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Reader Steven emailed to compliment my comprehensive series on redeeming American Airlines miles and to ask me to create a similar series for foreign programs that are transfer partners of:

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Citi ThankYou Points
  • SPG Starpoints

I can’t say I’ll get through all of the dozens of transfer partners, but I will start with the most important ones and see how far I get. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

  1. Korean SkyPass parts 1, 2, and 3. Korean miles are so important because Korean First Class is the most available First Class product in the world (part 1), and Korean has some super cheap awards on partners (parts 2 and 3.)
  2. Singapore KrisFlyer parts 1 and 2 (starting today)

My overall take on foreign programs is that they are amazing and terrible at the same time.

Almost every foreign program is TERRIBLE if you were to use it as your only frequent flyer program because many awards are expensive and most foreign programs impose massive fuel surcharges on most awards. However each program is AMAZING for some redemptions that are much cheaper than you can book with American frequent flyer programs.

Since we can transfer points into foreign programs and only book these sweetspot awards, we can get some major value.

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 7.49.48 PM

The foreign programs’ sweetspots vary widely. With some foreign programs, the best deals are to fly American airlines within the United States. With some foreign programs, the best deals are to fly partner in economy. With some foreign programs, the best deal is to fly the carrier itself in First Class.

Do not overlook foreign transfer options if you want to travel more, better, and cheaper with your points and miles.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

2

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Korean Air has multiple award charts when redeeming its SkyPass miles. There is one award chart to fly Korean, one award chart to fly SkyTeam partners, and award charts to fly Alaska, Hawaiian, Gol, and Emirates (click logos). Each award chart has sweetspots, so I will run through all the sweetspots in three posts. The post on Korean Air sweetspots is here. The post on SkyTeam sweetspots is here. This is the last post, about sweet spots when flying Korean’s non-alliance partners.

Korean SkyPass miles should have your attention. You can easily transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards or SPG Starpoints to Korean miles and then book cheap, abundant award space on Korean and its partners.

Korean SkyPass awards that fly non-SkyTeam partners have the following rules:

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 2.26.04 PM

 

  • Roundtrip and one way awards are the same price, so book roundtrip awards.
  • Emirates and Hawaiian awards are priced per segment, so connecting itineraries are really two awards.
  • Alaska and Gol awards are NOT priced per segment, so connecting awards are allowed for the price on the award chart.
  • You get one stopover per roundtrip award in addition to the destination on Alaska and Gol awards. You can also feel free to stopover between segments on Emirates and Hawaiian awards, since connecting itineraries are really separate awards.
  • You get one open jaw, at the destination only

Add that up, and you see that awards on Alaska and GOL can include time in four cities.

  • A to B (stopover)
  • B to C (destination, open jaw between C and D)
  • D to A

You can include more if you want to take advantage of 23 hour layovers, but I’ll ignore that option for the rest of the post.

SkyPass awards will include fuel surcharges when an identical cash ticket would have fuel surcharges. You can use ITA Matrix to look up fuel surcharge info for the awards in this post. Only the awards flying Emirates, not the awards on Gol, Hawaiian, or Alaska have fuel surcharges.

 

So what are the good deals on the non-alliance partners’ award charts? Let’s look at the charts one by one.

Emirates Chart

This award chart takes up the most space, so I have just excerpted it:

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 1.24.39 PM

 

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 1.24.29 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-01 at 1.26.25 PM

Every roundtrip direct flight is a new award, and there are no bargains on the award chart. The United States to Dubai roundtrip is 210,000 miles plus fuel surcharges. Alaska charges 180,000 miles with no fuel surcharges and is also an SPG partner.

Better yet, Alaska allows one way awards to Africa, Europe, or Asia for 100,000 miles in First Class and allows a free stopover in Dubai. I have about 22 hours of Emirates First Class booked this month for 100,000 Alaska miles plus small taxes. Don’t book longhaul Emirates flights with Korean miles.

The short haul flights are probably not a great deal either. Yes, Hong Kong to Bangkok roundtrip is 70,000 miles in First Class, and Auckland to Australia roundtrip is 75,000 miles in First Class. That’s two showers for not a ton of miles, but there are fuel surcharges, and it’s probably not convenient for Americans to fly roundtrips on these routes.

Alaska Chart

The Alaska award chart is very good when you consider that you are allowed a free stopover and free open jaw.

 

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 1.24.50 PM

 

You could fly something like Washington DC to Seattle (stopover), to Honolulu, returning from Maui to Washington DC for 30,000 miles total.

For direct flights, though, you are probably better off using British Airways Avios to book the same Alaska award space.

Hawaiian Chart

Within Hawaii, tickets for 10,000 miles roundtrip are a decent deal if the flights are going for about $100 one way.

 

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 1.25.57 PM

 

From New York (JFK) to Honolulu for 30k/60k roundtrip is a very good deal, but there is precious little award space on the route. From Hawaii to Tahiti or Samoa for 60k/90k is a decent deal if you have a need for those routes.

