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Can I Fly Korean Air and Bank the Miles Earned to Delta?

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TPG reader Adam emailed me to ask:

“I have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, and I can book Korean Air tickets through the Ultimate Rewards site. I live in Korea and plan on visiting home in the next few months. Because Korean Air and Delta are in the SkyTeam alliance together, can I book my flight with Korean Air and transfer the miles I earned on the flight to Delta later?”

Ultimate Rewards points are some of my favorites, as Chase has 11 solid transfer partners, and you can book travel through the Ultimate Rewards Travel Center to redeem points for flights and hotel stays at 1.25 cents apiece when you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred. This isn’t the most valuable option, but it’s a nice one to have.

TPG reader Adam is wondering if he can transfer miles earned from Korean Air to Delta Skymiles.

Here’s the deal: if you book your travel through Ultimate Rewards, where you’d be buying a revenue ticket, then you may be able to bank the miles earned on that Korean Air flight to Delta. Just know that Delta recently hacked its partner earning, especially on Korean Air. So you may not get 100% of the miles flown, you may not get any MQMs at all, and if your flight is ticketed on Korean Air, then you won’t get any MQDs either. Sadly, the Skyteam alliance is one of the most disjointed when it comes to partner earning flights.

Another option is to transfer your miles to Korean Skypass with a 1:1 ratio to book an award on Korean Airlines, but you can’t enter your Delta number there to earn any SkyMiles. Sometimes wonky things can happen: for example, if your flight is canceled and you get rebooked, then you may actually get mileage credit to Delta, but it’s extremely rare.

It will be difficult to get Delta miles for flying Korean Air, even though they are both in the Skyteam alliance. Shutterstock.
It will be difficult to get Delta miles for flying Korean Air, even though they’re both in the SkyTeam alliance. (Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

So if your goal is to build up Delta miles, you may just want to use the Ultimate Rewards portal to book Delta ticketed flights, as pretty much all eligible fare classes will earn 100% miles, and you won’t have to worry about fighting to get mileage credit.

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
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