SKYPASS Visa Signature Card Review [2020]

US Bank offers a few different types of Korean air credit cards and one of the most popular is the SKYPASS Visa Signature Card.

It’s a pretty decent co-branded airline credit card but there are a few key things that you want to know about the card before applying.

In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the SKYPASS Visa Signature Card.

SKYPASS Visa Signature Card Overview

  • 2X on Korean Air ticket purchases
  • 2X at gas stations and hotels
  • 1X on everything else
  • $50 Off coupon for Korean Air ticket purchases
  • 2 KAL Lounge coupons each year
  • $95 annual fee

Welcome Bonus

The bonus for this card can vary dramatically.

We’ve seen it as low as 15,000 bonus miles after meeting the minimum spend and other times up to 30,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days.

Sometimes, you might even be sent targeted offers which go out for something like 45,000+ bonus miles.

So what can you do with your miles?

You can check out the Korean Air award chart here or here to see what your redemption possibilities would be like but I would suggest you take a look at our article for the best uses of Korean Air miles.

You can also take advantage of some pretty decent redemptions from the US with partner airlines.

Korean Air is a member of the Sky Team alliance so you can book partners like Air France and KLM.

They also have some other interesting partners like Etihad and Emirates.

You will need to book a round-trip if you are booking on a partner airline but some of these rates can be pretty cheap like 80,000 miles round-trip in business class from the US and Europe.

Now that Chase is no longer a partner with Korean Air, it’s tougher to earn a lot of Korean Air miles.

To maximize your miles, you might want to consider getting the business version and the personal version.

If you were able to take advantage of some of the best offers, you might have enough to fly the amazing first class experience on Korean Air from the US to Korea on the A380.

It’s a special flight experience because it has one of the best in-flight bars in the sky. In fact there are a couple of different bars including one exclusive first class bar that you can enjoy.

There’s also even a duty-free shop in the plane which is pretty crazy but also very cool.

So if you are looking for a memorable way to cross Pacific, this card can help you do that by flying on Korean Air.

Related: Top 10 First Class Cabins

Korean Air A380 Celestial Bar

Bonus categories

  • 2X on Korean Air ticket purchases
  • 2X at gas stations and hotels
  • 1X on everything else

2X on Korean Air purchases

Earning 2X on Korean Air purchases is pretty standard for an airline credit card.

2X at gas stations and hotels

2X on gas stations and hotels it’s not bad.

However, I would prefer to put hotel purchases on a card that earns more on travel such as the American Express Green Card which earns 3X on travel or the Chase Sapphire Reserve which has great travel protections and also earns 3X on travel.

Tip: Check out the free app WalletFlo so that you can optimize your credit card spend by seeing the best card to use! You can also track credits, annual fees, and get notifications when you’re eligible for the best cards!

Korean Air benefits

  • $50 Off coupon for Korean Air ticket purchases
  • 2 KAL Lounge coupons each year
  • SKYPASS Visa card purchases help you reach and maintain Morning Calm Club Membership

$50 coupon

The primary cardmember will receive a $50 discount coupon upon account opening and every anniversary date.

The coupon should be available about 10 business days after you open the account and approximately 4 to 6 weeks after the anniversary of your account.

The catch with this discount is that it applies to Korean Air ticket purchases on made within 90 days from the date the coupon is deposited into your account.

That 90 day limit greatly reduces the value of this discount.

But there are also restrictions on the type of routes you can use the coupon on.

For example, the coupon is only valid from Korean Air North American gateways to Asia on Korean Air operated flights with the same outbound (departure route) and inbound (return route) trip itinerary and may not be applied to tickets with stopovers and multi-leg journey.

Also, it can only be applied to prestige and economy class fares.

And just in case you were wondering, it cannot be used on award tickets or upgrade awards.

So if you are constantly flying Korean Airlines you might be able to make use of this discount but if you rarely fly them or only fly them on occasion, the restrictions might make it impossible for you to utilize this perk.

KAL Lounge passes

Each year you will be given two lounge coupons that are valid for one lounge use each.

In order to use this perk, you must be flying on a Korean Air operated flight and must be using it at a Korean Air gateway city in North America or at ICN.

Once again, there are pretty restrictive terms with another benefit.

You will need to show your coupon to the lounge when you visit.

The primary card member can expect to receive the two lounge coupons 8 to 10 weeks after the annual fee is paid.

I’ve visited a few Korean Air lounges and they are not exactly the most remarkable lounges you’ll find. I enjoyed the time I spent in the Korean Air First Class Lounge at ICN but overall the standard business class lounges are not always super impressive.

Tip: If you are interested in a card that offers the best lounge access, you should look into the Platinum Card.

Korean Air First Class Lounge.

2,000 mile bonus

Every year after you renew your account you will receive an annual bonus of 2,000 miles. This bonus is not enough to make up for the cost of the annual fee but it’s nice to have a way to supplement your mileage balance.

Visa Signature

Since this card is a Visa Signature card, you’ll get to take advantage of additional benefits which include:

  • Purchase security
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Roadside dispatch
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
  • Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection

SKYPASS Visa Signature Card FAQ

What is the SKYPASS Visa Signature Card’s annual fee?

The annual fee is $95.

Does the SKYPASS Visa Signature Card have foreign transaction fees?

No, card does not have foreign transaction fees.

Do I get lounge access?

Each year you will be given two lounge coupons that are valid for one lounge use each.

Final word

The SKYPASS Visa Signature Card is a decent travel rewards card especially if you can catch it at one of the higher bonuses.

It offers respectable earning rates and some good perks when flying on Korean Air but they do come with some pretty limiting restrictions.

13 Best Uses of Korean Air Miles [2020]

Korean Air has a great premium product that serves many international locations and Korean Air also has some great airline partners that you can use your miles on.

In this article, I will cover some of the best uses of Korean Air SKYPASS miles that include redemptions on Korean Air and also on different partners.

Earning Korean Air miles

Korean Air used to be a partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards and so it was very easy to earn tons of Ultimate Rewards with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and simply transfer out your points to Korean Air SKYPASS at a one to one ratio.

However, they are no longer a transfer partner of Chase and the only transfer partner you can use is Marriott Bonvoy which transfers points out at a ratio of three Marriott points to one Korean Air mile. If you transfer 60,000 Marriott points over at a time, you can receive an additional 5,000 mile bonus so that 60,000 points equals 25,000 miles.