The awards to Australia and Asia in First Class are much cheaper with American or Hawaiian miles.

Gol Chart

The Economy Comfort deals are awful, but the economy prices could be worth paying if you can maximize the itinerary.

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 1.25.37 PM

 

For instance, for 25,000 miles, you can book something like:

  • Sao Paulo to Buenos Aires (destination, open jaw between Buenos Aires and Montevideo)
  • Montevideo to Porto Alegre ( stopover)
  • Porto Alegre to Sao Paulo
Getting Korean Miles

Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 instantly to Korean miles

SPG points transfer 1:1 to Korean miles, and for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred, you get 5,000 extra Korean miles. So to get 25,000 Korean miles, you’d need to transfer 20,000 Starpoints. Starpoints transfers are not instant. In a few days, we’ll probably know how long they take.

The Starwood Preferred Guest personal and business credit cards from American Express are offering their once-a-year 30,000 Starpoints bonuses. The personal card requires spending $3,000 in the first three months, and the business card requires spending $5,000 in the first three months to unlock the bonuses.

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.20.20 PM

The increased bonus is only for applicants approved by September 14, 2015.

Links:

Bottom Line

The non-alliance partners offer fewer sweetspots than flying Korean Air or SkyTeam partners. Check out the the Korean Air sweetspots and the SkyTeam sweetspots. I see some value in flying Alaska to Hawaii with a stopover (though remember that it is cheaper to fly Delta to Hawaii with Korean miles) and some possible value on Gol intra-South America.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

14

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Korean Air has multiple award charts when redeeming its SkyPass miles. There is one award chart to fly Korean, one award chart to fly SkyTeam partners, and award charts to fly Alaska, Hawaiian, Gol, and Emirates (click logos). Each award chart has sweetspots, so I will run through all the sweetspots in three posts. The post on Korean Air sweetspots is here. You are reading the second post on sweetspots on the SkyTeam chart.This third post on sweetspots when flying Korean’s non-alliance partners is here.

Korean SkyPass miles should have your attention. You can easily transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards or SPG Starpoints to Korean miles and then book cheap, abundant award space on Korean and its partners.

Korean SkyPass awards that fly SkyTeam partners have the following rules:

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 3.29.54 AM

  • Roundtrip and one way awards are the same price, so book roundtrip awards
  • You get one stopover per roundtrip award in addition to the destination
  • You can have three segments maximum in each direction
  • You get one open jaw, at the destination only

Add that up, and you see that a SkyPass SkyTeam award can include time in four cities.

  • A to B (stopover)
  • B to C (destination, open jaw between C and D)
  • D to A

You can include more if you want to take advantage of 23 hour layovers, but I’ll ignore that option for the rest of the post.

SkyPass awards will include fuel surcharges when an identical cash ticket would have fuel surcharges. I used ITA Matrix to look up fuel surcharge info for the awards I’ll talk about in this post. You can do the same thing to estimate the taxes and fuel surcharges of an award you have in mind.

The regions for the SkyTeam award chart are mostly what you’d expect, with interesting exceptions highlighted.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 3.20.55 AM

So what are the good deals on the SkyTeam award chart?

Here are some deals I particularly like:

  • Mainland to Hawaii: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 45,000 miles roundtrip in First Class
  • Within USA, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, and Hawaii: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 45,000 miles roundtrip in First Class
  • North America to South America: 50,000 miles in economy
  • South America Hopper: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 40,000 in Business
  • China Hopper: 20,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 25,000 in Business
  • Indonesia Hopper: 20,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 25,000 in Business
  • Middle East Hopper: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 40,000 in Business
  • Europe Hopper: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy

Note that I don’t include the Vietnam Hopper or Taiwan hopper because of fuel surcharges on Vietnam Airlines and China Airlines.

Within USA, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, and Hawaii: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 45,000 miles roundtrip in First Class

Simple Mainland to Hawaii

Korean is the only airline I know of that puts Hawaii in the same region as the rest of North America for trips within North America. Take advantage with a roundtrip to Hawaii on Delta flights.

I’d search delta.com for award space one way at a time. Make sure your search on delta.com looks like this, including ticking the “Delta Only” circle (to avoid Alaska Airlines results, which you can book with Korean miles, but at a higher price.)

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 3.54.05 AMYour results need to be priced at 22,500 Delta miles one way in economy or 40,000 or 50,000 Delta miles one way in First/Business Class for Korean to have access to the award space. I won’t say there’s a lot, but there is some, and if you are flexible, you can get it for about half what Delta would charge for the same seats.
Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 3.54.36 AM

If you’d like, you can fly into one island and home from another. Just book an interisland flight for under $100 per person to island hop in Hawaii. You can also have a stopover in one direction in a city like Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, or Atlanta.

Other Options

Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands are all included in the region. You can fly to one, open jaw to another, and stopover in a third on your way home. This 25,000 miles award in economy is constrained only by your imagination.

