Ever since Korean Air launched its Airbus A380 service between Seoul and Atlanta in September 2013, I’ve longed to take a seat on that 14.5-hour whopper of a flight.
Last month, I finally got my chance when Korean Air invited me over to Seoul for a look at the fast-growing, modern-yet-quirky South Korean capital.
The first leg of my journey was an 11.5-hour Boeing 777 flight from San Francisco to Seoul. I was in Seoul for three busy days, then boarded an A380 for the trip to Atlanta.
I was especially excited to be able to compare the business class experience on two different planes in a single trip. What did I discover? Well, it’s that business class on Korean Air is very consistent across these two planes. Except for the unbelievable business class lounges onboard KAL’s A380 (tune in to my next post for details/photos), nearly everything else was identical. There’s no need to be too disappointed if you can’t ride on an A380 because once you are in your seat, there’s very little difference– the seats, service, food, inflight entertainment, lavs… it’s all pretty much the same. And in both directions, the planes were squeaky clean– even down to the floor of the lavatories (see below).
Today, let’s take a look at that B777 flight from San Francisco to Seoul. Tomorrow I’ll post about my experience on KAL’s big A380 to Atlanta and we’ll explore the slight differences between the experiences.
At SFO, Korean Air new uses British Airways Terraces lounge for first and business class passengers. Luckily the KAL flight and the BA flights are timed well apart from each other so the lounge did not feel overcrowded.
Nice touch: When boarding KAL’s B777 from the Terraces lounge, business and first class passengers walk directly onto the plane from the lounge… the jetway is just beyond the door in the photo above.
Now, let’s jump onboard.
On the B777 flight from SFO to Seoul, I noticed something I’ve never seen on any aircraft: Carpet in the business class lavatories! My first thought was “eeuuww, what if this gets wet?” But upon closer inspection, I noticed that the carpet was actually a rug that was velcroed to the floor. If it gets wet, it’s removed and replaced with another. Based on how many times I noticed the hard working KAL flight attendants enter the lavs for cleaning during the flight, I was certain that it would get switched out if needed. But in any case, I have to say that it added a cozy or homey feel to the lav– much better than the black rubber floor I’m used to. It’s one of those “little things” but I noticed and appreciated it.
Another one of the “little things” I noticed on this flight…. napkins with button holes. I’ve seen this on a handful of other carriers and always appreciate it… especially when I’m wearing a light colored shirt and eating things that easily spill… like soup or salad dressing. It shows that someone has really thought through inflight dining… a good sign. (And a shirt saver!)
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Meal service on the flight from San Francisco (which departed at 2 pm) started with seared tuna– accompanied of course by the ever present Korean chili paste gochujang and a two servings of kimchee-like pickles with an unusual rubbery crunch.
Next up for dinner was the popular Korean specialty bibimbap. Korean Air is famous for this… and even serves it from a truck at promotional events like its recent launch in Houston… it even offers it the Aspen Food & Wine Classic. It’s delicious and healthy. To eat it, you squirt that tube of chili paste over the top and then mix all the ingredients together. Yum!
Economy class on Korean Air’s B777s offers a roomy 33-34 inches of seat pitch– that’s very generous compared to other carriers (United, for example, only offers 31 inches on its B777). Seats are configured 3-3-3. Korean Air does not offer a premium economy seat.
Stay tuned! My next post will be about my 14.5 hour journey on KAL’s A380 to Atlanta! Here’s a teaser photo… explanations coming soon!
Disclosure: I was a guest of Korean Air on this flight
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