Ultimate Guide to Korean Air Miles: Part 2 – How to Book Award Flights on Korean Air

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Update:   Korean Air is no longer a Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer partner.

One of the best secrets for Big Travel with Small Money is Korean Air’s SKYPASS frequent flyer program.  You can redeem Korean Air miles (a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards and Starwood points) for award seats on Korean Air, or partners like Delta, Air France, or Alaska Airlines.  You can get amazing deals to places like Hawaii, Japan, and China!

Some routes are priced more cheaply than other airlines.  But the best thing about Korean Air’s frequent flyer program is the number of award seats they release in all cabins, including First Class!

Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 2 How To Book Award Flights On Korean Air
You Can Redeem Korean Air Miles for First Class (and Seats Are Actually Available!), Which Isn’t True of Many Other Airlines

However, Korean Air miles can be a challenge to use.  I’ll explain step-by-step how to open a Korean Air account, and how to search for and book award flights on Korean Air.

Ultimate Guide to Korean Air Miles Series Index

How Do You Open a Korean Air Frequent Flyer Account?

You can open a Korean Air frequent flyer account for free online.

Step 1.   Go to the Korean Air Website

Navigate to the Korean Air sign-up website.  Click on “New Member Registration” on the left side of the website.

Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 2 How To Book Award Flights On Korean Air
You Can Register a Korean Air Miles Account Online Free!

Step 2.   Fill in Your Details

Complete the registration form using your details.  It’s essential your name matches your passport!  Korean Air will book your ticket as it’s written when you open your account.

Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 2 How To Book Award Flights On Korean Air
Make Sure to Click “ID Duplication Check” To Proceed

Step 3.   Note Your Korean Air Number and Password

You’ll instantly get a Korean Air miles number so you can earn, redeem, or transfer flexible points!

Korean Air Award Chart And Sweet Spots

1.   Korean Air Award Chart

Link:   Korean Air Award Chart for Korean Air Flights (NOT Partners)

For now, we will look at redeeming Korean Air miles on Korean Air flights.  There’s a specific award chart just for Korean Air flights (NOT partner flights).

Korean Air has “on-peak” and “off-peak” dates.  If your travel dates are within an on-peak travel period, your ticket will cost more miles.

For flights to and from North America, Korean Air charges the following miles (numbers are round-trip, 50% discount for one-way tickets):


North America

Southeast AsiaOff85,000150,000190,000
Southwest AsiaOff95,000170,000210,000
China &Northeast AsiaOff70,000125,000160,000

Award regions are defined by city:

Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 2 How To Book Award Flights On Korean Air
You Can’t Fly From the US to Europe, the Middle East, or Africa on Korean Air

You can only use the Korean Air award chart if all your flights are on Korean Air.  If you have a single flight on another airline, like a connecting flight on Delta, you would use the SkyTeam award chart (more on that in a later post).

Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 2 How To Book Award Flights On Korean Air
Korean Air Flies Directly Between Seoul and 12 North American Cities

2.   Sweet Spot:  Between North America and South Korea, Japan, China, & Northeast Asia

For only 70,000 Korean Air miles, you can fly off-peak, round-trip in coach between North America and:

  • China (including Beijing, Shanghai, and more)
  • Japan (including Tokyo, Osaka, and more)
  • Northeast Asia (including Hong Kong, Taipei and more)
  • South Korea (including Seoul, Busan, and more)

While coach requires fewer miles, you should consider flying in Business or First Class.  You can often get flights to Asia for under $1,000 in coach, in which case using 70,000 miles may not be a good choice.  Business and First Class is far more expensive, and you’ll get better “bang for your buck” than redeeming for coach.

And you’ll pay just 125,000 Korean Air miles for a round-trip Business Class ticket on the same routes.  To compare, Delta charges 160,000 miles or more for the same ticket!

Because 125,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards convert 1:1 into Korean Air miles or $1,250 cash back, and the purchase price of a round-trip Business Class ticket from New York City to Seoul, South Korea costs ~$4,500, that’s amazing value!  Of course, flying Business or First Class will give you an amazing experience, but it’s only worth it if you value luxury travel.

Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 2 How To Book Award Flights On Korean Air
Flying to Asia in Korean Air’s Prestige (Business) Class Is a Treat!

