In the face of mounting consumer and government opposition, Korean Air’s Skypass program has put off proposed program changes until 2005.
The changes, which were originally announced in 2002, primarily involve award level increases. Koreas’ other major airline, Asiana, had proposed similar changes.
The Korean Fair Trade Commission had placed pressure on both carriers, claiming that the increased levels violated the original contract between the airlines and the customer. The FTC insisted that the original award levels be kept in place for at least two years — long enough to permit the use of already-earned miles.
Though Korean Air did not state publicly that it had acquiesced to the FTC, it has, in fact, postponed the implementation of the changes.
Effective March 1, 2005, award travel from Korea to North America will increase from 55,000 to 70,000 miles, and travel to Europe will increase from 65,000 to 70,000 miles.
Upgrade awards will also increase: from 35,000 to 60,000 on travel to North America, and from 40,000 to 60,000 on travel to Europe.
Not all the news is bad, however. Travel to Japan will actually drop from 35,000 to 30,000 miles, and travel to Southeast Asia will drop from 45,000 to 40,000 miles.
There are proposed changes to Morning Calm Club membership as well, generally for the better.
Beginning in January 2005, qualification will be expanded to include members who fly 40 segments (the current threshold is 50,000 miles). In addition, Morning Calm members will begin to receive exclusive check-in service, priority baggage handling, an excess baggage allowance of 10 kg. and lounge access four times during membership.
Asiana has not yet agreed to postpone its changes to Asiana Club. It may seek court approval to disregard the FTC’s orders.