Returning to Korean Air Morning Calm Club

Morning Calm membership card
Or, Will OK Cashbag Points Help or Not?

I used to fly on airplanes a lot to visit my home in Ulsan from Seoul, so it was relatively easy to attain and keep the Morning Calm elite frequent flyer membership at Korean Air. This gives you the same level of benefits as SkyTeam Elite. But with the introduction of high-speed rail (KTX) service to Ulsan in 2010, flights suddenly lost competitiveness and I switched to trains entirely for the visits since. I lost my Morning Calm status in 2011.

But Korean Air restores Morning Calm status to the ex-members if the person fulfills 30 thousand miles during a repeating two-year period which starts after the demotion. The first period for me was April 2011 to March 2013, but nothing came of it. The second period, April 2013 to March 2015, was different. In 2014, shifting responsibilities at my company meant I'd be travelling internationally once in a while instead of not at all. And indeed I racked up more than 20 thousand miles at Korean Air during the year.

The miles could be either be exclusively from Korean Air flights, or at least 20 thousand of those flight miles with the rest coming from affiliate companies. The latter is tentatively valid until 2016, but the offer had been extending for a long time. With the minimum Korean Air flight miles fulfilled, I checked for ways to fill the affiliate miles before my period was up. The most viable ways for me were the conversion of reward points from Shinhan Card and OK Cashbag to miles.

Shinhan Card: Converting My Shinhan Point to Korean Air Miles (in Korean)
OK Cashbag: Converting OK Cashbag points to Korean Air Miles (in Korean)

According to these pages, 25 My Shinhan Points could be converted to 1 mile, 50 miles at a time. OK Cashbag was a bit better, with 22-to-1 ratio and no minimum units. There was also an annual limit of 30 thousand and 60 thousand miles, respectively. The limit wasn't a problem, and a phone call to Shinhan Card confirmed that the converted points would count toward Morning Calm membership. But OK Cashbag's terms and limitations sounded a bit ambiguous:

Morning Calm ClubνšŒμ›μžκ²© μœ μ§€ 및 μƒμš©κΈ°μ—…μš°λŒ€μ œ(CMBS)의 λ³΄λ„ˆμŠ€ 수혜 등에 μœ νš¨ν•œ μ‹€μ μœΌλ‘œλŠ” μΈμ •λ˜μ§€ μ•ŠμŠ΅λ‹ˆλ‹€. (λŒ€ν•œν•­κ³΅ λ§ˆμΌ€νŒ… 정책에 μ˜ν•΄ μš°μˆ˜νšŒμ›μ˜ νšŒμ›μžκ²© 취득 및 μœ μ§€λ₯Ό μœ„ν•œ μœ νš¨ν•œ μ‹€μ μœΌλ‘œ 일뢀 인정될 μˆ˜λ„ μžˆμŠ΅λ‹ˆλ‹€.)

Not valid for earnings needed for retention of Morning Calm Club status or receipt of CMBS bonus. (May be partially valid for gaining or retaining elite membership status as per Korean Air's marketing policy.)

So are the converted points valid or not? I decided to find out by doing the conversion. Over the course of several months, I converted the points from Shinhan Card and OK Cashbag into Korean Air affliliate miles until the total accumulated miles for the period became exactly 30 thousand yesterday. When I logged into Korean Air's website that morning, this is what I saw:

Back into the Morning Calm Club

So the affiliate miles counting towards the membership status is indeed a marketing policy and OK Cashbag points can be used to retain or regain Morning Calm title. As long as Korean Air keeps this policy, a simple way to keeping the membership alive would be to make one trans-continental round trip a year (generates about 10 thousand miles) and fill the rest of the needed miles from reward point conversion.

There are a couple of things I noticed with the regaining of the status. The two-year period of validity is reset to the day of your return and the old periods no longer apply. My Morning Calm membership is valid through February 2017. Were the old period apply it would have been March.

Also, the last conversion of miles I made is counted towards the earned miles for this period because the conversion took place on the first day of the new, now reset, period. So you're effectively starting out a bit ahead. If you're planning to regain the membership, make this last conversion as big as you can.

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