But, you can also earn Korean Air miles with one of the Korean Air credit cards, such as the SKYPASS Visa Signature Card. That card comes with the following perks:

  • 2X on Korean Air ticket purchases
  • 2X at gas stations and hotels
  • 1X on everything else
  • $50 Off coupon for Korean Air ticket purchases
  • 2 KAL Lounge coupons each year
  • $95 annual fee

The SKYPASS Visa Signature Card is a decent co-branded airline credit card, but if you are interested in one of the top travel rewards credit cards I would look at cards like the Platinum Card or Gold Card which earns 4X on dining and US supermarkets.

Tip: Check out the free app WalletFlo so that you can optimize your credit card spend by seeing the best card to use! You can also track credits, annual fees, and get notifications when you’re eligible for the best cards!

Things to know about Korean Air miles

Roundtrips on partners

The biggest thing to note is that when booking partners you will have to book a roundtrip.

Some of the roundtrip prices can be extremely competitive but being forced to book a round-trip makes it tougher to find open awards sometimes. Also, it doesn’t allow you to select routes that can minimize fees. So be prepared to deal with that when booking partners with Korean Air.

Booking partners online

You can book a lot of SkyTeam partners online but you will have to call in to book other partners and that can result in a cumbersome process.


A lot of Korean Air redemptions that I researched contained high fees of a few hundred bucks so be prepared to potentially deal with high fees on your awards.

Family bookings

You can only book award tickets in the name of certain family members like your spouse, children, parents, siblings, parents-in-law, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandparents and grandchildren. There is a process for adding family members and sometimes it can be cumbersome.

It can also take a couple of weeks to process so you want to be sure to get this done as soon as possible. Read more about the family plans here.

Mixed itineraries?

I’ve read online that you are not allowed to book mixed itineraries (different airlines together). However, I have been able to proceed to booking when mixing airlines together for partner bookings so I think it may be possible to book mixed itineraries?

Korean Air Partners

Here is a look at the main Korean Air SkyTeam partners:

  • Aeroflot
  • Aerolineas Argentina
  • Aeromexico
  • Air Europa
  • Air France
  • Alitalia
  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern Airlines
  • Czech Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Kenya Airways
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
  • Middle East Airlines
  • Saudia Airlines
  • TAROM Romanian Air Transport
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Xiamen Airlines

All of these partners above use the following award chart for flights from North America.

In addition to the SkyTeam partners, there are also bonus partners which include:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • China Southern Airlines
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways
  • GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Japan Airlines

However, if you want to book with one of the bonus partners they will have different mileage requirements. Also, you likely will not be able to book bonus partners online and instead you will have to call the Korean reservations line at 1-800-438-5000

Delta/Alaska/Hawaiian (US — Hawaii)

One of the great things about the Korean Air SkyTeam award chart is that they lump the state of Hawaii in with the rest of the mainland US. This means that you can fly a roundtrip in economy to Hawaii for only 25,000 miles on an airline like Delta. That’s a fantastic sweet spot.

If you choose to fly to Hawaii with other partners like Alaska Airlines or Hawaiian Airlines, you will need to shell out a little bit more miles but a round-trip will still only cost you 30,000 miles which is excellent. (With other legacy carriers like United or American Airlines, you likely would be paying around 45,000 miles.)

Therefore, Korean Air is one of the best ways to use miles and points to get to Hawaii.

The tricky part with flying to Hawaii will always be finding open awards. I’ve searched Korean Air’s website over the years for availability and rarely have I ever found more than one open award. It’s not impossible but just be prepared to work for it.

Related: 20 Best uses of Alaska Airline Mileage Plan Miles

Delta (Domestic routes)

Korean Air miles can be a great way to get around the US via Delta.

The redemption rates for a round-trip flight in economy will be 25,000 miles which is on par with the standard redemption rate with many other programs. You can use the online search tool to locate Delta flights making it an easy process to book.

Korean air website showing delta flights.
Use Korean Air miles to fly on Delta around the US.

While the rates for economy are pretty standard, if you can find availability in business/first class on Delta you can redeem a round-trip for only 45,000 miles. The standard pricing for a roundtrip in business class on a domestic flight is 50,000 miles so this is a slightly discounted redemption price.

My issue with this is I had trouble finding availability for roundtrips in business class but that might just come down to your timing and route.

Tip: If you can find open awards, using Korean Air miles on Delta is a great way to avoid the unpredictable dynamic pricing found on Delta awards.

Alaska (Domestic and US/Canada routes)

If you want to fly Alaska around the US or to Canada, things are even sweeter when using Korean Air miles. Alaska has its own unique award chart for using Korean Air miles and you can get a round-trip in economy for only 20,000 miles or a roundtrip in business/first class for only 40,000 miles.

Most likely, you will need to call in to book Alaska with Korean Air miles.

Delta (US — South America)

If you want to head down from the US to South America or vice versa, Korean Air miles can be a fantastic choice. You can fly down to South America on Delta and other partners like Aeromexico if they also have routes to your liking.

One thing that is great about Korean Air is that they do not divide South America up into separate regions. This means that whenever you are flying down to the southern regions of South America such as Chile, you can get an extra bargain for your mileage.

Round-trip economy tickets to South America are only 50,000 miles, which is one of the most competitive rates for an economy redemption down to South America.

Business class redemptions will cost you 110,000 miles round-trip which aren’t the cheapest options out there but are still pretty solid.

Expect to pay very little on fees if you go with Delta. Check out the sample redemption below for economy on Delta Airlines which had fees at only $77 for the round-trip!

Fees down to South America can be pretty low.

Etihad (US — Middle East)

A lot of people don’t even know that you can use Korean Air miles to book Etihad. In fact, you can fly the First Class Etihad Apartment for 210,000 miles round-trip between the United States and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

There is a special award chart just for Etihad that you will want to study before using your miles. These prices tend to be expensive so you most likely won’t find a cheap bargain but Etihad is a bucket-list experience for many miles and points enthusiast so it could be worth the splurge in some cases.

The biggest thing to note is that if you use your miles for a connecting flight, you will have to pay for each segment separately so you really want to focus on nonstop flights for the best value.

The First Class Etihad Apartment.

Emirates (US — Europe)

Emirates is in the same boat as Etihad in terms of having its own unique award chart that also forces you to pay extra for connecting flights. One of the bucket list experiences is Emirates First Class which is bookable with Korean Air miles.

If you fly between Dubai and the US in Emirates First Class, it will cost you 210,000 miles which is nothing to scoff at. However, it is still cheaper than using Alaska miles to fly on Emirates which would run 300,000 miles round-trip between North America and the Middle East.

You could also fly a route between Europe and the US in Emirates First Class and it would only cost you 170,000 miles round-trip.

In fact, I have flown between Milan, Italy and New York on Emirates First Class and it was an extremely memorable experience. If you fly out of Milan you can also check out the Business/First Lounge which has direct access to the jet bridge which is pretty cool.