There are no fuel surcharges on Delta flights within the region that Korean defines as North America.

North America to South America: 50,000 miles in economy

(Korean charges 110,000 miles roundtrip in Business Class to South America, which is better than Delta, but Alaska charges only 45,000 miles each way in AeroMexico Business Class.)

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 3.22.37 AM

Korean groups all of South America into one region, so this isn’t a good deal to Northern South America, which you can get to for as little as 15,000 American Airlines miles one way.

This is, however, a good deal to Southern South America, since the normal price is 60,000 miles roundtrip.

AeroMexico releases good award space in economy to many destinations in South America via Mexico City, and Delta and Aerolineas Argentinas release some award space. You can search all three airlines on delta.com.

All the Aerolineas Argentinas and AeroMexico award space there can be booked with Korean miles; only the Delta space priced at 30,000 miles one way can be booked with Korean miles. None of the award space within the Americas has fuel surcharges.

I’d look into flying to Southern South America with a stopover in Mexico City, and using an open jaw to return from a different part of South America. Look for an open jaw that you can fill with a cheap British Airways Avios award on LAN flights.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 6.32.35 PM

Within South America: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 40,000 in Business

Your only option within South America is Aerolineas Argentinas, which has two hubs at the two Buenos Aires airports.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 3.25.08 AM

Here are its flights from the mainly domestic airport in the city (AEP).

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 4.13.19 AM

Here are its flights from the mainly international airport half an hour or more outside the city (EZE).

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 4.13.40 AM

Search for Aerolineas Argentinas award space on delta.com. There are no fuel surcharges on its flights.

China Hopper: 20,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 25,000 in Business

A footnote on the Asia 2 chart shows a fantastic discount for roundtrips within China.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 5.09.38 PM

With your stopover, open jaw, and destination, you can see a lot of China on China Eastern, China Southern, and Xiamen Airlines. I’d look to fill the open jaw with high speed rail.

  • A to B (stopover)
  • B to C (destination, train ride between C and D)
  • D to A

That’s four cities in China for 25,000 miles in Business Class plus taxes, plus the cost of a train ticket.

Search for the award space on airfrance.us. Within China, there are no fuel surcharges on these airlines.

Indonesia Hopper: 20,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 25,000 in Business

A footnote on the Asia 2 chart shows a fantastic discount for roundtrips within Indonesia.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 5.10.03 PMGaruda Indonesia doesn’t charge fuel surcharges within Indonesia, and its Wikipedia page lists three hubs, two secondary hubs, and two focus cities in Indonesia, so your options to see four cities on one award should be immense.

Middle East Hopper: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 40,000 in Business

Saudia has four hubs in Saudia Arabia and flies throughout the Middle East. Again, you can construct quite an interesting five-city itinerary for a ridiculously low price. Saudia doesn’t charge fuel surcharges on its Middle East routes.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 3.45.50 AM

Europe Hopper: 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy

SkyTeam has several European partners: Air France, KLM, Altialia, Air Europa, Czech, Aeroflot, and TAROM Romanian.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 3.25.37 AM

Unfortunately all of them charge fuel surcharges intra-Europe except TAROM. Here’s where TAROM flies. You could fly something like:

  • Bucharest to Paris
  • Munich to Iași
  • Iași to Bucharest

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 6.33.17 PM

Or you could use some TAROM segments and just pay fuel surcharges on one segment on another SkyTeam airline.

Getting Korean Miles

Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 instantly to Korean miles

SPG points transfer 1:1 to Korean miles, and for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred, you get 5,000 extra Korean miles. So to get 25,000 Korean miles, you’d need to transfer 20,000 Starpoints. Starpoints transfers are not instant. In a few days, we’ll probably know how long they take.

The Starwood Preferred Guest personal and business credit cards from American Express are offering their once-a-year 30,000 Starpoints bonuses. The personal card requires spending $3,000 in the first three months, and the business card requires spending $5,000 in the first three months to unlock the bonuses.

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.20.20 PM

The increased bonus is only for applicants approved by September 14, 2015.

Links:

Bottom Line

SkyTeam awards with Korean miles are sometimes very cheap, especially within one region. You want to look for partners that don’t charge fuel surcharges on the routes you want to fly, and you want to take advantage of your stopover and open jaw for maximum value.

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If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

1

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

As of 8 PM ET on August 27, transfers from Ultimate Rewards to Korean are back.

Transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards to Korean Air SkyPass miles are “temporarily unavailable” according to Chase’s website.Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 1.21.53 PM

The transfers were also temporarily unavailable from November 2014 until January 2015. In that instance, Chase communicated that the problem was temporary and Korean signaled transfers would return in January, which they eventually did.

I’ve reached out to Chase to see if we can get a timeline on just how temporary this problem will be. I will update this post if I hear back.

