Korean Air Upgrade Policy

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Old Oct 31, 16, 5:11 am
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Korean Air Upgrade Policy

Hi,

I was wondering if anyone knew what the policy was for Korean Air to upgrade people from economy to business or business to first class.

I am currently an elite and a few years from a premium elite. I fly both economy and business.

On a recent trip in business within Asia, all the first class seats were empty on the flight into KL, and only 2 had people on the way back to ICN. Business was about 50% full.

On other airlines, usually people with some type of status might get moved up.

For Korean Air is it only million milers? Do they even do this at all?

I thought to write and ask them what their policy was, but I thought maybe someone on here would know and since this is a community of information it would be better to have it known here.

Thanks.
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Old Nov 1, 16, 2:01 am
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No upgrades unless they are paid for (with miles), or it is necessary (lower cabin is overbooked).
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Old Nov 1, 16, 9:45 pm
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Korean will often op-up to a business seat with economy service if economy is full. I was upgraded both GMP-KIX and ICN-MNL. GMP-KIX I had no status, but ICN-MNL I was Delta Silver (Sky Miles Elite). They also upgraded my two friends traveling with me (separate reservation, no status, just check in together).

It's best to ask at check in if the flight is over sold. If they say yes, ask them if you can be moved. It's a rule they all know and practice often, not like a big secret that it's rude to ask.
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Old Nov 7, 16, 6:46 pm
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First of all, the economy class cabin needs to be overbooked for upgrades to happen.
If there are seats left in economy class, there will be no upgrades.

Second, your ticket fare class is a big factor when it comes to upgrades.
The higher the fare class of your ticket, the better the chance of an upgrade.
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Old Feb 20, 18, 5:48 am
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would morning calm status mean anything?

Hi. I mostly fly on One World, (think last time I didn't was over 10 years ago on KE!) but was thinking about making some trips on KE to get bumped up to Morning Calm and then ultimately to Morning Calm premium. How's the chance for an upgrade with a Morning Calm status? I.e. overbooked flight, would they upgrade a Morning Calm member with Q fare first or a Y ticket with no status first? Any insight would be appreciated!
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Old Feb 20, 18, 1:18 pm
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I think KE upgrades on oversold flights based on fare class.
At least that's what the checkin agent told me.

Upgraded only once on a higher economy fare class to business but was served economy food.
Never been upgraded because I was Morning calm.

I think KE's morning calm is quite useless.
The only real use is for the lounges but now with credit card priority pass etc, lounges are not an issue.
Besides, KE lounges arent the best anyway.
Not missing out if u dont go.
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Old Feb 21, 18, 6:49 am
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Originally Posted by HawaiiO View Post
I think KE upgrades on oversold flights based on fare class.
At least that's what the checkin agent told me.

Upgraded only once on a higher economy fare class to business but was served economy food.
Never been upgraded because I was Morning calm.

I think KE's morning calm is quite useless.
The only real use is for the lounges but now with credit card priority pass etc, lounges are not an issue.
Besides, KE lounges arent the best anyway.
Not missing out if u dont go.
Thanks for the info. Much appreciated! I usually value upgrade depending on ffp status more than lounge access. That lifetime Skypriority Plus benefits though... tempting.
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Old Feb 23, 18, 2:03 pm
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Originally Posted by HawaiiO View Post
Upgraded only once on a higher economy fare class to business but was served economy food.
Never been upgraded because I was Morning calm.

I think KE's morning calm is quite useless.
The only real use is for the lounges but now with credit card priority pass etc, lounges are not an issue.
Besides, KE lounges arent the best anyway.
Not missing out if u dont go.
Separate check-in line, that's pretty much it.
Separate boarding line sometimes, not all the time.
It really isn't much.
The 1 extra bag excludes economy to/from USA, which is what I fly >90% of the time..

I do value the lounge access on occasion, when PP does not work out (peak time at LAX or lack of showers in ICN T2 PP lounges). However, 4 lounge accesses in 2 years seems too little. However, we do renew for another 2 years (4 new accesses, replacing all existing membership/accesses) upon (effectively) 3 round-trips.