Emirates A380 First Class window seat.

Etihad/Emirates (Singapore — Australia)

If you are looking for a way to get between a place like Singapore and Australia, a great redemption is using Korean miles on Etihad for a roundtrip in economy class. At 45,000 miles round-trip, it is one of the best prices on this route.

You might also be able to find Emirates flying between Singapore and Australia so you could potentially have two options, both of which have great redemption rates.

Emirates (New Zealand — Australia)

If you’re trying to get between Australia and New Zealand, using Korean Air miles on Emirates can be a great bargain. You can fly in business class for 50,000 points round-trip or in economy for 25,000 miles round-trip. Both redemptions are pretty good value. Emirates no longer flies its A380 on this route but if at some point it returns, look for this redemption.

KLM/Air France/Delta (US — Europe)

One of the best sweet spots for using miles and points to get to Europe is using Korean Air miles in business class.

You can get a round-trip for only 80,000 miles which is definitely one of the best rates you’ll find. The issue is that fees will add up and you can expect to be paying around $500 to $600 in fees in many cases.

Mileage prices are super cheap to Europe but fees are quite high.

If you want to explore the Netherlands or use it as a gateway city to Europe, using your Korean Air miles on KLM can be a decent redemption in terms of the miles required. For a round-trip in economy it will cost you 50,000 miles.

The problem is that once again the fees are going to be high as shown below. You may be expected to pay close to $500 in total fees for each passenger.

Fees are also high for economy class redemptions.

You could also use Delta Airlines to fly to Europe which will have the same mileage requirement at 50,000 miles roundtrip but I noticed that the fees were slightly higher with an all Delta flight as the fees came out to $498.

Delta/Partners (US — South Africa)

You can get down to Cape Town, South Africa to swim with sharks or take some extravagant helicopter rides for only 120,000 miles round-trip in business class. 120,000 miles for a round-trip all the way from North America to the tip of Africa is excellent.

Once again, the issues may be fees depending on which airline and route you take. I found availability with a combination of Delta Airlines and Air France and the fees came out to over $900.

Flying to Africa can be cheap in miles but expensive in fees.

Note: Atlanta has a direct flight to Johannesburg, South Africa and I found award seats open on that route and the fees were more manageable at around $500.

Korean Air (US — Korea)

If you were heading to Asia/Korea, Korean Air miles can be extremely valuable. I have used them to fly first class from LAX to ICN for 80,000 miles one-way. Fees will likely be around $135.

The first class product on Korean Air on the A380 is especially memorable because it has multiple onboard bars/lounges. It also is unique in that it has a duty-free shop on the plane.

In my personal experience, availability has always been pretty good so I am a big fan of using Korean Air miles for this first class redemption.

If you don’t want to shell out quite as many miles, you can redeem in business class for only 62,500 miles one way, which is a great rate.

Korean Air (Europe — Korea)

Korean Air also offers some decent rates when flying between Asia and Europe. Once again, you can fly first class one way for 80,000 miles which is a pretty good deal.

JAL (Korea to Japan)

Using Korean Air miles to fly on JAL between Korea and Japan can be a decent redemption. You can get a roundtrip in business class for 45,000 miles which is not bad. The economy price of 30,000 miles roundtrip is less competitive but at least it gives you another option to use your miles.

The route between Japan and Korea is the only route displayed on the JAL award chart so it’s possible that this may be the only possible use of your Korean Air miles on JAL. However, perhaps sometime in the future you will be able to use your miles on JAL and experience amazing products like first class on JAL.

Final word

Korean Air offers several lucrative ways to use your miles. They have some fantastic products that are reasonably priced when flying across the Pacific, especially their first class experience. But there are also many partners which are bucket list worthy like Emirates and Etihad.

The Best Bars & Lounges on Airplanes (A380s, 777s, & More) [2020]

There’s a handful of aircraft out there that take the flying experience to the next level by offering bar and lounge areas for passengers to relax in. There are six different commercial airlines to date that offer true bar experiences on board: Emirates, Etihad, Korean Air, Qatar, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia.

There is a seventh is on its way as well with ANA (other airlines might have mini-bar areas but I’m not counting those.)

Brad and I were able to try out each of these six bars recently as part of one mega, round the world trip that lasted an entire moth. Each of the bars had something special to offer but some of the bars stood out more than others. Here’s my list of the best bars on airplanes and why I thought each bar earned its spot on the list.

Interested in finding out the top travel credit cards for this month? Click here to check them out! 

Things to know about the bars

Before I get into the list of the top bars, I wanted to point out a few things that I noticed about visiting these bars that you should be aware of. Knowing these will hopefully help you have a better day/night/14 hours at the bar.

The bars are usually in the back of business class

If you’re flying first class, chances are that the bar is going to be near the opposite side of the plane from where you’re sitting.

This means it’s going to be a little bit of a hike to get back to the first class cabin as you make your way through a dimly lit, narrow aisle with endless rows of passengers sound asleep. If you get a little wobbly after a couple of drinks, this is something to consider.

Only first class and business class passengers get access

These bars are only available to business class and/or first class passengers. Some bars may allow economy passengers access in the future *gasp* but for now unless you’re flying in business class or first class, chances are you won’t have access to the bar.

There are exclusive first class bars

Some of these aircraft have special areas reserved just for first class. This might be where they store the more premium drinks so if you go to those bars you can self serve yourself some of the most premium alcohol at your own mini (open) bar for hours on end.

Be easy on the self-service

On Virgin Australia, a crew member told us tales of people finding their way behind the bar and bar tending themselves. In most cases, you’re not allowed behind the bar and so you shouldn’t take that as your chance to show off why you should have been a mixologist. Just flag down a crew member for help.

The exception to this would be those exclusive first class bars where self service is encourages. Also, you usually can get a photo-op behind the bar so long as you ask the crew first.

Bring your premium drinks to the bar

If you’re flying first class and have special access to super-premium drinks like Dom Perignon you might want to request for them to be brought to the bar so that you can partake with it at the bar. Just try not to make everybody too jealous.

A little turbulence is okay

If you’re at the bar and turbulence hits, they’ll probably just ask you to sit down (and possibly strap in to the seat belt). If it’s really bad they might clear off the bar and then possibly ask you to return to your seat. But if it’s just a few bumps for a little while, you’ll probably be okay just hanging out at the bar.

The bars can re-up anytime

If you’re at the bar and notice your preferred drink of choice is getting low or empty, you can request for that drink to be taken from the galley and they’ll probably bring it out to the bar for you or at least pour you a glass.

The bars can get crowded

The bars on planes can get very crowded so you might want to try to time your visit.

