Flight Date: 17AUG13—For my flight from Narita to Honolulu I decided to go with Korean and as I had reviewed Korean’s regional first class product back in June, I chose business class this time around to compare the two. Korean Air have an extensive presence in Japan with flights from virtually all of Japan’s major airports; Korean flight 001, however is their only so-called ‘fifth freedom’ flight currently operating from Japan.
Check-in for my flight was fast and effortless at Narita’s terminal one (north wing). Immigration was empty as well and after a quick look at the electronics shop I headed to the Korean Air lounge. This was my first time visiting the KE lounge at Narita and I was surprised to see how small it was; really only suitable for about 30 people or so. The main seating area is for business class passengers with a small section for first class located next to the window overlooking the tarmac. The design is cool though; very modern and pleasant to the eye. The food selection could be described as Spartan…and that’s being kind. Drinks were also on the skimpy side too. I had arrived fairly late so I was really only there to check some emails, however for people with long layovers this lounge would make you a bit claustrophobic.
The check-in clerk told me that I had been ‘chosen’ to get a body search prior to boarding. Lucky me! Three other passengers and I were escorted in early and two ladies-of-a-certain-age slipped on plastic gloves and had their way with me. 🙂 On the upside we all got to board early so I was able to snap a few shots of the empty plane.
The Korean A330-300 business cabin is light and airy but with only 18 seats in a 2-2-2 configuration; cozy as well. One thing you notice right away is the ample leg room…always a nice sign. I was seated in 9E and as soon as I sat down a cabin attendant greeted me and offered some champagne, nuts and the menu.
Dinner consisted of a pre-drink starter of smoked fish in onion relish, which went perfectly with the Whispering Angel Rosé. There were two appetizer choices: snow crab meat timbale or sushi selection. For the main: bibimbap, Japanese-style roasted perch or roasted chicken thigh. I went for the Japanese.
The food on today’s flight was all above average, but not the best I’ve had—that award goes to Austrian. For dessert I opted for cheese and a glass of Port.
All the cabin attendants on today’s flights were friendly and efficient and yes they all were sporting those funky Korean Air plastic hair ribbon thingies.
I wasn’t sleepy so I decided to check out the AVOD system. Korean’s music line-up was impressive, especially their classic and opera music. The monitor, located in the back of the seat in front of you, was of good size too.
Korean’s first class seat is exactly the same as the one in business and at four times the cost definitely not worth it. Probably due to this fact the first class cabin was completely empty. Korean’s business class seats are very comfortable with a near 180 degree recline, nice padding and tons of leg room. The middle seats: D and E are the best seats in the house on night flights, since you have unobstructed access to the aisles. I really liked the seats on Korean and out of the airlines I’ve tried thus far on the Tokyo-Honolulu route they are the best.
Prior to landing a continental breakfast was served but I was still full so I went for a cup of coffee instead.
Final Thoughts— Everything was smooth sailing on my Korean Air A330-300 flight today. Check-in was a breeze, the lounge at Narita was small but tastefully designed, the aircraft was squeaky clean and I really like the light and airy feel of KE’s cabins. There were five wine choices available, which is quite generous for business class. All the staff I met were friendly and quick to offer help. The business class seats are some of the best around in my view; not a lot of bells and whistles, but simply comfortable with a lot of leg room and near 180 degree recline. The only smudge on today’s flight would have to be the lack of food at the lounge, but all things considered that isn’t a huge showstopper. I’m planning a trip on Korean Air’s A380 (first class) so please check back for that in the coming weeks.