Normally Chase points transfer instantly 1:1 to Korean miles. In the absence of Chase transferability, your only transfer option to get Korean miles is the new SPG/Korean partnership. SPG points transfer 1:1 to Korean miles, and every 20,000 Starpoints transferred triggers a 5,000 Korean mile bonus. Because of this partnership, I’ve written a few posts recently about Korean miles:

HT View from the Wing

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If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

13

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Korean Air has multiple award charts when redeeming its SkyPass miles. There is one award chart to fly Korean, one award chart to fly SkyTeam partners, and award charts to fly Alaska, Hawaiian, Gol, and Emirates (click logos). Each award chart has sweetspots, so I will run through all the sweetspots in three posts. This is the first post on Korean Air sweetspots is here. The second post on SkyTeam sweetspots is here. This third post on sweetspots when flying Korean’s non-alliance partners is here.

Korean SkyPass miles should have your attention. You can easily transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards or SPG Starpoints to Korean miles and then book cheap, abundant award space on Korean and its partners.

Korean Air flies to more American cities (11) than any other Asian airline. Korean flies a modern First Class, which gets good reviews. Korean releases more First Class award space than any airline I’ve ever seen, and there is almost no competition for those award seats because Delta SkyMiles can’t book them.

But what are the good deals on the award chart to fly Korean First Class?

Here are some deals I particularly like:

  • Los Angeles to Sao Paulo: 70,000 miles in First Class
  • Seoul to Los Angeles, stop up to a year, Los Angeles to Sao Paulo: 110,000 miles in First Class
  • United States to China, Japan, Korea, Northeast Asia: 80,000 miles in First Class
  • Japan, Korea, or China to Southeast Asia: 45,000 miles in First Class
  • Japan, Korea, or China to Southwest Asia or Maldives: 57,500 miles in First Class

Prices are about 50% higher during the peak window, which only affects 60-70 days a year. If you want to fly Off Peak, it is very easy to do. Just avoid these peak dates:

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 4.00.29 PM

Los Angeles to Sao Paulo: 70,000 miles in First Class

American charges only 62,500 miles for the route in First Class, but good luck finding any award space on the American Airlines flight. Korean award space is plentiful.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 11.55.44 PM

 

As an added bonus, fuel surcharges are illegal for flights leaving Brazil.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 11.55.50 PM

Seoul to Sao Paulo with a stopover in Los Angeles: 110,000 miles in First Class

One way awards on Korean flights can have a stopover. If you live in Los Angeles, that means you can get one way of a roundtrip to Asia and one way of a roundtrip to South America in First Class booked for 110,000 Korean miles and $63.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 11.49.24 PM

All flights must be flown within one year of booking, which means you could have your stopover for 6, 8, or 10 months between the trips. Just book the other half each trip as separate awards.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get the stopover to show up online, so call Korean at 800-438-5000 to book with a stopover.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 11.49.16 PM

United States to China, Japan, Korea, Northeast Asia: 80,000 miles in First Class

American charges only 62,500 miles in First Class to Japan and Korea and 67,500 miles to China and Southeast Asia. Award space is fairly good on Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific. If you can’t find award space there, search Korean award space, which is plentiful.

Korean charges the same price to Korea, Japan, and China. For the same price as the direct flight from Korea, you can tack on another few hours in First Class on a different aircraft to sample a few different First Class suites. I believe the longest itinerary you can get for 80,000 miles is Hong Kong to Seoul to Atlanta, though most of the flights to the United States are about the same length.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 11.51.03 PM

Out of Hong Kong, fuel surcharges are only $29.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 11.51.22 PM

Japan, Korea, or China to Southwest Asia or Maldives: 57,500 miles in First Class

Fly from the United States to Northeast Asia on a cheap award (like maybe 25,000 American Airlines miles in economy), hang out for a bit, and then fly a Korean award to Southwest Asia.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 3.22.22 PM

You can squeeze quite a bit of flying over 2-3 segments onto the Korean award. Something like Hong Kong to Seoul to Colombo to the Maldives for 57,500 miles in First Class is outrageously cheap. Seoul to the Maldives is 12 hours–10.5 hours in the air and 1.5 hours on the ground in Sri Lanka.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 11.45.45 PM

Taxes and fuel surcharges are only $31.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 11.45.48 PMEven Seoul to Mumbai is 9.5 hours of First Class for 57,500 miles and $31.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 11.46.55 PM

Japan, Korea, or China to Southeast Asia: 45,000 miles in First Class

Again if you can get to and from Asia on separate awards, this offers great value from Northeast to Southeast Asia.

Seoul to Yangon, Myanmar is 45,000 miles + $30 for 6.5 hours of First Class. You can get more time in First Class by connecting to Seoul for free from somewhere in Japan or China.Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 11.45.41 PM

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Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 11.43.39 PM

Singapore is about the same distance and the same price. Award space is available on multiple daily flights for 45,000 miles + $30 in First Class.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 11.43.31 PM

Bali is the longest flight to Southeast Asia, but I didn’t find any First Class space. Business Class is 35,000 Korean miles + $30.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 11.42.51 PMBangkok and Chiang Mai are 45,000 miles + $30 also.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 11.37.47 PM

Product

Korean Airlines lists five First Class products. All are fully flat beds.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.37.36 PM

The best one, the Kosmo Suites 2.0 was introduced in May 2015, and this blogpost (Google Translate) says they will be on the 747-8i, 787-9, 777-300ER, and A330-300. It looks like they will only be on new planes delivered, and other planes will not be retrofitted. I do not think all 777-300ERs or A330s will have them.

