Korean Air Shelves Their Negative SkyPass Program Overhaul Until At Least April 2023

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Back in 2019 Korean Air announced changes to its SKYPASS frequent flier program that were supposed to kick in this year (2021), affecting the number of miles earned, number of miles required for awards, and elite qualification – this has now been shelved according to a news release in Korean.

Korean Air now postpones the implementation deadline of this “new program” for two years and the new criteria will take effect on April 1, 2023, which was delayed by two years.

You can access Korean Air’s press release page for postponement of the changes here.

Translation of the Korean press release through Google Translate:

Korean Air has decided to delay the implementation deadline of the reorganized SKYPASS system by two years as it becomes difficult for customers to use mileage due to air travel restrictions due to the prolonged Corona 19. Along with this, the conditions for acquiring the qualification for elite membership will be expanded to increase the number of benefits, while extending the validity period of mileage that expires this year by one year.

In December 2019, Korean Air raised the mileage accrual rate for First Class and Prestige Classes, improved the mileage accrual rate for Economy Class according to the fare level of the ticket, and reorganized the SKYPASS system with the aim of changing the deduction criteria for award tickets and upgrade mileage. Have been announced. Accordingly, it has been decided to implement the system that has been changed sequentially from April 2021.

However, according to the decision to postpone the implementation deadline for two years, the change of the SKYPASS mileage accrual rate and mileage deduction criteria will take effect on April 1, 2023, which was delayed by two years from the original implementation on April 1, 2021. Accordingly, it is possible to have a sufficient period of 3 years and 3 months, including 3 months prior notice and 3 years grace period. In addition, the new elite membership system, which was scheduled to be implemented from February 2022, will be delayed for two years and will be implemented from February 2024, and the end of lifelong elite membership qualification will be postponed from February 2022 to the end of 2024.

In addition, the standard for calculating the annual boarding performance required to acquire an excellent member qualification has also been relaxed. Instead of the existing system that was limited only by Korean Air’s boarding performance, SkyTeam airlines’ boarding miles were newly added as a condition for acquiring elite membership, so that more members can enjoy the benefits of elite members. In addition, Korean Air has extended the expiration date for an additional year for mileage that expires in 2021 so that it can be used until the end of 2022.

In addition, mileage that has already been extended once (expired at the end of 2020) is also extended and can be used until the end of 2022. Meanwhile, Korean Air will begin pilot operation of mileage complex payment from January 7 to December 31, 2022. The plan is to continuously supplement the system so that customers can use the mileage complex payment more conveniently and stably.

I wasn’t able to find anything of this vital announcement by Korean Air in English.

So what this essentially says is:

  • The new SkyPass system will take effect on April 1, 2023
  • Expiring miles are being extended until December 31, 2022
  • The new elite membership system (scheduled to be implemented from February 2022) will be implemented from February 2024

John first wrote about this announcement back in 2019 (see here).

The following charts are Google Translate translations from Korean back from John’s original article:

Mileage accrual (Effective April 1, 2021):

Mileage requirements (Effective April 1, 2021):

Status miles (Effective February 1, 2021):

Korean Air is a rather lucrative program and I really like their redemption options. These announcements of changes that will without doubt be implemented at one point are akin to the death stab for the program as far as efficiency for the customer goes. The miles will be worth a lot less once this all kicks in.

Who knows if 2023 is really the final date. Remember we have also seen Lufthansa completely abolish their scheduled Miles&More changes that were scheduled to kick in first this year, then next year and then zip – gone.

Conclusion

Korean Air made the right decision to delay these overhauls of their SkyPass system until 2023 and in the case of the Elite Qualification 2024. I’m surprised it took them this long to actually come out with this announcement.

What also surprises me is that there is no announcement in English whatsoever and the only source is their Korean newsroom which I received a link to by one of our readers from Korea.

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