The bars take a little while to get set-up. Chances are they won’t have the bar set up until about 15 minutes after reaching altitude. If you really want to check out these bars (and get photos) you might want to get there as soon as they open because they can get quite crowded.

You’ll likely want to return to the bar later because they usually adjust the lighting at the bar throughout the flight and I always found the lighting to be better and more interesting later on in the flight.

Don’t be one of those people

A lot of people underestimate how much easier it is to get hungover on a plane. A lot of people are also d-bags when they drink. Don’t be one of those people.

Emirates first class champagne.

So that’s it for the tips and below is the list of the best bars. If you want to find more about how I used miles to book these flights you can follow the links found below.

6. Virgin Atlantic 787

Virgin Atlantic gets some points because they have their bars fitted on multiple aircraft. Whether you’re flying the 747, 787, A330, A340, you’ll find a bar on board (except for the new A330-200s). The design and layout of the bar is a bit different for some of these but we flew on the 787 Dreamliner so that’s what I’m going to focus on.

The bar on the Virgin Atlantic 787 is located at the end of the Upper Class cabin and it’s very open — there are no curtains acting as a divider to the rest of the cabin. This means that bar-goers can create a lot of noise in a hurry and might need to be shushed, which puts a bit of a damper on the experience.

Virgin Atlantic 787 bar.

If you’re taking a day-flight from the East Coast to the UK, the odds are probably higher that more people will be visiting the bar and noise might be an issue. Since we departed LAX on a late flight, most people were snoozing away for most of the flight and noise wasn’t an ongoing problem.

While the bar area is quite small, it’s extremely sleek once the flight gets underway and the cabin crew turns the mood lighting on. There are only a couple of stools to relax on on the 787, so you might be standing if you want to check out the bar.

Snacks are offered at the bar but they were among my least favorite out of all of the bars we tried. So while the Virgin Atlantic bar is pretty striking, it’s my least favorite due to the small size and lack of food and drink options.

Virgin Atlantic 787 bar.
Virgin Atlantic 787 bar.

5. Etihad A380 — “The Lobby”

The Etihad A380 is a magnificent aircraft. While only flown on six routes, it’s a thing of beauty especially its first class cabin which is home to the Apartment (and the Residence) not to mention a shower as well. The bar on the Etihad A380 is known as “The Lobby” and it’s open to both first class and business class customers.

The Lobby reminds me of a booth you’d reserve at a nice lounge or wine bar where you’re there just to relax and chat with colleagues. It’s not a large area, but there’s room for about six people to relax on some comfortable seating and take advantage of power outlets if needed.

There’s no bartender present in the room for the most part so it’s a good place to have a private conversation/business meeting. The crew will come by to serve you up some drinks and/or serve you up some light snacks but you kind of feel like you are on your own at The Lobby and the snacks aren’t very extensive.

The Lobby on the Etihad on the A380.

Overall, The Lobby is a cool place worth checking out but it’s not the most memorable in-flight bar out there. It’s also a bar that’s one of the tougher to find since Etihad only flies the A380 to six cities:

  • New York
  • Mumbai
  • London
  • Paris
  • Melbourne
  • Sydney

4. Korean Air A380 — “The Celestial Bar”

The Korean Air A380 houses the aptly-named Celestial Bar which is one of the most interesting bars in the sky. This cosmo-inspired bar is a pretty spacious area with comfy benches to relax on and a bartender who remains on-duty at all times.

Korean Air A380 Celestial Bar.

The Celestial serves up a whole roster of vodka drinks, which you can order from their special menus. Many of the drinks, served in martini glasses, are pretty satisfying but if you’re not a vodka person, you may want to bring your own wine, champagne, or beer with you from your seat.

They’ll also have a good mix of savory snacks and desserts on a rotation, some of which consisted of tasty items I’d never tried before.

Korean Air A380 Celestial Bar.

The Korean Air A380 actually has two other smaller bar/lounge areas, including one on the bottom deck of the A380 that’s exclusive to first class passengers. In this area, you can have more snacks all to yourself and also fix up your own drink, making it as potent as you’d like.

The first class bar on the A380.

Oh yeah, and I realize it’s not a bar but I felt the need to point out that there’s also a duty-free shop on the Korean A380 as well.

Duty-free shop on the Korean Air A380.

3. Virgin Australia 777 — “The Bar”

The Virgin Australia 777 is home to a beautiful bar area located between the two business class cabins on the 777. This is one of the toughest bars to fly on because LAX is pretty much the only place that these 777s fly to from Australia.

On our visit, the bar tender/flight attendant got the party started for us and the bar ended up being the funnest experience out of all of these in-flight bars during our flight from SYD to LAX. The nice vibe I got at the bar is why I’ve put this bar at number 3 — it was truly an enjoyable bar visit.

There’s a decent selection of beverages to choose from, including a selection of whiskies like Maker’s Mark and Aussie wines, though no truly premium drink is served.

Virgin Australia bar on the 777.

You can snack on chips, chocolates, and some other light bites and check out a nice selection of magazines as well. If you ever find yourself in need of a refill with no bartender in sight, there’s a call button located at the bar you can use to get service as soon as you can.

The back side of the bar has an iconic Virgin Australia logo and makes the bar look pretty epic with the right lighting.

2. Emirates A380

The Emirates A380 is another pretty magnificent aircraft. It’s got an amazing first class complete with tricked-out suites and even showers. But it also has one of the best onboard bars that’s open to both business class and first class passengers.

There’s also a lot of tasty desserts and snacks to choose from like olives, fruits, and even some sandwiches. I really liked this bar because the cabin crew was great, the snacks were on-point, and the crowds never got that bad. It’s also a pretty cool looking bar.

Emirates A380 bar.

The bar area is pretty spacious and I thought it was great for socializing. If you have a middle seat in business or first class, you can come out to the bar and enjoy the views for a while, too.

Emirates A380 bar.

Emirates also has a special bar only available to first class passengers which is found at the front of the plane. This is where they store the high-end stuff like Dom Perignon and Hennessy Paradis, which is a Henny that goes for close to $800 per bottle.

The Emirates first class bar on the A380.

There’s also new version of the bar being rolled out which steps up the elegance game but we really enjoyed this version.

1. Qatar Airways A380

Qatar also has a beautiful A380, including an awesome first class cabin. While there’s no shower on board the Qatar A380, I think Qatar has to win for the best bar. The bar area is just immaculate with beautiful lighting and decor that exudes elegance.

The design of the bar is also seamless and it’s put together in a way that’s perfect for socializing and relaxing. The only problem with the bar is that it’s very popular with passengers and can start to fill up pretty quickly.

