Korean Air is renewing its SKYPASS frequent flyer program to increase customer benefits. Among many changes, the new program will allow customers to purchase flight tickets using a combination of mileage and cash/card.

Major Updates

  • “Cash and miles” payment option for flight tickets to be introduced for a test-run period from November 2020.
  • More reasonable mileage accrual and redemption rates based on airfare and flight distance to be implemented from April 2021.
  • More inclusive elite membership program with four membership levels and lower qualification requirements to be introduced from February 2022.
  • The new program will be introduced and implemented as of April 1, 2020. However, after a 12-month grace period, the changes in mileage accrual and redemption will be enforced as of April 1, 2021 and the changes in elite program will be enforced as of February 1, 2022 respectively.

Korean Air will test run the “cash and miles” payment option, which will allow for members to purchase flight tickets with a combination of mileage and cash/card. Members will now be able to use mileage to pay for part of a flight ticket. The cash and miles option is expected to make mileage more accessible as members will be able to use small amounts towards flight tickets.

In addition, new mileage accrual rates that correspond to airfares will be implemented. Taking global standards and airfare levels into consideration, passengers taking first or prestige classes will be able to enjoy increased accrual rates of up to 300% and 200%, respectively. Economy class ticket accrual rates will be reorganized into four categories based on booking class.

The new mileage redemption rates for award tickets will be based on zones categorized by flight distance, allowing mileage to be redeemed in proportion to the distance flown. The  new system will replace the current classification by region. In particular, the significant markdown of mileage redemption on short-distance routes will allow users to use economy class awards for one-way tickets to Qingdao and Taipei with only 20,000 and 25,000 miles respectively, compared to the previous 30,000 miles.

When using economy class award tickets for our 125 international flight routes, 64 routes will require less mileage, 49 routes more mileage and 12 routes the same amount. There will also be no change to economy class award tickets for Korean domestic flights.

Finally, elite member qualification requirements will be significantly lowered. Members will need to earn either 10,000 miles or take 10 flights in the previous year to qualify for elite membership. The existing three levels of elite membership will be replaced by four new levels: silver, gold, platinum and diamond. The new system will provide greater benefits such as 20% to 80% mileage accrual rates, free seat upgrades and elite member level transfers to family members.

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