will display availability on Korean Air only, and SkyTeam will include all other partners.
You can redeem the miles on flights operated by all SkyTeam members plus some non-alliance partners, including:
|Aerolíneas Argentinas||Garuda Indonesia|
|Air Europa||Hawaiian Airlines|
|Air France||Jet Airways|
|Alaska Airlines||Kenya Airways|
|China Airlines||Middle East Airlines|
|China Eastern Airlines||Saudia|
|Delta Air Lines||Vietnam Airlines|
You can also use Air France or Delta websites to search for availability, which you can search a month at a time. You don’t have to log in to your account on Delta to perform a search, but you do on Air France.
So, let’s go ahead and create a sample RTW trip on SkyTeam partners. All legs are in business class, and I was looking for nonstop options for this particular example. The good news is I was able to find premium-cabin space on all of these segments:
- Los Angeles (LAX) to Seoul (ICN) on Korean Air
- Seoul (ICN) to Bangkok (BKK) on Korean Air
- Bangkok (BKK) to Nairobi (NBO) on Kenya Airways
- Nairobi (NBO) to Paris (CDG) on Air France
- Paris (CDG) to Amsterdam (AMS) on KLM
- Amsterdam (AMS) to Los Angeles (LAX) on KLM
You can complete this 22,600-mile itinerary for 220,000 SKYPASS miles all in business class. You’ll have five stopovers in two areas (not counting North America as your point of departure / final destination) traveling westbound around the globe. We’re not touching South America on this particular trip, but you’re well within fare rules to add a stop on the continent if you wish.
RTW awards have to be booked over the phone (800-438-5000) or at a Korean Air ticketing office. However, the biggest problem you’ll encounter when booking one of these awards is the fact that you can’t pay for it over the phone. The cash portion of the flights have to be covered at a Korean Air service center.
We recommend putting the reservation on hold before submitting final payment. If you don’t live in a city with a Korean Air service center, contact them by phone for further details.
The Downside of Redeeming SKYPASS Miles
Unfortunately, Korean Air passes on fuel surcharges to award tickets. Sometimes the taxes are within reason, and other times they’re on the high side, depending on the carriers you use.
For example, the itinerary in question will cost about $1,050 on top of the miles you’ll redeem. Not a huge sum when you consider how far you’ll be flying in business class and especially when you consider the actual price tag on such fancy flights. Although points and miles can save you quite a bit of cash, they don’t make travel completely free.
How to Book Korean Air Awards for Others
You might’ve heard that booking award flights for other travelers besides yourself in the SKYPASS program is a bit of a convoluted process, and you’re not wrong. However, the process is worth the end result as it can keep your wallet nice and heavy by shaving off zeroes from your total trip cost.
Unlike other programs, it’s possible to use Korean Air miles for booking award tickets for immediate family members only. To prove the relationship, you’ll need to fill out the family registration application and send copies of applicable documents, such as a marriage license to register your spouse, birth certificates to register your children, etc. Each family member must have a SKYPASS account for the registration, which you can then add to your list of companions.
You need to complete the process just once, after which it shouldn’t be an issue to book trips for family members.
Keep in mind that children’s and infants’ tickets cost the same in miles as adults’ flights.
SkyTeam partners cover more than 1,000 destinations in 177 countries, and you can get a taste of some of these places by booking an around-the-world trip with Korean Air SKYPASS miles. Sure, the miles aren’t easy to earn anymore, but if you have a chunk of Marriott points to burn, it can open up a world of possibilities.
All that’s left is picking the cities you want to visit and jetting off on your journey around the globe!
Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.