Unfortunately I cannot find better information about which First Class product is on each plane.

Getting Korean Miles

Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 instantly to Korean miles

SPG points transfer 1:1 to Korean miles, and for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred, you get 5,000 extra Korean miles. So to get 80,000 Korean miles, you’d need to transfer 65,000 Starpoints. Starpoints transfers are not instant. In a few days, we’ll probably know how long they take.

The Starwood Preferred Guest personal and business credit cards from American Express are offering their once-a-year 30,000 Starpoints bonuses. The personal card requires spending $3,000 in the first three months, and the business card requires spending $5,000 in the first three months to unlock the bonuses.

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.20.20 PM

The increased bonus is only for applicants approved by September 14, 2015.

Links:

Bottom Line

First Class award space on Korean Air is available on nearly every flight for 2+ passengers. You can book it for as little as 45,000 Korean miles one way plus under $30 of taxes and fuel surcharges.

There are sweetspots on the chart from the United States to Asia, United States to South America, and for intra-Asia awards.

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If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

2

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Delta operates a daily flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu and back on a 767 with flat beds in Business Class. Surprisingly, the flight actually has decent award space, and you can book it for 30,000 miles one way or 45,000 miles roundtrip.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 2.09.59 PM

That’s a steal since Delta wants 50,000 SkyMiles one way for the flight.

I talked about United’s flat bed award space to Hawaii from the East Coast yesterday.

The Flights

The flights to look for are DL611 and DL612.

The flight from Los Angeles leaves at 8:30 AM, too early for most (all?) connections.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.08.22 PM

 

The flight from Honolulu is a day flight that lands in time for redeye connections to the East Coast and possibly other nearby connections.Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.16.00 PM

 

You know that these flights feature flat beds because of the flat bed icon next to “View Seats.” You can also check by clicking View Seats. This 1-2-1 layout is the layout of Delta’s flat bed Business Class.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 2.05.24 PM

Award Search

You can search awards space on delta.com very easily. You’ll want your search to look something like this.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.07.15 PM

Here’s how to interpret the results calendar:

  • Every day that says “50,000” has award space in flat beds
  • Some days that say “40,000” have award space in flat beds

So in this calendar, the eight days that say “50,000” have at least one award seat in a flat bed. The two days that say “40,000” may. We will need to click on them to find out.
Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.07.21 PM

 

The reason this works is that although Delta deleted its award chart, it still uses the prices on them. The Level 1 price for Delta flat bed Business Class to Hawaii is 50,000 miles. The Level 1 price for Delta recliner First Class is 40,000 miles and Level 2 is 55,000 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.12.06 PM

Putting aside the weirdness that Delta Business Class is better than Delta First Class, the only seats that can be priced at 50,000 miles are flat beds.

Booking the Award

Don’t use Delta miles to book flat beds to Hawaii. Delta charges 50,000 SkyMiles one way and 100,000 roundtrip for its Level 1 award space. Any award space that prices out like that is equally available to partners, and some of Delta’s partners charge way fewer miles.

30,000 Flying Blue Miles One Way (40% off)

Air France Flying Blue charges 30,000 miles one way for this award space.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.10.11 PM

The only problem is that if you search airfrance.us for award space from Los Angeles to Honolulu, the option to search Business and First Class disappear.Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.12.28 PMFor the most part, the Business Class award space shows up anyway. If space you found on delta.com doesn’t show up online in the search results, book with Flying Blue miles by calling 800-375-8723. I priced out this roundtrip in flat beds online for 60,000 Flying Blue miles + $11.Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.18.38 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.18.45 PM

Flying Blue miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points. The transfer takes about 4.5 days, and there is one wrinkle to transfers, that I had to add 00 before my Flying Blue account number.

You can earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points from the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, each after spending $3,000 in the first three months. Or you can get both cards for 100,000 bonus ThankYou Points. That’s almost two roundtrips to Hawaii in flat beds.

45,000 Korean Miles Roundtrip (55% Off)

Even better if you want to fly a roundtrip, Korean SkyPass charges 45,000 miles roundtrip for this award space. You cannot book one way SkyTeam awards with Korean miles.

You will have to call 800-438-5000 to book the award.

The cool thing is that you get two stopovers, in addition to the destination, on roundtrip SkyTeam awards. That means you could stopover in Los Angeles both ways to fly the flat beds even though the flight times are not good for same day connections. Or you could stopover in Los Angeles one way and somewhere else on the return.

