9
/10
A great flight you will recommend to friends
Airport Experience
Cabin & Seat
Cuisine
Beverages
Service
Entertainment
Amenities & Facilities
Short & Medium Haul

Review of Korean Air First Class

Korean Air - when its impending merger with Asiana Airlines is finalised – will not only be the largest airline in South Korea but also one of the largest carriers in the world. Korean Air is ever more aware of the need to showcase the best that the country has to offer through its First Class offering. 

Korean Air (KAL) is the flag carrier of South Korea and services 8 domestic and 90 international destinations in 38 countries. It is in an exclusive club of airlines that serves every single continent from its hub at Seoul-Incheon Airport. In addition, Korean Air is one of the world’s largest air freight operators.

Korean Air is a founding member of SkyTeam, the global airline alliance established in 2000 between Korean Air, Delta Air Lines, Air France and Aeroméxico. The group currently consists of 19 members and operates in more than 170 countries worldwide. 

Korean Air’s frequent flyer program is called SKYPASS, with three tiers: Morning Calm Club, Morning Calm Premium Club, and Million Miler Club. Members can earn miles on a Korean Air or SkyTeam partner flight and redeem them against flights and other benefits. The SKYPASS program has some of the most generous miles retention policies in the industry: Miles earned on or after 1st July 2008 are valid for 10 years; miles earned before 30th June 2008 has no expiration date!

9/ 10

Airport experience

Incheon International Airport (ICN) is the largest airport in South Korea. It is located 30 miles (48 kilometres) west of Seoul and is one of the busiest airports in the world.  It officially opened on 21st March, 2001 and replaced Gimpo International Airport (GMP), which now primarily serves domestic destinations. 

Incheon is an airport that regularly wins accolades for its amenities offering, boasting of a golf course, spa, private sleeping rooms, ice rink, casino, movie theatre, video game centre, indoor gardens, a museum of Korean Culture, an observation deck, and plenty of dining and retail opportunities.  Whether you are starting your journey or just transiting, rest assured that you will not get bored!

The Korean Air First Class Lounge can be found on the 4th Floor of Terminal 2, opposite Gate 248 and is a tasteful, modestly-sized facility. There are various stylish seating options (including recliners) with plenty of privacy screens. While there is free and fast Wi-Fi and many charging points, there are no workstations or desks, which seems like an opportunity missed.

There is à la carte dining - a combination of Western and Korean dishes - and a buffet with a limited wine and spirits selection. There are notably excellent showers and a massage chair. Korean Air offers First Class passengers arriving in Seoul a Premium Arrival Shower Service at Club Olympus at the Grand Hyatt Incheon West Tower. Nice way to freshen up!

9/ 10

Cabin & Seat

Korean Air aircrafts currently featuring First Class cabins are the B747-8, A380, B777-300ER and B777-200ER aircrafts, with varying seat types and layouts depending on the aircraft type. The colour palette in the cabin is however consistent, with an appealing cream and celadon green – a colour of particular significance in Korea, with the name derived from a pottery glaze – and is accompanied by a tasteful dark faux-wood finish. 

The most private of the First Class product is called Kosmo Suites 2.0, and can be found on the B747-8 and select B777-300ERs. The First Class cabin on the B747-8 is located on the lower deck and comes armed with sliding doors and large seat partition due to the 1-1 configuration on the nose of the aircraft provides even more insulation – in case being seated in an already intimate First Class cabin isn’t enough! The seats come with a width of 51 centimetres (20.1 inches) and a pitch of 210 centimetres (83 inches). Kosmo Suites 2.0 on the select B777-300ER that has them comes in a 1-2-1 layout. 

The A380 and some B777-300ER have Kosmo open suites onboard its First Class, with a seat layout of 1-2-1 on both aircraft types. The A380, being the larger aircraft, has 12 seats in its First Class cabin on the main deck, versus 8 on the B777-300ER. These Kosmo flatbed seats has a width of 67 centimetres (26.5 inches) and a pitch of 210 centimetres (83 inches), but feels even bigger than they look due to the open and airy design and feel of the cabin. 

The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes images, videos and seat maps for most airlines and aircraft. Search results also include details such as seat pitch, width and recline. This way you can see the seat and cabin configuration of the flight in which you are interested, before making your choice.

9/ 10

Cuisine

First Class passengers can dine-on-demand.  Meals are designed to reflect the character of each destination, prepared using fresh seasonal ingredients and served with tablecloths and proper table and glassware. Example meals include Korean ‘Bibimbap’, offered with minced beef and seasonal vegetables, accompanied by sesame oil and ‘Gochujang' (a Korean hot pepper paste); grilled beef tenderloin with rosemary brandy sauce served with potato, asparagus and tomato; roasted cod fish with saffron sauce served with mashed cauliflower, carrot puree, roasted zucchini and cherry tomato.