The Qatar A380 onboard bar.

Qatar serves Krug in first class but not in business class. However, you can still get served Krug at the bar even as a business class passenger, which is a major plus for this bar.

The snacks, desserts, and canapé offered at the bar are gourmet and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a bar at the Ritz-Carlton. Even the glassware and silverware has an elegant feel to it. For all of the reasons above, I have to give Qatar the nod as the best airplane bar experience.

Qatar doesn’t operate its A380 on many true long-haul flights but you can find it on the following routes:

  • Bangkok
  • Guangzhou
  • London
  • Melbourne
  • Paris
  • Sydney

Final word

Getting out and stretching your legs in a bar is a fantastic way to refresh on a long-haul flight. Some of these bars will amaze you with great drinks and atmospheres so much that you’ll forget your on a plane.

Is the Korean Air 45K Credit Card Offer Worth It?

Korean Air has a co-branded credit card issued by US Bank called the SKYPASS Visa Signature Card. There are several different versions of this credit card but the SKYPASS Visa Signature Card is the most sought after because it comes with the best sign-up bonus.

Update: Some offers are no longer available — click here for the latest deals!

The sign-up bonus

The standard public offer for this card is 15,000 Korean Air miles but targeted offers go out with sign-up bonuses of 45,000 and even 50,000. The spend requirements vary but some offer a tiered structure where you earn 15,000 miles for every $1,000 you spend up to $3,000. Both the 45,000 and 50,000 offer are great offers and should be heavily considered.

Additional perks

The card also comes with a few other perks like:

  • Earn 1 mile for every $1 you spend in eligible net purchases (purchases minus credits and returns)
  • 2,000 Bonus Miles at renewal
  • Double Miles on Korean Air ticket purchases
  • 2 KAL Lounge coupons each year
  • No foreign transaction fee (based on your creditworthiness)
  • $80 annual fee

The lounge passes are nice but they are only valid “with Korean Air tickets on Korean Air operated flights and cannot be used with tickets issued by other airlines” and are only available for “Korean Air Airport Lounges in Korean Air gateway cities within North America and Seoul (Incheon), Korea.” Everything else on the card is pretty standard so the perks don’t really make this card stand out.

The real value

The real value of this card is with the sign-up bonus for two reasons.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Korean Air is also a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, making it very easy to earn points to hep supplement your Korean Air account. There’s rumors about Korean Air being added to American Express Membership Rewards, too, but for now it’s great just to see them partnering with Chase.

Great sweet spots 

The second reason is that Korean Air has some amazing sweet spots in their award chart so a 45,000 miles bonus can put you in position to take advantage of some great redemptions.

If you can book during off-peak dates you would be looking at the following first class redemption rates from North America:

  • Japan: 80,000
  • Korea: 80,000
  • China/Northeast Asia: 80,000
  • Southeast Asia: 95,000

Flying off-peak on Korean Air’s own metal to Asia is a great way to get to various places in Asia. The redemption rates aren’t the absolute cheapest that you can find out there but they are still very competitive and among the best.

Here are just a couple of examples of roundtrips:

North America to Korea

  • 70,000 miles in economy
  • 125,000 miles in business class

North America to Japan

  • 70,000 miles in economy
  • 125,000 miles in business class

You can also take advantage of some great rates by using Korean Air SKYPASS miles to book awards on SkyTeam Alliance partners to some hot-spot destinations like Hawaii.

North America to Hawaii

  • 25,000 miles in economy
  • 45,000 miles in business class

Korean Air offers possibly the best way to get to Hawaii with miles and points. With SKYPASS miles, you can depart from anywhere in the United States and always break up your flight with a stopover. With the 45,000 sign-up bonus alone, you’d be able to book a round trip business class ticket to Hawaii and if you’re okay with economy, you almost have enough for two roundtrips.

North America to South America 

  • 50,000 miles in economy
  • 110,000 miles in business class

110,000 miles for a business class round trip is not a bad deal at all if you’re heading to lower South American countries like Chile. (If you’re trying to get to upper South America, there are more worthwhile choices.) One of the advantages of using Korean Air miles to get down to South America is that you can avoid high fees by flying Delta. I’ve seen business class roundtrips with Delta with total fees under $100.

North America to Europe

  • 50,000 miles in economy
  • 80,000 miles in business class

80,000 miles for a roundtrip business class ticket to Europe is among the best but it also comes with some pretty high fees on partners (even Delta).

Final word

As these sweet spots show, 45,000 Korean miles can put you in great position to take advantage of some of the best redemptions out there. And now that Korean Air has a more robust online search and booking function, it’s a lot easier to take advantage of these redemptions. Because of the redemption possibilities, I think the 45,000+ offer for the Korean Air card is one of the best co-branded targeted offers available and highly worth considering.

Korean Air Dropping Houston Route Next Month

Korean Air is one of my favorite airlines and reward programs. They offer excellent redemptions to different destinations in both economy and premium cabins and they are a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards. They also have some great hard products, including first class suites (Kosmo Suites 2.0) and a in-flight bar and lounge aboard their A380.

Unfortunately, Korean Air will not be servicing direct flights to Houston (IAH) as of October 13, 2017. The airline currently operates flights three times a week by a Boeing 777 on the following schedule:

  • KE29: Incheon (ICN) 9:20AM -> Houston (IAH) 8:25AM
  • KE30: Houston (IAH) 10:40AM ->to Incheon (ICN) 3:50PM (+1)

This route began in 2014 and was just one of the many routes that Korean Air flies to the US (they offer more service to US cities than any Asian airline, according to OMAAT). One major issue with this route is that IAH is a United hub so Star Alliance partners have a much easier time attracting passengers with connecting flights. Since Korean Air is part of the SkyTeam Alliance this creates issues since there are fewer connecting passengers and thus less passengers overall.

I was very close to booking this flight for 2018 a few months ago, so I’m very glad that I decided to depart from LAX instead. I’ve learned that when booking routes far out in advance, it’s sometimes better to book from hubs since those are less likely to pulled or changed by the time your trip comes around.

I hate seeing Houston lose such a great airline but they’ve still got other solid options for direct flights to Asia like ANA and EVA Air which both have superb products. Air China and United (which flies to Tokyo) are two other options.


The Best Ways to Use Miles and Points to Get to Europe

There are a number of ways to use miles and points to get to Europe for very cheap. Some of the best redemptions depend on your specific route and destination but others are great deals regardless of where you’re departing from and landing. Here’s a list of 8 of the best ways to use points and miles to get to Europe! 

Update: See my article on the best way to use miles and points to get to Paris for a more in-depth look at getting to Europe. 