Korean miles are a 1:1 instant transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, and a 1:1 (or 20,000:25,000) non-instant transfer partner of SPG Starpoints.

Connections

Flying to Hawaii, I don’t think same day connections are available, since the flight leaves at 8:30 AM. Flying to the mainland, there are definitely connections available that would cost zero extra Delta, Air France, or Korean miles. Connecting to any Business Class Level 1 award space on delta.com should cost zero extra miles.

Theoretically you could connect to a flat bed from Los Angeles to New York for zero extra miles, but in practice, there is no Level 1 award space (would show up as “32,500” one the chart.)

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 1.22.35 PM

Bottom Line

Delta flies once daily Los Angeles <-> Honolulu with a plane with flat beds. The space is good in those flat beds and can be booked for 30,000 miles one way or 45,000 miles roundtrip, which is 40% to 55% less than Delta charges for the same award space.

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Yesterday I wrote about Starwoord Preferred Guest Starpoints being transferable to Korean SkyPass miles. I wrote some about the rules of SkyPass awards, and I mentioned that the best awards to book with Korean miles are SkyTeam First Class awards and awards to Hawaii.

This post will focus on Korean First Class award space because it is the most available international First Class award space I’ve ever seen.

  • How do you search Korean First Class award space?
  • How available is it?
  • What is the price?
  • What is the product?

Search Korean Award Space

You can search Korean First Class award space on Korean Air’s website. Just tick Award Booking. You will have to sign in to a SkyPass account to award search, but joining is free and you don’t need miles in your account to search.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.05.20 PM

You can also search award space on the paid Expert Flyer website. That allows you to see a week of search results on one screen, so many of the screenshots in this post come from there.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.34.59 PM

Korean First Class Availability

Korean flies to Seoul from 11 American cities.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.42.21 PM

It features a First Class cabin on all 11 routes, including Honolulu.

I searched award availability for one week for each route on Expert Flyer. I spread my searches throughout the calendar. In total, there were 87 flights searched because because the cities ranged from 3 to 17 flights per week. On 84 of those 87 flights, there was at least one award seat in First Class.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.35.19 PMThe most common number of First Class seats available were 2, 3, and 6.Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.36.03 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.36.39 PMSome days, I saw as many as 14 First Class seats spread across three flights.Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.39.00 PM

Korean also operates First Class cabins on many intra-Asia flights. Here are the possible connections from Seoul.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.33.22 PMPrice

Hopefully you can read this award chart, which I’ve spliced up to show the prices from North America to the destinations in the farthest left column. The chart shows roundtrip award prices. You can fly one way for half price.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.23.36 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.24.01 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.24.20 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.24.35 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.24.45 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.24.56 PM

Korea, Japan, and China are 80,000 miles one way in First Class during off peak times. Southeast Asia is 95,000 miles, and the Indian Subcontinent is 105,000 miles.

Prices are about 50% higher during the peak window, which only affects 60-70 days a year. If you want to fly Off Peak, it is very easy to do. Just avoid these peak dates:

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 4.00.29 PM

Region definitions:

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.22.46 PM

In addition to miles, you’ll pay taxes (very low) and fuel surcharges. Fuel surcharges vary by destination but from the United States to Korea are usually $80 or less each way. From the United States to Southeast Asia, they can hit about $180 one way.

Product

Korean Airlines lists five First Class products. All are fully flat beds.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.37.36 PM

The best one, the Kosmo Suites 2.0 was introduced in May 2015, and this blogpost (Google Translate) says they will be on the 747-8i, 787-9, 777-300ER, and A330-300. It looks like they will only be on new planes delivered, and other planes will not be retrofitted. I do not think all 777-300ERs or A330s will have them.

Unfortunately I cannot find better information about which First Class product is on each plane. Anyone with info should leave it in the comments.

Getting Korean Miles

Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 instantly to Korean miles

SPG points transfer 1:1 to Korean miles, and for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred, you get 5,000 extra Korean miles. So to get 80,000 Korean miles, you’d need to transfer 65,000 Starpoints. Starpoints transfers are not instant. In a few days, we’ll probably know how long they take.

The Starwood Preferred Guest personal and business credit cards from American Express are offering their once-a-year 30,000 Starpoints bonuses. The personal card requires spending $3,000 in the first three months, and the business card requires spending $5,000 in the first three months to unlock the bonuses.

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.20.20 PM

The increased bonus is only for applicants approved by September 14, 2015.

Links:

Bottom Line

First Class award space on Korean Air is available on nearly every flight for 2+ passengers. You can book it for as little as 80,000 Korean miles one way plus under $100 of taxes and fuel surcharges.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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SPG Starpoints now transfer to 33 airlines with the addition of Korean SkyPass Miles to the list. Korean SkyPass is a 1:1 transfer partner, and, as with all 1:1 transfer partners, for every 20,000 points transferred, you get 5,000 bonus miles.

