Delta-Korean Air: MQMs are Back, Global Upgrades are Here (But Costly)

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Delta has released new SkyMiles earnings for Korean Air flights, effective today, May 1, 2018 (spotted by @JetStayEat).

Delta and Korean have a JV now approved by the US and South Korean governments.

Delta Korean Air Earn 01May2018

These look pretty good at the discount economy end of the spectrum that I am likely to shop. Certainly better than United with most of its Asian partners.

Korean Air is my favorite flight experience of SkyTeam airlines. I realize the aloof cool milieu is not to everyone’s taste. I’ll go to bat for their bibimbap as the best economy class meal in the sky.

Global Upgrade Certificates

Delta has also announced ability as of today to redeem Global Upgrade Certificates on Korean. Sounds great until you find the fine print:

  • Valid for travel on or after May 1, 2018
  • Valid on Delta-marketed, Korean Air-operated flights for use globally on Delta’s published fares booked in Y, B or M class to Korean Air’s Prestige Business Class.
  • Global Upgrades on Korean Air flights must be confirmed 24 hours prior to departure.
  • Global Upgrade Certificates may not be used to waitlist for a Korean Air-operated flight


  • You have to buy ultra-expense cash fares to be eligible
  • You can’t upgrade to Korean Air first class (which is barely distinguishable from business class)
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4 years ago

If first class is barely distinguishable from business class, then why would you want to use the certificate for going from business to first as opposed to bumping up from (admittedly pricey) economy to business?

4 years ago

M fares one way are less than $1000 from Asia to US. Was only $300 more and I got confirmed right away in Z class on a 747-800. I’ll take it?