Saturday, 21 February 2015

Practical Post: Free stopover hotel in Seoul on Asiana Airlines

The following information was correct on January 6th, 2015.
Update July 2015: it seems that Asiana may not operate STPC on single journeys only. See the Comments below for discussion, with thanks to Jo.
Update December 2016: Please see comments below. STPC may no longer be offered by Asiana on some ticket types.

There seems to be much confusion as to whether it is possible to get a free stopover hotel in Incheon/Seoul, paid for by Asiana Airlines.

We travelled from Sydney to London on Asiana between January 6th and January 7th, 2015. Because of the airline's flight timetable, it is not possible to do this route without an 18 hour gap between legs - this is how far apart the first available flights are. On taking this route, we were given a free hotel, free transfers and free evening meal and breakfast, as paid for and arranged by Asiana Airlines. Other people on our flight were unaware of this service, and missed out or had to pay.

Under airline regulations, if you are forced to have an overnight stopover, and there are no earlier available flights, the airline is duty bound to provide accommodation. This is called Stopover Paid by Carrier (STPC). You must request this at the time of booking (you cannot just show up in Seoul).

Customers with Asiana on the LHR-SYD route have somewhat of a problem here. Asiana do not have a European booking service. All bookings must be made via a third party (we used Expedia), who are not necessarily aware of STPC with Asiana and do not, therefore, arrange STPC for you. Asiana's English-language website is pitiful and does not tell you how to arrange STPC either, but why would they? It costs them money.

Here's what we did.

After Booking

After booking through Expedia, my wife rang every UK-based Asiana Airlines number she could find. The UK Sales Office is 0845 602 9900. This number is busy, understaffed and may take several attempts to get through to. Keep trying! The Sales Office told her that the booking party (Expedia) should have reserved STPC. Nonetheless, they allowed her to reserve our STPC places on that call. They also gave the following information:

- STPC may not be possible on certain dates (there are blackout periods in busy times). We were lucky in that Christmas and New Year is a blackout period, but we arrived 1 or 2 days after the service resumed.
- You will not know what hotel you are going to (indeed, Asiana don't either), until you get to the airport. You will either be somewhere in down-town Seoul or at Incheon airport.

It is important to reiterate that if an overnight stopover becomes necessary because you have opted to extend your stay and to take different flights that are not the first in and out of Incheon, STPC does not apply.

Before Flying

When checking in at your origin airport (in our case SYD; note Asiana do not have online check-in), you must remind the member of staff about STPC. They will confirm your hotel booking.

At Incheon

Proceed through security. Proceed past baggage collection. Once through and in the arrivals hall, turn right and follow the atrium all the way around to Door 14. It is quite literally the last exit of the building.

Next to Door 14 there is an Asiana customer services desk, which looks like this:

If all has been booked as above, all you'll have to do is hand over your boarding pass, and Asiana will take over. We were sent to the Royal Hotel in Myeongdong, Seoul, and really enjoyed our stay. Our general observation was that, while Asiana's technological systems (website/booking system/no online check-in) could be improved, their face-to-face customer service was excellent.


Cameron Nunn said...

Hi Simon, your advice was invaluable. We booked a flight leaving Sydney on a Saturday through an online service. Unbeknown to us Asiana cancelled their Saturday flight. The online service failed to contact us, despite Asiana saying they they passed on this information months ago. I only found out because I rang Asiana office in Sydney to try and get seat selections sorted. In the end Asiana were fantastic. We had to fly a day early and there was now a 42 hour layover. I asked whether they would pay for 2 nights accommodation, to which they immediately agreed as well as meals and transfers. At present the Seoul hotel is being refurbished so all guests are at ICN. Your article helped me to know exactly what to ask for and how to go about the process. Your information was fantastically clear.

Simon said...

Hi Cameron, you're very welcome. Really glad to hear it all worked out OK. We found that Asiana (once you know what you're talking about) have excellent customer service. It's the background info that's hard to find. I hope you enjoyed your stay and found enough to do at Incheon for 42 hours.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, this was very informative. This would definitely help my family and friends travel with Asiana a lot smoother

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
do you if this works for one-way from sydney to london?
Cheers, JO

Simon said...

Hi Jo
Yes it should be true - if the flights force you to have an overnight stopover. You'll need to phone whoever you book through to get them to organize STPC.
Best of luck

Anonymous said...

It's Jo here again,

No they won't to one-way. which is ridiculous considering i have 19hr layover.
Can't anything online about the terms and conditions.

