Enjoy a glimpse into our Korean Air First Class Adventure.
Have you ever flown business or first class internationally on a long-haul flight (6+ hours)? From lay-flat seats with 32 inch TV screens to private suites offering separate seating and sleeping areas, airlines around the world compete to offer the most lavish accommodations at 30,000 feet. These same airlines also compete to provide gourmet dining experiences. From order-in-advance large menu offerings to staffing an actual chef on board, dining in the sky doesn’t have to be a microwaved 1990’s TV dinner experience. While flying up front can be costly, it can also offer you the opportunity to arrive at your destination well rested, relaxed, and refreshed.
Korean Air First Class
We recently had the opportunity to fly Korean Air first class from Honolulu to Seoul and Seoul to Sydney. Both, the airplanes and the service were top notch.
At Honolulu airport, we enjoyed a separate check-in counter with no line and visited a small pre-flight lounge with light food and drinks before our flight. The lounge had a tiny separate room for first class passengers, but it was a little claustrophobic! The lounge also offered escort/shuttle service to the gate, which was pretty funny. Basically, we followed an employee on a long walk halfway to the gate and then were put on a bus the rest of the way.
At Seoul Incheon airport we were invited to check in at a private check-in lounge where we were offered drinks and comfortable seats. There was no expedited passport control or security line. Inside the terminal, there is a special lounge for first-class passengers with hot food, drinks, a shower room, and large private restrooms. The seating in the lounge is meant to be quite private and comfortable, but while we visited the lounge was so busy there was hardly a seat available.
Welcome to Korean Air First Class
After boarding, we were welcomed with juice, blankets, Davi Napa amenity kits, mineral water spray, slippers, and soft green pajamas.
Meals with Korean Air First Class
Meal service was similar on both flights. Korean Air does not offer meal selection in advance. We received the menu at our seats and selected from three or four main course options before takeoff. Once in the air, the extensive meal service started. We were served so many courses of food, I lost count. With each dish came fresh silverware and refreshed beverages. After multiple appetizers, bread, soup, and salad, we were served a hot main course. Next came cheeses, fruit, coffee, and tea. Finally, dessert, a pour of blue label whiskey and port wine concluded the meal service.
As if there wasn’t enough food at dinner, Korean Air offers mid-flight on-demand refreshments like hot ramen, cookies, brownies, and other snacks. I devoured a bowl of delicious and spicy ramen noodles mid-flight and followed it up with a long nap!
About an hour and a half before landing came a second meal service. This shorter three-course meal was served with the same care and attention as the first.
Service with Korean Air First Class
I have to say that the flight attendants on Korean Air were some of the best I’ve ever had. They were very friendly, polite, and attentive. It is such a different experience than flying with American, United, and Delta where you feel like you’re bothering the flight attendants to ask for something.
From Sydney to Seoul Incheon we flew on the 747-8I in the Kosmo Suites 2.0 product. The suites were super spacious and very private with sliding privacy doors. At the entrance to the suite there is a full sized closet with plenty of room for luggage and to hang your clothes. The spacious bathroom is located in the rear of the cabin and is shared with the business class.
From Seoul to Sydney we flew on the A380-800 in the Kosmo Suites. While these seats were slightly smaller and less private than the Kosmo Suites 2.0, they were equal in comfort. Travelling as a couple, these seats were nice because we could see and hear each other easily from our separate seats. The bathroom is located at the front of the cabin and is reserved solely for the first class cabin.
The added bonus of the A380-800 is common lounge spaces. There are actually two small bar/lounge areas offering light snacks and Absolut cocktails. There is also a duty-free showcase area for your shopping pleasure.
We were lucky enough to be the only passengers in the first class cabin and we had a great time goofing around and exploring the plane.
How can you fly First Class Korean Air without going broke?
Our entire journey (HNL-ICN-SYD) cost 120,000 miles per person. We used Chase Ultimate Rewards points and transferred them 1:1 to Korean Air SKYPASS miles for booking.
The cost to purchase the same flight with actual money is approximately $11,000.
The best way to earn miles for travel is by spending strategically with rewards credit cards. We use our Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Ink Business Preferred cards for almost all of our spending and the miles rack up. Both cards offer sign up bonuses to get your point earnings kickstarted.
Find those elusive awards tickets and upgrades with advanced searching on ExpertFlyer.com.
If you plan to give business/first class a try, please proceed with caution. Once you try flying first or business class on a long-haul flight, it is near impossible to go back to sitting in economy. We always joke that our flights are like mini-vacations in themselves. It is so nice to look forward to a flight rather than to dread it!
Rick SalzerJune 19, 2018 at 1:05 PM
My wife and I flew Korean Air 747-8 First Class ATL-ICN-HKG and SIN-ICN-ATL April/May 2018. I found the First cabin great, 6 closed suites with just us on two flights from Atlanta to Seoul and Hong Kong. On the return we started out with just us and within a few minutes after take off the cabin was full. I don’t know who they were but they were not crew. This was the first time I had ever seen anyone moved up to First Class. Just wondering if that is their policy or if this was a one time thing??
Next question. Why is there no dedicated bathroom for First Class? Two bathrooms shared with Business Class.
Another first for me. Business Class was full and that made getting into the bathroom a challenge. That should not be an issue for First Class passengers.
As for the rest of the experience, service, food, drinks, seats, all were excellent and I will fly them again without hesitation. The 747-8 is a beautiful airplane and the Korean Air Flight Attendants were really wonderful.
Lisa AdamsJune 19, 2018 at 7:01 PM
Thanks for sharing your experience, Rick. Both of your questions are good ones!