Korean Air Baggage Fees: How They Work and How to Avoid Them [2024]

The baggage allowance policy on Korean Air is quite generous, but it’s important to know the rules. Here’s how to steer clear of Korean Air baggage fees.

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Updated May 13, 2024
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If you’ve ever dreamed of exploring the historical villages, palaces, temples, and street markets that Seoul, South Korea, and other parts of Asia have to offer, you might consider taking a flight on Korean Air. This airline's main hub is at Incheon International Airport and offers flights from select U.S. cities to Seoul and beyond. Korean Air also flies from many European cities to Asian cities, so adventurous travelers can add a leg to their European vacation.

The Korean Air baggage allowance policy is quite generous, but the website isn't always easy to navigate, and it’s important to know the rules. That’s because you can get stuck with some pretty steep fees if your baggage is overweight, oversized, or you bring too many bags with you. 

Here’s what you need to know, plus how to avoid Korean Air baggage fees.

In this article

What’s Korean Air’s baggage policy?

Carry-on luggage

In addition to one free personal item on Korean Air, Economy Class passengers can bring an additional free carry-on as their main cabin baggage, but both bags must weigh no more than 22 lbs.

First and Prestige Class travelers can bring two pieces of carry-on baggage in addition to one free personal item, but the total weight of all bags can’t exceed a maximum weight of 40 lbs.

If you’re traveling with a child, the child has the same free baggage allowance, plus you can also bring one stroller and one car seat or bassinet. If you’re traveling with an infant on a domestic flight, only one stroller and one car seat are allowed, with no baggage allowance. You can bring an additional piece of luggage (up to 22 lbs and 45 inches total) if you’re traveling with an infant on an international flight.

You can also bring a small musical instrument in place of a carry-on bag as long as the total dimensions do not exceed 45 inches and you are okay with storing it in the overhead bin or under the seat. Larger instruments are allowed as well, but you will need to purchase an additional seat.

As with other airlines, you won’t be allowed to bring certain items that pose a threat to other passengers, such as lithium battery-powered vehicles, explosives, pressurized gas containers, and flammable substances.

You are allowed one lighter or matchbox, powders weighing less than 12oz, and liquids in containers up to 100ml each, all sealed in a 1-liter plastic bag.

Checked luggage

Checked baggage allowances on Korean Air vary depending on your ticket class, itinerary, and membership level, but your first checked bag will always be free. For Economy travelers, that bag can’t exceed 62” in total dimensions or 50 lbs in weight. For Prestige and First Class passengers, each bag can weigh no more than 70 lbs.

If you bring more bags, additional charges will depend on your itinerary. Here’s a breakdown of some of the possible routes and baggage charges:

Route Economy Prestige First
To/From America (except Brazil)

First two checked bags: Free

From third piece: $200 each

Overweight bags: $100-$200

Oversized bags: $200-$400

First two checked bags: Free

From third piece: $200 each

Overweight bags: $100-$200

Oversized bags: $200-$400

First three checked bags: Free

From fourth piece: $200 each

Overweight bags: $100-$200

Oversized bags: $200-$400

To/From Brazil

First two checked bags: Free

From third piece: $175 each

Overweight bags: $175

Oversized bags: $175-$350

First two checked bags: Free

From third piece: $175 each

Overweight bags: $175

Oversized bags: $175-$350

First three checked bags: Free

From fourth piece: $175 each

Overweight bags: $175

Oversized bags: $175-$350

To or From Europe/Middle East/Africa/Oceania

First checked bag: Free

Second checked bag: $130

From third piece: $200 each

Overweight bags: $100-$200

Oversized bags: $200-$400

First two checked bags: Free

From third piece: $200 each

Overweight bags: $100-$200

Oversized bags: $200-$400

First three checked bags: Free

From fourth piece: $200 each

Overweight bags: $100-$200

Oversized bags: $200-$400

Korea to Asia

First checked bag: Free

Second checked bag: $70

From third piece: $100 each

Overweight bags: $50-$100

Oversized bags: $100-$200

First two checked bags: Free

From third piece: $100 each

Overweight bags: $50-$100

Oversized bags: $100-$200

First three checked bags: Free

From fourth piece: $100 each

Overweight bags: $50-$100

Oversized bags: $100-$200

Within Asia

First checked bag: Free

Second checked bag: $100

From third piece: $150 each

Overweight bags: $75-$150

Oversized bags: $150-$300

First two checked bags: Free

From third piece: $150 each

Overweight bags: $75-$150

Oversized bags: $150-$300

First three checked bags: Free

From fourth piece: $150 each

Overweight bags: $75-$150

Oversized bags: $150-$300

USA to Brazil

First two checked bags: Free

From third piece: $75 each

Overweight bags: $75

Oversized bags: $75-$150

First two checked bags: Free

From third piece: $75 each

Overweight bags: $75

Oversized bags: $75-$150

First three checked bags: Free

From fourth piece: $75 each

Overweight bags: $75

Oversized bags: $75-$150

How to avoid checked bag fees on Korean Air

Taking extra baggage with you on a Korean Air flight can get pricey. If you’re not careful about staying within the allowed limits, you could drive up the cost of your trip. That said, there are some ways you can avoid paying even a cent for your baggage.

