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

korean air first class

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

If you don’t have the required Korean SkyPass miles in your account but you find award space on the dates you want, Korean Air will allow you put an award ticket on hold. This gives you time to transfer points into your account, but you will need to call Korean Air to do so.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Call Korean Air at (800) 438-5000
  2. Provide your desired itinerary to the Korean Air agent
  3. A Korean Air agent will call you back to confirm the award space and hold it
  4. Once you have your award ticket on hold, transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards or SPG Starpoints to Korean Air (if applicable)
  5. Submit the Award Application Form to
    • Make sure to include a copy of your passport

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.

On the positive side, Korean Air’s willingness to hold award space is great if you want to transfer Ultimate Rewards or SPG Starpoints to your account. For this reason, we actually prefer calling to put an award on hold before transferring points to Korean Air. This prevents the possibility of award space being taken while you wait for your points to transfer.

Ultimate Rewards transfer at a 1:1 ratio, and transfers are generally almost instant. SPG Starpoints, on the other hand, can take 7 days for a transfer to complete.

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

The 7-day transfer time of SPG Starpoints is common among their many transfer partners, but Korean Air makes it much more palatable since your award can be held while you wait for the transfer to complete.

This makes it much easier to take advantage of the transfer bonus you receive when you move chunks of 20,000 Starpoints to an airline partner. The bonus 5,000 miles can make a big difference in helping you reach the required miles to book Korean Air first class!

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

With so many ways to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, they might be the best points to rack up if you want to fly Korean Air first class. Thanks to 4 personal cards and 2 business cards, you can choose the cards that are right for you and take advantage of their numerous bonus categories to earn points faster.

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Additionally, you can earn SPG Starpoints and take advantage of the bonus of 5,000 miles when you transfer chunks of 20,000 Starpoints.

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Bottom Line: Chase Ultimate Rewards will be the easiest points to earn if you want to fly Korean Air first class, but SPG Starpoints can provide a nice boost with their transfer bonus.

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 South Korea, Japan, 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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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?
You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards and SPG Starpoints to Korean Air. U.S. Bank also provides a co-branded card that earns Korean SkyPass miles directly.

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.