1) Flying Blue

  • 25,000 miles (depends on the promo)
  • 50,000 miles – Standard redemption to Europe Flying Blue

Photo by Can Pac Swire via Flickr

Flying Blue offers amazing promo deals that sometimes offer as much as 50% off to Europe! These deals pop up at the beginning of each month so you’ll need to keep a close on them to take advantage of them. Even if you don’t catch one of the promo deals, the standard rate of 50,000 miles roundtrip to Europe is not bad, especially if you can minimize the fees by booking with a SkyTeam alliance partner like Delta. Flying Blue also allows you one stopover and one open jaw so you have increased value. 

How to get miles for Flying Blue

  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Starwood Preferred Guests
  • Citi Thankyou Points

2) British Airways Avios

British Airways Avios operates on a distance-based chart, so to take advantage of these best redemption rates you need to be departing from the East Coast of the United States and landing somewhere in Western Europe. However, even if you’re coming from the West Coast, some of the redemptions can still be pretty decent. And remember, with British Airways you can stopover and/or open jaw pretty much anywhere but you’ll have to factor in the increased distance added to your redemption.

London Heathrow U.K. - British Airways Flag carrier

Photo by Daniel Mennerich

There are several ways to take advantage of the British Airways Avios distance-based system when getting to Europe. I’ll show you how to utilize these Avios with three different One World airlines, including British Airways.

a) Aer Lingus

  • 25,000 Avios – Boston to Dublin
  • 40,000 Avios – NYC/Chicago/Toronto to Dublin
  • 50,000 Avios – LA/San Francisco to Dublin

One popular way to get to Europe with British Airways is to book flights with the Irish airlines Aer Lingus. The Boston to Dublin route is highly valuable because it contains a total of 2,987 miles, which puts it just under the 3,000 mile range of the next bracket for British Airways. That’s how you can do a round trip for only 25,000 Avios and the route is only about 6 hours so it’s very doable in economy. Check here for a list of all Aer Lingus direct flights from North America.

You’ll need to search United’s website to find availability for Aer Lingus and then call in to British Airways to proceed with the booking.

b) British Airways

  • 34,000 Avios – NYC to Dublin

Off-peak flights from the East Coast to Europe can be as low as 34,000 Avios. However, I don’t generally recommend to fly with British Airways to Europe because you will get hit with heavy fuel surcharges. Take a look at the fees for the route below.

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 1.16.42 PM

While the off-peak redemption requires fewer miles than the Aer Lingus redemption, it also requires much more in fees than the same route would require booked with Aer Lingus.

c) Air Berlin

  • 40,000 Avios – NYC to Berlin
  • 40,000 Avios – NYC/Boston to Düsseldorf
  • 50,000 Avios – Chicago/Miami to Berlin
  • 50,000 Avios – Ft. Meyers/Miami to Düsseldorf

Air Berlin is a solid choice to get to Europe from the East Coast with minimal fees. Just take a look at the redemption below… the fees pale in comparison to what you would have to pay if you booked a British Airways flight on its own metal. 

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How to get British Airways Avios

  • American Express Membership Rewards (10:8)
  • Starwood Preferred Guests
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Chase British Airways Credit Card

3) Iberia Airlines Plus

  • 34,000 Avios – NYC/Chicago to Madrid
  • 42,500 – Miami to Madrid Iberia Airlines

Photo by Bernal Saborio via Flickr.

Iberia Airlines Plus is part of the same Avios system as British Airways and implements a distance-based system as well. However, it has its own unique redemption policies that do differ and has an advantage over British Airways in that you can avoid higher taxes and fees.

One sweet redemption is getting from Chicago or New York to Madrid for only 34,000 Avios and “only” about $180-$200 in fees (which compared to British Airways is actually not bad). You can lower the fees by booking flights on American Airlines, but keep in mind that the milage requirement will go up since Iberia charges more miles for certain partners and you can’t book one-way awards on American Airlines with Iberia

How to get Iberia Avios

  • American Express Membership Rewards (10:8)
  • Transfer 1:1 from British Airways Avios

4) Singapore Airlines

  • 34,000 miles – East Coast (JFK and Houston) to Europe II

Photo by Pieter van Marion via Fickr.

Singapore Airlines is another great way get to Europe but you’re restricted geographically just like British Airways. If you depart from the East Coast/Houston to “Europe II,” you can get rates as low as 34,000 roundtrip if you capture the online 15% booking discount. The following locations fall into the Europe II category:

  • Barcelona
  • Frankfurt
  • London
  • Manchester
  • Milan
  • Moscow
  • Munich
  • Paris
  • Zurich

However, you need to note that Singapore Airlines will charge you significant fees. For example, I came across the following fees when trying out some bookings:

  • NYC to Frankfurt – $464
  • Houston to Moscow – $393

You can get around these hefty fees by booking Star Alliance partner United with Singapore Airlines. As shown on their Star Alliance partner award chart, flights from North America to Europe can be booked as low as 55,000 miles, but partner airlines are not given the 15% discount and the redemption rates are higher, so the deal is not to sweet (though still decent). 

One thing to remember: Singapore Airlines allows one stopover and one open jaw on round trip saver awards to everywhere except Europe and the U.S.

How to get Singapore Airlines Krisflyer miles

  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Starwood Preferred Guests
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Citi Thankyou Points

5) American Airlines

  • 45,000 to Europe American Airlines

Photo by ERIC SALARD via Flickr.

American Airlines MileSAAver awards allow for redemptions to Europe as low as 45,000 round trip. Try to avoid booking British Airways flights on the American Airlines website to cut down on fees charged. If you stick with American Airlines you can keep your fees as low as about $50 but if you route with British Airways through London, your fees can easily amount to $650 plus.

American Airlines does not allow for stopovers at international destinations although open jaws are permitted. The lack of stopovers is a bummer but if you only have your sights set on one destination in Europe this becomes less of a concern and the roundtrip for 45,000 becomes much sweeter.

How to get American Airlines Aadvantage miles

  • Citi Platinum Select/Executive
  • Citigold Checking bonuses
  • Starwood Preferred Guests

6) Korean Air

  • 50,000 miles to Europe

korean air plane

Photo by My16SidedOffice via Flickr.

Korean offers decent redemptions to Europe. When booking with a SkyTeam partner you are allowed one stopover during the entire journey that can be in the zone of departure or arrival and one “surface segment” (open jaw) at the destination that is not considered a stopover. This allows for great flexibility when booking. Korean Air will often require surcharges when getting to Europe but if you can find availability on airlines like Delta that shouldn’t be a major problem.

