Korean Air 747-8 First Class Suite In 10 Pictures

Good evening from Incheon in South Korea! I just landed here from Vancouver on Korean Air’s Boeing 747-8. While I’ll have a full trip report soon, as usual I wanted to share my initial thoughts on the flight.

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I’ve flown Korean Air’s first class before, on the A380, 777-200, and 777-300, and really enjoyed my flights. However, this flight was operated by one of their 747-8 aircraft, which features their new fully enclosed first class suites.

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The planes with the new first class also feature Korean Air’s excellent new Apex Suite business class seats.

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How was the flight? In a word, flawless. I was so impressed by my flight in Korean Air first class.

First of all, Korean Air has just six fully enclosed first class suites in the nose of the 747-8, so it’s one of the most sparsely populated first class cabins out there. The amount of personal space along with the amount of “wasted” space in the aisle is sort of unreal.

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Furthermore, as an aviation geek there’s something indescribably special about sitting in the nose of the 747. Korean Air is one of only three airlines to operate the passenger version of the 747-8 (the other two are Air China and Lufthansa), so flying the plane is a real treat.

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The food on this flight was exceptionally good. No, Korean Air doesn’t have caviar or anything equally fancy, but the quality of the food was among the best I’ve had. There wasn’t a single thing in either of the meals that I didn’t love.

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The champagne wasn’t bad either. 😉

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Mainly I just can’t say enough good things about the first class flight attendants. They were spectacular. I’ve always found Korean Air crews to be well intentioned, but sometimes there’s a bit of a language and culture barrier, and that can impact perception of the service, since it can sometimes feel impersonal and removed. 

While “my” flight attendant’s English wasn’t amazing, she was incredible. Her attention to detail throughout the service left me amazed.

She was so precise and poised with every aspect of the service, and she did everything with genuine warmth. 

Just to give a few examples:

  • I had a hoodie I was wearing that I just threw on the side of my seat while sleeping; when I woke up, I found it neatly hung in the closet
  • I didn’t finish my entire main course, and she was very concerned and said “was it not good?”
  • I asked for a glass of champagne before takeoff, though I forgot they’re not allowed to serve alcoholic drinks before takeoff; literally less than five minutes after takeoff she proactively brought me a glass of champagne, again profusely apologizing that she wasn’t able to serve me on the ground

In terms of service I felt like I was on Japan Airlines, which is the highest level of praise I could give.

To be balanced, I should note that Korean Air doesn’t offer wifi, which is an amenity I really value. Their entertainment selection is also lacking, though personally that’s not something I care much about. If I want to be entertained I’ll bring my own iPad.

To sum it up: fantastic food, flawless service, a cabin in the nose of a brand new Boeing 747-8 (#avgeek), and a fully enclosed suite? To top it all off, it’s super easy to redeem for Korean Air first class using SkyPass miles, which you can transfer over from Chase Ultimate Rewards.

What’s not to love?

Comments

  1. God I’m so jealous. That’s so awesome. It’s fun up there. I’ve only ever done it on KLM, but it’s so nice to have that little closet at the very tip to use as your own.

  2. Korean Air needs to stop their stupid policy of releasing endless award seats.
    KE’s first class cabin is full of credit card churners and free upgraders, while they hardly sell revenue F seats.
    They have no reason to operate an F cabin to begin with, unless they are dumb enough to invest money for a cabin that exists only to please credit card churners.

  3. Looks awesome. Why have you not reviewed ANA’s First Class product. Said to be in same class as Korea, JAL and Lufthansa, etc.

  4. I have flown their new first class on the 777-300 and I loved it. Next month I will fly them again. In your opinion which is better Korean or Asians first class ?

  5. @ Gan — How mindless. I don’t disagree that Korean Air doesn’t sell much first class (there’s just not the demand and they have pretty big cabins), but suggesting that it’s “full of credit card churners?” On all my Korean Air flights, I’ve been the only non-Korean passenger. So perhaps there are credit card churning opportunities in Korea that I don’t know of?