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 3.30.05 PM

Examples:

  • 15,000 Starpoints = 15,000 Korean miles
  • 20,000Starpoints = 25,000 Korean miles
  • 25,000 Starpoints = 30,000 Korean miles
  • 60,000 Starpoints = 75,000 Korean miles

You can transfer Starpoints to airline miles here. Transfers take several days to post as mile, and one transfer to Asiana miles took two weeks to post.

You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to Korean SkyPass Miles at a 1:1 ratio. Those transfers are instant.

Here are some quick things to know about the Korean program:

Best Uses

  • Redeeming for SkyTeam First Class like Korean First Class and China Southern First Class. Delta SkyMiles cannot be redeemed for international First Class.
  • Redeeming to Hawaii on Delta for 25,000 Korean miles roundtrip in economy and 45,000 Korean miles roundtrip in First Class. Redeeming to Hawaii on Hawaiian or Alaska costs 30k/60k roundtrip in economy/First

Award Charts

All award charts list roundtrip prices. You can fly awards with only Korean Air flights one way for half price. All other awards must be booked roundtrip.

Weird Rules (Some Good)

  • No close-in booking fee
  • No award change fee
  • No award cancellation fee
  • Free five day award holds
  • With your miles, you can only book an award for yourself, grandparents, parents, spouse, brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren, parents-in law, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law
  • Convoluted award ticketing requires sending a copy of your passport
  • Korean collects fuel surcharges on award tickets. (There are no fuel surcharges on flights on Delta, Hawaiian, or Alaska within North America.)
  • You get one stopover per one way award on Korean flights in addition to the destination
  • There are peak and off peak award dates for Korean flights (not SkyTeam or other partner awards)
    Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 4.00.29 PM
  • You get two stopovers per roundtrip SkyTeam award in addition to the destination

Korean First Class

Korean Airlines First Class is excellent, especially on its A380, which features a fully flat enclosed suite.

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 3.30.56 PM

Award space is wide open in the cabin, since there is little competition for the seats with miles. Fuel surcharges between the United States and Korea are about $162 roundtrip.

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 3.24.56 PM

You can search Korean First Class award space on ExpertFlyer. Here’s how. You can search the fuel surcharges on ITA Matrix. Here’s how.

Getting SPG Points

The Starwood Preferred Guest personal and business credit cards from American Express now come with 30,000 bonus Starpoints, up from the normal sign up bonus is 25,000 points. The personal card requires spending $3,000 in the first three months, and the business card requires spending $5,000 in the first three months to unlock the bonuses.

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.20.20 PM

The increased bonus is only for applicants approved by September 14, 2015.

Application Links:

Bottom Line

SPG adding Korean as a transfer partner is awesome news, and further cements Starpoints’ status as the most valuable transferable points. Transfer your Starpoints or Ultimate Rewards to Korean miles to book trips to Hawaii or Korean First Class.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Updated 5/14/15 with current prices and routing rules. Screen shots show old prices.

Delta SkyMiles get a bad rap–very deservedly so–for the lack of Level 1 award availability that Delta releases, the fuel surcharges Delta charges on awards, the inability to add stopovers on awards, and the fact that Delta deleted its chart from the internet.

But it does not follow that Delta miles are worthless. In fact, you can get great value and do some pretty cool things with Delta miles.

  • What are my top choices to burn 92.5k, 80k, 70k, 62.5k, 30k, and 12.5k SkyMiles?

92.5k: Half/Half Roundtrip to Europe

When you book a roundtrip Delta award, which is no longer required, you can fly different cabins in each direction. Flying to Europe in Business Class to get some shuteye and hit the ground running, then returning on a daytime flight in economy is a great use of 92.5k SkyMiles.

Delta flies flat beds across the Atlantic denoted by a bed icon on delta.com, and Delta partner Alitalia’s 777-200 business class cabin looks very nice.

On the way back, you can usually find economy award space on Delta’s European partners like Air France or KLM. Delta doesn’t collect surcharges on those two or Alitalia.

An open jaw trip with business class in a flat bed on Alitalia to Rome and a return in economy on KLM from Amsterdam is only 92.5k SkyMiles + $59.

80k: Virgin Australia Business Class to Australia or New Zealand (One Way)

With 80,000 SkyMiles, you have access to the best business class availability to Australia.

Delta partners with non-SkyTeam partner Virgin Australia, which flies from Los Angeles to Sydney and Brisbane daily with fantastic availability.

Virgin Australia business class features fully flat beds that look pretty awesome to me!

If you don’t want to go to Sydney or Brisbane, Virgin Australia offers convenient connections throughout Australia and New Zealand. I recently booked a client to Port Macquarie, Australia (PQQ) with her Delta miles on Virgin Australia.

I can’t stress enough how excellent Virgin Australia award space–which is searchable and bookable on delta.com–is, even at peak times.

Delta does not collect fuel surcharges on Virgin Australia segments, so the taxes on a roundtrip to Australia are about $130.

