Delta has added Korean Air award space to its website. This is huge because Korean Air has outstanding award availability in business class, and because previously there was no way to search Korean Air business inventory online. Korean Air’s website doesn’t even let you search unless you have enough miles in your account for the award. Expertflyer has displayed it on some intra-Asia routes only.
So someone with Delta miles had to call Delta to hunt and peck for space — dealing with agents who might not be willing to make more than three searches in a call, agents who don’t know where Seoul is let alone cities beyond Korean’s hub, and agents who don’t know that Korean is even a partner let alone how to search for their award space.
Here’s Korean Air business award space from Washington Dulles – Seoul, the first random date that I picked:
Korean flies to more US destinations than any other Asian carrier.
- Las Vegas
- Los Angeles
- New York JFK
- San Francisco
- Washington Dulles
In addition, they fly to Toronto and to Vancouver in Canada, and from Los Angeles to Sao Paolo as well.
While getting award space to an international gateway using Delta miles can be a challenge — it’s often necessary to book your international flights on an award ticket and buy domestic flights to get to the start and back from the end of that ticket — members on the West Coast especially can use Delta’s partner Alaska Airlines for positioning flights.
When planning an award on Korean it’s important to be aware of blackout dates. Over 40% of the year is blacked out, because Delta forbids booking any Korean flight when the airline has blackout dates for any route. So if there’s an intra-Asia blackout date, Delta will impose it on North America-Seoul.
The following upcoming dates are blacked out:
- December 7 – January 6
- February 7 – February 12
- May 17 – June 30
- July 19 – August 25
- September 14 – September 23
- October 3
- October 5 -October 6
- December 7 – December 31
Bear in mind that the Delta award calendar is broken. Do not rely on it. Search for each origin and destination, one-by-one and day-by-day. In other words, try Washington Dulles – Seoul for the potential dates you need one at a time. Then try JFK – Seoul. Then try Chicago – Seoul. Etc.
And don’t search for roundtrips. Because lack of availability in one direction may screw up the ability to see availability that’s there in the other direction.
You’re not going to actually ticket this way. You’re just going to find the space this way.
So in the example I show above, I searched one-way Washington Dulles – Seoul just to find a flight with business class availability. The website shows the flight available, at 120,000 miles which is the roundtrip price. That’s because Delta does not offer one-way awards for half the cost of a roundtrip. With Delta a one-way costs the same as a roundtrip. But if the flight is available, it is available — with partners there is only ‘low’ availability, no such thing as medium or high mileage costs.
Find the flights you want, one at a time, and then try to piece them together with multi-city search. If you can’t get the flights to come up or price properly with multi-city search, that’s a failure of the website (the Delta award search website is broken… very broken) then write down the flights you’ve found that are available and call Delta.
If you’ve found Korean flights available on the Delta website, and the agent on the phone says it isn’t available, hang up and call back. The agent is wrong, something that’s quite common with Delta agents. It’s not worth arguing or educating them. Just move on to the next agent.
Korean’s award space – to Seoul and beyond Seoul – is really outstanding. This makes Delta miles much more valuable. I’ve long said that Delta miles — though they are overall the most frustrating to work with — are the best for awards to Australia (not because of space on their own Los Angeles – Sydney flight, but because they also partner with Virgin Australia which offers a good business product and good availability, especially on the Los Angeles – Brisbane route albeit with fuel surcharges).
Delta also allows flying Korean from the US to Australia, and a stopover in Seoul is permitted. And it appears that US departures are not incurring fuel surcharges, so that’s a huge positive as well.
Whereas Delta imposes fuel surcharges on awards that originate in Australia, and on several Asian carriers, as well as awards departing the US on a handful of carriers — and had been adding them to Korean awards as well of late — Delta imposes more fuel surcharges than any other US airline, only American among other US carriers adds them at all and then only to British Airways awards and a very small surcharge on Iberia awards.
So no fuel surcharges on online availability search, finally something positive to say about Skymiles!