Fly Korean Air to Seoul with Emirates Skywards Miles

Korean Air Business Class
You could book Korean Air Prestige Class using Emirates Skywards miles. Photo: Korean Air.

If you’d like to fly to South Korea, which recently reopened to overseas tourists, Korean Air offers direct flights from Sydney to Seoul (Incheon) four times per week. This Airbus A330-300 service will increase to daily from 31 October 2022.

Korean Air is part of the SkyTeam alliance, but award seats on the airline are unfortunately not easily accessible to most Australians.

To book a Korean Air award, you could redeem miles with any SkyTeam frequent flyer program such as Air France/KLM Flying Blue, Garuda Miles, Delta SkyMiles, Vietnam Airlines Lotusmiles… or of course, Korean Air’s own SKYPASS program.

But most Australians are not members of these programs and it’s not easy to earn miles in Australia with SkyTeam airlines. That’s why Korean Air’s partnerships with Alaska Airlines and Emirates are perhaps more interesting to Australians.

The Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program sells miles that you can redeem for round-trip Korean Air flights on selected routes between Australia and North America. However, it’s not possible to just book flights from Australia to Asia on Korean Air using Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles.

This brings us to the Emirates Skywards program. This frequent flyer program is more accessible to Australians because you can transfer points from several Australian credit card reward programs to Emirates Skywards:

  • American Express Membership Rewards (2:1 rate)
  • Citi Rewards (2.5:1 rate)
  • CommBank Awards (3.5:1 rate – subject to change)
  • Diners Club Rewards (2.5:1 rate)

You can even earn Emirates Skywards miles directly in Australia with an Emirates Citi World Mastercard (which currently comes with up to 60,000 bonus sign-up Skywards miles for new cardholders).

So if you have Amex Membership Rewards points, for example, you could access Korean Air award seats from Sydney to Seoul via the Emirates Skywards program!

Korean Air 787
A Korean Air Boeing 787. Photo: John McArthur on Unsplash.

How to redeem Emirates Skywards miles on Korean Air

Unlike with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, Emirates only lets you redeem Skywards miles with Korean Air for point-to-point flights. If you’re starting your trip in Australia, this means you’ll probably just be looking at the Sydney-Seoul route. (Korean Air used to also fly Brisbane-Seoul, but these flights have been removed from sale indefinitely.)

To continue your journey with Korean Air beyond Seoul, you would need to book another flight from Seoul to your final destination on a separate Emirates award ticket.

Here are the number of Emirates Skywards miles you’d need to book a point-to-point Korean Air flight, noting that prices quoted are one-way and Prestige Class is Korean Air’s name for Business Class:

Emirates Skywards award chart for Korean Air redemptions
Emirates Skywards award chart for Korean Air redemptions.

The above prices exclude taxes, but there are no fuel surcharges applicable when redeeming Skywards miles for Korean Air flights.

Booking on the Emirates website

You can book Korean Air award seats on the Emirates website. After logging into your Skywards account, select the “Advanced search” option (as shown below):

Select "Advanced search: multi-city, promo codes, partner airlines" to search for Classic Reward seats on other airlines including Qantas or Korean Air
Select “Advanced search: multi-city, promo codes, partner airlines” to search for Classic Reward seats on other airlines including Qantas or Korean Air.

Next, click “Book Classic Rewards Flight” and “search partner flights only”. You can then search for the flights you want below this.

Search for "partner flights only" when searching for Skywards reward seats on Korean Air
Search for “partner flights only” when searching for Skywards reward seats on Korean Air.

If you select “My dates are flexible (+/- 3 days)”, you’ll be shown an award availability calendar on the next page:

Award availability calendar on the Emirates website
Award availability calendar on the Emirates website.

If award seats are available to book through Skywards, they’ll be shown on the next page along with the number of miles and taxes required.

Korean Air SYD-ICN award seats available on the Emirates website
Korean Air SYD-ICN award seats available on the Emirates website.

Covering 5,164 miles, the Sydney-Seoul route falls into Zone 8 on the Skywards award chart for Korean Air flights. This means it costs 44,000 Emirates Skywards miles each way for an Economy award seat from Sydney to Seoul. Business (Prestige) Class costs double the amount at 88,000 miles.

The taxes (which are subject to change) cost $107.35 on the Sydney-Seoul route and $78.45 in the opposite direction.

Korean Air Business Class award availability is limited on the Sydney-Seoul route, but you’ll sometimes find one seat on a flight when booking well in advance. At the moment, most availability covers dates in March, April and May 2023… but there are also a couple of Business award seats available now for travel in November 2022 and January 2023.

As you might expect, Economy Class award seats are a bit more plentiful and you’ll often find more than one award seat available per flight in Economy.

Note that Korean Air does also publish blackout dates when award seats are not available at all.

The same process would apply if you wanted to redeem Emirates Skywards miles to book Korean Air flights on other routes. Award availability is generally easier to find on intra-Asia routes such as Seoul-Tashkent.

Emirates award on Korean Air from TAS-ICN
Emirates award on Korean Air from Tashkent to Seoul.

An easier way to find Korean Air award availability

While you would need to go to the Emirates website to book Korean Air award seats using Skywards miles, the Emirates website isn’t necessarily the most efficient place to search for award availability.

If you have an Expert Flyer subscription, you could search for Korean Air award availability there.

As Korean Air is a SkyTeam airline, you can also use the Delta website to search for Korean Air award availability up to a month at a time. To do so, search for Sydney-Seoul or Seoul-Sydney flights on the Delta website and select the “Shop with Miles” search option. If you’re looking for Economy award seats, select “Main Cabin” as the class of travel. For Business seats, select “Delta One”.

On the next page, click on “Price Calendar” to view five weeks worth of pricing & availability on a single screen. Then, add a filter to show only “Non Stop” flights to remove all the indirect Vietnam Airlines and other partner airline flights from your search. After doing this, as Korean Air is the only Delta partner airline on the Sydney-Seoul route, the calendar will only show you dates with Korean Air availability by default.

Delta website award availability calendar
Bring up the “Price Calendar” and show non-stop flights only to more easily find Korean Air availability on the Sydney-Seoul route.

If a Korean Air award seat is available to book on the Delta website using SkyMiles, you should also be able to book it using Emirates Skywards miles.

 

You can leave a comment or discuss this topic on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]