Best Ways to Book Korean Air First Class Using Points [Step-by-Step]

korean air first class

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If you’re flying to South Korea or Southeast Asia, you could try a number of fantastic first class products such as Singapore Airlines first class (including Suites class) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) first class. When you are looking into options for your next trip abroad, give Korean Air first class a look as well.

While Korean Air might not provide a first class experience quite like you’d get with the Etihad First Apartments, they provide a great product and often release plenty of award space.

A Look Inside Korean Air First Class

Unlike some airlines that have standardized first class cabins across their fleet, Korean Air first class has a few different cabin layouts you should be aware of before booking.

While none of them are bad experiences, if you’re flying first class, you want to make sure you have the best possible experience.

Korean Air A330 First Class
Other than a few amenities, first and business class are basically the same on some Korean Air flights. Image courtesy of AusBT.

Let’s start with Korean Air’s Boeing 787-9 (789) Dreamliner, Boeing 777-300 (773), and Airbus A330-300 (333). Korean Air has done very little to distinguish first class from business class on these aircraft, and they are pretty much the exact same seat.

The service and food in the smaller first class cabin might be a bit better, but if you’re redeeming Korean Air SkyPass miles, you might want to consider using them on a different route.

Korean Air Kosmo Suites 2.0
Korean Air’s newest first class product is the Kosmo Suites 2.0. Image courtesy of Korean Air.

The 3 aircraft you should consider for your first class trip on Korean Air are the Boeing 747-8 (78H), Boeing 777-300ER (77W), and the Airbus A380-800 (388). While these seats aren’t wider than their business class counterparts, they do provide more privacy.

If you’re flying on the Boeing 777-300ER or the Boeing 747-8, be aware that some have the new Kosmo Suites 2.0, which is a closed suite (with sliding doors), while others have open suites (with privacy partitions). All Airbus A380-800 aircraft have open suites in the first class cabin.

The first class cabin on the Boeing 747-8 is located on the lower deck of the aircraft and set up in 1-1 layout with only a single aisle. The Boeing 777-300ER and the Airbus A380-800 are both set up in a 1-2-1 cabin layout (lower deck of the A380).

Now that you have an idea of what to expect from the cabin and seat, let’s talk about what perks you can expect when flying Korean Air first class.

When flying from the United States, you will receive an amenity kit complete with luxury items provided by DAVI such as eye gel, eye mask, hand and face lotion, and more. It’s these little touches that make the experience so enjoyable.

Korean Air also provides a duvet service that makes your seat very comfortable when in the bed position. Top that off with a set of pajamas provided by Gianfranco Ferre, and you’ll rest peacefully on your long-haul journey.

Korean Air A380 Celestial Bar
When you fly first class on the A380, make sure you visit the Celestial Bar. Image courtesy of Korean Air.

If you are flying on the Airbus A380, you should take some time to check out the “Celestial Bar” that is open to first class and business class passengers. There aren’t many in-flight bars, so take advantage of this fun opportunity to enjoy a cocktail with other premium cabin passengers.

How to Fly Korean Air First Class Using Miles

Just like booking Singapore Airlines first class, Korean Air requires travelers to use Korean SkyPass miles to book first class. This means redeeming Delta SkyMiles and Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles won’t be an option for this experience.

Korean Air SkyPass

Korean Air Award Chart
Booking Korean Air first class between the U.S. and South Korea is a great way to fly.

Korean Air SkyPass can be an interesting airline loyalty program to use for award flights. It’s great in some ways, but it can be frustrating in others. Before we dive into those details, let’s discuss how to book Korean Air first class.

Here are the simple steps to follow:

  1. Go to Korean Air’s website
  2. Select “Redeem Miles”
  3. Log in with your User ID or SkyPass number
  4. Select your origin and destination
  5. Select your travel dates
  6. Select “First Class”
  7. Select your flights
  8. Click “Continue” to enter your information to complete the booking

Korean Air no longer allows award holds.

One of the frustrating aspects of the Korean Air SkyPass program is that they will only allow you to book award flights for yourself and family members. To book an award ticket for a family member, you will be required to submit the SkyPass Family Registration Application.

With Chase Ultimate Rewards no longer a Korean Air transfer partner, many travelers will look to transfers from Marriott at a 3:1 ratio (transfers at one time of a minimum 60,000 Marriott points = 20,000 Korean Air miles plus a bonus 5,000 miles).

Hot Tip: Check out our transfer partner calculator to see how long you can expect transfers to take for any airline partner.

Great Korean Air First Class Redemptions

Korean Air Peak Season Dates
Check your travel dates to make sure you aren’t traveling during Korean Air’s peak season, and you’ll save a ton of miles.

One very important point to remember when booking a Korean Air flight is that they have peak season and off season award rates. Make sure you check what season your travel dates will fall under so you can get the best deal. The image above will show you which dates are in peak season so you can avoid them.

Booking Korean Air first class (in the off season) from the U.S. to South Korea is only 80,000 Korean SkyPass miles…a very good redemption rate!

Korean Air Partner Award Chart
If you add a flight on Delta, you will have to book a SkyTeam award, which requires a round-trip award booking.

Korean Air operates out of many U.S. airports, giving you ample opportunity to book these flights. Keep in mind that if you have to connect with their SkyTeam partner Delta, you will be required to book a SkyTeam award, which is governed by a different award chart and requires round-trip bookings.

