This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
South Korea and North Korea — two countries still technically at war — are set to compete together under the same flag at this year’s Olympics. As part of the coordination for this historical partnership, all kinds of norms are being broken. The latest of these: flights between the Koreas have resumed for the first time since 1994.
A trip was just completed by an Asiana Airbus A321-200 (registration HL8060) carrying South Korean skiers to North Korea. The aircraft returned with the same skiers, plus 32 North Koreans. This delegation includes 10 North Korean athletes who’ve been invited to participate in the 2018 Olympics — six skiers, two figure skaters and two short-track speed skaters.
According to Aviation24, this is the “first time that an aircraft registered in South Korea has visited North Korea along the East Sea route.”
As far as we can tell from the limited FlightRadar24 data (due to the absence of ADS-B receivers in North Korea), other chartered flights have flown:
- Seoul, South Korea (ICN) to Yangyang, South Korea (YNY)
- Yangyang, South Korea (YNY) to Wonsan, North Korea (WOS)
- Wonsan, North Korea (WOS) to Seoul, South Korea (ICN)
- Seoul, South Korea (ICN) to Wonsan, North Korea (WOS)
- Wonsan, North Korea (WOS) to Yangyang, South Korea (YNY)
- Yangyang, South Korea (YNY) to Seoul, South Korea (ICN)
Between the lack of ADS-B coverage in North Korea and the limited coverage in the mountainous Yangyang area, some of these flights show up as mere blips on the radar:
Direct flights between these airports would normally cover just 716 miles. However, these flights took the (very) long route over the Sea of Japan — avoiding the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and the heavy fortification on both sides.
Before the chartered flights could depart, Asiana needed to get approval from the United States to avoid sanctions. According to press following this trip, US officials gave a last-minute approval. A South Korean foreign ministry official told the Yonhap news agency that consent was granted on Wednesday, January 31:
The government has made smooth progress with the US Department of the Treasury on the process of granting exceptions to US sanctions to prevent Korean companies from being affected by US sanctions. The government is in close consultation with the United States on matters related to Pyongyang’s participation in the Olympics, with the view that the PyeongChang Olympic Games will be held successfully in accordance with the framework of sanctions against North Korea.
And yes, the historic flights had boarding passes — which hopefully the athletes kept:
No word on whether the flights will credit to Asiana’s “Asiana Club” mileage program. If so, hopefully the athletes and the Olympic delegation will be able to appeal for actual flight mileage rather than the direct flight miles.
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), up to a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees