TravelNewsAsia.com
Fri, 13 Dec 2019

Korean Air to Revamp SkyPass Frequent Flyer Program

Korean Air has unveiled plans to revamp its SkyPass frequent flyer program.

In November 2020, Korean Air will introduce the option to use a combination of miles and cash/credit card to purchase flight tickets for a test-run period.

In April 2021, the airline will implement a more rational and segmented system for mileage accrual and redemption based on airfares and distances flown.

Additionally, a new SkyPass elite membership system consisting of four levels - silver, gold, platinum and diamond - will be introduced in February 2022. Elite membership levels will be granted based on the number of miles accrued during the previous year, lowering membership entry barriers.

Korean Air Airbus A220-300 (formerly the Bombardier CS300) preparing to taxi to the runway for takeoff while an Airbus A330 in the background takes to the sky. Picture taken at Gimpo International Airport on 17 October 2018 by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.

Delta Air Lines, British Airways, Emirates, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines already offer a cash and miles payment option to customers.

Korean Air plans to offer the mixed payment option for a test-run period from November 2020 to 31 December 2022, and make improvements afterwards based on its experience.

Accrual

The new mileage accrual rates will correlate to airfares while taking accrual rates of major international airlines into consideration. Customers will earn more mileage when taking first or prestige classes, while they will gain the same or less mileage for economy class depending on the corresponding booking class.

First class booking classes that accrued 200% and 165% of the normal mileage earned will increase to rates of 300% and 250%, respectively. Also, mileage accrual for prestige class booking classes J (135% accrual rate), C and D (125% accrual rate) will increase to 200%, 175% and 150%, respectively. The economy fare booking classes Y, B, M, S, H, E will maintain their 100% accrual rate while the mileage accrual rate for promotional booking classes will decrease. Accrual rates for booking classes K, L and U will decrease from 100% to 75%; G from 80% to 50%; and Q, N and T from 70% to 25%.

Redemption

Korean Air's new mileage redemption rates will be based on eleven segment zones -- one domestic zone and 10 international zones that are categorized according to flight distance.

 For example, zone 1 is made up of routes that are less than 500 miles (e.g. Incheon-Qingdao) while zone 9 is composed of routes that are between 6,500 and 10,000 miles (e.g. Incheon-New York). The new system will replace the current classification of five regions.

According to the new mileage redemption system, some routes will require less mileage while others will call for more. For example, an economy class award ticket for the Incheon-Fukuoka route during off season, which currently requires 15,000 miles, will be categorized as a zone 1 flight and require only 10,000 miles. Mileage required to travel from Incheon to Hawaii will also be reduced to 32,500 miles from the current 35,000 miles.

On the other hand, the redemption amount to travel from Incheon to Singapore will increase from 20,000 to 22,500 miles, and the Incheon-Paris route, from 35,000 to 40,000 miles.

The criteria for mileage deductions for partner airlines will also change to correspond to Korean Air's new system of ten international segment zones. The previously unavailable one-way redemptions, partial refunds and family plan will now be possible.

Status

Korean Air will begin to grant customers elite membership status on a yearly basis according to the mileage they accrued in the previous year. The new elite membership will be composed of silver, gold, platinum and diamond levels, following global aviation industry trends.

New Elite Member Status

Silver: 10,000 miles or more on Korean Air or 10 qualifying flights on Korean Air

Gold: 40,000 miles or more on Korean Air or 40 qualifying flights on Korean Air

Platinum: 70,000 miles or more on Korean Air or 70 qualifying flights on Korean Air

One Korea domestic segment is counted as a half a qualifying flight.

Currently, Korean Air's SkyPass elite membership is composed of three levels: Morning Calm, Morning Calm Premium and Million Miler. To attain the Morning Calm Club membership, one needs to meet one of the following three requirements: obtain over 50,000 miles, fly on at least 40 international flights, or earn 50,000 miles on Korean Air and SkyPass partner airlines combined (at least 30,000 miles flown on Korean Air). The new policy lowers the entry barrier to 10,000 miles or ten flights per year, which will enable more passengers to enjoy the benefits of SkyPass elite membership.

New elite members who have met the requirements in 2021 will be eligible as an elite member for a year from 1 February 2022 to 31 January 2023.

While maintaining the benefits for existing SkyPass elite members, Korean Air will introduce various additional benefits. Elite members will earn additional miles whenever they fly: 20% for silver, 40% for gold, 60% for platinum and 80% for diamond.

Members who acquire a platinum membership based on their annual record will be awarded a voucher for round-trip upgrades, which can be used on international routes in zones 1-6. Diamond members will receive a voucher for round-trip upgrades on all routes, as well as an invitation to appoint a family member as a silver elite member.

Morning Calm Premium and Million Miler members, whose status is permanent, will keep their lifetime membership as gold and platinum levels, respectively.

Meanwhile, those who meet current qualifications for Morning Calm membership between February 1, 2022 and December 31, 2023, will be given a silver status for two years. And, those who meet current qualifications for Morning Calm Premium and Million Miler membership between February 1, 2022 and December 31, 2024 will be provided gold and platinum status, respectively, for three years.

See latest Travel News, Interviews, Podcasts and other news regarding: Korean Air, SkyPass, FFP.

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