Korean Air can’t re-route you on an award ticket when you’ve missed a connection


This is one of those posts that make you say, “I didn’t know that; I hope I’m not in that situation.”  That or I got screwed somehow.  Anyway, I had a 1 hour connection in Seoul on my way to Cambodia via Korean Air.  My flight out of Seattle had a medical emergency and so we had to return to Seatac.  The three hour delay made me miss my connection.  On the ground in Seattle, I called up Korean Air and asked them to somehow re-book or re-route me to Phnom Penh via a different route because I’m sure their default move would have been to just put me on the exact same flight the next day (which meant I would have wasted a day in Seoul.)  The rep couldn’t do that because I was ‘checked in’ to my Phnom Penh flight and couldn’t un-check me in to change my flight.  The rep was able to hold a business class seat for me on the next day.  I then asked if there was another business class seat for my wife (who was flying F to Seoul but only Y to PNH.)  The rep told me, “Sorry you took the last seat” and reserved a Y seat for my wife.


Landing in Seoul

When I got to Seoul, I went up to the transfer desk who sure enough had rebooked us for the next day’s flight.  To my surprise, they actually booked my wife in business with me.  Even the rep was confused and called someone since her original ticket was in coach.  He then handed us 2 business class seats for the 6PM flight the next day.

We then walked to the big transfer desk and there, I asked if there was a faster way to get to PNH because I didn’t want to waste a day in Seoul.  The rep told me that there was a Bangkok flight at 9AM and a 2nd flight would get me into PNH at around 6PM vs 10:30PM.  I told them I’ll take it.  However, the process took a long time.  After 15 minutes standing at the desk, the person told us to go sit down.  After about 15 minutes or so, the person came back and confirmed that we would be on 2 business class tickets to BKK, and there was only coach to PNH.  I said that was okay.  Another 30 minutes pass or so, a supervisor came over and said that because I was on an award ticket, they couldn’t re-route me, and even though they were trying to do it manually, the system wouldn’t let them due to it being an award ticket.  I wasn’t sure if it was because there were no award seats open to BKK or if they didn’t want to pay for a flight to PNH.  I was just shocked that the system wouldn’t let them override my route because usually, when things like this happen, the airlines can do whatever it takes to get you to your destination.  Eventually she gave me back my original tickets.  The odd thing is, how did they book my wife a J ticket to PNH when there was only 1 J seat available (that I took.)  So clearly, there was an override done to open up a seat for her in that situation.  Why couldn’t they open up 2 award seats to BKK?  It seemed odd, but after an hour, I felt it was futile to argue any further.  It did seem like they were doing their best to re-route us there.



  • brxbmrzfan

    Yes, very weird. Seems like it wasn’t incompetence or laziness which I would expect from a U.S. carrier. Bizarre.

  • Justin

    Very weird situation. Hope the rest of the trip is non-eventful. Enjoy

  • HoKo

    Yikes, I’ve always wondered about what would happen in these sort of situations.