How to get Korean Air SKYPASS miles

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards 
  • Starwood Preferred Guests
  • SKYPASS Visa Signature Card

7) ANA

  • 55,000 miles to Europe

ANA is a great option to get to Europe because you can avoid high fees by booking with Star Alliance partners like United and they allow for flexibility with generous stopover and open jaw policies. With ANA, you’re allowed to open jaw twice and stopover once. The rules for the open jaw are a little confusing because they define some continents as “countries” and alternate the terms “zones” and “areas” without clear definitions of exactly what they are referring to.

However, in terms of going to Europe, you can pretty much open jaw anywhere in the continent and stopover there one time as well. To find out more about these booking policies, read more about booking ANA award flights here.

How to get ANA miles

  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Starwood Preferred Guests

8) United

  • 60,000 miles to Europe

United’s Saver Awards allow you to get to Europe in economy for 60,000 miles (the same mileage requirement applies to Star Alliance redemptions). While this redemption is among the highest of the airlines on the list, you have to remember that with United you don’t have to worry about fuel surcharges and so your tickets to Europe will cost next-to-nothing. You’re also allowed an open jaw on a roundtrip ticket and two open jaws, allowing for superb flexibility and maximization of miles.

How to get United Mileage Plus miles

  • Starwood Preferred Guests (bad 2:1 ratio)
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Chase United Mileage Plus Credit Card

Guide to Korean Air SKYPASS Award Miles

Korean Air SKYPASS is a quality frequent flyer program with some great sweet spots serving different places around the globe. The program requires a bit of extra effort to proceed with booking alliance partner awards, but that little bit of extra work definitely pays off in the end. Here’s a guide to booking awards with Korean Air SKYPASS miles on SkyTeam alliance partners with a look at some of the best redemptions available. 

What is SKYPASS?


SKYPASS is Korean Air’s frequent flier program. Korean Air is a member of the SkyTeam Alliance so you can use SKYPASS to book award flights on SkyTeam Alliance partners in addition to several non-alliance partners. 

SkyTeam Alliance Partners

The SkyTeam Alliance

Non-SkyTeam Alliance Partners

  • Alaska Airlines
  • Emirates
  • Etihad
  • Hawaiian

How to get SKYPASS miles?

There are three ways to get SKYPASS miles with major credit cards: 

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards (1:1)
  • Starwood Preferred Guests (1:1)
  • SKYPASS Visa Signature Card

Ultimate Rewards

For Ultimate Rewards, you can go with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® and earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 within the first three months of opening up your account or you can go with the Chase Ink Plus® and earn 60,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 within the first three months of opening up your account. 

Chase Sapphire Preferred 50,000

Starwood Preferred Guests

You can also go with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, which offers 25,000 to 35,000 points for its sign-up bonus. Keep in mind that when SPG points are transferred to programs like SKYPASS, you receive a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 miles you transfer. 

SKYPASS Visa Signature Card

Finally, you can look into the SKYPASS Visa Signature Cards issued by US Bank. They have both a personal and a business version where you can earn up to 30,000 SKYPASS miles relatively easy with only a $2,000 minimum spend. [offer expired]


The annual fees for both cards aren’t waived but are reasonable coming under $100. If you’re looking for a way to jump start your earnings or cap-off your SKYPASS miles these cards are definitely decent options. Just be aware that US Bank can issue you the lesser “Classic” card if they don’t deem you credit-worthy and that card comes with a very low bonus of only 5,000 miles, so consider that when applying.

Booking policies

The only real drawback to Korean Air is that booking partner awards requires a bit more effort than some other airlines, as they have some unique policies and hurdles you’ll have to clear in order to finalize your booking.

Redeeming Korean Air SKYPASS miles for family members

Korean Air allows its members to make bookings for immediate family members (up to 5) through its “family plan” but you’ve got to jump through a few hoops first and through the registration process. Family members that qualify for this include: Grandparents, parents, spouse, brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren, parents-in law, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law.

You’ll have to send in the application online (emailing to is the preferred method), or via fax/snail mail and if you’re a non-resident of Korea, you’ll have to include a copy of some form of identity verification, such as family registers, resident registration, birth certificates,marriage certificates, etc.

Expect about 48 to 72 hours to process the application but make sure that you have a hand-written signature on the form and not a digital version because they won’t accept that!

Tip: If you don’t want to bother with this process (or don’t have the necessary documentation), you can always consider transferring points from individual Ultimate Rewards/SPG accounts into separate SKYPASS accounts and just complete separate bookings. 

Booking award flights

Update: you can now search and book partner awards online! 

Booking award flights with partner airlines on Korean Air SKYPASS is a bit of a painful process. Here’s why: 

  • First, to book an award flight with a partner airline you must call in to book.
  • Second, the Korean Air website will normally not show you partner availability so you should search on other websites, such as Delta’s to find the availability. 
  • Third, to make matters even worse, when you finally do find the availability you are looking for you will be required to send in the application for booking award tickets along with a copy of the passport of each passenger. 

Although this process is a little lengthy and a little weird, I really think the bit of extra effort it requires is still worth it given the great redemption rates of Korean Air.

Put reservations on hold 

One thing that is great about SKYPASS is that you can put your reservations on hold. I’ve read reports of some being told that the limit for held reservations is 14 days, 30 days, and even longer. When I inquired with SKYPASS (two times), I was told that you can keep a reservation on hold up until 3 days before the departure. This means that, at least in theory, you could have a reservation on hold for months and months at a time.

I wouldn’t count on such long holds being allowed 100% of the time and you’ll always have to contend with fluctuating taxes, but in any event, you shouldn’t have to worry about putting reservations on hold for just a couple of weeks at a time. 


SKYPASS has different zone charts for bookings on Korean Air, Star Alliance Partners, and non-alliance partners. Since I’m just focusing on booking SkyTeam Alliance flights with Korean Air right now, below are the award charts for bookings made on Star Alliance Partners. 

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Certain routes have their own rates which are a little cheaper. You can take a closer look on their website to see what routes offer these discounted rates.  

Stopover and open jaw rules 

Korean Air offers flexible rules for stopovers and open jaws. 

  • One stopover is permitted during the entire journey (this can be in the zone of departure or arrival).
  • Up to two transfers are permitted between city of departure and destination for each direction (for a total of three segments each way). 
  • One “surface segment” (open jaw) is permitted at the destination, and is not considered a stopover. 

These rules allow you to maximize the value of your bookings by essentially offering you ways to stop over in certain destinations free of charge.

You can only book roundtrips

  • SkyTeam Bonus is valid only for round-trip and same amount of mileage will be redeemed for one-way trip. 

So basically, it’s a waste to book one-way awards.


