Flight Date: 03JUN2013—After a restful night at the Hyatt Regency Incheon I headed to the airport to board my Korean Air flight to Beijing. Check-in was a breeze and I had my boarding pass and bag processed in under a minute.
Security took a little longer as there wasn’t a ‘fast track’ lane. It wasn’t that bad though and after a few minutes I was on my way to the Korean Air first class lounge.
The Korean Air first class lounge is located on the 4th floor of Incheon’s main terminal building.
I arrived at the lounge at 9:30am and took a quick walk-through tour of the facilities before settling down to a seat in the dining room area. The lounge has all the facilities you would expect: hot and cold buffets, drinks, showers, ample seating and even a massage chair room.
That said—the décor gives you the impression of a suburban mid-50s style living room only Lucy and Ethel could love. Drab green and brown and sparsely furnished. Korean Air would be wise to conduct an overhaul of their hub airport lounge facilities and quickly.
Since I arrived after breakfast and before lunch the buffet seemed to have been picked over and there wasn’t much left. I had some toast, scrambled eggs and dim sum.
The aircraft for the two hour flight to Beijing was a B777-300 configured with Korean’s regional cabins.
The first class cabin has six seats in a 2-2-2 configuration and at first glance it was hard to tell the difference between the first and business class seats. I was the only one in the first class cabin so I felt free to start snapping away.
After a few minutes the head purser came around to say hello and offer me a pre-flight drink. I’ve never been an avid rosé drinker, but I thought I would give the Les Clans 2010 Rosé a try. I was pleasantly surprised…very tasty.
KE 855 took off on time and as the plane reached its cruising altitude a flight attendant came by with the lunch menu. Only two choices: the obligatory Korean Bibimbap and for the Western-style: Grilled Beef Rib Eye. I don’t eat beef so I opted for the bibimbap and had them remove the ground beef.
The meal service started out with a smoked salmon appetizer and bread. Although sticking with the rosé was probably a better match with the bibimbap, I decided to try the Chateau Beychevelle 2006 instead.
There was one dedicated flight attendant for the first class cabin. She was very efficient and friendly; however I found her standing guard on the other side of the cabin looking straight ahead sneaking glances of my progress with the meal the whole time I ate. As soon as I put my fork or chopsticks down she would rush over to clear the dishes. This was weird and KE should discourage it as it makes you feel awkward with someone keeping tabs on you while eating.
The meal was tasty along with both of the wines I tried and the food portions just right.
Since I was alone in the cabin, I took some shots of the first class seat in the sleep position. It’s not quite a full 180 degree recline, but almost. The seat is not in the same league as Korean’s ‘Kosmo Suite’ or ‘Kosmo Sleeper’, however they were comfortable with ample padding and should be perfectly adequate on flights of six or seven hours or less.
Check-in at Incheon was smooth and hassle-free, however it would be a nice touch to offer first and business class passengers a ‘fast track’ line through security. The Korean Air First Class Lounge at Incheon was a bit of a disappointment; not nearly up to the standards of its main Asian competitors: JAL, Singapore and Cathay. Total flight time to Beijing is only one hour and 45 minutes so KE doesn’t offer an amenity kit or pajamas on this route as they are not necessary. The in-flight crew were all friendly and efficient; however the ‘Meal Stalker’ flight attendant checking up on my eating habits was a bit strange. I like the fact that Korean have introduced these regional-type first class seats on many of their Asian and Pacific routes as it provides for more choice. All-in-all a great flight. Please check back as I will report back after I try their long haul first and business class products in the coming months.
For more information on Korean Air First Class services
Korean Air B777-300 First Class Trip Report ICN-PEK Photo Gallery