Only pack a carry-on and one checked bag

Because Korean Air has generous baggage allowance policies, you may be able to get away with bringing only the allowed baggage for your route. 

You’ll get at least one personal item, carry-on item, and checked bag free with any flight. Just make sure to grab a luggage scale and stay within the required size and baggage weight limits, or you might have to pay extra.

Join the loyalty program

Anyone can join Korean Air’s SKYPASS loyalty program, but you’ll need to meet certain requirements in order to obtain elite status and get an additional baggage allowance. 

The SKYPASS program has three tiers of elite status: Morning Calm Club, Morning Calm Premium Club, and Million Miler Club. Here’s what you’ll need for each membership level:

Membership level How to qualify Additional baggage allowance
Morning Calm Club Either fly 50,000 miles on Korean Air, take 40 qualifying flights on Korean Air, or fly 50,000 miles or more on Korean Air and SKYPASS partners, with at least 30,000 of those miles on Korean Air Economy: 1 additional bag (50lbs)

Prestige and First Class: 1 additional bag (70lbs)

Morning Calm Premium Club Fly at least 500,000 miles on Korean Air and/or SkyTeam Alliance airlines Economy: 1 additional bag (50lbs)

Prestige and First Class: 1 additional bag (70lbs)

Million Miler Club Fly at least 1 million miles on Korean Air and/or SkyTeam Alliance airlines 1 additional bag (70lbs)

Buy a premium ticket

While Economy tickets only entitle you to bring one or two free checked bags, you’ll always get three checked bags when you fly as a First Class passenger. If you only need two checked bags, you can purchase a Prestige class ticket.

Get a co-branded credit card

While Korean Air’s co-branded Visa cards don’t automatically get you free bags, they will help you earn Morning Calm Club Card status much faster. For example, with the SKYPASS Select Visa Signature® Card, cardmembers can earn 60,000 miles after you spend $5,000 in the first 90 days. Plus, you get 3X miles on eligible Korean Air purchases, 2X miles on other airlines, rental car, hotel purchases, and dining, including takeout and restaurant delivery; and 1X miles on all other eligible purchases.

In addition, this card comes with a number of other perks, including a $200 annual statement credit on travel purchases, which can be used towards the purchase of additional baggage. On the other hand, if you're not a frequent Korean Air traveler, this may not be the best airline credit card for you. You may actually be better off with a more flexible travel credit card.

Use a general travel card

Many of the best travel credit cards come with reimbursements or statement credits that can be used to cover the cost of excess baggage fees. For example, you can redeem miles to cover past travel purchases with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card to apply points towards baggage costs. Or, you could use the $300 annual travel credit that comes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® to cover the cost of your additional baggage.

Here are some credit cards to consider:

Card Rewards rate Welcome offer Annual fee
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day and 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening $0
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day, 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5 miles per dollar on Capital One Entertainment purchases through 12/31/25 Earn a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening $95
Chase Sapphire Reserve® 5X points on flights and 10X points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually; 3X points on other travel and dining & 1X points per dollar on all other purchases Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening $550
The Platinum Card® from American Express 5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and eligible hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $8,000 on purchases on your new card in the first 6 months $695 (terms apply)

Another card to consider is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. While it doesn't directly get you a free bag, you can earn a generous welcome bonus of 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. That translates to $937.50 worth of travel when you book it through the Chase travel portal. And that covers a whole lot of bags!

Bottom line on baggage fees

With so many options for getting free additional baggage, you should never have to pay baggage fees when flying on Korean Air, whether you're headed to Mongolia, Hong Kong, or Brazil. 

And the best part is, if you join the loyalty program or use the right credit cards, you’ll get plenty of other perks beyond free baggage. You could even walk away with a free or discounted flight! Just pay attention to Korean Air’s rules and restrictions when you pack for your next trip, and you’ll be on your way to the fee-free vacation of your dreams.

Easy-to-Earn Unlimited Rewards

Benefits

Card Details

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Lindsay Frankel

Lindsay Frankel is a Denver-based freelance writer who specializes in credit cards, travel, budgeting/saving, and shopping. She has been featured in several finance publications, including LendingTree. When she's not writing, you can find her enjoying the great outdoors, playing music, or cuddling with her rescue pup.