Where to Search Korean First Class and How Available Is It?

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Yesterday I wrote about Starwoord Preferred Guest Starpoints being transferable to Korean SkyPass miles. I wrote some about the rules of SkyPass awards, and I mentioned that the best awards to book with Korean miles are SkyTeam First Class awards and awards to Hawaii.

This post will focus on Korean First Class award space because it is the most available international First Class award space I’ve ever seen.

  • How do you search Korean First Class award space?
  • How available is it?
  • What is the price?
  • What is the product?

Search Korean Award Space

You can search Korean First Class award space on Korean Air’s website. Just tick Award Booking. You will have to sign in to a SkyPass account to award search, but joining is free and you don’t need miles in your account to search.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.05.20 PM

You can also search award space on the paid Expert Flyer website. That allows you to see a week of search results on one screen, so many of the screenshots in this post come from there.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.34.59 PM

Korean First Class Availability

Korean flies to Seoul from 11 American cities.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.42.21 PM

It features a First Class cabin on all 11 routes, including Honolulu.

I searched award availability for one week for each route on Expert Flyer. I spread my searches throughout the calendar. In total, there were 87 flights searched because because the cities ranged from 3 to 17 flights per week. On 84 of those 87 flights, there was at least one award seat in First Class.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.35.19 PMThe most common number of First Class seats available were 2, 3, and 6.Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.36.03 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.36.39 PMSome days, I saw as many as 14 First Class seats spread across three flights.Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.39.00 PM

Korean also operates First Class cabins on many intra-Asia flights. Here are the possible connections from Seoul.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 2.33.22 PMPrice

Hopefully you can read this award chart, which I’ve spliced up to show the prices from North America to the destinations in the farthest left column. The chart shows roundtrip award prices. You can fly one way for half price.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.23.36 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.24.01 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.24.20 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.24.35 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.24.45 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.24.56 PM

Korea, Japan, and China are 80,000 miles one way in First Class during off peak times. Southeast Asia is 95,000 miles, and the Indian Subcontinent is 105,000 miles.

Prices are about 50% higher during the peak window, which only affects 60-70 days a year. If you want to fly Off Peak, it is very easy to do. Just avoid these peak dates:

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 4.00.29 PM

Region definitions:

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.22.46 PM

In addition to miles, you’ll pay taxes (very low) and fuel surcharges. Fuel surcharges vary by destination but from the United States to Korea are usually $80 or less each way. From the United States to Southeast Asia, they can hit about $180 one way.

Product

Korean Airlines lists five First Class products. All are fully flat beds.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.37.36 PM

The best one, the Kosmo Suites 2.0 was introduced in May 2015, and this blogpost (Google Translate) says they will be on the 747-8i, 787-9, 777-300ER, and A330-300. It looks like they will only be on new planes delivered, and other planes will not be retrofitted. I do not think all 777-300ERs or A330s will have them.

Unfortunately I cannot find better information about which First Class product is on each plane. Anyone with info should leave it in the comments.

Getting Korean Miles

Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 instantly to Korean miles

SPG points transfer 1:1 to Korean miles, and for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred, you get 5,000 extra Korean miles. So to get 80,000 Korean miles, you’d need to transfer 65,000 Starpoints. Starpoints transfers are not instant. In a few days, we’ll probably know how long they take.

The Starwood Preferred Guest personal and business credit cards from American Express are offering their once-a-year 30,000 Starpoints bonuses. The personal card requires spending $3,000 in the first three months, and the business card requires spending $5,000 in the first three months to unlock the bonuses.

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 11.20.20 PM

The increased bonus is only for applicants approved by September 14, 2015.

Links:

Bottom Line

First Class award space on Korean Air is available on nearly every flight for 2+ passengers. You can book it for as little as 80,000 Korean miles one way plus under $100 of taxes and fuel surcharges.

 


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19 COMMENTS

  1. Nice post, thanks.
    I’ve read elsewhere that Korean miles can used for tATL on Skyteam for less miles but PLUS YQ.
    I’m sure I’m doing something wrong, but when I search the site it insists on sending me to Europe via ICN.
    Is this a find the flights then call situation?

  2. Nice post. Any comments on Korean business class availability on these routes? And quality of product? Miles required? Might be a nice follow-up post. Thanks

  3. It’s a bit confusing, but their Fleet page (https://www.koreanair.com/global/en/traveling/fleet-info.html) lists out the types of seats found on each of the seat configurations on each aircraft. You scroll down the to aircraft type, and then click on the seat configuration (e.g., 777-200ER has 248 and 261 seat configurations–248 has Kosmo Suite, 261 has Kosmo Sleeper). I’m not sure how to easily identify the specific plane configuration that you are looking to fly on.

    Also, it’s worth noting that just because you can get search _results_ that seem to indicate that there are a given number of seats available, you don’t find out for sure if they are until you attempt to buy. For this reason, you should call them up to confirm availability _before_ transferring the miles to your account.

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