Korean Air used to have a horrible website and a very cumbersome process for redeeming SkyPass Miles for award flights. Their website sucked and their redemption process was a pain in the butt but Korean Air recently revamped their website to be more user-friendly. And to sweeten the deal even more, Korean Air recently slashed their fuel surcharges (carrier imposed fees) on their own award flights! My friend Andrew and I just booked a trip from San Francisco to Tokyo with a free stopover in Seoul (Incheon) and the process couldn’t have been more simple and straight-forward. In this post, I’ll walk you through how to redeem a Korean Air flight using Korean Air SkyPass Miles.
But first, let’s cover some basics. This post is specifically for booking a Korean Air flight using Korean Air SkyPass Miles. SkyPass Miles can be earned by flying Korean Air, Delta or any of their SkyTeam or affiliate partners. Korean Air SkyPass is also a transfer partner for Chase Ultimate Rewards. Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Korean Air SkyPass at a 1:1 ratio and transfers occur within a few minutes.
Delta SkyMiles can’t be used to redeem international First Class awards on partner airlines so Korean Air SkyPass is the best way to redeem Korean Air First Class award seats. And because there is less competition for these award seats, Korean Air First Class award seats can be found on most flight on most dates with few exceptions.
Booking a Korean Air SkyPass award
Step #1: Go to their website, www.koreanair.com, and select “Book a Flight” from the tab at the top. Select “Award Booking,” enter in your details, and click “Find Flights.”
The next screen will show you all the available flights. If the flight selections do not automatically calculate the mileage required and taxes/fees on the right hand side, click “Calculate” to see the damage. In this case, my one way flight from San Francisco to Tokyo Narita via Seoul calculated to be 80K SkyPass Miles and $134.58 in taxes and fees.
You must have a Korean Air SkyPass Miles account AND enough miles in you SkyPass account to book (or hold) the award. If you try to click “Continue,” you will only get an error screen saying you don’t have enough miles to book this award flight.
But assuming you have enough miles, click through to the next screen where you have the option to pay now or pay later. Korean Air allows you to hold an award for 30 days without paying for it. That’s right, 30 days! That’s more generous than any other program out there. In our case, we decided to “Pay Later” to finalize our other plans first before we committed to any flights. And I’m glad we did as the fuel surcharges got slashed during the 30 day period we held our tickets.
Here’s a screen shot of the original booking we made. I put this award on hold on March 8th. As you can see, the system gave me until April 8th to pay for the ticket. You can even select seats and meals before the ticket is even paid for.
To review your flights and pay for your ticket, you can find it under “My Trips.” You can do this anytime before the expiration date of your held reservation. Once you pay for your booking, you will then receive a confirmation and eTicket emailed to you.
Korean Air fuel surcharges (carrier imposed fees):
When booking an award flight, you are responsible for the taxes, fuel surcharges and whatever other fees are tacked onto the ticket. These extra fees will vary depending on the carrier, origin and destination of your flight, and the airports involved. Certain carriers are known for having ridiculously expensive fuel surcharges such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic and certain airports are more expensive to arrive into and depart from (as opposed to just transiting) such as London Heathrow.
Take a look at my original booking above. That booking was made on March 8, 2016 and the fuel surcharges (carrier imposed fees) equaled $87.80.
However, when I finally paid for the flight on April 7, 2016, the fuel surcharges were recalculated and reduced to be $1.80. Doing a random search of several dates, routes and destinations, it looks like Korean Air recently slashed their fuel surcharges (within the last 30 days). Good thing we didn’t pay for the award a month ago as it saved us $90.00 each.
Here’s a pro tip – arriving into Seoul (Incheon) as a destination will add higher fees than transiting through Incheon to another country. For this same itinerary, flying SFO – ICN, your taxes and fees would be $103.00. By transiting to Tokyo Narita, you will save $53.00. And there’s nothing that says you actually have to fly that segment from ICN – NRT. . .
I have only booked one Korean Air Award so I’m not an expert by any means but I wanted to at least show you guys some updated information. I don’t have all the details about Korean Air Award routing rules but here are some things for you to consider.
- Using SkyPass Miles, you can book one way and roundtrip awards on Korean Air.
- Korean Air partner awards must be booked as a roundtrip. You can fly one way but you will still be charged for the roundtrip.
- You are allowed one stopover on a one way award or two stopovers (one in each direction) and one open jaw on a roundtrip award.
- Korean Air has peak season pricing that requires additional mileage. Check here for more details.
- The Korean Air award chart can be found here.
So that’s it. I hope you guys found this information helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.