Booking Korean Air SkyPass Awards Online

Introduction
Booking Korean Air SkyPass Awards Online
Korean Air Check-In Los Angeles Airport
Korean Air First Class 777-300ER Los Angeles to Sao Paulo
Marriott Sao Paulo Airport
TAM First Class Lounge Sao Paulo Airport
TAM First Class 777-300ER Sao Paulo to New York
Hyatt Union Square New York
Hyatt Times Square New York
British Airways New York JFK First Lounge & Pre-Flight Dining
Cathay Pacific First Class 777-300ER New York to Vancouver
Fairmont Waterfront Vancouver


A couple of months ago I redeemed 160,000 Korean Air SkyPass miles for a first class award ticket to Asia on Korean Air and China Southern. As part of that trip I outlined how to redeem Korean Air SkyPass miles. Korean Air has some ridiculous rules for SkyPass redemptions (like having to fax in a redemption form and only being able to redeem miles for family members). Since my itinerary included travel on one of their partner airlines, the reservation had to be made by phone.

However, in this case since my travel was exclusively on Korean Air, I was able to make the reservation directly on the website. So in this post I figured I would outline the process of making a Korean Air award reservation online.

How to accrue Korean Air SkyPass miles

While Korean Air SkyPass doesn’t partner with American Express Membership Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest, they are transfer partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards. Ultimate Rewards points are among the easiest points currencies to come across through everyday spend, given that there are cards accruing bonus points on dining, travel, gas, office supply stores, cellular phones, landline, internet, and cable TV services:

  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which offers double points on dining and travel, no foreign transaction fees, and a 7% annual points dividend (plus a sign-up bonus of 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $3,000 within three months, plus an additional 5,000 points when you add an authorized user and they make their first purchase within three months)
  • The Ink Plus® Business Card and Ink Bold® Business Card, which offer 5x points on office supply stores, and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services (plus a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 within three months)

Step 1: Figure out how many Korean Air SkyPass miles you need

First I pulled up Korean Air’s award chart on their website to see how many miles I would need for travel between North America and South America in first class.

Korean-Air-Award-Chart-101

The above prices are roundtrip, and one ways are allowed for half the cost of a roundtrip. So one way first class costs 70,000 miles off-season and 105,000 miles during peak season.

Step 2: Check to see if your travel dates fall over peak pricing periods

Korean Air has “off peak” and “peak” award pricing, so to get the lower award rates you’ll want to be sure your travel doesn’t fall over the “peak” dates.

Korean-Air-Blackout-Dates

Fortunately my travel date didn’t fall over their “peak season,” so my one-way ticket would cost me 70,000 miles.

Step 3: Verify award availability through ExpertFlyer

I then checked Korean Air first class award availability through ExpertFlyer.

Korean-Award-Availability-1

Korean Air uses the “A” fare bucket for first class awards, and my desired flight had two “A” class seats.

Korean-Award-Availability-2

For what it’s worth, the flight was “R7,” meaning they were still selling seven of the eight first class seats at the time.

Korean-Award-Availability-3

It’s worth noting that you can also search award space on koreanair.com, but only if you have enough miles for the award, which is rather frustrating.

Step 4: Transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards

At this point I transferred points from Chase Ultimate Rewards. Transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards to Korean Air SkyPass are instant, so I transferred 70,000 points.

Chase-Ultimate-Rewards-Transfer-1

 

Chase-Ultimate-Rewards-Transfer-2

The miles instantly showed up in my SkyPass account, at which point I began the booking process.

Step 5: Make the Korean Air SkyPass award reservation online

Once logged into my SkyPass account I pressed the “SkyPass” button on the top of the page, and selected “Award Booking.”

Korean-SkyPass-Online-Award-11

That brought me to a page where I selected “View Bonus award seat availability.”

Korean-SkyPass-Online-Award-1

From there I selected “International” under the “Award Ticket” header.

Korean-SkyPass-Online-Award-2

And then I was brought to the page where I could search for availability. It’s worth noting that you can only make award reservations online for yourself or anyone that’s part of your “Family Plan” account. So booking an award ticket online isn’t a way to get around the restriction of only being able to book awards for family members.

Korean-SkyPass-Online-Award-3

Once I entered the origin and destination, dates, and class of service, I was brought to a page which showed the two first class award seats which were available.

Korean-SkyPass-Online-Award-4

The next page confirmed the itinerary.

Korean-SkyPass-Online-Award-5

And then the next page asked for my credit card information to pay the $120.90 in taxes and fuel surcharges ($100 of it were fuel surcharges, while $20.90 were the taxes).

Korean-SkyPass-Online-Award-7

The website actually gave me the option of holding the ticket (which they’ll only do if you have enough miles in your account), though I figured I might as well complete ticketing.

Korean-SkyPass-Online-Award-8

After completing that I instantly received the email confirmation and was able to select seats through the website.

Korean-SkyPass-Online-Award-9

Korean-SkyPass-Online-Award-10

I selected seat 2A — only seat 1G was taken on the seatmap so far.

Korean-SkyPass-Online-Award-11

Anyway, the booking process was fairly painless, even if their website looks straight out of the 90s.

Why would anyone book a Korean Air SkyPass award by phone?

