The Korean Air First Class Lounge is located in the international departure terminal of Incheon International Airport. After clearing customs and immigration, make a left hand turn and follow the signs for the KAL First Class Lounge. The lounge is open to first class passengers with same day departure tickets only. Arriving passengers without confirmed onward tickets will be denied access to the lounge. If you are arriving as a Korean Air first class or business class passenger, Korean Air does offer arrival services at the nearby Hyatt Incheon.
Arrival services are available between 5:00 AM and 11:00 AM and include shower services and the use of a sauna. To use the arrival services, take the hotel shuttle bus from the airport to the Hyatt Incheon. The shuttle departs from the first floor by gates 3C and 14C every 15 minutes. Your luggage can be stored at the first floor concierge desk and the entrance to the Olympus Club will be on the second floor. Just present your boarding pass and ID to the counter attendant to gain access.
At Seoul Incheon Airport, I have visited all the other lounge options including the Korean Air Prestige Business Class Lounge, KAL Lounge, Asiana First Class Lounge and the Asiana Business Class Lounge. Of all the lounges options at ICN, I was most excited to visit this one but sadly, it was also the biggest disappointment of them all.
The Korean Air First Class Lounge is not very big and felt more like a nice business class lounge than a true first class lounge. Compared to the Asiana First Class Lounge, I would say that the Asiana First Class Lounge wins by offering more style and substance. Korean Air’s First Class Lounge is a decent lounge with good amenities but doesn’t even remotely compete with any of its Asian counterparts. There is nothing special here that makes the Korean Air First Class Lounge stand out from the rest.
The Korean Air First Class Lounge is an open-air lounge with fantastic views of the ramp and runway below. The large wall of windows let in a lot of natural lighting that make the lounge feel very open and spacious. However, the open-air lounge is not so quiet and you will hear all the gate boarding announcements and kids screaming from below.
As you enter the lounge, there is a luggage storage and coat room located to the right of the reception desk. The lockable storage compartments are convenient for securing your carry-on bags or other personal items while you are relaxing in the lounge. This space also doubles as a cell phone room if you need to take a call away from the main seating area of the lounge.
The main seating area for the Korean Air First Class Lounge is located to the left of the reception desk. The lounge is one big room but there are walled partitions to give the individual seating areas some defined spaces. Here, you’ll find low armchairs, tables and partitions grouped together to give you a bit of privacy and space from your neighbors. Electrical outlets are sparsely located throughout the lounge but they will not accommodate US 110v plugs. If you accidentally packed your electrical adapter away, you can borrow one from the front desk free of charge.
There is an enclosed smoking room located in the back of the lounge. It’s a small room with a couple of tables and chairs but the space is not insulated very well. Smoke from the smoking room will seep out into the main seating area so avoid the back of the lounge if you are sensitive to the smell of lingering cigarette smoke.
There are no day rooms or any other places to lay down but there is a quiet room with two massage recliners you can use if you want to kick your feet up for a bit.
There are two shower suites available on a first come, first serve basis. If the shower suite is available, the door will be left open. Inside, you’ll find a toilet, walk-in shower and bath amenities.
If you need to get some work done, there are tables set up along the windows with convenient electrical outlets (both Korean and US standard) to keep your devices powered. However, there is no dedicated business area to provide any real privacy from others or a distraction-free environment to be more productive. Complimentary WiFi is provided throughout the lounge so you can work anywhere if you choose to.
The self-service buffet area is located in the center of the lounge. During my visit, 5:00 PM on a Saturday evening, there was a spread of both hot and cold Asian dishes including fried rice, roasted cod, crispy chicken, hot pumpkin soup and a very simple salad bar. The food itself wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t anything special or worthy of first class praise.
Other food items include finger sandwiches, a cheese platter and a wonton noodle station.
For dessert, there are a couple trays of cheesecake bites and a fridge full of Haagan Daaz ice cream.
But the most embarrassing item here has to be a station of instant cup of noodles. Because that just screams first class right?
Alcohol-wise, there was a very limited selection of wines, beers and spirits. Again, worthy of a perfectly good business class lounge.
Most people just ate in the main seating area of the lounge but there is a separate dining room to the left the buffet area. There are four dining tables sparsely spread out in a rather large room. I don’t know if this space was intended to have a la carte dining or waiter service but I didn’t see anyone using this space at all. This space seem wasted and could have been better utilized as a proper business center or even a family/TV room.
During my visit, there were several employees working the lounge, busing tables, cleaning and replenishing the buffet dishes. The lounge was kept relatively clean and the buffet area was replenished often.
A cool service provided for first class passengers is the complimentary Korean Air Skypass luggage tags. The metal luggage tags are about half the size of a business card but have a good weight and quality feel to them. The luggage tags used to come in silver or gold but they are only offered in gold now. The luggage tags have an Airbus A380 design on the front and are personalize with your name and Korean Air Skypass number on the back. It’s a novelty gift for first class passengers but not something that you will actually use.
Overall, the Korean Air First Class Lounge is a decent lounge to spend a couple of hours but it is not a lounge that I would make an effort to arrive early for. The lounge has showers, hot food and personalized luggage tags but everything else just falls a little short of my expectations for a first class lounge. There are no dedicated places to work or sleep and the food spread does not represent a true first class offering. For an airline that has such a great on-board experience, it baffles me to see such a sub-par experience on the ground. C’mon Korean Air. You can do better than this.
Have you visited the Korean Air First Class Lounge? If so, please share your thoughts with me in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!
The other reviews in this series include:
- Air France Business Class Lounge San Francisco
- British Airways Terraces Lounge San Francisco
- DoubleTree San Francisco Airport
- Korean Air First Class, Boeing 747-8 San Francisco to Seoul
- Four Points Sheraton Seoul, Namsan
- Korean Air First Class Lounge
- Korean Air First Class, Boeing 747-8 Seoul to Hong Kong
- Courtyard Marriott Hong Kong
- Day trip Hong Kong to Macau
- SWISS Business Class, Boeing 777-300ER Bangkok to Zurich
- Hilton Zurich Airport
- Turkish Airlines, Airbus A321 Zurich to Istanbul
- Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge
- Turkish Airlines Free Transit Hotel Warning
- Turkish Airlines Business Class, Boeing 777-300ER Istanbul to Los Angeles