Korean Air’s Updated Award Ticket Hold Policy

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It seems like Korean Air’s SKYPASS frequent flyer program continues to fly under-the-radar, despite the fact that it is a transfer partner of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, and a new transfer option for Starwood Preferred Guest points. They’ve also recently addressed one of the major negatives about the program, which was how cumbersome and painful it was to book award tickets. The website has improved dramatically, bringing it closer to the standards that most of us are accustomed to with domestic airlines.


Previous Award Ticket Hold Policy

In addition to amazing premium cabin award availability and the ability to create household accounts, another huge perk of the SKYPASS program was the ability to put award tickets on hold up to three days prior to departure, without needing to have the requisite miles in your account at the initial time of booking. That’s basically as good as it gets, since you can take advantage of open award availability at any time even if you needed more time to accrue the necessary number of miles. You were required to confirm and finalize the ticketing process at least three days prior to departure, or the reservation would automatically be cancelled.


Updated Award Ticket Hold Policy

I’ve booked a couple award tickets recently with my Korean Air miles, and noticed that the award ticket hold policy has changed. Korean Air doesn’t get a ton of coverage in the points and miles blogosphere, so I’m not exactly sure when this change became effective.

korean air award hold policy

The good news is that you can still put reservations on hold for a lengthy duration of time without needing to have the miles already in your account. The bad news is that duration has been lowered from up to three days prior to departure, to a flat 30 days. You can see the example above where I called in yesterday, April 25th to place a ticket on hold, and the ticket status is showing that I have until May 25th to pay and confirm.

However, the good news is that Korean Air’s award ticket change and cancellation policy is pretty simple – there is none! You can do both with no fees, meaning that there is little downside to booking the ticket before the hold expires, other than the fact that you need to fund the miles in your account.


Bottom Line

While Korean Air’s super generous award ticket hold policy has now been reduced to just a very generous hold policy, it’s still one of the best out there. In my mind, in general the pros (premium cabin award availability, household accounts, award ticket hold policy) heavily outweigh the cons (fuel surcharges, blackout dates, lengthy wait for call center) with the SKYPASS program and I’ll happily continue to transfer my miles in.


  1. Given the magnitude of changes we’ve seen in this space, I assume modest changes like this are great news as they are an implicit indication that the benefits are only being altered, and will unlikely get slashed entirely in the near term.

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