Korean Air to Add Award Ticket Change and Refund Fees

Apr 29, 2016

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There’s a negative change to yet another airline mileage program: Korean Air has announced that it’s adding new fees to its SKYPASS mileage program. But, as you can see, these are some rather minimal changes:

Current Effective August 1, 2017
Award change fee 30,000 KRW (~US$27)
Award refund fee
(<1 year from issue)
500 miles (domestic)
3,000 miles (international)
Award refund fee
(>1 year from issue)
10,000 miles 3,000 miles (domestic)
10,000 miles (international)

Award change fees: Currently, there’s no fee at all for changing a Korean Air award ticket. With this change, Korean is adding fee of 30,000 Korean Won — which is currently about US$27 — for a change to an award ticket. While nothing beats free changes, compared to Delta’s $150 fee for changes to award tickets, a $27 fee seems incredibly reasonable.

Award refund fees: Similarly, there weren’t any fees or mileage penalties for canceling and redepositing miles from an award ticket, as long as you did so within one year of the award ticket’s issuance. Now, there will be a penalty of 500 miles for South Korean domestic routes and 3,000 miles for international routes.

While we don’t include a valuation of SKYPASS miles in our monthly valuations, the program is a transfer partner of both Chase Ultimate Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest. If we impute an arbitrary 2.0-cent per point value, the new 3,000-mile refund fee for international tickets would mean a loss of $60 in value.

Korean Air has one of the best business class.
Korean Air has one of the best business class products.

Not only are the changes rather small, but perhaps the biggest news about this change is that Korean Air is giving us plenty of advance notice: The new fees will become effective for award ticket changes or refunds as of August 1, 2017. That’s not a typo; Korean Air is giving us over 15 months of notice for this change. In an era of overnight devaluations in other airline programs, getting this much of a heads-up really makes this announcement stand out.

Plus, not only are the new fees somewhat minimal, but there are actually some fees that are going down thanks to this change: Refunding domestic flights after 1 year will drop from a 10,000-mile penalty to just a 3,000-mile penalty.

Bottom Line

Korean Air’s first class is a TPG favorite — and its advanced notice on these changes continue to make SKYPASS a favorite program.

New fees are never worth celebrating. However, Korean Air’s 15+ month notice and minimal added fees are a very encouraging sign that the Korean SKYPASS program respects its members. We can hope that other airlines will emulate Korean Air for any future changes!

H/T: One Mile at a Time

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