Korean Air has a great award chart, and one of the best parts about it is that you can book Korean Air stopover awards on roundtrip awards. Korean Air first class is one of the better first class flights out there (so I hear – no personal experience), and they don’t make much space available to partners, so booking with Korean miles helps you get that.
and additionally has some pretty sweet spots on their award chart, which you can find here. One of the best sweet spots is the fact that Korean Air considers Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean all part of the “North America” zone, which means that any roundtrip flight within that zone is only 25,000 miles.
The basics of booking a Korean Air award online
We’ve already written before about the basics of how to book a Korean Air award online, but before we get to talking about Korean Air stopovers, let’s recap the basics. Here is a simple roundtrip ticket from LAX to HNL
You will need to have low level availability showing on Delta for the award to be bookable by Korean Air. At the current time, that would mean it has to show up as 22,500 miles on Delta for a US to Hawaii award.
There is debate as to whether one-way awards are allowed. The official Korean Air site says: “One-way award requires 50% of round-trip redemption mileage” but you won’t be able to book a one way Skyteam award online (only KE metal) and I’ve heard mixed datapoints of people being able to do it over the phone.
Similarly, online you will only be able to start and end in the same city, though again, I’ve heard it may be possible to do an open jaw on origin / destination if you call in.
Korean Air stopover award booking messages
As you can imagine, the messaging when you try to book a Korean Air stopover award is not always the easiest to understand. If you manage to do everything right, you’ll see the following once you hit submit:
If you did anything wrong trying to book a Korean Air stopover, you’ll get this glorious message
I THINK that what this is saying is that you can only have 3 segments in each direction between your origin and destination (bullet #3). It also seems to imply that you can only have an open-jaw at your destination (bullet #4)
Roundtrip with connections on a Korean Air award
Now let’s add in a connection on one of the legs – here’s a roundtrip with connections – CVG-MSP-HNL, HNL-MSP-CVG
Okay – so far, so good
Roundtrip with multiple connections
But… for those of us in the eastern time zone, it may not be possible to make it out to Hawaii with only one connection each way. If you look at returning from HNL-CVG on 8/28/2017 (the same dates as the example above), on Delta’s site you can see multiple options at the lowest level
Including one that connects through LAX and ATL. The HNL-LAX-ATL-CVG option is NOT shown as a Korean Air stopover choice. I believe there is a limit to the total number of segments that you can process online.
Interestingly, the 3rd option (HNL-LAX-MSP-CVG) IS shown on Korean Air because HNL-LAX and LAX-MSP share a flight number (DL 1434) so Korean Air considers it as 1 segment even though it shows as “2 stops”
Adding a Korean Airways stopover
Now let’s try a Korean Airways stopover. First, let’s try to book
- CVG-LAX (stopover)
- LAX-HNL (destination)
Everything seems to be working according to plan and we get our expected results of a cost of 25,000 miles
Trying a more complicated Korean Air stopover
Trying to add an additional wrinkle, I added a connection on the original CVG-SFO leg. That worked, except when I tried to add a connection longer than 4 hours
Note the 4:45 connection in MSP – that gave an error. All other connections less than 4 hours worked as expected and calculated 25,000 miles with no problems.
I was also able to add a stopover on the LAX-HNL leg (LAX-SEA-HNL) if I flew the direct CVG-LAX leg, but if I tried to have a connection on both “outbound” legs (CVG-SLC-LAX; LAX-SEA-HNL), that gave me an error. That is consistent with the rule of 3 total segments per direction.
Additional Korean Air stopovers
The Korean Air rules claim that you can have 2 stopovers on a roundtrip (excluding the destination), but in practice, I was not able to get a 2nd stopover booked without getting the dreaded error message. I look forward to being corrected in the comments if anyone has any other experience with that.
Adding an open-jaw on the destination
As the error message says, you can open jaw on your destination, but nowhere else. So let’s try that out
All looks good!
Adding an open jaw on a Korean Air stopover in the middle
Sure, the rules SAY you can only open jaw on the destination, but what if we tried to put an open jaw in the middle?
I THINK that this just ends up making SFO/LAX the destination and turning HNL into a stopover. If I try to make a double open jaw (CVG-SFO, LAX-OGG, HNL-CVG), I get the following error message
Any time you try to do ANY open jaw, you get the 2nd sentence as a popup (“Non-SkyTeam operated route can be allowed in final destination only for entire journey”). Obviously the English isn’t great there but I think it is calling an open jaw a “Non-SkyTeam operated route”, and only allowing that at the destination. And while final destination for entire journey to me suggests the last segment (so back to the origin), I think they are saying the actual destination of the route.
Wrapping it up
Booking a Korean Air stopover online can be challenging but rewarding. If you manage to navigate all the hoops, 25,000 miles roundtrip to Hawaii is just about HALF of what the legacy carriers charge.
If all else fails, you can try to book your Korean Air stopover by calling in – you may have some luck there!
Readers: If you have any Korean Air stopover award tips or tricks, leave them in the comments!