If you really want to have some fun, you can fly to Hong Kong for no extra miles. In fact, you can book a stopover in Seoul before continuing onto Hong Kong. That’s 80,000 miles in first class to see 2 amazing cities in Asia!

Korean Air will even allow you to include an open jaw in your booking…so you could fly to Hong Kong, find your own way to Beijing, and fly through Seoul on your way back to the states. That’s 3 cities thanks to a round-trip booking for 160,000 Korean Skypass miles.

You could of course pick different cities to visit. Just keep in mind that Korean Air will allow you to book 1 stopover on one-way bookings and 2 stopovers on round-trip bookings as well as an open jaw.

How to Earn Enough Miles for First Class

Chase Ultimate Rewards no longer transfer to Korean Air SkyPass, so the primary transfer option for many travelers will be Marriott.

Recommended Marriott-SPG Cards

When Should You Search for First Class Award Space?

As with any award booking, begin your search as soon as you know when you want or need to travel. If you can search and book 360 days from departure, do so.

However, even just days before departure, you can sometimes find 3 first class award seats available for booking.

What Makes Korean Air First Class a Great Redemption?

Korean Air 747
The Korean Air experience is a dream for travelers. Image courtesy Markus Schmal/Shutterstock, Inc.

While Korean Air first class doesn’t have the glamour that you’ll find when flying Emirates first class, they provide a solid product and very nice service.

Great First Class Option for Families

If you’re traveling as a family, it can be tough to find enough premium cabin award space for everyone. This is true for business class and even more so for first class award bookings.

One of the best parts of Korean Air is that they actually release enough first class award space for several people on some of their flights. You can even see how many first class seats are available when you run a search for flights to Seoul.

In-Flight Bar on the Airbus A380

Not many airlines can say they have an in-flight bar, but Korean Air is one of them. It is particularly nice on flights from the U.S. that can be as long as 14.5 hours from New York City (JFK).

Even if you get some sleep, you might not want to be in your seat the whole time or just pacing the aisles. On Korean Air’s Airbus A380, you can change things up by visiting the Celestial Bar to mingle with other first class and business class passengers.

Fantastic Service From Cabin Crew

The flight crews on Korean Air flights are particularly good. They’re always happy and willing to help make your flight as enjoyable as possible. If you need something, just ring the call button and they will be right there to help. They’ll even help set up your bed when you’d like to take a nap or just rest your eyes.

Final Thoughts

Korean Air first class has a lot going for it. While the seat and the cabin won’t blow you away the way some other first class products might, you can count on having a very nice experience all the way through.

With its generous first class award availability, they really shine when it comes to access for families. Furthermore, Korean Air operates out of many U.S. airports, making it much easier to find a flight that works for you.

If you’re looking for a great way to fly first class between the U.S. and Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, or China, give Korean Air a look. This might be just the booking you need to send your whole family on a first class adventure.


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Best Ways to Book Korean Air First Class Using Points

FAQ

What is the best way to book Korean Air first class?

Korean SkyPass is the only airline loyalty program able to book Korean Air first class. Unlike many other first class products, you cannot book Korean Air first class with a partner program.

What credit cards can help me fly Korean first class?

Marriott-SPG cards from Chase and American Express earn Marriott points that transfer directly to Korean Air SkyPass.

If you want a co-branded card that earns airline miles directly, U.S. Bank provides a co-branded card that earns Korean SkyPass miles.

What do I get when flying Korean Air first class?

You can expect a nice lie-flat seat with direct aisle access on your long-haul flights from the United States. The seat is particularly comfortable when set up as a bed.

Additionally, the service in Korean Air first class is friendly and attentive to ensure you have a wonderful flight.

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2 comments

  1. Michelle · August 21, 2018 · Reply

    Does Korean Airlines consistently open up more biz or first class seats a few days before departure? How do you suggest a family of 3 go about booking business or first class seats? Right now I don’t find more than one biz class seat open for next March-May for example, for YVR to ICN. Would it be safe to book two economies & one biz and then expect them to open up more business class seats closer in? What about for first class? They only have 2 seats open on most dates I scanned. Thanks!

    • Michael McHugh · August 26, 2018 · Reply

      Hi Michelle

      The general trend that I’m seeing from my award searches are the you’ll see at max 2 first class seats and 1-9 business class seats. I used the LAX-ICN route as my basis and searched each way, in each class, both close-in (next 4 weeks) and far out (10-11 months). I had no problem finding 2 first class seats and 1-9 business class seats in each direction. Generally, the farther out that you look, the better chance you’ll have for first and business class availability.

      I also searched the YVR-ICN route in both first and business on random dates in Mar/Apr. You’re right. Availability is more limited during these months on this route. My recommendation, assuming you’re unable to find availability in Mar-May, is to position yourself at another Korean Air departure airport. Korean flies from Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington. For example, I would search SEA-ICN in May-Mar and see if you can find availability for 3 in business. If you can, which you should be able to, I believe you can add a connecting flight from YVR to that airport at no additional cost. I did this when I flew Delta to Italy in April. Korean added my positioning flight from DCA-JFK and from DTW-DCA at no additional cost. My long-haul flights were from JFK-VCE (Venice) and FCO (Rome)-DTW (Detroit).

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