Korean Air’s new bonus ticket policy requires more miles for flights

2023. 2. 8. 13:09
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[Courtesy of Korean Air]
Korean Air Lines Co. will implement a new mileage redemption program for reward flights and upgrades on April 1 that will require more miles for long-haul services.

Under the new policy, mileage will be awarded based on flight distance instead of region, with more miles to be required for a bonus ticket, according to the full-service carrier on Tuesday.

Specifically, the average one-way ticket price between Seoul and Jeju in Korea is 100,000 won ($80), but if you purchase it with miles, 5,000 will be needed during the normal season, where 1 mileage is worth 20 won.

For the Incheon-New York route, the most popular international flight route for Korean travelers, the one-way ticket fare will be 1.3 million won for economy class, 4.29 million won for business class and 7.3 million won for first class as of April 1. If a mileage ticket is purchased for this route by March, mileage redemptions are 35,000 miles, 62,500 miles and 80,000 miles, respectively. In this case, the value of 1 mileage is 37 won for economy class, 69 won for business class and 91 won for first class.

However, miles required when purchasing the same ticket after April 1 will jump to 45,000 miles for economy class, 90,000 miles for business class and 135,000 miles for first class. In this case, the value of one mileage drops sharply to 29 won for economy class, 48 won for business class, and 54 won for first class.

The new mileage policy is causing consumer dissatisfaction. Furthermore, flight seats available with a bonus ticket are only 5 percent of the total.

In response, Korean Air allows bonus miles to be used for hotel accommodations and shopping. But the problem is that if you use miles for these benefits, the deduction is much larger than when you use them for flights. For example, Seogwipo KAL Hotel has a weekend rate of 190,000 won and the required miles is 22,000 to 30,000, which means 1 mile is only worth 6 won.

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