Wow: Chase losing Korean as a transfer partner

In a surprising move with little notice, Chase will no longer partner with Korean Air SkyPass effective August 25th, 2018. You can still transfer to SkyPass until August 24th, but after that you will no longer be able to transfer Ultimate Rewards to Korean Air.

Korean has long been a terrific Ultimate Rewards transfer partner for getting to and from Asia since Korean flies from many US gateways and offers a lot more availability in premium cabins to SkyPass members than to partners. Redemption rates are also very reasonable, with first class available for just 80K one-way between Korea or Japan and the US during off-peak periods (with a free stopover in Korea); business class on the same route is just 62.5K each way. Here’s a link to the Korean Air award chart.

Furthermore, now that partner awards can be booked online via Korean Air’s website, it has become easier to book round trip flights from the mainland US to Hawaii for just 25K round trip in economy class or 45K in business class. SkyTeam awards to Europe and Africa can also be an excellent deal with Korean Air.

In short, this development is certainly disappointing. It is not generally advisable to transfer points speculatively. That said, Korean does have a reputation for making more premium cabin seats available to members, and with many fewer members having access to SkyPass miles after August 24th, it may become easier than ever to score seats on Korean. Still, I don’t think I’ll be giving up the flexibility of Ultimate Rewards to lock them in — though I’ll be pretty disappointed to miss out on Korean’s sweet spots. Furthermore, Air France / KLM Flying Blue will be the only SkyTeam members in the Chase transfer partners stable. With variable pricing in full swing there, it will certianly be more difficult to get a good deal on SkyTeam awards.

If you do transfer miles, be aware of Korean’s strict policies on booking tickets for others — you can only book tickets for immediate family members, which they define without ambiguity and they will require proof of relation. You would not, for example, be able to book for a boyfriend/girlfriend/nanny/etc. Look before you leap.

This is likely related to the fact that Korean introduced a horrible premium credit card through US Bank this year and must have faced some pressure to make their relationship more exclusive. Still, I’m surprised that they are willing to give up on what must have been a pretty decent revenue stream from Chase.

Personally, I’m pretty disappointed to see this development as Korean had been one of my backup plans for getting to and from the Tokyo Summer Olympics in 2020. Now that there will be a lot less competition for those seats, maybe I should speculatively transfer after all . . .

H/T: ITS Tours and TPG for confirmation

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

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Lantean
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Lantean

Could it be Korean did this because they don’t want to devalue?

Probably
Guest
Probably

Its ok. Tokyo summer olympics will probably be very hot with record high temps

atxtravel
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atxtravel

Meh, never found much use with them. The extremely restrictive high (or even middle) season dates made most awards for me not worth it. And I’m the type who travels for the destination, not just to get the cabin. Skyteam has weak coverage in many interesting destinations vs SA or OW. Not to mention the hassle of getting a domestic connection on Delta and having to pay surcharges.

David Raymie
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David Raymie

No big loss. I got a Korean Air Card and they have never posted my bonus miles, even tho US Bank say that they send them. Then try getting family member added even with the proper documentation. Worst Airline to work with ever.

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[…] keeping transferable points in a transferable form hit like a brick yesterday when we learned that Chase will drop Korean Airlines as a transfer partner as of August 25, 2018.  When that happens, guess which common transferable points program will be best for getting the […]

Chucks
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Chucks

Very sad, as this represented one of the best UR transfers for coach redemptions (AKA value for things you’d otherwise actually had shelled out cash for).

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[…] note from Greg The Frequent Miler:  As of August 25th 2018, Korean Air will no longer be a Chase transfer partner.  As a result, those of us with Chase Ultimate Rewards points need to decide soon whether to […]

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[…] UR To Korean No More!:  In a very surprising move, on August 25, 2018, you’ll no longer be able to transfer your hard earned Ultimate Rewards points to Korean Airlines.  If you were planning that Hawaiian vacation, you may consider making your transfer soon… […]

Platinum
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Platinum

Lucky posted and then deleted that they will become partners with Amex.

Andrew K
Guest
Andrew K

Thanks for the heads up!

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[…] recently lost Korean Air as a transfer partner but has today added a brand new partner: JetBlue […]

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[…] it was discovered last month that Chase would be losing Korean as a transfer partner, I offhandedly mentioned that the announcement increased the value of Membership Rewards in my […]