I recently returned from a (crazy short) trip to Japan; what made this one unique was it was my first true “miles and points” trip. I cashed in both frequent flyer and hotel points for aspirational products, both flights and hotels. The first leg involved getting to Tokyo the long way, on Korean Air First Class via Atlanta and Seoul. While a full trip report is in the queue, I wanted to share a few first impressions.
Disappointing Ground Service
As in, zero special services for First Class passengers. In Atlanta, all you get is a dedicated check-in counter. No escort through security, no special lounge, nothing. As for boarding, First Class passengers board in the same “SkyPriority” group as Business Class and SkyTeam Elite passengers. Meanwhile, upon landing, Korean Air provides no special ground services, either to reach your connection or escorting you through immigration. Air France and Lufthansa really blow away Korean Air in this regarding.
At least the Concourse F SkyClub has a cool outdoor deck to pass the time.
A Great Seat With a Comfortable Bed
Korean Air’s 747-8 comes equipped with is “Kosmo 2.0 Suite”, with just six seats in a 1-1 configuration. While the interior finishes seem spartan, the seat itself is large and comfortable, with lots of storage.
And of course, there’s something especially cool about sitting in the nose of a 747.
In bed mode, the flat bed provides plenty of space, with a comfortable pillow and blanket. I slept solidly for a good 5 hours.
The Kosmo 2.0 Suite comes with a door, providing a quiet, private cocoon when closed.
I probably still rate the Air France 777-300 La Première seat best overall. The design feels more stylish and luxurious. But the Kosmo 2.0 Suite takes the number two spot, in my book. For now, anyway, until I sample more First Class products.
Excellent Food and Beverage, But I’m Conflicted
On the one hand, the food and beverage selection impressed me. There was plenty of it, and I found everything delicious. For the main meals, I enjoyed a tasty bibimbap for lunch, and a shrimp and pork wonton soup for dinner.
I also enjoyed all of the beverages I chose, including this Sandeman Founders Reserve Porto.
So, I stuffed myself absolutely silly, indicating my high level of enjoyment. And, the menu includes classic Korean specialties, which I love. But on the other hand, I’m torn – does this reflect a true “First Class” meal? And by that, I mean it struck me as not particularly unique or imaginative. The bibimbap, for example, was literally the exact same one I enjoyed in KE Business Class back in 2008. Maybe I’m being too harsh, and should just be happy about the quality?
Great Service from Start to Finish
I found service mostly excellent on this flight. No, this wasn’t a flight where the flight attendants kneeled at your side and removed your shoes. But that’s really not my preference, anyway. Instead, the First Class attendants were hands-off yet proactive. As an example, within 5 minutes of waking up, the FA came by to offer me a drink, without my even ringing the call bell. And I quickly received a delicious flat white.
Korean Air also offers several other nice touches, like a personal welcome from both the FAs and purser after boarding. Service during both meal services was thorough yet efficient.
Overall, I can’t decide quite how I feel about this product. Several elements of this flight rated very highly, including the seat, service, and food quality. On the other hand, ground services are a joke, and the food, while delicious, seemed unimaginative. Right now, I feel like Korean Air First is a good product, but falls short of greatness. Perhaps I’ll change my opinion after I have some time to reflect.