There are no fees to cancel or modify your bookings.

Update: Korean Air now will charge roughly $27 for cancelled bookings.

I asked what the latest date possible would be to cancel a booking and was told that “it depends” on the reasoning. It sounded as if one could cancel a booking last minute without penalty but I’m sure that YMMV on that.

Once you cancel your booking, your miles should be redeposited back into your account within 48 to 72 hours and the taxes and fees will be refunded no later than 4 to 6 weeks. 


You can get around surcharges by booking your award flights with the right partners. Most of the partners like that fly to and from North and South America (Delta, AeroMexico, etc.) will have surcharges of next-to-nothing. However, when flying to and from Europe or Asia you might have to deal with more surcharges. (I’ll try to write up more on surcharges later.)

Sweet spots

In an effort to keep this article at a reasonable length, I’m only going to focus on SkyTeam Alliance partner sweet spots from North America to various destinations around the world with SKYPASS and I will follow up with additional sweet spots on a later article.

Here are the summaries for the sweet spots: 

  • North America to Hawaii
    • 25,000 miles in economy
    • 45,000 miles in business class
  • North America to Mexico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico
    • 25,000 miles in economy
    • 45,000 miles in business class
  • North America to Europe
    • 50,000 miles in economy
    • 80,000 miles in business class
  • North America to South America 
    • 50,000 miles in economy
    • 110,000 miles in business class

It’s all about the sweet spots!

1) North America to Hawaii

  • 25,000 miles in economy
  • 45,000 miles in business class

Korean Air offers possibly the best way to get to Hawaii with miles and points. One of the only other programs that allows for such low redemption to Hawaii is British Airways, but you’re limited to departing off the West Coast. With SKYPASS miles, you can depart from anywhere in the United States and always break up your flight with a stopover.

For example, you could depart from the middle of the United States, stop over in the San Francisco Bay Area, and then be on your way to Hawaii and come back all for only 25,000 miles. That means with just hitting the sign-up bonus on card like the Sapphire Preferred® you and a partner could have airfare covered roundtrip to Hawaii. (Read about Loophole Travel’s recent redemption to Hawaii for more on this sweet redemption.)   

Compare SKYPASS to other programs:

  • Aeroplan: 45,000
  • American Airlines: 45,000
  • British Airways Avios: 25,000 Avios (from the West Coast)
  • ANA Partner: 40,000
  • Delta: 45,000
  • United: 45,000
  • Singapore Airlines: 35,000 

The business class redemption to Hawaii for 45,000 miles is pretty exceptional as well. In fact, that’s the same amount of miles required by United, American Airlines, Delta, and Aeroplan just to get to Hawaii in North America in economy roundtrip, as you can see above. 

2) North America to Mexico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon 

  • 25,000 miles in economy
  • 45,000 miles in business class

Getting to Mexico and a few other destinations like Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with Korean Air SKYPASS is also a bargain. Since they are also a part of North America, the mileage requirements are the same for Hawaii. 

Compare SKYPASS to other requirements for getting to Mexico:

  • Aeroplan: 40,000
  • American Airlines: 30,000
  • ANA Partner: 30,000
  • Delta: 35,000
  • Flying Blue: 25,000 miles
  • United: 35,000

3) North America to Europe 

  • 50,000 miles in economy
  • 80,000 miles in business class

Korean Air SKYPASS has some of the cheapest redemptions from North America to Europe in economy at 50,000 round trip.

Compare these rates to the following airlines:

  • Aeroplan: 60,000 to 75,000 
  • American Airlines: 45,000 to 60,000
  • ANA Partner: 55,000 
  • British Airways: 34,000 (Departing Northeast to northwest Europe; surcharges likely)
  • Delta: 60,000 to 82,000 
  • Singapore Airlines: 34,000 (from IAH/East Coast to western Europe and with online 15% discount; heavy surcharges likely) 
  • United: 60,000 

While British Airways and Singapore Airlines offer lower redemption rates, keep in mind that those rates are restricted geographically and will usually incur much higher taxes and fuel surcharges than booking a partner airline like Delta with Korean Air. With Korean Air, you can depart from anywhere in the U.S. and arrive anywhere in Europe for the flat rate of 50,000. That’s what makes it such a great sweet spot.  

The sweet spot gets even sweeter for business class, as Korean Air even beats out ANA’s ridiculously low rates for business class to Europe and only requires 80,000 miles! That’s only 20,000 more miles than many other airlines require for economy to Europe.

Compare this SKYPASS redemption to other airlines:

  • Aeroplan: 110,000 miles
  • American Airlines: 115,000
  • ANA Partner: 88,000
  • Delta: 125,000
  • United: 115,000 miles (140,000 miles if booked with alliance partner)

4) North America to South America 

  • 50,000 miles in economy
  • 110,000 miles in business class

The redemptions are among the best for getting to southern South America. For example, take a look at the mileage requirements for getting from North America to Santiago, Chile. Only 50,000 miles are required!    

Compare SKYPASS to other airlines:

  • Aeroplan: 60,000
  • American Airlines: 60,000
  • ANA Partner: 55,000
  • Delta: 60,000
  • Flying Blue: 50,000
  • United: 60,000

Just note that for some airlines that divide South America into two regions (usually “North” and “South”), you might be better off booking with another award program. For example, take a look at the rates for going from North America to a destination (Lima, Peru) typically included in the northern portion of South America:

  • Aeroplan: 60,000
  • American Airlines: 35,000
  • ANA Partner:  55,000
  • Delta: 60,000
  • Flying Blue: 35,000
  • United: 40,000

The 50,000 SKYPASS redemption from North America to a place like Lima, Peru isn’t that bad but it’s definitely not the best redemption you can find. Thus, if you’re headed to northern South America, you might not want to go with Korean Air and save yourself a good 10-15,000 points. 

The business class redemptions aren’t bad for getting to “lower” South America, though. For example, it will only require 110,000 miles to get to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in business class with SKYPASS. 

Compare this to other requirements for getting from North America to Rio De Janeiro:

  • Aeroplan: 110,000 miles
  • American Airlines: 115,000 miles
  • ANA Partner: 88,000 miles 
  • Delta: 150,000 miles
  • United: 110,000 miles

While it’s not the lowest redemption (I don’t think many, if any, airlines can compete with ANA on this redemption), it’s still among the best for the major airlines. 

Final Word

Korean Air SKYPASS is a great way to redeem miles for SkyTeam partner airlines. There are some rich sweet spots that are among the best out there and while you might have to jump through a few extra hoops to take advantage of some of these, it can definitely be worth it when you’re saving tens of thousands of points. 

Cover photo by My16SidedOffice via Flickr.