Now, passengers who are going to book a flight in economy class with Korean Air, are provided with the great opportunity to receive business class upgrades thanks to SKYPASS miles. For example, only 40,000 SKYPASS miles that can be gained during such long trips as Seoul – Sydney or Brisbane, can give you access to ‘Prestige Class.’ Simultaneously, just 67,500 SKYPASS miles can give you a special upgrade to business class when flying from Australia to Europe.

There are some important things you should know if you consider switching from economy class seat to a business class bed when flying with Korean Air:

Business Class Upgrades: The Basics

In contrast to other airlines’ terms, Korean Air doesn’t have a clear and strict separation between classes. For example, you can definitely upgrade from economy to business class or even straight to first class.

Code-share Flights

It’s important to be booked with a KE flight number when flying with Korean Air. In case if you book a codeshare flight, you’ll be unable to get any upgrades.

Eligible Fares

Note that the most expensive tickets in economy class aren’t eligible for mileage-based upgrades. They include B, M, and Y ‘fare buckets’ that are usually indicated on your tickets.

The point is that it’s necessary to consider booking the most flexible fares in order to have a chance to upgrade classes. It means that only the cheapest fares available can be used towards upgrades.

Capacity Control

Business-class upgrades are highly variable and depend on the chosen flight. There’s also the opportunity to lock the acquired upgrade immediately in case if you’re sure you’ve made a booking in the correct fare class, which is still available as well.

How Many Miles You Need?

Besides the chosen direction, the required number of SKYPASS miles also depends on the preferred time. For example, the number can significantly differ during the ‘peak’ period and the ‘off-peak’ one.

Here’s a prime example: when flying from Australia to Seoul, you’d need just 40,000 miles for an upgrade in case if you travel during off-peak seasons, while it’s required to have about 60,000 miles for the same upgrade when traveling during peak periods.

One more example: only 67,500 SKYPASS miles are required for an upgrade when flying from Australia to the United Kingdom and Europe during an off-peak season. At the same time, you’d have to possess 100,000 miles for the same upgrade at peak periods.

Peak and Off-Peak

Note that these types of periods highly vary by two factors: a destination and a year. Here are some upcoming peak periods that imply the highest mileage costs, when traveling to Korea or Europe:

  • From December 21, 2016 to January 1, 2017
  • From January 26 to 31 2017
  • From July 14 to August 19, 2017
  • From September 30 to October 10, 2017
  • From December 21 to 31 2017

If you strive to find the lower rates to upgrade, consider flying at any other time, i.e., off-peak times.

More Details

Compared with other airlines’ policies for economy class passengers, Korean Air seeks to provide its customer with more generous opportunities to upgrade trips that imply any stopovers.

For example, if you consider booking a long trip (for example, from Australia to Europe), you might break the trip to stay in Korea for a day or even more instead of flying straight through. In this case, multiple airlines would definitely charge you for two full upgrades: one from Australia to Korea and another one to Europe from Korea.

However, Korean Air provides its customers with the opportunity to book such a flight as a single upgrade that can save your miles. Given this fact, business class upgrades are available on both of your flights. You’d spend either:

  • 67,500 (off-peak) or 100,000 (peak) SKYPASS miles on the upgrade

rather than:

  • 80,000 (off-peak) or 120,000 (peak) SKYPASS miles by upgrading each flight separately.

A Few Notes

If you’re going to peruse Korean Air’s upgrade award chart on your own, you must consider some essential things:

  1. Australia is included in ‘Oceania’
  2. The UK is still included in ‘Europe’
  3. ‘Prestige’ is the same thing as ‘business class’ on Korean Air
  4. The figures that can be found in the table are related to return trips as well

Your upgrade will cost half as many miles demonstrated in case if the chosen upgrade is just one-way.

Finding Your Upgrade Options on ExpertFlyer

It’s incredibly simple to check the availability of award chards prior to booking. The ‘Awards and Upgrades’ search helps ExpertFlyer subscribers to look for upgrade availability related to the chosen flight:

  1. Click ‘Korean Air’ in the airline list
  2. Indicate a route and date you prefer the most
  3. Select ‘Business – Upgrade (Z)’ and then click ‘search.’

The number of upgrades available on a specific flight is shown in the ‘seats’ column.

Booking Your Upgrade on Korean Air

If a traveler doesn’t have an ExpertFlyer subscription, he can contact Korean Air customer service and get the needed assistance to check the availability of the chosen upgrade. However, it’s impossible to book business-class upgrades with ExpertFlyer. Instead of it, it’s required to secure them over the phone. In order to request the Korean Air assistance, members are welcome to call 02-9262-6000.

Besides, there’s also the opportunity to upgrade to a business class by using other SkyTeam frequent flyer programs’ miles, including Aeroflot Bonus and Air France Flying Blue. Note that it’s not allowed to receive any upgrades during the peak periods (see the ‘Peak and Off-Peak’ section).