On long-haul flights, First Class passengers can also enjoy a range of delectables, including “Jajangmyeon” (noodles in black bean sauce), ramen, beef jerky – all served in proper plating and cutlery, along with whatever else that your appetite desire from the onboard menu.

8/ 10

Beverages

Complimentary champagnes include Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque 2007 and Perrier-Jouet Blanc de Blancs 2004, depending on the route. Wines also vary according to the route, but generally include a selection of French wines: Albert Bichot Chablis Premier Cru 2016 from Burgundy; Chateau d’Esclans Garrus from Provence; Château Gruaud Larose 2007 from Bordeaux etc. There is also a choice of cocktails, spirits and brandy, liqueurs, beers, juices, soft drinks, tea and coffee (including an espresso menu on select routes).

The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on which Champagne is served in Business Class and First Class on many airlines. We do our best to keep track of any changes, but feel free to let us know if there is something we missed.

9/ 10

Service

The First Class service on Korean Air is generally impeccable, although some have found it a little ‘too attentive’, as cabin attendants are sometimes hovering over the cabin and making seemingly endless rounds – as if to encourage more service and inducing knee-jerk reactions from the First Class passengers by making themselves decidedly visible. 

The current KAL uniform is its 11th iteration and was introduced in 2005. It was designed by renowned Italian fashion designer Gianfranco Ferré, a former stylistic director of Christian Dior in Paris. It is both simple and elegant. The female crew wear celadon green blazers with matching silk blouses and stone-coloured pencil skirts accessorised with white silk neck scarves and chic leather gloves. The male crew wear suits.

8/ 10

Entertainment

The size of the IFE screen available in First Class varies quite a bit according to the aircraft: 58 centimetres/23-inch (A380/B747-8); and 43 centimetres/17-inch (B777). Content-wise, it’s a fairly routine offering with a combination of Hollywood, Korean and International movies, television shows, sports, music, etc. Bose noise-cancelling headphones are provided, and you can use your mobile device to access the services.  A bit of a let-down is that Korean Air does not offer Wi-Fi connectivity on any of its aircraft currently in the fleet.

The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on inflight entertainment and Wi-Fi.

9/ 10

Amenities & Facilities

The Korean Air First Class amenity kit includes a skincare set by luxury French brand Atelier Cologne, a toothbrush, an eye mask and other travel essentials. Long-haul flight passengers are provided with a mattress pad, quality duvet and pillow and high-quality ‘comfort clothing’ (ior in layman-terms: pyjamas) by Gianfranco Ferré. On the A380, Korean Air has two bars and a lounge onboard the aircraft. One bar caters to Business Class on the upper deck, whereas the other is exclusively for First Class passengers – the difference being the alcohol served. The lounge is a shared space for both cabins, and encourages mingling and socialising – although it only comes with 4 seats, which greatly limits the people who can be there at one time.

8/ 10

Short & Medium Haul

On its Short and Medium Haul flights, Korean Air operates narrowbody A220 and B737 aircrafts, where only Business Class is offered. The airline has been actively working on refreshing as well expanding its narrowbody fleet, and has firm plans to introduce the A321neo in the near future – and along with it, and upgraded cabin experience with spacious lie-flat seats, USB and wireless charging ports and dedicated mobile device stands being the standouts. 

Otherwise, one can expect the tentative Korean Air crew will provide flawless service, and both hot meals as well as a variation of alcoholic beverages (Champagne included) are served even on short- to medium haul flights.

Sustainability

Korean Air aims to reduce carbon emissions by introducing next-generation, environmentally friendly aircraft like the Boeing 787. In 2017, it was the first Korean airline to use sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and, in 2021, partnered with Korean petroleum and refinery company SK Energy to supply carbon-neutral jet fuel.  In 2019, KAL replaced single-use plastics with eco-friendly paper products, and it has ongoing tree planting initiatives (for example, in Mongolia and China’s Kubuqi Desert). 

Interestingly, Korean Air has developed a new method of inspecting aircraft using drones - and not just one, but a ‘swarm’. Other airlines already use drones to conduct aircraft inspections, but KAL uses four working together for the first time. These drone teams can identify defects as small as 1 mm and work very quickly, reducing inspection times by up to 60%. Welcome to the future!

The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on CO2 emissions for each flight. Our quality algorithms also give a higher score to flights operated by the most modern and environmentally friendly aircraft.

What We Love

  • First Class cabin - a stylish cabin with a calming colour palette - just love that celadon green.
  • Cuisine - the First Class dining experience is excellent - those Korean flavours really excite the taste buds.
  • Service - the First Class service on Korean Air is excellent, just don’t insist on plated nuts!

BusinessClass.com searches hundreds of travel sites at once to help you find the best premium travel offers for both flights and the finest hotels. Find the best price for Korean Air First Class by making a search on BusinessClass.com.