On our trip to Singapore and Bali, we planned a full day layover in Seoul, South Korea, in order to get in a tour of the DMZ. This full day layover would end up giving us a couple hours in the Korean Air First Class lounge in the morning, after landing on our A380 flight from LAX, and a couple hours in the lounge in the late afternoon, before our departure to Singapore. Given that we had two multi-hour sessions in the lounge at different times of the day, I feel like we got a really good feel for the Korean Air First Class lounge.
Lounges in the main terminal of Seoul Incheon are located on the second floor. There’s an escalator that takes you up to the area where you can find most of the lounges. My previous lounge experience at this airport was the Asiana First Class Lounge, which has a similar entry point. As our flight landed early, we were at the lounge around 5AM.
Taking a look at the map, we knew that destinantion number one would be the shower room. As we were just on a plane for over thirteen hours and we had a long day of site seeing ahead of us, freshening up was in order. There weren’t many people in the lounge at this time in the morning, and I made my way down to the shower room, snapping some pics of the lounge seating along the way.
The lounge was nice, and it had plenty of seating, but it didn’t feel very exclusive like many international First Class lounges do. In terms of just physical appearance, United Clubs look almost as good, in my opinion. I made my way down to the shower rooms, of which there are two. I went into one of the rooms, and Katy spent a few minutes on her laptop and organizing our suitcase.
I really like the shower rooms. They are large with sinks and amenities, a toilet, and a spacious shower. The shower amenity selection is a bit better in their rival hometown carrier’s lounge. Many shower suites at lounges require you to check in with an attendant in advance. The attendant will make sure that the shower is properly prepared and cleaned. That’s not the case with the Korean Air lounge. You just walk right in, which in my case, worked out great! It was clean with a fresh towel ready for me. Now the only reason I mention this is that because while I was in the shower, another lounge guest began using the second shower as well. When I was out, Katy was ready to jump in for her shower, but there were no clean towels and it hadn’t been prepped after I used it. I went and asked the attendant at the door, and the language barrier made it difficult for us to communicate, but she eventually indicated she understood. Ten minutes later, Katy was still waiting for the shower… I went back to the agent and asked again. This time, she got frustrated, closed the entry door to the lounge, and ran in her high heels all the way to the showers to get the job done, and then she sprinted back so she could open up the lounge doors again. I felt bad, as it was clear that at this hour in the morning, she was the only lounge attendant.
Katy got her shower in, and we were ready for breakfast before we began our public transportation trek to where our DMZ tour would be picking us up. Is it crazy to expect breakfast at an international First Class lounge to be available by 6AM? I know it’s on the earlier side of things, but for people who land early or depart in the morning, it seems like 6AM is a totally reasonable time to have breakfast ready. Here’s what the breakfast spread looks like at the Korean Air ICN First Class Lounge at 6AM.
Not exactly seeing much food, eh? That’s pretty disappointing, in my opinion. They had a couple croissants and bananas out on one table. That was it. I asked the attendant what time breakfast would be served. I felt like she and I already started off on the wrong foot due to the shower incident, and now I was nagging her for food! She told me that hot food came out at 6:45AM. Well, that was annoying for us. We really needed to leave the lounge before 7AM in order to make our tour pickup time on time. We would wait it out until 6:45AM and then scarf something down quickly. But in the mean time, there was one item that was readily available…
I’m on vacation. It is absolutely my right to eat Häagen Dazs ice cream at 6AM for breakfast. Zero regrets… that was delicious! Normally I’m a Ben and Jerry’s guy, so I don’t eat much of this stuff at home. After one of my childhood dreams of being able to eat dessert for breakfast, I went for a stroll, and I found the massage chair room in the lounge.
If you need a massage chair, this will do the trick. There aren’t any TVs or other pleasant things to look at so make sure to bring your own entertainment while you sit in the small, cramped room.
At 6:45AM, on the nose, breakfast was served.
I can’t say that I was blown away. I only captured a few of the options, but it was essentially a selection of fruit, cold cuts, breads, some hot dumplings, a soup, a “chedda” omelette, and a few other miscellaneous items. We ate our food within 5 minutes so we could head out into the city for our DMZ tour! Our time with the Korean Air First Class Lounge wasn’t over yet, though… In just 10 hours, our DMZ tour would be complete, and we would be back at the lounge, awaiting our evening flight to Singapore.
<— DMZ Tour — 10 hours passed —>
Okay! We were back in the lounge! Time to browse the food selection again…
I don’t think I’m being too hard on Korean Air when I say that their lounge situation isn’t that great. This is a first class lounge, and I would say this food was about on par with your standard Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge. Don’t get me started on their First Class Lounge at LAX… I wasn’t too perturbed about the food being bad, at this juncture, though. After having a great flight in the morning, I was ready for our evening flight to Singapore, which would surely include a good dinner meal. Thus, I decided to visit their alcohol selection…
I grabbed a glass of sparkling wine, another personal sized Häagen Dazs, and I sat down to surf the internet for an hour or so before we headed to our flight. Oh… there is ONE cool thing that the Korean Air First Class Lounge will do for you, and it’s pretty unique… don’t miss it! If you go to the front desk and ask for a custom luggage tag to be made for you, they’ll make you one…
It’s shiny, it’s Korean, and it’s not quite as useful as it could be. While this gold, dangling beauty might be good for identifying your bag as it comes out of the carousel, it’s not so useful if your bag is lost. There’s no phone number or address on it. You just have a name and a Korean Air Skypass number, the latter being about the most useless thing one could have on a luggage tag, but hey – it’s Korean Air… And as I had learned thus far, the airline tries hard in many ways, gets a lot of things right, but misses in others.
Bottom line… The Korean Air First Class Lounge is a fine place to hang out before a flight or during a layover. You can grab some food, take a shower, etc. However, unlike the Emirates First Class Lounge in Dubai, don’t go out of your way to make this a part of your journey.