Last edited by rwong48; Feb 24, 18 at 8:39 pm
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Old Feb 25, 18, 12:38 am
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I got upgraded from Economy to Business this past October on the way from BKK to ICN. It was a crappy seat, in the middle of 3. It was an overnight flight, so as soon as we were in the air I put down the seat and slept. I didn't eat anything on the flight, so no idea if it was economy or business food that they were going to give me. I was upgraded at the gate, not when checking in.

The more I fly Korean Air, I feel they aren't moving fast enough to provide decent "extras" compared to other airlines.

The only reason I keep flying is I like the priority check-in, baggage and boarding from being morning calm.

However, I will be moving towards business class trans pacs in the future as I just can't stomach economy's uncomfortable seats and smaller spaces the older I get. With business, it doesn't really matter what you fly as long as the product is good. IMO Korean business sucks compared to many other airlines. Korean wants their premium to be first class, but that price range is really not in my range, and not worth it for me. Even looking at their best first class seats, so many other airlines do it better.

I'm not sure if I'll make it to 500k miles, as once I fly business class, I'll be looking at the best price/value.
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Old Feb 25, 18, 11:20 pm
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Originally Posted by Handcake View Post
I got upgraded from Economy to Business this past October on the way from BKK to ICN. It was a crappy seat, in the middle of 3. It was an overnight flight, so as soon as we were in the air I put down the seat and slept. I didn't eat anything on the flight, so no idea if it was economy or business food that they were going to give me. I was upgraded at the gate, not when checking in.

The more I fly Korean Air, I feel they aren't moving fast enough to provide decent "extras" compared to other airlines.

The only reason I keep flying is I like the priority check-in, baggage and boarding from being morning calm.

However, I will be moving towards business class trans pacs in the future as I just can't stomach economy's uncomfortable seats and smaller spaces the older I get. With business, it doesn't really matter what you fly as long as the product is good. IMO Korean business sucks compared to many other airlines. Korean wants their premium to be first class, but that price range is really not in my range, and not worth it for me. Even looking at their best first class seats, so many other airlines do it better.

I'm not sure if I'll make it to 500k miles, as once I fly business class, I'll be looking at the best price/value.
I've been Morning Calm in the past, but basically decided to ditch KE. I never once got an op-up, and didn't really expect to, being Morning Calm members are a dime-a-dozen, and I was probably always way down on the list. I was flying KE and OZ about equally in the past, but have tried to stick exclusively with OZ these days and much prefer the difference in how OZ treats their valued members. I used the KE lounge one time, even though if I recall I had the choice to use it four times. The food selection I found to be extremely lousy, the lounge crowded, and I was more comfortable just going out and sitting near the gate. Then there's check-in, where it seemed like several times I waited longer in the Morning Calm line than passengers without any status.

But I think the last straw was when I burned some of my KE miles for an F ticket LAX-ICN. I'd already flown OZ F and several other airlines in F, so knew what to expect. It was the most disappointing F experience of all airlines I've tried. The lounge at LAX was a joke for being an F lounge. I realize at some airports airlines don't have much of an option if they're just outsourcing the lounge, but this was an actual KE lounge from what I understand. Second, I was extremely disappointed with the meal. All the servings were in tiny amounts and far inferior to OZ F, except for the caviar which I'd say was equal. Just prior to my flight, one of my Korean colleagues who flies KE a lot told me that I shouldn't waste my miles on F, and that KE C for long haul flights was just about as good. After flying in F, I'd have to agree with that assessment. Burning my miles for trips in F is one thing at the top of my list of FFP benefits, and if they have lousy or inferior F service, it's close to being a deal-breaker. Service and attitudes of the FA's in F was fine, no qualms there, it was mainly the food I was disappointed in. Though in economy, I much prefer OZ FA's service and attitudes.

So anyways, I was originally thinking of striving for 500K status miles each with KE and OZ, that way increasing my chances at upgrades no matter which of the two airlines I was flying. But I'll forget about status with KE in the future and only fly with them when there's no OZ or *A option. It's a shame because KE has flights to way more destinations from Korea than OZ does, but for my most common destinations both KE and OZ does, so it's not as bad as it could be.

