Korean Air 641
Seoul Incheon (ICN) – Singapore (SIN)
Friday, July 24, 2015
Depart: 6:40PM, Arrive: 11:50PM
Duration: 6 hours 10 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
After a nice flight in first class on Korean’s A380 and an awesome day in Seoul, we found ourselves back at the airport for our second and final Korean Air First Class flight! Our flight was from Seoul (ICN) to Singapore (SIN). We were again in a Korean Air First Class Kosmo Suite, but this time our vehicle was a 777-300ER instead of an A380. This plane doesn’t have the same features of the A380 like the multiple lounge areas or the Celestial Bar, but it does have the same Kosmo Suite seat. For a good overview of the seat, see the video I made, embedded below.
While ICN to SIN isn’t as far as hopping across the Pacific, it’s still a bit farther than flying across the United States. And whereas our previous flight was overnight, this one was at the prime time dinner hour.
We arrived at the airport with enough time to spend an hour at the Korean Air First Class Lounge, and then we made our way to Gate 31. Boarding was standard, and by standard, I mean that we used a first class lane at the same gate as everyone else – no special boarding from the lounge a la Emirates.
We settled into our seats and explored the cabin a bit. These seats were definitely the same we had come to enjoy on our previous flight, but as it was a different and smaller plane, there were just two rows of first class. The only other subtle difference I could notice between these seats and those of the A380 was a slightly different controller for inflight entertainment.
At first Katy and I were the only two in first, and we were excited to have the cabin all to ourselves. Then two more passengers joined us, filling up four of the eight total seats. Boo on them.
Even though these seats don’t have ultra high walls or doors like some other carrier configurations, the suites really do offer quite a bit of privacy. The dividing walls can be raised further with the controls as well. For a deeper description of the seat, check out my previous report and my video embedded at the top of the post. I really appreciate how wide these seats are. You really do feel like you’re swimming in them, which is awesome.
Our previous flight left at 11:30 pm local time and arrived at 4:30am local time, so I think the flight attendants (fairly) treated that more like a sleeping flight than as one where they were constantly waiting on us. It was immediately apparent on this flight that the service would be more personal, which felt great for a flight where we expected to be awake for most of it.
We received our amenity kits, the same given to us on our transpacific flights, and the flight attendant asked me in broken English if I wanted to change my clothes. I didn’t really understand, and I declined. I then saw another passenger change into pajamas. English isn’t exactly an expertise of Korean Air flight attendants, and she meant to ask me if I wanted to change into pajamas. As this flight was just a six hour flight that wasn’t overnight, I was surprised that they offered pajamas! I figured I would take her up on her offer after we took off.
She came to offer me a drink, and I asked for champagne, remembering that on my previous flight, the attendant told me I could not have that until after takeoff. On this flight she had no issue serving me champagne prior to departure. While I prefer a glass of Krug, the rosé they were serving was quite tasty.
Pretty soon we were off! After a long day in Seoul, Katy and I agreed that a post dinner nap might be in order. I started to peruse the menu. In contrast to the previous flight, this menu was clearly marked as “dinner” rather than “supper.” While the meal service included way more courses than the supper from before, caviar was a glaring ommission. I am not sure why Korean Air would cut caviar service off of a 6 hour afternoon / evening flight, but still give pajamas. It wasn’t that big of a deal to me, though, just an odd omission. This time around the menu included the traditional Korean bibimbap, which has been blogged about before. Speaking of the menu, I didn’t upload the whole thing this time, but click here for page 1 and here for page 2.
Katy and I both ordered the bibimbap, but before that came out, we had some roasted shrimp followed by a tomato / crab meat appetizer. I also picked out a couple delicious rolls, which were followed by both a broccoli cream soup and salad.
As I was enjoying my meal, I was also having fun watching a Korean movie, My Love My Bride. I really enjoy watching international films on international flights.
After my salad was cleared, the bibimbap was placed on my table. And for those who are not experienced in the way of bibimbap, it is a multi-step process where you mix the ingredients just right to your taste.
The first step is to put as much rice you would like on top of the base of vegetables and beef. Then you put the sesame oil in, and you mix as much of the chili paste in as you would like.
I mixed everything up so I had it good and spicy. I was ready to dive in! And after diving in, was I blown away? Not exactly… Feel free to call me lame or boring, but I was unimpressed with the bibimbap. It’s not that it was too crazy for my tastebuds. On the flipside, I thought it was somewhat bland, even aftter adding plenty of chili paste. As this was my first and only time having the dish, I can’t say if it was Korean Air’s preparation or the fact that I just don’t love it. Whereas my wife is a rice lover, I consider myself more of a rice “liker.” It’s a rice based dish, and I just thought that the flavor was weak. There also wasn’t much meat in it. Perhaps supporting my opinion, though, my wife shared that she thought it was fine, but nothing special.
So in a fit of uncharacteristicly high maintenance action, I decided to tell the flight attendant that I didn’t really like it and asked if I could try something different. She said that would be no problem and gave me the menu again. I decided to gamble and go with an airplane steak. Most airplane steaks come out cooked like a piece of charred tar, and I was curious to see if Korean could buck the trend. Much to my surprise, they did!
Congratulations, Korean Air! You have officially made the best airplane steak that I have ever tried! It was a seriously delicious piece of meat, and the boring bibimbap was wiped from my memory! Meal service wrapped up with ice cream.
For first class, I was a bit disappointed by the dessert. A close look at the ice cream shows that it very closely resembles the shape of a Häagen Dazs ice cream container upside down. And given that I had some chocolate Häagen Dazs for breakfast earlier that day as well as another serving in the afternoon, I recognized the taste! Wow…. Three in one day. Gross Kevin. There’s nothing wrong with serving ice cream, but even United Airlines Business Class will make you a sundae to order. Complaining aside, you can bet that I ate every last bit of that Belgian Chocolate Häagen Dazs!
I had my pajamas on, and I was ready for a nap. I set my alarm for 90 minutes, which would give me some time to watch a movie or listen to music before landing.
Three hours later, I blew past my alarm and woke up. I checked my phone, confused as to why I didn’t wake up earlier. Apparently I must have woken up to the alarm, turned it off, and then doubled up on my sleep time. As I mentioned in my earlier blog post, the Korean air seat turns into a mighty comfy bed, and here’s another example of me getting a great rest in it. Katy got about the same amount of sleep. We landed in Singapore, hopped in a cab, and headed to the Westin!
So after two flights in Korean Air’s Kosmo Suite First Class, what’s my conclusion? Would I fly it again? I would absolutely fly it again. Korean Air is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, and quirks aside, that makes it a pretty reasonable place to redeem miles. I’ll probably do a post on this in the near future. One thing I would say, though, is that their usage of the A380 is nothing special. If you’re considering which plane to book, and you haven’t ever flown an A380, then by all means go check out the biggest whale of the sky! But if there’s a more direct route on one of their planes with the same Kosmo Suite, just get that one instead. Next time we fly to Korea, we’ll book that non-stop 777-300ER out of SFO rather than fly to LAX for the A380.