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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.


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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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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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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Delta allows one open jaw per roundtrip award that you can use to see more cities on a single award and to unlock free one ways.

A simple, valid open jaw routing on Delta.
A simple, valid open jaw routing on Delta. The open jaw is between Amsterdam and Paris.

Delta allows an open jaw to straddle two regions, so that your outbound can go to Bangkok in Southeast Asia and your return can start from Sydney, Australia. However Delta requires that the distance of the unflown open jaw be less than the distance between the origin and the destination of both your outbound and your return.

While Delta miles consistently get a bad rap, using the methods outlined in this post can allow you to see multiple cities on multiple continents on a single, incredible Delta award.

  • What is an open jaw?
  • What are Delta’s open jaw rules?
  • Where is the value on Delta’s award chart for open jaws?
  • How do you book open jaws on Delta?
  • How do you add a free stopover to your open jaw itinerary?
  • What is the best way to travel between open jaw cities?


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Per the email below that I received late last week and this FlyerTalk thread, Delta has just announced some dreaded SkyClub “enhancements.”

As of May 1st, The Platinum Card® from American Express cardholders will no longer be granted complimentary guest access. Previously the cardholder and up to two guests would be allowed admission to Delta SkyClubs provided they were flying Delta the same day. Now any additional guests besides the Platinum cardholder will be forced to shell out a whopping $29.

SkyClub Email

Changes of this kind are never good, especially coming right on the heels of the announcement that Platinum cardmembers losing American Airlines/US Airways lounge access on March 22, 2014 and Delta’s historic double devaluation of their award chart.

Fortunately, there are a few workarounds to this new Delta problem. Losing a great credit card benefit is never a good thing, but these solutions below hopefully ease the sting.

What are the workarounds to losing guest access to Delta SkyClubs? How can you circumvent these negative changes?

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This is the eighteenth 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 flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go. Previously You Can Earn Miles Doing Anything.

For a beginner, one important thing to help understand which routings are possible on awards or which alliance is the best for certain trips is to know a little bit about the alliances and the airlines that make them up.

One important fact is that you can always book awards using one airline’s miles on its own flights and on that airline’s alliance partners. (And usually airlines also have a few other partners not in their alliance like British Airways’, American Airline’s, and Delta’s partnerships with Alaska Airlines.)

Below is a list of each alliances’ members and those members’ hubs and codes. Knowing these lists or at least where to find them will make you a much savvier flyer.

Carriers are in alphabetical order except US-based carriers are listed first. Each entry starts with the two letter airline code, then the airline, then its hubs.

Star Alliance

(UA) United Airlines (Newark, Houston-Intercontinental, Washington-Dulles, Chicago-O’Hare, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Cleveland, Tokyo-Narita, Guam)
(US) US Airways (Charlotte, Philadelphia, Phoenix) has announced a merger with American Airlines. When the merger is complete, the new American will be part of oneworld.

(JP) Adria Airways (Ljubljana)
(A3) Aegean Airlines (Athens)
(AC) Air Canada (Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver)
(CA) Air China (Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai)
(NZ) Air New Zealand (Auckland)
(NH) ANA (Tokyo-Narita, Tokyo-Haneda, Osaka, Osaka-Kansai)
(OZ) Asiana Airlines (Seoul-Incheon, Seoul-Gimpo)
(OS) Austrian Airlines (Vienna)
(AV) Avianca (Bogota, Sao Paulo, Quito)
(SN) Brussels Airlines (Brussels)
(CM) Copa (Panama City)
(OU) Croatia Airlines (Zagreb)
(MS) EgyptAir (Cairo)
(ET) Ethiopian Airlines (Addis Ababa)
(LO) LOT Polish Airlines (Warsaw)
(LH) Lufthansa (Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, Berlin-Brandenburg)
(SK) Scandinavian Airlines (Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm)
(ZH) Shenzhen Airlines (Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Nanjing)
(SQ) Singapore Airlines (Singapore)
(SA) South African Airways (Johannesburg)
(LX) Swiss International Air Lines (Zurich)
(JJ) TAM Airlines (Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia)
(TP) TAP Portugal (Lisbon)
(TA) TACA (San Salvador, San Jose (CR), Lima)
(TG) Thai Airways International (Bangkok)
(TK) Turkish Airlines (Istanbul-Ataturk)

EVA Airlines to join in 2013.


(DL) Delta Airlines (Atlanta, New York-JFK, New York-LaGuardia, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City, Memphis, Detroit, Amsterdam, Tokyo-Narita, Paris-Charles de Gaulle)

(SU) Aeroflot (Moscow-Sheremetyevo)
(AR) Aerolineas Argentinas (Buenos Aires-Ezeiza, Buenos Aires-Aeroparque)
(AM) Aeroméxico (Mexico City)
(UX) Air Europa (Madrid)
(AF) Air France (Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Paris-Orly, Lyon, Toulouse-Blagnac, Marseille, Nice)
(AZ) Alitalia (Rome-Fiumicino)
(CI) China Airlines (Taipei-Kaohsiung, Taipei-Taoyuan)
(MU) China Eastern Airlines (Kunming, Shanghai-Pudong, Shanghai-Hongqiao, Xi’an)
(CZ) China Southern Airlines (Beijing-Capital, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Urumqi)
(OK) Czech Airlines (Prague)
(KQ) Kenya Airways (Nairobi)
(KL) KLM (Amsterdam)
(KE) Korean Air (Seoul-Incheon, Seoul-Gimpo)
(ME) Middle East Airlines (Beirut)
(SV) Saudia (Dammam, Jeddah, Medinah, Ryiadh)
(RO) TAROM (Bucharest)
(VN) Vietnam Airlines (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City)
(MF) Xiamen Airlines (Xiamen, Fuzhou, Hangzhou)

Garuda Indonesia to join in 2014.


(AA) American Airlines (Dallas-Fort Worth, New York-JFK, Los Angeles, Chicago-O’Hare, Miami)

(AB) Air Berlin (Berlin-Brandenburg, Dusseldorf)
(BA) British Airways (London-Heathrow, London-Gatwick)
(CX) Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong)
(AY) Finnair (Helsinki)
(IB) Iberia (Madrid, Barcelona)
(JL) Japan Airlines (Tokyo-Haneda, Tokyo-Narita, Osaka, Osaka-Kansai)
(LA) LAN (Santiago, Lima)
(MH) Malaysia Airlines (Kuala Lumpur)
(QF) Qantas (Sydney, Melbourne)
(RJ) Royal Jordanian (Amman)
(S7) S7 Airlines (Moscow-Domodedovo, Novosibirsk)

Members elect expected to join in the next 12 months: SriLankan Airlines and Qatar Airways.

The Star Alliance is the largest alliance. It is dominant in Europe and strong everywhere.

SkyTeam is the second largest alliance. It is dominant in Asia. Its North American partner Delta has the worst frequent flyer program of the legacy carriers.

oneworld is the runt of the three alliances. It will be getting bigger with the merger of American and US Airways. It has the only Australian airline in any alliance plus several airlines with incredible premium products like British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, and Qatar.

Tons of airlines are not part of any alliances. They usually make one off codesharing deals or several partners across many alliances. Major unaffiliated airlines include virtually all budget airlines and several premium airlines:

Virgin America
Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Australia
every other airline not mentioned in this article

Continue to Searching United.com to Redeem United and US Airways Miles.

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