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Hawaii is a very popular award travel destination, and of course families are always looking for the best way to stretch their airline miles to get everyone there in as economical a way as possible. For a few years now one of the cheapest airline awards to Hawaii from the rest of the United States has been available via Korean Air. As is often the case with theses sort of things, you don’t actually fly on Korean Air to Hawaii from the US, but instead you fly on their SkyTeam partner, Delta. Korean Air is a 1:1 transfer partner from Chase Ultimate Rewards, so many of us have access to Korean miles even if we have never flown that airline in the past.
This deal is possible because Korean Air’s SkyTeam award chart groups all of North America together, so a saver award round trip between New York and Hawaii in economy on Delta is just 25,000 miles when booked via Korean. This is the same price as if you were just flying from New York to Atlanta round trip. In other words, this is an award chart sweet spot!
That isn’t new news, but the new news is that you can now book awards on Delta and some other SkyTeam partner airlines on the Korean Air website! Previously you had to call, which is never a super fun extra step.
The Korean website is not great for searching for availability on partner flights, so I recommend using the Delta website and their 5 week flexible date search to spot the dates where flights to Hawaii are available for just 45,000 Delta miles round trip. Assuming the flights are operated by Delta, you should then be able to head to the Korean website and find the same availability for just 25,000 Korean miles that you can transfer in from Chase Ultimate Rewards and cards like the Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, etc. You will need to register for a Korean Air account before you can search.
Theoretically you can book first class round trip flights to Hawaii on Delta for just 45,000 Korean miles round trip, but bless your heart if you are searching for those. It happens, but it’s like needle in a haystack level searching, so I really recommend convincing yourself that economy is fine if you want to go to Hawaii using just 25,000 Korean miles.
If you want to maximize this award chart sweet spot, but Hawaii isn’t your only goal, keep in mind that Korean classifies Mexico, all of the United States, US Virgin Islands, Canada, and Puerto Rico in the North America zone so any of saver awards on Delta will cost you just 25,000 miles round trip in economy and 45,000 miles round trip in first class.
One still annoying piece of this booking puzzle is that Korean only allows you to book award flights for your immediate family members such as for your parents, your children, your grandchildren, in-laws, etc. and this requires form completion and documentation that you send to engskypass at koreanair.com.
I recommend reading this post by One Mile at a Time for more details on the exact booking process, though keep in mind that post was written before you could book SkyTeam partner awards online. On the upside, you can put tickets on hold while completing their booking process and transferring in points from Ultimate Rewards or SPG.
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.