Simon said...

Hi Jo
Sadly I don't know the regulations on these things (although I'm trying to find out) - I'd have said you should be eligible if no earlier connecting flights available (and if you're doing SYD-ICN-LHR I know there isn't from personal experience). What time of year are you travelling? It may be that you are in one of Asiana's blackout periods.
Can I ask who told you they won't do it one way? Was it Asiana themselves?

Anonymous said...

Hi Simon,
I'm travelling on the 12 July, SYD-ICN-LHR. No, it's not because of blackout periods. =( I called Asiana up and they said does not apply to one-way tickets. The price of these tickets are equivalent to a return but no benefits. Weird...

Korean Air is way better if you want to SYD-ICN-LHR they provide accomodation, bus transfer, meals even for one-way tickets too.

Cheers, Jo

Anonymous said...

This is information is terrific and very helpful and has allowed me to utilize the hotel for a long layover. Ive been told that your layover needs to be more than 8 hours however to get the free hotel, shuttle and meal ticket. It may be possible to pitch a little fit and try to still get it but that was told to me by the online booking support from the website directly. I would have to say that your exactly correct that some information is hard to find out about. I had the best results when I purchased the ticket on the Asiana website directly and then called about the perks after my ticket was purchased. I also recommend signing up for the frequent flyer program its free and seems to help in negotiations. I'm not sure if I would give them exactly correct info for the frequent flyer program either just name and email.

Leslie Lim said...

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Robert Oxford said...

Hi. Thanks all for the advise, very helpful as I'm about to book for next year. I have a further question, with the free hotel, meal and transport vouchers are drinks included free or do we have to pay for them ourselves. Many thanks Richard

Simon said...

Hi Robert
I must confess we didn't test the limits of the food vouchers and try to order from the bar, for example, but for the sit down dinner we had they took a drink order (I think we both had cokes or similar) and we were not charged extra.
I suspect if you were to have much more than that there would be a tab to pick up, but rather that than the full cost of a hotel stay and food.
Cheers, Simon

Silvia Jacinto said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Louis said...

Hi Simon,

I booked two executive class return tickets flying from Tokyo to Sydney through Aeroplane, which is a reward program in Canada. BTW. I live in Canada. There's a stopover in Seoul on the way back for 14 hours. I called Aeroplane for free stopover hotel but they say they don't deal with this and I have to call Asiana in USA, which I did. Asiana said they don't provide stopover hotel for tickets bought using reward points.

I feel this is unjust. I mean, I still have to pay around $3000 Canadian dollar for taxes and points that I am short.

Have you experience or seen something like this? What is your opinion? What can I do now?


Simon said...

Hi Louis

Thanks for the comment - I don't have any experience with StPC linked with reward points, I'm afraid. I shall ask around and see what people say.



Unknown said...

Cheers for this guys, I've flown with Asiana quite a bit and always forget how this works. Got stung last time in the black out period but have just called for my upcoming flight in Dec-Jan and they have added me on the STCP

The assistant n the call stressed it's usually the booking agents job to do this. Seeing as I used a cheap online booking system it wasn't done. But like others have found they are nice enough and do it for you on the call :)

FYI: My stopover is Jan 5th - Jan 6th 2016. Return leg of LHR-SYD - SYD-LHR


Simon said...

Thanks Cam, let us know how you get on

Paul said...

Hi there,

FYI, I have an upcoming trip and just called Asiana and as my ticket is Economy (L), they do not provide this privilege for this class. It will cost £70/person to upgrade the ticket to the status eligible for STPC. Having said that, as we're a party of 2, we've booked Fraser Place Namdaemun for £70 for the night including breakfast.

Hope this helps others.

Anonymous said...

I have just spoken to a really helpful lady at Asiana as my boyfriend and I had booked separately. She has put seat requests (Numbers) in for us next to each other for all four flights. And she then informed me that my boyfriend qualified for a free night at a hotel in Seoul/Incheon with free transportation, dinner and breakfast. Unfortunately my ticket is in a different/cheaper class of economy (W) so I don't qualify. She said that I could go to the hotel and see if they would let me stay! We already have a hotel booked in the centre of Seoul for around £45 (room only), so I am not sure what to do now. I'm leaning towards staying at the hotel I have already booked, because if I have to pay for different transfers from him as well as dinner and breakfast at the hotel this may work out more expensive!

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Aznin Natasya Azman said...

