Strategy for KE award flights using DL miles

Old Feb 20, 10, 5:04 am
  #1  
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Strategy for KE award flights using DL miles

As of Feb 2010, DL gives no more low tier (i.e. 60k in Y) transpacific award chance to us anymore, now everyone's looking for KE. There are some catches should be known first, and I'd like to share.

US-bound: from ICN to US (and Canada).
ICN-bound: from US/Canada to ICN

Blackout dates: Korean air (and Asiana) has longest blackout dates in the world with different periods for US-bound and ICN-bound. BUT DL somehow blocks KE award whenever the date is in any of KE blackout periods no matter what direction it is. For example, August is not blackout for ICN-bound flights, but DL blocks it anyway because August is blackout for US-bound. That makes in remaining 2010, blackout dates are: 5/22-7/11, 7/16-9/5, 9/17-9/26 (Thanksgiving in Korea), 12/11-1/9/2011, and similar afterwards, for all KE flights. That's already 4.5~5 months out of only 12.

That makes leftovers low season, and should be easy to grab, but still hard. It is good to know which routes are easier than others. Note that I'm interested only on coach class. If you need business class, prepare to spend more time and energy as you may have to call them in a daily basis since you have much lower chance.

KE's own award availability and what DL sees are a lot different, so don't bother trying to search on KE website. You can't search anyway if you don't have enough miles for the trip. And there's no place you can search KE award on-line. We all miss nwa.com therefore.



These are all based on my experience, not a strict one.

1. Awesome availability: mostly over-capacity except LAX. High chance even for the last minute (I mean, 1 month)
- LAX: 3+ daily flights. Amongst 3pm LAX-bound one has the highest chance.
- YYZ: it's been only 1.5 years since KE increased from 2-3 weeklies to daily. KE has trouble filling up the seats, and we get great award chance. Terrible timing for YYZ-bound flight with no DL connection at all as it arrives past 9pm.
- LAS: low load factor, but KE upgrades to 747 from late March anyway. LAS-bound is nonstop but ICN-bound goes via LAX, and the flight becomes full from LAX. Still both ways show generous availability. Not daily, though. We less mind long layover or forced overnight in vegas than elsewhere.

2. Good availability: still higher chance in the last minute
- DFW: watch out that KE still uses old configuration (no personal TV in Y, no flat or lie-flat C) occasionally until early April

3. Medium availability: if book long before, very high chance. Not that much in the last minute
SEA, ORD, YVR, IAD

4. Bad availability: if you book 6 months+ before, still high chance
- SFO: used to good, but currently under-capacity with only 4 weeklies 772. Will be better later this year when upgrades to 5 747 a week.

5. Never-even-dream-about-it availability
ATL and JFK: somehow KE opens a lot for its own award program, but very rare item for DL award. If ATL or JFK is decently opened, we could go with less number of connections, but we're out of luck. From August, ATL increases to 10 weekly from 1 daily, we'll see (I doubt, though).



Intra Asia: much better than US-ICN-US chance. Most routes are over-capacity status due to competition. But the sooner, the better, of course.

Call and ask specifically for Korean air XXX-ICN nonstop flight availability and make route accordingly. Otherwise DL agents will give you something like 135k results. Please share your know-hows and experiences that are worth we all know. I hope delta.com shows KE availability as soon as possible.

Good luck with your reservation. I was fed up yesterday and so did DL agents who helped me.
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Old Feb 20, 10, 5:48 am
  #2  
 
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Originally Posted by bobbybrown View Post
As of Feb 2010, DL gives no more low tier (i.e. 60k in Y) transpacific award chance to us anymore, now everyone's looking for KE. There are some catches should be known first, and I'd like to share.

US-bound: from ICN to US (and Canada).
ICN-bound: from US/Canada to ICN

Blackout dates: Korean air (and Asiana) has longest blackout dates in the world with different periods for US-bound and ICN-bound. BUT DL somehow blocks KE award whenever the date is in any of KE blackout periods no matter what direction it is. For example, August is not blackout for ICN-bound flights, but DL blocks it anyway because August is blackout for US-bound. That makes in remaining 2010, blackout dates are: 5/22-7/11, 7/16-9/5, 9/17-9/26 (Thanksgiving in Korea), 12/11-1/9/2011, and similar afterwards, for all KE flights. That's already 4.5~5 months out of only 12.

That makes leftovers low season, and should be easy to grab, but still hard. It is good to know which routes are easier than others. Note that I'm interested only on coach class. If you need business class, prepare to spend more time and energy as you may have to call them in a daily basis since you have much lower chance.