Sorry if the rant is a bit off-topic for this thread. I've been meaning to post about my last experience on KE in F for a couple months, and this seemed like a good opportunity.
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Old Feb 26, 18, 12:59 am
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Originally Posted by Handcake View Post
IMO Korean business sucks compared to many other airlines. Korean wants their premium to be first class, but that price range is really not in my range, and not worth it for me. Even looking at their best first class seats, so many other airlines do it better.
With Business Class, it really depends on the product. If it's the APEX Suite on select 77Ws and 748is, I would choose KE over many other airlines including SQ. The APEX Suite is by far one of the best Business Class seats I have ever experienced. If you're comparing their old Business Class product that is on the other aircrafts, I will agree with you on this when it comes to long-haul flights. However, on select intra-Asia routes where KE is offering a widebody aircraft versus a narrowbody that other airlines might be using, I would choose KE's widebody aircraft even if it features an old angled-flat product.

Korean Air's new Business Class lounge at T2 is also so much better than OZ's Business Class lounge at T1. The food options are so much better at KE since they're serving real food instead of snacks and cup ramen that OZ is serving.
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Old Aug 12, 19, 10:16 am
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Just back from a Paris CDG-ICN leg in (revenue) business class on an A380.

I was shocked at the amount of upgrades they handed out. At the very least 30 people were upgraded to Business (and maybe 4-5 from Business to First).

But I'm even more surprised at how they proceeded. I booked a seat in the very front cabin, and when they distributed the amenity kits (separately for eco and business), I could see that in the front cabin alone (usually dedicated to higher booking classes), about 1 third were OpUps. In my cabin at least, they all got Business class catering.

I didn't check precisely at the back, but it was an obvious mix of "real" biz pax and OpUps.

Strange way of proceeding. Why don't they regroup all OpUps at the back and serve Eco meals?

I don't care, since I'm always happy myself to get OpUpped, but for many business passengers, seeing the evidence that the cabin is full of Eco pax might not be thrilling. Why not give a business amenity kit to everyone, if they are going to serve the business catering anyway...?

Also, I noticed on my neighbor's ticket a fairly low booking class (U), and he had parts of his family of at least 4 (all OpUps) spread in the business cabin. Both contradict the theories that state you'd better be travelling alone, and on a high fair ticket to get OpUpped
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Old Aug 13, 19, 7:24 pm
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They do both Full Business op up AND biz seat with econ service op ups. I have received the "biz seat with econ service (one tray meal, no amenity kit etc)" every time (when I was a Delta Silver Medallion aka Sky Team Elite) like twice. Your ticket will be an economy ticket with a biz seat number.

However, my ex-bf at the time was a Morning Calm Member (also SkyTeam Elite) and he received several full business upgrades. Issued on biz class stock.

When I was bumped up to biz seat with econ service, they did move full biz passengers up to the front cabin and it was literally only us in that section of the cabin.

That flight must have been MASSIVELY oversold for that many people to get any kind of upgrade. Every time I fly KE I just straight up ask how oversold the flight is and if the upgrade is possible (because the first time I asked and every time they actually genuinely understand and check).......and they only upgrade if the flight is absolutely 100% full. One empty seat? Not a chance of any op up whatsoever.
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Old Aug 14, 19, 12:52 am
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Originally Posted by mikesaidyes View Post

When I was bumped up to biz seat with econ service, they did move full biz passengers up to the front cabin and it was literally only us in that section of the cabin.
They might have had a section at the back with "economy service" then. Just strange that my neighbor would have a "business" ticket in eco U class, get full service BUT get the small economy blue amenity kit. If you give full service then go all the way.

The flight was indeed apparently overbooked in Y to a point where they sold no more seats in C or F whatsoever (source expertflyer).
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Old Aug 15, 19, 5:23 am
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Originally Posted by benji2227 View Post
They might have had a section at the back with "economy service" then. Just strange that my neighbor would have a "business" ticket in eco U class, get full service BUT get the small economy blue amenity kit. If you give full service then go all the way.

The flight was indeed apparently overbooked in Y to a point where they sold no more seats in C or F whatsoever (source expertflyer).
Speaking of Expert Flyer, I've actually seen just once - when I flew DPS-ICN in April - I checked the map as I was arriving at the airport - and they actually showed the last row of biz class as economy and open....so I'm guessing they thought they needed it....but alas, no upgrade and I did see any empty seat.
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