On my recent trip to Seoul with Korean Air, I was able to test out one of the airline’s beautiful A380 in Business Class (also called Prestige Class). It was a luxurious experience with nice flight attendants, quick service, great food, and fully flat sleeper seats that made it easy to rest.
Flight #: Korean Air 018
Route: Los Angeles (LAX) – Seoul (ICN)
Date: October 4, 2014
Depart: 12:40 (Actual: 13:00)
Arrive: 17:50 (Actual: 17:50)
Duration: 13 hr 10 min
Seat: 14A Business/Prestige Class (some photos were also shot from my return flight seat, which 12H)
Korean Air operates 18 flights a week between Los Angeles and Seoul. With 10 A380s in the fleet, the airline operates flights twice daily on two A380’s and four times a week on the B777.
I walked into Tom Bradley Terminal at 10:30 am on a Saturday to the Korean Air Business Class check-in line. With only two people in front of me and no bags to check, I was in and out in literally five minutes. This is off to a splendid start!
Once I’d passed through an easy security line of only about eight people ahead of me, I took the elevator to the Korean Air Lounge on floor five. The beautiful photo on the wall as you walk in was taken by Korean Air’s chairman Mr. Y.H. Cho, who’s an avid photographer. What a cool photo!
The lounge is split into two parts. If you walk left at the desk, there’s a massive lounge for Business Class; walking right takes you to a smaller lounge for First Class. Both lounges had the same great selection of hot and cold food and drinks. While the First Class side is much smaller, there are only 12 passengers in a First Class cabin, so it makes sense.
We boarded about 30 minutes prior to take-off. Business Class is very spacious. I peeked my head into First Class and economy class on the lower level as well.
Economy class was pretty full but I did see a few open seats for some lucky people to stretch out in. (The return flight back to LAX was fairly empty compared to this flight.)
In Business Class, we were given pre-boarding beverages, newspapers, amenity kits by DAVI (the skincare branch of the Mondavi wine family), and slippers to get cozy.
Korean Air’s A380 has 407 seats in total, the lowest number of seats of any A380 carrier which means more space for us. The entire upper deck is only Business Class with 94 fully flat “prestige sleeper” seats and two lounges. The lower deck holds 12 First Class suites and 301 economy class seat.
My seat was pretty wonderful. I immediately tested the bed out. Even fully reclined, my feet weren’t close to touching the seat in front of me. I could already tell that I would fall right asleep watching a movie on the screen in front of me on that 180-degree flat reclining seat. I really appreciated the ample storage space next to me. There were two big bins (to the left in picture) that fit most of my carry-ons which is quite shocking. There is a smaller storage on the other side of the seat for small electronics (and outlets for them).
Tip: Which seat to choose? In business class, the second row in the front or middle cabin is best. If you want to get off the plane quicker, then I recommend the front cabin. I would avoid the back cabin because of the noise coming from the lounge in the very back of the plane. Here’s SeatGuru’s assessment.
We were delayed about 20 minutes on the runway due to a high-traffic volume at LAX, but we made up the time in the air. Once we were airborne, the flight attendants came around with menus and asked us to select our two meals (lunch and dinner).
After about an hour into the flight, we were served our first meal and then the second meal came about four hours before landing. I sampled the western option (steak) on the way to Seoul and the Korean option (bibimbap is a must try!) on the way back to LA.
I can’t tell you which meal was better. They were both fabulous in their own ways. The steak was cooked to perfection. I requested medium rare, because they asked me (that’s service on a plane)! The bibimbap had great flavor.
Tip: Korean Air provides a little how-to guide to mix bibimbap if you haven’t had it before. How nice!
Dessert trays then came around with fresh fruit, cheeses, black tea cake, lemon cheese tart, and ice cream. After that I was definitely ready for a long nap!
The onboard lounge
Business Class passengers have access to two awesome lounges on the upper deck with couches, TV and reading material (and of course drinks) the entire trip. The lounge in the front is small but you can mix your own drink! I feel like I saw more guys frequenting this spot. They must like strong beverages!
The back bar was my favorite and it came complete with our very own bartender and special flight beverages like the ABSOLUT Flying Champagne Cocktail (with Inniskillin Icewine!) and ABSOLUT Pear Deluxe. Clearly these drinks were made and named for the Korean Air’s Celestial Bar in the sky! The lounge had couches, a TV and reading material so you could really spend a lot of time back there.
Tip: Do not leave that lounge without trying the colorful rice balls with your drink. They taste like kettle corn!
In addition to the lounges, there are plenty of movie options to watch. Korean Air has a Duty Free showcase by the bathrooms on the lower deck. This is a great spot to check out, especially when the bathroom lines get long since you are right back there!
We had quite the bumpy landing but we were on time, even after starting out delayed on the runway. Maybe I felt the landing more because I was jumping up and down in my seat with excitement because I’d slept and we were HERE, in Seoul! The 13-hour flight really didn’t seem long to me (because I’d slept) and there was always something to keep me occupied!
Tip: The coolest part of the landing was the landscape camera that showed the pilot’s view of the runaway with a camera positioned at the nose of the plane. There’s another camera at the side and belly of the plane that you can watch throughout the flight too. How cool is that?
I would definitely fly Korean Air’s A380 again. Most importantly, I felt safe. Secondly, I felt cared for and pampered to the extreme. Thirdly, the entire experience from boarding to landing kept me relaxed and ready to tackle the day once I’d landed.
Lastly, the flight attendants also get points for patiently helping me (um, several times) practice my Korean “thank you” or “감사합니다” …and it’s pronounced GAM-SAH-AB-NIDA if you’d like to try yourself.