KE's own award availability and what DL sees are a lot different, so don't bother trying to search on KE website. You can't search anyway if you don't have enough miles for the trip. And there's no place you can search KE award on-line. We all miss nwa.com therefore.



These are all based on my experience, not a strict one.

1. Awesome availability: mostly over-capacity except LAX. High chance even for the last minute (I mean, 1 month)
- LAX: 3+ daily flights. Amongst 3pm LAX-bound one has the highest chance.
- YYZ: it's been only 1.5 years since KE increased from 2-3 weeklies to daily. KE has trouble filling up the seats, and we get great award chance. Terrible timing for YYZ-bound flight with no DL connection at all as it arrives past 9pm.
- LAS: low load factor, but KE upgrades to 747 from late March anyway. LAS-bound is nonstop but ICN-bound goes via LAX, and the flight becomes full from LAX. Still both ways show generous availability. Not daily, though. We less mind long layover or forced overnight in vegas than elsewhere.

2. Good availability: still higher chance in the last minute
- DFW: watch out that KE still uses old configuration (no personal TV in Y, no flat or lie-flat C) occasionally until early April

3. Medium availability: if book long before, very high chance. Not that much in the last minute
SEA, ORD, YVR, IAD

4. Bad availability: if you book 6 months+ before, still high chance
- SFO: used to good, but currently under-capacity with only 4 weeklies 772. Will be better later this year when upgrades to 5 747 a week.

5. Never-even-dream-about-it availability
ATL and JFK: somehow KE opens a lot for its own award program, but very rare item for DL award. If ATL or JFK is decently opened, we could go with less number of connections, but we're out of luck. From August, ATL increases to 10 weekly from 1 daily, we'll see (I doubt, though).



Intra Asia: much better than US-ICN-US chance. Most routes are over-capacity status due to competition. But the sooner, the better, of course.

Call and ask specifically for Korean air XXX-ICN nonstop flight availability and make route accordingly. Otherwise DL agents will give you something like 135k results. Please share your know-hows and experiences that are worth we all know. I hope delta.com shows KE availability as soon as possible.

Good luck with your reservation. I was fed up yesterday and so did DL agents who helped me.
Great Post! I too found intra-Asia tickets much easier to get...I had no problem getting J for two for ICN-BKK. (Using old NWA.com of course)

As I have posted in the Korea Air forum, I had a difficult time finding two J award tickets from from ICN-to anywhere in the US....however I quickly found out that YYZ was wide open though like you said so I could easily book ICN-YYZ in J for two people using DL miles at low level. THEN out of nowhere I called SMS and found two J award tickets ICN-JFK!! I was astounded and re-routed immediately. Granted its on the 747 with older Prestige Plus seats. Finding Delta awards on routes with the brand new Prestige Sleeper seats 772 aircraft seems to be impossible...I think they may block them completely from SM redemption.
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Old Feb 20, 10, 7:08 am
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bobbybrown, what about R/T flights from HNL? Do you have any insight? I am having trouble finding 2 business class tickets for any days, looking for Sept-Nov. There is only one seat available for any day, so I went ahead and booked one and am hoping that another will open up some time.
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Old Feb 20, 10, 7:31 am
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Good information.

Here's a strategy that I was thinking of using but I wondered if it would work.

Let's say that I already (probably in May) have reached the 125K mile threshold on DL (thank you rollover). Should I just start banking my DL miles in a KE account to I can have access to their award inventory directly?
I want to book the ATL-ICN flights, typically once a year or so.

Do you folks think this would work?

Randidliyo
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Old Feb 20, 10, 8:50 am
  #5  
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Originally Posted by Richard1148 View Post
bobbybrown, what about R/T flights from HNL? Do you have any insight?
I really don't have any idea about HNL route. HNL-mainland US is hard to get award seats, so I didn't even bother searching for ICN-HNL at all. It's good to hear that you got at least one. KE will have additional 3 weekly to HNL starting this Sep with a bit odd schedule. Maybe you want to try them.

Let's say that I already (probably in May) have reached the 125K mile threshold on DL (thank you rollover). Should I just start banking my DL miles in a KE account to I can have access to their award inventory directly?
I want to book the ATL-ICN flights, typically once a year or so.
I don't think that's a good idea. Current DL/KE award mismatch may be something temporal stuff. It wasn't this bad even 2 years ago. I searched on KE website for many NWA/DL FTers here and they called using information that I gave, and it worked. KE's redemption rate is bad (70k or 80k on low season US-Asia), and no elite bonus at all. You can just get an award via one-stop on LAX, DFW or somewhere else.
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Old Feb 20, 10, 10:03 am
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Award RT on KE LAX-ICN-AKL in J?

I know this would be a brutal, but it is the only Delta Skymiles option that I'm aware of.

