How to incorporate a One Way Korean Air award flight using Alaska Miles

a close-up of a seat

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I’m currently building a trip to Asia this fall/winter with my buddy, Dave. If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you know the two of us like to take crazy weekend trips ( Shanghai ), but this time we’re going to go for a bit longer. We’ve been circling a few different areas, and are currently thinking it’d be a good time to hit up Korea, work in some time in the Philipines, and angle back through Hong Kong. In all Miles’ crazy routing ideas, there is one thing Dave is insistent upon…Cathay First. He has good taste, nay, the man is a connoisseur of the finer things in life.  Caviar please and keep the bubbles flowing!  As you can see below, the last time we didn’t have fun at all. 🙂

two men sitting at a table with food on it

Cathay First sounds like an amazing idea, but I’d also like to try out a new product in the opposite direction.  Dave is looking to mainly use a combination of Amex and Chase points, but I’m earning quite a bit of Alaska miles this year in organic travel and would rather use those, if possible. So we need something that could be achieved with both currencies. The solution? A combination of Korean Business Class and Cathay First.

Korean Airlines can’t be booked as a one way on its own when using Alaska Miles, but can in combination with a partner, roundtrip.

I’m sure you heard that Korean Air redemptions must be roundtrip when using Alaska miles. While this is completely true, you can actually book Korean Air as a part of a roundtrip itinerary ( including a partner) and it’ll be priced at 1/2 the roundtrip price. However, if I were to book this as a roundtrip, and then drop the partner return, the roundtrip price would be charged.

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My Plan is to book JFK to ICN to Manila on Korean’s 747-8 upstairs and a return in Cathay business: MNL-HKG-JFK. With the plan to move into Cathay First when avail opens.

Korean has an outstanding business class featuring an Apex Suite. While I’ve never flown in an Apex Suite, the reviews are stellar. I’d love to compare it, and think the 747-8 would be a really cool way to give it a go, but any aircraft fitted with it would be great.

a close-up of a seat
Korean Airlines Business Class – courtesy of koreanair.com

Ultimately this should price out at 52.5k for the Korean business class leg, and then between 50k and 70k for the Cathay leg. An incredible trip, and a great opportunity to use Alaska miles at a high redemption rate, and utilize Dave’s Chase and Amex points for transfers into Asia Miles and Korean.

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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is a great starter card that earns Premium Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred into over a dozen partners many of which are US based including Hyatt, Southwest, United, IHG, and Marriott.

Welcome Offer

Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. 

*you may find an elevated offer walking into a branch – see below

Annual Fee


Points Earned

Transferrable Chase Ultimate Rewards

  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
    • That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠
    • Some people have seen Chase branches offering the following:
      • 75k Ultimate Rewards After $4k spend in 3 months + 10k Ultimate Rewards after $6k in 6 months 
  • 5x on all travel purchased through Chase Travel℠
  • 3x on dining, including eligible delivery services for takeout & dining out
  • 3x on select streaming services
  • 3x on online grocery purchases
    • (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
  • $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit via Chase Travel℠
    • The begins immediately for new cardmembers and after your account anniversary for existing cardmembers
  • 2x on all other travel
  • 10% Anniversary Bonus
    • Every year you keep the card, your total spend will yield a 10% points bonus. If you spend $10k in a year, you’ll get 1k bonus points
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred continues to redeem at 1.25c in the Chase Travel℠ and the slew of other benefits remain in tact including Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver ( primary ), purchase protections, etc.
  • Points are transferrable to 14 Ultimate Rewards partners
  • Redeem in Chase Travel℠ for 1.25 cents per point
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Suite of Travel and Purchase Coverage
    • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver is my favorite
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024
  • $95 Annual Fee

We keep an up to date spreadsheet that lists the best ever offers: You can find that spreadsheet here.

Historically 80k is a very, very good offer and hit in both 2022 and 2023. In 2021, we saw the offer hit an all time high of 100k. Who knows if that will ever come back.

Main Cast: 

Cards that earn flexible points and should be used on the bulk of your purchases.

Supporting Cast:

Cards that earn fixed points in the currency of the airline/hotel and can not be transferred at attractive rates. These cards yield benefits that make it worth keeping, but not necessarily worth putting a lot of your everyday spend on. 

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is exceptional starter card and offers transferrable Ultimate Rewards, and pairs well with other Chase cards.

If you carry this card alongside Chase’s cashback cards like the Chase Freedom Flex℠and Chase Freedom Unlimited® or the business versions: Ink Business Cash® , Ink Business Unlimited® you can combine the points into Preferred account and transfer into hotel and airline partners

Annual fee is quite low at $95 a year + you get a 10% anniversary bonus on points + $50 hotel credit in Chase travel.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  • […] Korean Airlines is 52.5k ( must be booked roundtrip, read this post for details ) […]

  • […] Airlines is 52.5k ( must be booked roundtrip, read this post for details […]

  • Tom September 17, 2018

    Hello: I just tried that booking one way on Korean Air and the return on Cathay Pacific. Alaska indicated Korean Air itin cannot be paired up with Cathay Pacific. I will call Alaska again to get a different agent to do this.

    • Miles September 17, 2018

      Tom – unless things have changed you should be able to get it booked – you may need to ask for their partner desk, or HUCA. Let me know how you fare

  • Jeff June 21, 2018

    JFK-ICN-Manila, isn’t that southeast asia? 60k not 52.5k?

  • PL June 21, 2018

    Miles thanks for the tip. how to book it? Do you have to call in or can do online? I tried online round trip but it won’t let me mix.

    • Miles June 21, 2018

      PL – yeah call in, shouldn’t be a problem. Thanks for reading!

  • Christian June 21, 2018

    Fabulous tip on the mixed Korean itinerary. Have you flown Korean on a A380? I was scheduled to fly in Business with my wife, but there was an equipment change to a 777, which was okay but hardly spectacular.

    • Miles June 21, 2018

      Christian – Thanks! You may have lucked out – check the cabin, but many of the new 773s have been retrofit with the new apex biz. the a380s are still featuring their old biz

      • Christian June 21, 2018

        Honestly, the walk-up bar is the real star. I regaled my wife with tales of old style glamour onboard, and it just didn’t happen. Before trying again, I’d like to make sure that I know what I’m talking about.

  • Thomas Bart Adams June 21, 2018

    Have you had much luck getting AS to waive fees for upgrading from J to F when the passenger is not MVP gold or higher?

    • Miles June 21, 2018

      Hey Thomas – Sorry I can’t give any incite, but I haven’t had any experience since AS changed their 60 day rule with non Golds+.

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