You can also use 160,000 Korean Air miles to fly round-trip in Korean Air’s amazing First Class – it’s one of the few SkyTeam alliance partners that lets you book First Class (Delta, on the other hand, does NOT)!

3.   Stopover On a One-Way Ticket

Korean Air lets you book a free stopover on a one-way ticket!  You can visit another city on a one-way ticket for as long as you want.  If you book 2 one-way tickets, you could have 2 free stopovers.

For example, you could fly from New York – JFK to Seoul, spend a week in Seoul, then fly to Tokyo.  On your return, you could fly from Tokyo to Busan in South Korea, spend 2 days there, then fly home via Seoul.  You can do this in Business Class for only 125,000 Korean Air miles!

Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 2 How To Book Award Flights On Korean Air
You Can Visit 3 Cities for the Price of One!

Step-by-Step:   Book Korean Air Award Flights Online

Here’s how to book Korean Air award flights on Koreanair.com.

Step 1.   Sign-In To Koreanair.com

Go to Korean Air, click on “Login” on the upper-right hand corner of the website, and enter your SKYPASS user ID or number, and your password.

Step 2 .  Go To Award Search Engine

Click on “Book a Flight” and then click on “Award Booking”.

You do NOT need to have the required number of Korean Air miles in your account to search for award flights!

Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 2 How To Book Award Flights On Korean Air
You Can Also Book Award Seats Through Your Account Dashboard

Step 3.   Search For Award Seats On Korean Air

By default, the search engine will search for Korean Air seats.  Suppose you wanted to search for a one-way ticket from New York – JFK to Seoul.  This costs 35,000 Korean Air miles in coach or 62,500 Korean Air miles in Business Class.

You would:

  • Select One Way
  • Type in New York” and Seoul” into the “From” and “To” boxes
  • Use the calendar to select your travel date
  • Select “Economy Class” under “Cabin Class
  • Select which passenger is traveling
  • Then click “Find Flights
Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 2 How To Book Award Flights On Korean Air
It’s Easy to Use the Korean Air Award Search Engine
You can only book award seats for yourself or family members.  You must register your family members prior to booking, which is a complex process.  I’ll explain in a later post!
Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 2 How To Book Award Flights On Korean Air
The Search Engine Will Show You Available Award Seats

If there are no award seats on your preferred day, the website will show a calendar to select alternative days.  Days in white have available seats.

Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 2 How To Book Award Flights On Korean Air
Days in White Have the Number of Award Seats Required in the Cabin Requested

If you do not have enough miles to book your ticket, you can call Korean Air at 800-438-5000 and ask them to make an award hold by giving them your flight details.  They will hold your seats for 14 days for free.

This is useful if you want to secure seats before transferring flexible award points to Korean Air.

Step 4.   Book And Pay

Once your seats are selected, you can finalize your booking by entering passenger details and paying taxes and fees with a credit card.

A one-way ticket from the US to South Korea costs ~$105 in taxes and fees, and a one-way from South Korea to the US costs ~$41.

It’s cheaper to book your trip as 2 one-way tickets instead of a round-trip ticket.  Booking your ticket round-trip costs ~$244, but only ~$145 booked as 2 one-way tickets!
Ultimate Guide To Korean Air Miles Part 2 How To Book Award Flights On Korean Air
It’s More Expensive to Book Your Ticket as a Round-Trip Ticket Than as 2 One-Way Tickets!

If your trip has multiple flights, you may not be able to book online and instead need to call Korean Air.

And to book a ticket that lands in Seoul, Incheon (ICN) airport and leaves from Seoul, Gimpo (GMP) airport, you’ll have to pay additional miles.

It you are booking a stopover online, make sure to click the “Calculate” button to calculate taxes and fees.

Bottom Line

Booking flights to Asia on Korean Air is a terrific use of Korean Air miles, because you’ll often pay less compared to other programs.  And Korean Air usually makes plenty of award seats available.

It’s easy to earn Korean Air miles by transferring flexible points from Chase Ultimate Rewards and Starwood.  Searching for Korean Air award seats online is straightforward, although in some cases (like multi-segment itineraries) you might have to call.

Chase Ultimate Rewards transfers to Korean Air are typically instant.  But with Starwood, transfers can take 1 to 2 weeks!

But even if you have no interest in flying Korean Air, Korean Air miles are still useful.  Next, I’ll show you how to redeem Korean Air miles on partner airlines like Delta, KLM, and Alaska Airlines.

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