Hi there! I will be departing from New York to Singapore, and there'll be a layover of 22 hours. There are no earlier flights, so I am assuming that they may provide me a free hotel. However, did you have access to your luggages during the long layover? I'm just worried that if I were to buy things, I may need to check in a new baggage. Thank you!

Simon said...

Hi Azninm, We had no access to our luggage, which made getting into Seoul quicker and easier but obviously mean we were limited to the change of clothes etc in our hand luggage. If you've got space in your hand luggage you could put new shopping in there, unless contraband; I presume if you got back to the airport early enough you could check it in after the stopover? Not sure, sorry. S

Simon said...

Sorry, didn't mean to spell your name wrong! That m meant to be a comma. No offence meant!

Unknown said...

Everytime i've done the STPC i've cleared customs and collected all my bags. My luggage is only put through to Seoul. Just ensure when you check in they don't put it all the way through to Singapore.

Oleg said...

Unfortunately, STPC is provided only for certain destinations. For example our roundtrip flight KHV-SEA has a 16 hour stopover in Seoul (ICN) but Asiana refused to provide STPC, saying that KHV-SEA flights are not eligible for STPC (as opposed to KHV-LAX for example).

ruffeecola said...

I also suggest to not take risk in skipping your flight, so make sure to have enough time on your way back to the airport.
sharing an entry below:
Long Layover in Incheon Airport: Quick Seoulful Escape

Jonathan Klein said...

Last year, we booked our flights from San Francisco to Cebu (CEB) with a travel agent, who arranged the hotel for us for the return leg (8 hr layover in ICH). This year we booked through Expedia. I discovered that there was no hotel, and that I needed a voucher... just like you posted.
I called Expedia today to try and arrange the hotel for the rest of my party, which is returning a week later than me. The Expedia agent contacted Asiana, who informed him that Asiana discontined the STPC in April this year for our fare class (our tickets were really cheap). There's a nice transit hotel at ICH for $60 for 6 hrs on the 2nd floor of the transit area.
Worth it, and you don't have to go in and out of immigration control.

Simon said...

Thank you Jonathan for this information - I have updated the top of the page to let people know of this caveat
Kind regards

Unknown said...

I can also confirm fare class T (cheapest) is now not entitled to the hotel.

Richard said...

Hi, very basic question - I have a 19h30m stopover in Seoul Incheon and wondered if I can leave the airport. I would imagine this is the case, but want to check.


Unknown said...

Hi Richard,

Yes, though just check you don't need to take your luggage. The stop over i usually take is around 9hrs and i use the free hotel they provide. So 19hrs is more than enough.


Simon said...

Hi Richard - yes you can. I'm not sure where you are coming from so double check your visa requirements (if British you don't need one), but assuming you're OK on that front yes just head on through security.

Mark Mendoza said...

I went on the asiana airlines website and saw VOICE OF CUSTOMER where I wrote an inquiry about the STPC. I am flying from MNL to INCHEON and have a layover of 15 hours! from 5am to 8pm. Is that good enough to get any information from the airlines regarding this? I am leaving 01-07-18 which I hope is not a blackout date because christmas and new years are all finished by then. Thanks!

Mark Mendoza said...

I went on the asiana airlines website and saw VOICE OF CUSTOMER where I wrote an inquiry about the STPC. I am flying from MNL to INCHEON and have a layover of 15 hours! from 5am to 8pm. Is that good enough to get any information from the airlines regarding this? I am leaving 01-07-18 which I hope is not a blackout date because christmas and new years are all finished by then. Thanks!

Mark Mendoza said...

I wish you mentioned that it is available for round trip flights only. but nonetheless with my long layover in incheon, the airline has granted me a day room in the hotel for $60. ill take it seeing that i have a layover of 15 hours in korea.

Dennis Argall said...

A year ago Asiana's website was difficult to navigate and their ipad app worse. The situation is much improved now and using their website to book directly (looking at Sydney-Seoul-Rome) the booking page gives clear information about entitlement or not to stopover accommodation.

Looking at detail the base fare has no entitlement to accommodation, next step up (AUD 100 per person) does have entitlement. Check against and note that several quality hotels near the airport, with free shuttle, offer rooms for around AUD 100. The advantage with the Asiana package is in having a limousine-hotel-limousine connection to hotel in the city. Much will depend on personal interest, whether rest or city entertainment.

I would be interested in any comparison with flying with Korean Air and their offerings, similar times... including the accommodation for more than 8 hours transit is actually an IATA standard which all do 'if feasible'. Different airlines, different tickets, different feasibilities...

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