Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
& Kellie Jez
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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, it provides a great product and often releases plenty of award space.
And if you end up flying on the Kosmos Suites 2.0 product, which has sliding doors, you’ll be flying on one of the best international first class flights, according to our rankings.
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.
Hot Tip: Did you know that we put together a definitive guide on all of Korean Air’s nonstop U.S. routes? You can discover the different cities it flies to, the planes used for each flight, as well as the best planes to fly in each class.
While none of them are bad experiences, if you’re flying first class, you want to make sure you have the best experience possible!
Korean Air first class gets its solid reputation for its soft product offerings, instead of its hard product. Still, Korean Air’s most private first class seats, known as Kosmo Suites 2.0, contain sliding doors and larger seat partitions to insulate you from the cabin.
The 3 aircraft you should consider for your first class trip on Korean Air are the Boeing 747-8 (78H), some Boeing 777-300ER (77W) planes, and the Airbus A380-800 (388). These seats are considerably more private and comfortable.
If you’re flying on the Boeing 777-300ER, be aware that some have the new Kosmo Suites 2.0 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 U.S., you will receive an amenity kit complete with luxury items provided by Atelier Cologne, 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 (which are some of the most comfortable pajamas in the world), and you’ll rest peacefully on your long-haul journey.
If you are flying on the Airbus A380, you should take some time to check out the Celestial Bar that’s open to first class and business class passengers. There aren’t many inflight bars, so take advantage of this fun opportunity to enjoy a cocktail with other premium cabin passengers.
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 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 what the award chart looks like:
|From||To||Seasonality||First Class Miles Cost One-Way|
|South Korea||South Korea||Off-peak||N/A|
|Japan, China, Northeast Asia||Off-peak||32,500|
|North America, Oceania, Europe, Middle East, Africa||Off-peak||80,000|
You’ll notice that Korean Air has off-peak and peak pricing. Avoiding peak pricing when possible is a sure-fire way to get the best deals.
The table below shows which dates are in peak season so you can avoid them.
|Origin||Destination||2023 Peak Dates|
|Korea||Korea||January 1, 2023|
January 20 – January 26, 2023
February 19 – March 1, 2023
May 4-7, 2023
June 5-6, 2023
July 23 – August 19, 2023
September 27 – October 5, 2023
October 9, 2023
December 25, 2023 December 31, 2023
|Korea, Africa, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Oceania||Korea, Asia, Europe, Middle East, Oceania, Africa, North America||January 2-15, 2023|
January 21 – January 24, 2023
July 15 – August 5, 2023
August 19 – September 3, 2023
September 27 – October 10, 2023
December 29-31, 2023
|North America||Korea, Asia, Oceania, North America, South America||May 12-14, 2023|
May 18 – July 1, 2023
August 8-13, 2023
December 7-10, 2023
December 14-23, 2023
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!
Unfortunately, if you add a flight on SkyTeam airlines such as Delta, you’ll have to book a SkyTeam award, which requires round-trip award bookings. You’ll therefore have to follow the below award chart:
|Korean Air SkyTeam Award Chart (North America Routes)|
|Departure||Arrival||First Class Miles Cost (Round-Trip)|
|North America||North America||45,000|
|Middle East, Africa||160,000|
So, the big picture is the best way to book Korean Air first class for the best price possible is to book itineraries wholly operated by Korean Air.
Korean Air operates out of many U.S. airports, giving you ample opportunity to book these flights.
You can book Korean Air first class by following these simple steps:
Korean Air discontinued award holds officially in July 2018, but they can still be requested and approved on a case-by-case basis by mentioning that you’re “waiting on your points to transfer.”
One of the frustrating aspects of the Korean Air SKYPASS program is that it will only allow you to book award flights for yourself and direct family members. To book an award ticket for a family member, you will be required to submit the SKYPASS Family Registration Application.
Korean Air’s sole transfer partner is Marriott Bonvoy. You’ll transfer at a 3:1 ratio.
Transfers usually take around 3 business days to process but may take up to 3 weeks in rare instances.
Hot Tip: Check out our transfer partner calculator to see how long you can expect transfers to take for any airline partner.
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When booking a flight, remember that Korean Air has peak season and off-season award rates. Make sure to check what season your travel dates fall under so you can get the best deal.
Hot Tip: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Korean Air has removed most of its first class inventory, whether it’s revenue or award space, due to fleet and network uncertainty. The only exception is the A380, but just remember that these should return slowly.
Here are some fantastic Korean Air first class redemptions you can make:
You can earn Marriott Bonvoy points and transfer those to Korean Air SKYPASS at a rate of 3:1. Plus, for every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points that you transfer, you’ll receive a bonus of 5,000 SKYPASS miles.
So the best way to amass lots of Korean Air miles is to make purchases on Marriott Bonvoy credit cards and transfer those points to Korean Air SKYPASS.
Another way to earn enough miles is to sign up for the co-branded SKYPASS credit cards issued by U.S. Bank. There are a few choices available, including a business card and a few personal cards.
As with any award booking, begin your search as soon as you know when you want to travel. If you can search and book 361 days from departure, do so.
However, even just days before departure, you can sometimes find 4 first class award seats available for booking.
The great news is that Korean Air is relatively generous with award availability, particularly on West Coast routes like Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO), and even Seattle (SEA)!
While Korean Air first class doesn’t have the glamour that you’ll find when flying Emirates first class, it provides a solid product and very nice service.
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 it actually releases enough first class award space for several people on some of its flights — you can even see how many first class seats are available when you run a search for flights to Seoul.
Not many airlines can say they have an inflight 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 (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.
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.
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, it really shines 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.
The information regarding the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
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.
Marriott Bonvoy cards from Chase and American Express earn Marriott Bonvoy points that transfer directly to Korean Air SKYPASS.
You’ll earn 1 Korean Air mile for every 3 Marriott points transferred.
If you want a co-branded card that earns airline miles directly, U.S. Bank provides co-branded cards that earn Korean SKYPASS miles.
You can get really into the weeds with our guide on the best ways to earn lots of Korean Air SKYPASS miles, as well.
You can expect a nice lie-flat seat with direct aisle access on your long-haul flights from the U.S. The seat is particularly comfortable when set up as a bed.
Besides this, you’ll get some fantastic pajamas to keep, a fully-loaded amenity kit, and a marvelous food and beverage program.
Lastly, the service in Korean Air first class is friendly and attentive to ensure you have a wonderful flight.
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Always a fan of flying, it was only natural that Spencer was drawn to finding a way to improve the travel experience.
Like many, he started this journey searching for cheap flights to take him around the world. This was fun for a while, but Spencer was intrigued by the idea of flying in business and first class!
Throwing himself into what became an extensive research project, Spencer spent 3-4 hours per night learning everything he could about frequent flyer miles over the course of several months (he thinks this is normal). He runs Straight to the Points, an award-seat alert platform.
UP's Bonus Valuation
This bonus value is an estimated valuation calculated by UP after analyzing redemption options, transfer partners, award availability and how much UP would pay to buy these points.