How many Skymiles would a low redemption be? Stopovers allowed in ICN?
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Old Feb 20, 10, 10:22 am
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Originally Posted by Bowgie View Post
I know this would be a brutal, but it is the only Delta Skymiles option that I'm aware of.... How many Skymiles would a low redemption be? Stopovers allowed in ICN?
I know that in the NW days it was permissible to connect via NRT or ICN to get to Oceania. KE availability was really, really excellent in all cabins from ICN to the antipodes... but pretty tough, with multi pesky blackout periods, from the States to ICN.

With *A this dogleg routing to NZ/Oz on Asian partners is not allowed; it would count as two separate awards. Not sure what rule DL will impose but given current trends, and with award seats on the LAX-SYD completely unavailable at low-tier rates, I'm sure it wouldn't be simple or remotely generous.

P.S. Many kudos to bobbybrown, BTW, for visiting this forum with excellent intelligence on KE.
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Old Feb 20, 10, 10:34 am
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My mostly KE booking, last week.

I used 120k SkyPiles last week to book PHX-SEA (AS), SEA-ICN (KE), ICN-CGK (KE), CGK-HKG (CI), HKG-ICN (KE), ICN-SEA (KE) and SEA-PHX (AS), all in Biz or FC on domestic segments.

It was one of the hardest routings I've ever had to try and get. The agent originally tried booking it via KL through Europe. No luck. Then using DL flights, but came up with a 320k total.

I had mentioned the KE routing at the beginning of the call, but the agent didn't pursue it, until I wouldn't accept the high mileage itins she came up with.

After a lot of spoon feeding, and being told erroneous info (such as no KE flights on certain dates, no CI flights out of CGK), and 82 minutes later, I had booked the flight. Not perfect, since there is a forced overnight in ICN, but not bad in the overall scheme of things. $40 something in taxes.
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Old Feb 20, 10, 2:12 pm
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Originally Posted by Bowgie View Post
I know this would be a brutal, but it is the only Delta Skymiles option that I'm aware of.

How many Skymiles would a low redemption be? Stopovers allowed in ICN?
I'm interested in something similar an award RT on KE JFK-ICN-AKL in J...
Of course I'm happy to take DL or AS to another gateway city (SEA, LAS, LAX, etc) and THEN take KE to ICN and on to AKL...

Until Delta and Virgin blue have their agreements worked out... KE is probably our best bet for using SkyPiles to get to NZ...
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Old Feb 20, 10, 2:20 pm
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I used KE on my RTW trip in 2006. Flew LAX-ICN-SYD and it was a pretty nice trip. At that time there was a forced overnight in ICN, I'm not sure if your flight would require the same.
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Old Feb 20, 10, 2:24 pm
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Originally Posted by Jaimito Cartero View Post
I used 120k SkyPiles last week to book PHX-SEA (AS), SEA-ICN (KE), ICN-CGK (KE), CGK-HKG (CI), HKG-ICN (KE), ICN-SEA (KE) and SEA-PHX (AS), all in Biz or FC on domestic segments.

Not perfect, since there is a forced overnight in ICN, but not bad in the overall scheme of things. $40 something in taxes.
But wait - aren't the SEA-ICN-SEA legs on the new KE J seats? Those are actually pretty nice, flew this flight about a month ago (revenue C class) and enjoyed it a lot more than the ATL-ICN flights I've been on (C class as well).
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Old Feb 20, 10, 10:15 pm
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Originally Posted by bobbybrown View Post
As of Feb 2010, DL gives no more low tier (i.e. 60k in Y) transpacific award chance to us anymore,...
Was this announced?

I never know anything nowadays.
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Old Feb 20, 10, 10:52 pm
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Originally Posted by PaulMSN View Post
Was this announced?

I never know anything nowadays.
It's not announced anywhere. Just it's what it seems to us. Sorry for being aggressive and unclear.
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Old Feb 20, 10, 11:02 pm
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Originally Posted by bobbybrown View Post
It's not announced anywhere. Just it's what it seems to us. Sorry for being aggressive and unclear.
I guess I agree, at least in reference to the online awards calendar. I find low award days to NRT but get quoted 180,000 miles when I select them. Any possibility that calling would get the 120,000 award, or is that just a fantasy?
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Old Feb 21, 10, 12:36 am
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Originally Posted by bostonbali View Post
But wait - aren't the SEA-ICN-SEA legs on the new KE J seats? Those are actually pretty nice, flew this flight about a month ago (revenue C class) and enjoyed it a lot more than the ATL-ICN flights I've been on (C class as well).
I'm not sure. Hopefully they're nice seats. I was mostly focused on finding the flights!
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