Delta Slashes Korean Air Accrual While Korean Air Expands In The US

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I really enjoyed my first flight in Korean Air Business Class last year and my second flight in Korean Air’s 777 smaller Business Class cabin was great as well. I’m a loyal Delta flyer and I flew with Korean since their ticket price was right. I actually must go with the cheapest within a few hundred dollars on international Business Travel, so I didn’t really have a choice. To give you an example, a fare changed within 24 hours of my booking my flight, and my travel service moved my Korea to Singapore segment over to Singapore in their 777 flat-bed Business Class for less than a $100 difference. Hey, I didn’t complain.

Thankfully, I was able to credit my Korean Air flight to Delta and earned Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM). I didn’t earn the full bonus for Business Class that I would have on Delta (150%), but I was happy earning 125% MQMs on the flights to and from Asia. No longer will members even be able to earn the 125% accrual for Business Class flights with Korean Air.

Delta has reduced the mileage accrual with Korean Air and I’m left scratching my head on the strategy behind their change.

New Delta Medallion Qualifying Mile Accrual With Korean Air

Delta has slashed the earning rate for Delta flyers who decide to take a flight with Korean Air and deposit the miles into a Delta account. The biggest blow in my opinion is to Business Class tickets in C, D, and I classes. These were the classes that used to earn 125% MQMs but now only earn 75% MQMs. Tickets flown prior to March 1, 2013 are exempt from the changes. Korean Air Earning Style on Delta

Korean Air’s earning on Delta flights isn’t that much better. At least Business Class fares C, D, I, J, and S earn 125% accrual in the Korean Air SkyPass program. But their coach earning for L, U, and T fares has absolutely no accrual. That’s hard to believe, but that is what their chart shows.


Bottom Line

Delta has slashed MQM earning rates on partner airline Korean Air. The change looks like it was made to discourage flying with their partner Korean Air. If you wish to earn status with Delta, you’ll be punished for flying a partner instead of Delta. Unfortunately for Delta, it may have unintended consequences as some business travelers can’t drive business their way if there prices are significantly different.

Korean Air is expanding service to the US with A380 double-decker planes this year. They also have a loyalty program that offers value to their members. In addition, they partner with Chase, where Chase cardholders of the Ink Plus® Business Card, the Ink Bold® Business Card, and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can transfer their large signup bonuses over to Korean Air to redeem for awards on Korean Air including First Class.

What’s the benefit of being in an alliance together if you don’t offer reciprocal benefits?

I’d be lying if I didn’t say this change will make me rethink which airline I choose or credit mileage accrual for international flights when Korean is the only viable SkyTeam option.

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  1. You’re absolutely right. Delta gutted it’s partner chart the same day it announced MQDs. I believe they intentionally lumped all the bad news together on that day so that the massive earnings reductions wouldn’t be noticed.

  2. Sounds like the SkyTeam alliance is cracking. Maybe not a huge surprise given it was formed out of all the left over airlines in the late 90s/early 2000s alliance grab after all the airlines that really wanted to be in alliances had already grouped up. Or maybe Delta is just a crummy partner, didn’t Larry Kellner (or another CO exec) claim that being in an alliance with them was like being in a relationship with someone who wanted to kill you? Either way I am very glad I don’t ever have to fly Delta or their “partners”.

  3. I was elite with Northwest and loved flying that airline. Ever since the merger it has been all downhill and continues that way. I am using the last of my Delta frequent flyer miles next month and it will be never again for Delta.

  4. Does this mean Delta codeshares on Korean go down too? I just flew ATL – ICN – REP in February on KE with a Delta ticket and got the nice mqm bonus for biz class.

  5. If i have to guess, the desirables from SkyTeam would move over to the “Etihad Alliance”, and the real bottom feeders will remain.

  6. I was a Diamond Medallion Million MIler with Delta. When they started these restrictive earnings plus the MQD’s, I move to United. They matched my Delta Medallion status withe premier 1K. I already have 30k miles flown on United. All I needed to do was fly 35K MQM’s in 90 days to keep my 1K premier status. Delta needs to rethink what they are doing or more of us will migrate to other Airlines.

  7. Delta is off in a ditch
    they ask us for loyalty and then slap us
    They are pricing themselves out of the market both here and abroad
    Being either a diamond or platiumn member which I have been for years
    This really sucks gutting the MQM from Korean Air and other partners
    Also having a Delta reserve card for years it too is about to go away
    Tonight I begin shopping other airlines .

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