In November, Korean Air deployed a shiny new Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental on the busy San Francisco-Seoul run, replacing the 777 it previously used. (See our KAL Trip Report about that flight here.)
First, a little background on the 747-8:
Lufthansa was the first airline to fly the Boeing 747-8 back in 2012. Since then, this gorgeous aircraft has had sluggish sales. Korean Air has 10 of the jets on order. While the jet is constructed with aluminum alloys and carbon composites, it’s still seen as an inefficient four-engine aircraft by many. So far the only other commercial airline using it is Air China. Most 747-8s flying today are freighters.
This plane is known in the industry as the 747 “dash eight.” Don’t make the common mistake of calling it the “747-800.” It’s the largest version of the 747– about 18 feet longer than the 747-400, and currently the longest commercial aircraft flying.
The KAL version has 368 seats, and features a brand new enclosed-with-sliding-door version of Korean Air’s plush “Kosmo Suite” in which J.S. was lucky enough to fly. There are only six Kosmo suites on this bird, on the main deck in the nose. Each seat gets an enormous 24-inch HD screen for inflight entertainment.
A quick check of fares on SFO-ICN show economy class round trips as low as $800, business class at around $4,000 and first class at around $10,000 for February flights.
J.S. is an avid points and miles hobbyist and paid for his trip by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards to Korean Air SkyPass. He told us: “As you probably know it’s incredibly easy to find first class space on Korean since so few people in the U.S. either have those miles or know about the transfer process from Chase. In addition, even though Delta and Korean are both members of SkyTeam, Delta members cannot redeem their miles for first class on other SkyTeam carriers.”
I flew on Korean Air in its first class Kosmo Suites 2.0 on their new 747-8. The first class cabin has only six suites. (Lufthansa has eight seats on their 747-8, Cathay has 9 suites on their three remaining 747-400s, Thai has nine in their most recent configuration and British crams 14 suites into the nose of their 747s)
My Suite 1A:
Suite 1K taken from 1A below. 1A and 1K are perfect for folks flying together because they’re in the nose, close to one another and extremely private. Suites 2A and 2K are the largest, followed closely by 3A and 3K.
Because there was only one other person in First besides me I asked my flight attendant to make up my bed in 1K and I used 1A for lounging and eating.
I LOVE having the nose cone of a 747 to myself. I’ve had that happen on Qantas, British, Thai, Lufthansa, Korean and Asiana now. Just lucky, I guess!
First Class cabin taken from the nose backwards. A cheerleading squad could easily perform a few maneuvers in the middle there:
I had eaten lunch at the hotel in Seoul and had a little food in the Korean Air First Class Lounge, so the plan was to just have caviar and go to sleep. My flight attendant seemed utterly dejected that she could not serve me more so I felt obligated to continue:
I watched The Eichmann Show (http://www.imdb.com/title/
Suite with doors closed:
Verdict: Aside from the Etihad Apartments (and Residence), you can’t get any more space in the air when flying First Class. The new Korean Air Suites are just as large as the Singapore A380 Suites. It’s extremely comfortable for both lounging and sleeping. And I just love flying in the nose of a 747.
With the rapid retirements we’re seeing of the 747-400s, there are only three ways you’re going to be able to fly in the nose of a 747 in the coming years: Korean and Lufthansa in First and Air China in Business.
Korean Air provided the photos below of the stairway to the upper deck (business class), and the new business class seat.
NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: United packages Economy Plus with amenities + Ride-sharing firm goes out of business + Bucket list for air travelers + Useless travel gadgets + ‘Uber of the Skies’ dies
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