Background Korean Air currently operates two types of business class seating: lie flat and fully flat. The London route has the older lie flat seats, but these may be replaced in the next couple of years as new aircraft such as the A380 arrive in the fleet.
Check-in I arrived at Incheon at 1150 for my 1325, 10 hour 44 minute, flight to London. Incheon has only one terminal although plans are being drawn up for a second. Korean Air Business Class checks in at the C desks, so if you are being dropped off it is best to get dropped off as soon as your car gets to the top of the ramp for departures. There were several desks open and no queue. One became free immediately so I was checked in without a wait. I proceeded to security where there was a queue of about 15 people in front of me which was suddenly reduced as they opened a new scanner and I was through in less than five minutes. Immigration was equally quick with only 3 people waiting in each line.
The Lounge Korean Air’s Prestige lounge is situated one floor up and is accessed by a lift or escalators in the centre of the terminal. When I visited the lounge was undergoing refurbishment in some parts, so the showers and restrooms were out of use. The lounge was a good size but was busy. It was bright with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Apron. There was a mixture of comfy seats and desks and a reasonable selection of drinks and hot and cold snacks such as sandwiches, salad and pasta.
Boarding About 40 minutes before departure I proceeded to gate 15 which was about an eight minute walk. Boarding started on time at 12. First and Business passengers received priority boarding. I made my way to my seat and had my jacket taken from me and was offered a welcome drink and paper. Slippers, a bag for my shoes and my headset were already in the back of the seat in front of me and a cotton backed blanket and small pillow on my seat.
The seat Korean has several configurations of B747-400 in the fleet and this one has 7/8 rows fitted in a 2-2 configuration on the upper deck and 4 rows in a 2-3-2 configuration on the lower deck (to see the seat plan click here). It has 12 seats in First Class fitted over 3 rows in a 2-2 configuration. I managed to get seat 18H which was an aisle seat on the upper deck.
The seat is made of turquoise cloth within a cream shell. In the back of the pair of seats in front is a magazine rack, the screen, further storage for papers and books and at floor level a little more storage suitable for shoes and a carrier bag, laptop etc.
The controls for the seat are in the outer arm rest. All parts of the seat are adjustable and there are three presets. In the centre arm is the tray table, AV controls, power (although a UK adaptor is required) and a storage area for small items. Between the seats there is also a reading light and small privacy screen.
Although this was a day flight I did try and sleep for a bit. You can either recline the seat to almost horizontal (170 degrees) or use it cradle style. As I kept sliding down the seat and my weight on the metal footrest was painful I found sleeping in the cradle position more comfortable.
Which seat to choose On the upper deck Row 20 probably has the best seats as these are by the emergency exits and have nobody in front. Alternatively row 16 is the bulkhead row and has a little more space with greater ease of access for the window passenger.
The flight The inflight magazine has a schedule for each flight Korean Air operate so it is possible to plan your journey for sleep, working, shopping and eating as this helpful tells you when inflight service will be.
Ten minutes after we were due to leave the captain announce a delay due to air traffic restrictions over China. Two further updates were given and we eventually pulled away some 5 minutes late at 14.15 and were airborne 15 minutes later.
Hot towels and amenity kits were given out. The amenity kits from Davi of Napa included a toothbrush and paste, cooling eye gel, lip balm, face cream and hairbrush. The toilets also had mouth wash, eau de toilette, razors, after shave and moisturiser. Surprisingly there were no ear plugs or face masks. A drinks service then followed.
Orders for both meal services were taken shortly after take off and there was a choice of a couple of western dishes or Korean. About one and a half hours into the flight lunch was served. I had a tasty tomato and mozzarella salad followed by Korean bibimbab. To follow cheese, port, ice cream and cake were offered and then coffee and Remy Martin XO. There was a selection of four wines to choose from during the meal including Chateau Neuf du Pape, Chateau les Troix Croix and Pouilly Vinzeller and Gewurztraminer.
The second meal was served about 4 hours before landing. I avoided the heavier options such as filet steak and went for a salad followed by a Korean beef and mushroom noodle soup. This was followed by fruit.
The IFE is newer than the seats would suggest and offered video on demand. There is a good size screen that is in the back of the seat in front of you. You can control the system by touching the screen but this a big stretch from your seat so you are better using the controls in the arm. There was a good choice of movies in English, Korean and other languages including 35 recent releases. There is also a smaller section of TV programmes, games and music.
During the flight the cabin was kept in darkness most of the time except during meal services. Service was good throughout the flight and the attendants were coming through regularly offering water and soft drinks on trays. There was also a short snack menu should you wish for food outside the formal food service times.
Arrival Despite circling several times the flight managed to catch up some time and landed 20 minutes late at 17.35 and we were at the gate five minutes later. Immigration was reasonably quiet but it was almost 30 minutes before my bags arrived at the carousel.
Verdict A good service but the seat is now rather behind most other products including those elsewhere in the Korean fleet.
Configuration 2|2 on upper deck 2|3|2 on lower
Seat Pitch 60”
Price For a round trip from LHR to Icheon in mid July in Prestige class prices start at around £3,050