In case you haven't heard, we're going to Shanghai Disneyland! With our trip comes a series of posts on how we planned it. We're starting with how (and why) we booking Korean Air business class.
One of the toughest aspects of international trip planning is choosing your flights. If you're going to an international Disney destination, this might be the hardest part of your trip, as booking hotels and park tickets through Disney is (comparatively) straightforward.
Flying to Asia from the United States is particularly complicated. Since three of the four international Disney parks are in Asia, this means an international Disney trip might come with some challenging flight planning. No worries, though, because we're here to help!
In this post, I'm going to explain how we booked our flight to Shanghai (to visit Shanghai Disney Resort, or "Shanghai Disneyland") on Korean Air Business Class!
Your Options for Using Points to Fly to Shanghai Disneyland
Flying round-trip on economy to Shanghai is going to cost a rough minimum of 45,000 points with most options between 60,000 and 70,000. Compare that to flying to Paris, where you're looking at a floor of 32,500 with many good options under 50,000 points.
But flights to Asia are LONG. Chicago to Shanghai is over 14 hours, for example, while Chicago to Paris can be done in under 8 hours.
Why does this matter? Because you're almost certainly going to want to fly business class at least one leg of your flight to Asia. And business class? You're looking at roughly 100,000 to 200,000 points roundtrip.
In light of this, planning a flight to Asia can be a tricky endeavor. Luckily, there are a few straightforward options, and we're here to share one.
Korean Air Business Class Is a Great Option for Getting to Shanghai Disneyland in Style
Note: We're just flying one-way to Asia. However, you can just double the points we mention here for round-trip business class figures. Or you can look into how much a one-way economy ticket would be and plan to fly one leg in economy for cash (or points).
According to AwardAce, one of my favorite tools, my best option for getting to Shanghai from JFK round-trip would have been ANA for 80,000 points. Unfortunately, ANA doesn't do one-way awards, so that option was off the table. For one-way awards, the best options are: Mileage Plan (50,000), JAL Mileage Bank (50,000), and Skypass (62,500).
When it came to picking one, the choice was easy. Mileage Plan and JAL Mileage Bank, which could be good options if you could find availability, are both only transfer partners of SPG Starpoints. I have a small stash of Starpoints, but I didn't want to spend them unless I had to. Skypass, which we can use to book Korean Air Business Class, on the other hand, is a transfer partner of both Chase Ultimate Rewards and SPG Starpoints. I had a much larger stash of Ultimate Rewards points, mostly due to Emily and I both getting the Chase Sapphire Reserve's 100,000 point signup bonus. Korean Air business class (or "Prestige Class" as Korean Air calls it) also has good availability from JFK to Shanghai, which we needed because some aspects of our trip were still up in the air.
Unfortunately, Korean Air doesn't fly nonstop from JFK (or anywhere in the US) to Shanghai. It flies, as you would expect, through its hub in Seoul. I hate connecting flights, so to avoid any headaches (and because we had the time) we decided to do a week in Seoul on our way to Shanghai.
IMPORTANT: Booking Korean Air Skypass Flights for Family Members Requires You to Register Them
If you think you might want to fly to Asia on points in the future, you'll need to make sure your family members are registered to your Skypass account. You can only book award flights via Skypass for yourself and registered family members. The registration process itself is straightforward in most cases—just submit the requested proof of relationship and wait a few business days. To get started, just head to your Korean Air Skypass "Dashboard," click "My Family," and then "Add a Member."
Even though Korean's availability tends to be ample, you'll want this step done ahead of time.
Booking Korean Air Skypass Business Class Awards
Booking was simple. We shifted some Chase Ultimate Rewards points from Emily's account into mine, and then from mine into my Korean Air Skypass account. Skypass transfers from Ultimate Rewards are "instant", meaning they take only a few minutes to show in your online account. The whole process of getting 125,000 points into my Skypass account took less than 15 minutes.
To search for your Korean Air flight, you'll visit KoreanAir.com and click "Redeem Miles." If you're flying round-trip, you can click "SkyTeam Award" after you click "Redeem Miles." This will show you availability including Korean Air's partners. If you're flying one way, you won't be able to book SkyTeam awards via Skypass. One notable perk of the SkyTeam award is that you might find non-stop options. Here's a nonstop, round-trip business class flight in February on China Eastern. It costs 155,000 Skypass Miles and $500 per person.
Flying one-way, we were required to book on Korean Air if we wanted to use Skypass Miles. Since we were planning a stopover on Seoul, we clicked "Multi-City" and input our choice cities (dates are for examples only). The trip wound up costing us 125,000 miles and $450. We put the flight on our Ritz Visa. I would have preferred the Chase Sapphire Reserve, but we're targeting $10,000 on the Ritz Visa this year to maintain gold status.
Your First Steps to Booking Your Dream Trip to Shanghai Disneyland
If you're brand new to travel hacking, we've got a handy series for starters that will explain the basics to you. If Shanghai Disneyland is in your plans, we'd suggest you start earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points and SPG Starpoints now. The Chase Sapphire cards both have 50,000 points signup bonuses.