Loyalty programs are often more valuable than airlines themselves, thanks to their marketing and financial ties, and things only stay that way if people consider the points programs worth participating in. Take away all the “juice” and prospect of luxury travel and people will find other ‘games’, or not play at all.
Korean Air, a highly popular airline loyalty program, whether you fly Korean or not – hint, the program offers excellent values from the USA to Asia – planned to make some changes which weren’t expected to be positive this year. But after assessing the stress of a global pandemic, it’s assuring members that instead, it won’t be making changes until 2023.
Korean Delays SkyPass Changes
The SkyPass loyalty program may be destined for a makeover, but it won’t be coming in April 2021, as planned. According to Fly With Moxie, a top Asian travel blog, Korean is notifying members that planned changes to the program are being pushed back, out of respect to the current global situation. The news is now confirmed by Korean Air, via a press release (Google Translate will help).
This is a bold and impressive move which sends a clear message, and builds stronger trust with loyalty program members. Devaluations erode the joy loyalty programs can bring to travelers, and making matters worse, no-notice devaluations have become the norm.
Using The Korean Air SkyPass Program
Until recently, Korean Air SkyPass was a Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer which offered fantastic value for people’s credit card points. Marriott Rewards still offers an opportunity to transfer points into Korean SkyPass.
With the news, until 2023, Korean will continue to charge the following rates for first class travel – not business class, first class!
- 80,000 Points One Way between USA and Korea or Japan.
- 95,000 Points One Way between USA and Southeast Asia.
- 120,000 Points One Way between USA and Oceania (Australia, NZ, etc)
Business class was obviously significantly less, but these values provided an amazing chance to “go big” for a reasonable number of points. The proposed changes would’ve knocked many flights in the current 80,000 point category up to over 120,000 points one way.
Aside from Korean Air retaining generous rates on luxury points redemptions, such as first class between the USA and Asia, and throughout the Asian continent, current fare earning rates on cash tickets will remain in tact, as will loyalty levels
Again, many of the best values for elite status perks, earning points and redemptions were expected to disappear in April of 2021, but now they’ll remain in tact until at least 2023. For most US or European frequent flyers, this isn’t a first choice program, mostly because points earning is so limited, but it’s absolutely one worth investigating.
In 2023, Korean is expected to make points earning more based on the type of fare you buy, offering far fewer points on low priced economy fares. In addition, a fourth tier will be added to their loyalty program, and loyalty will be closer aligned to money spent, rather than loyalty. But for now, there’s lots to love.
Kudos to Korean Air for the honorable and trust inspiring move for loyalty members.