Business class to Australia with Delta miles is overpriced in miles. American only charges 62.5k miles on partner Qantas, and United charges 70k on its own flights. But since SkyMiles are less valuable than those three types of miles, Virgin Australia business class remains the coolest thing to do with 80k Delta miles.

70k: China Southern Business Class to Asia (One Way)

140k SkyMiles books a roundtrip business class award anywhere in Asia, and the most award space on the newest plane is available with China Southern. For 70,000 miles, book a one way trip.

China Southern has a daily flight between Los Angeles and Guangzhou that has tons of award space–often 9 seats in business class–and conveniently connects to cities throughout Asia. Do any of these places look good?

China Southern Destinations from Guangzhou. Source: Wikipedia

The bad news is that Delta does collect fuel surcharges on China Southern segments. Taxes plus surcharges push an award from LAX to Guangzahou to 140k miles + $387 roundtrip, and it’s a little more if you continue past China Southern’s hub.

I hate surcharges on award tickets as much as anyone, but I still think this is a good use of Delta miles considering the length of the trip to Asia, the widely available award space, and the product.

China Southern flies to the US with an A380 with fully flat beds in business class. Check out this page for more info and interesting translations. Note that they call business class “First Class” and first class “Platinum Private Suite” on that page.

62.5k: Korean Business Class to Brazil (One Way)

With 62.5k SkyMiles, you can fly Korean Airlines’ intriguing route in Business Class between Los Angeles and Sao Paulo with connections on Delta-partner GOL throughout Brazil.

There’s great award space on the route, no fuel surcharges, and a great product. What’s not to love?

For more info on the route, see my recent post on the subject.

30k: Aerolineas Argentinas Economy to Patagonia (One Way)

Aerolineas Argentinas flies daily from Miami and New York to Buenos Aires with connections throughout the country.

I had heard from a few people that Aerolineas Argentinas was the worst airline in the world, but I very much enjoyed my 2013 domestic roundtrip on the carrier, which had TVs at every seat and a free snack box.

I don’t know how pleasant the flight from Miami would be–how pleasant is economy ever?–but the award space is wide open. And this trip isn’t about the flights, it’s about the destination.

A few years ago, I spent a few days in the Lake District of Patagonia, and I am itching to get back.

With 60k SkyMiles and no fuel surcharges, you can get anywhere in Argentina roundtrip, since Aerolineas Argentinas flies all over the country. This, and the award space on partner AeroMexico, makes Delta miles the best to visit Argentina.

American miles can get you to a lot of Argentina via LAN, but not as much as Delta miles. Star Alliance miles can’t get you anywhere but Buenos Aires.

12.5k: Canada or Alaska (One Way)

Delta considers the United States mainland, Alaska, and Canada to be one region. Economy awards on Delta or Alaska Airlines start at 12,500 Delta miles.

So head to Toronto…

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 11.27.41 PM

…or Anchorage.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 11.28.57 PM

Getting the Miles

Delta miles are easy to get from any of these 10 cards. There are multiple personal and business Delta credit cards issued by American Express. Plus you can transfer Membership Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints to Delta.

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 6.40.36 PM

 

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This is the twentieth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flyer miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

I’ve covered how to earn miles and the redemption options for miles. Now I’m giving the basics of several international airline programs which are transfer partners of one or more of the following types of points:

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints
  • Citi ThankYou Points

I think of these international airlines programs as niche programs. Most of their redemption options are terrible because of fuel surcharges, but a few redemptions with each program are great because of no fuel surcharges or a super cheap miles price.

Know the great options in each program to save yourself miles and cash by maximizing these programs:

  • Singapore KrisFlyer (UR, MR, SPG, and TY)
  • Air Canada Aeroplan (MR, SPG)
  • Lufthansa Miles & More (SPG, also the only one of these programs that offers a big 50k sign up bonus on an American credit card every few months)
  • ANA Mileage Club (MR, SPG)
  • Air France Flying Blue (MR, SPG)
  • Korean SkyPass (UR, SPG)

Why Collect These Miles?

Most of these programs have a sweet spot that lets you book the same flights for fewer miles than if you used United or Delta miles. For instance, pay 30,000 Singapore miles each way in First Class between the continental United States and Hawaii instead of 40,000 United miles.

Korean, Singapore, and Lufthansa miles allow the booking of mind-blowing First Class products you can’t book with Delta and United miles.

  • What airlines can you fly with these miles?
  • What are the routing rules for these awards (stopovers, open jaws, free one ways)?
  • What are the special deals in each program?
  • What about fuel surcharges?

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Pop quiz, hot shot: What is the only airline with a direct flight between Los Angeles and Sao Paulo?

Korean Air

Three times a week, a Korean Air 777-300ER flies from Los Angeles to Sao Paulo on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays. The return leaves Sao Paulo on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

Redeye outbound, daytime return

This flight isn’t just a novelty. It’s a legitimately great use of Delta SkyMiles–the least valuable and most reviled currency among the legacy airlines. Learn how to get on the flight yourself after the jump.

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