The major benefit to booking SkyPass awards by phone is that you can hold the reservations even without having enough points. That shouldn’t really be necessary, since points transfers are instant and I don’t find Korean Air award availability to be all that fluid.

That being said, it is frustrating that the website will only display award space if you have enough miles. So if you don’t have enough miles, you can’t hold or search the award space.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I earn a referral bonus for anyone approved through some of the above links. Thanks for your support!)

Comments

  1. says

    @ Lantean — Well the program only allows you to redeem miles for a family member. I guess this is probably to prevent fraud/the selling of miles/the use of miles for trips of business partners.

  2. Lantean says

    Ben, i was asking what they require to put someone on my family plan… like what documents or what not.
    or i just assign someone?
    thank you.

  3. Mike says

    Isn’t there something about a fax authorization for using the miles; or is that only for awards booked by phone?

  4. says

    Speaking of Marriott, you should try the Renaissance Okinawa. It’s style over substance and extremely overpriced, but at least you pay the latter with points.

  5. says

    @ Mike — That’s only if booking by phone or if a family member is traveling. You can book online for yourself, but if you want to book for family you have to send it authorization form.

  6. Ivan Y says

    Why do most Asian airlines have the most difficult to use sites? SQ is better but can’t book partners online :(

    P.S. Speaking of inconvenient sites — I find it strange that M&M site shows award availability but doesn’t allow to proceed to next step to figure out the taxes & fees unless you have enough miles. Feels silly having to call in for easy questions like that.

  7. Rami says

    Even though only one seat was taken it appears to be the one was reserved?
    Pilot rest?

  8. says

    @ Rami — Hmmm, there was one seat booked before I booked, and also one seat reserved (1G). In the above picture 2A was me, since I selected that seat.

  9. stvr says

    Why not just transfer some of my UR to my girlfriend’s Korean Air account if I want to bring her along?

  10. Ricardo says

    I’m curious as to why you prefer 2A, and not 1A. Any special reason? In the few times I fly F (and have never flown Korean Air), I tend to choose the first row…

  11. says

    @ stvr — Well technically that violates the terms of the Ultimate Rewards program, but it would be the only way to do it if you wanted to book a trip for someone that’s not a family member.

  12. says

    @ Ricardo — In a two row first class cabin I always choose the second row. I just prefer being able to “observe” the cabin as opposed to being in the front.

  13. Christian says

    Hi Lucky — please note that I just transferred UR points from my Chase account to Korean Air Skypass, and the transfer was not instantaneous. Chase notes it takes 3-5 days. Also, tried booking online for another account (direct from Skypass), and said booking could not be completed due to technical difficulties. Hopefully that is just a fluke. Looking forward to traveling KE F if all goes through smoothly.

  14. says

    @ Christian — Did you transfer the points to a SkyPass account in your name? Also, were the points debited from your Ultimate Rewards account already? That’s odd…

  15. Korean man says

    I’ve flown first class to Korea last 10 years using Korean air & Asiana air award tickets. I can say Korean air is so much easier(always had seat for me) to get award tickets since has more flights to US. Asiana is nightmare most time. I’ve flown kosmo suites on 777 & A380 and they are very nice VS Asiana ‘s old 747.Last week I called Asiana for reward first class tickets and they have NONE for next 2 month.This is not the first time, Seems like they always play game with you.. Two month ago I put 1 first ticket on stand by and Asiana never released the ticket! I’ve seen full first class twice over last 20 + trips to Korea and back and it was both on Korean air not Asiana. Also if you travel to south Asia (BKK) Asiana doesn’t offer first class seats. Asiana has better first class food @Icn lounge.

    For korean air , just open up Korean air acct for you & whole family and call direct.1-800-438-5000 option 2-4-0 will be connect to Korean air sky team.Korean agent told me in Korean that they have more seats for their own Korean air members vs sky team members.

  16. Christian says

    @Lucky — the transfer was to an account with the same name, and the UR points have already been debited. I also got an email from Chase saying the transfer was received and being processed. No reason given for why not instantaneous.

  17. Steve says

    First off thank you very much for the useful information. I have signed up for chase sapphire and ink because of your site and have accrued miles very quickly.

    Question: So I am trying to book a flight from LAX to PUS which inevitably will stop in ICN. They are telling me that I have to use an additional 6000 miles for the ICN -> PUS leg ‘because it is domestic’. I don’t understand this concept. I can use my miles to get me 90% of the way to my final destination but not the last 10%. What happened to the free 1 stopover for each direction?

    Also of note, I tried to use the free stopover on the way back to stop in HNL so the flight would have been ICN -> HNL -> LAX but no dice because Korean Air doesn’t fly the HNL -> LAX leg, Delta does. So again, they’re making me use additional miles. I’m having a hard time understanding what applies in the 1 free stopover rule. Have the rules changed?

  18. lucky says

    @ Steve — Hmmm, not really familiar with the first part, that’s the first time I’ve heard that.

    As far as the second part goes, if you want to include a segment on Delta you’d have to book via the SkyTeam award chart, which has different redemption rates and requires a roundtrip. So that may not be worth it. If you are interested, be sure you’re clarifying to them you want to book a SkyTeam award.

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