  6. Do you think it’s worth the point difference to upgrade from their new business class seats to first class?

  7. No caviar. Boo! Asiana also serves ice wine even in business class, of which I am a huge fan. I would take Asiana F any day over Korean Air F, even if it means an extra connection for me being based in YVR.

  8. Is the nose on the -8 bigger then the -400?

    I had an amazing flight in the nose of a 747-400 with Eva Air earlier this year, even though the seats can’t be compared to Korean, they still offer quite a bit of that “wasted” space.

  9. @ mathiasfe — That’s a great question, maybe someone else can chime in. I believe they’re about the same size.

  10. Great quick synopsis and also essentially what I’ve found. I would add that although I found Korean is superb, however perhaps the attendants are too attendant? I felt like they hovered a little too much. For my own particular tastes I find the JAL attendants are in that perfect sweet spot of making sure all your needs are taken care of, but not being so…present.

  11. Looking forward to flying with them in a couple of months. Isn’t this F class suite being installed on their longhaul 777’s as well? Pretty sure it’s what I am supposed to be flying on the ICN to IAD flight

  12. @ Raksiam — Yep, the 777s with their new business class product should also have their new first class product.

  13. wow this looks like an incredible product. Personally, I would take this over first on Emirates, shower or not.

    I know you don’t care, but were the flight attendants attractive? I’ve always heard that Korean Air and Asiana are known to hire very attractive flight attendants.

  14. The only time I ever flew first class was in 1987 to Sydney. We were in the first row, with the nose unused in front of us. I did my floor exercises in that nose!

  15. I’m jealous ….. in DEC 2014 I flew in a Korean Air 747, FC from Auckland to Inchon. The seats sure didn’t look like that. Matter of fact, they were so old they had ashtrays in the armrests. Nonetheless, the ride was a good one: I was the only person in Row 1, nobody in row 2, two gents in row 3. Zero distractions for the entire flight.

  16. They had caviar on a flight I took last November in F on the LAX to ICN route…is that only on the LAX route?

  17. I’ve been scoping booking F on KE for my buddy and I, and consistently see only one or two seats being offered per flight, day after day. Only one F seat showing avail on the outbound date i really have my eye on. I remember always reading on various blogs (gary springs to mind primarily) about how KE always releases a ton of F award space, like regularly four seats per flight. Has this changed as of late? I’m just not seeing it.

  18. I have been on 2 Japan Air Lines flights and they both stunk. Nice cabins at super high temp with nice crews that literally ignored the westerners. Service was poor. I hope Korean is not like Japan airlines. I love korean food and looking forward to trying out their business class!

  19. Very cool. I have ATL>ICN>BKK booked in F. The ATL leg is on 747-8. Super excited. I have first row booked for my wife and I. Nose of the cabin. This is on Feb 16…but will most likely need to push it out due to conflicts. After Feb, looks like equipment changes back to 380 or 777. I flew in the nose of an MH 747 over 10 years ago when they flew lax>tpe>kul. Obviously long before MH had flat bed seats.

  20. For two travelling together would you recommend first or second row? Pics seem to show first row seats are a bit narrower because closet is not part of suite. But first row in nose is always nice…

    Thanks

  21. The 747-8i only ever seems to have 1 seat available on award when looking on EF (I guess due to the small cabin of 6). Does this change at all close in?

  22. @ Andy — Sometimes I see two seats in advance, though last minute we sometimes see more. Indeed since there are only six seats in the cabin it’s tougher to find space than on some other planes.

  23. @ Dan — I’d still probably do row two. Row one isn’t close enough so that you can talk (along with the privacy, which makes it difficult), so I would select row two.

  24. Great post! One question, would you recommend the A380 over the 747-8 for couples traveling together? It seems the distance between the fully enclosed suites might make interaction nearly impossible.

  25. Gan/KE keeps its F-class seats mostly for corporate/government travellers. (Usually, CEOs/Ministers and vice-ministers of a department gets First Class) The demand for F-class seats on business routes (TYO, PEK, HKG, JFK, LAX, etc.) is rather high, but utterly low for some routes (YVR, DFW, etc.) Still KE needs to keep F-class seats because there is demand for it, and corporate and government is willing to pay for it.

  26. The new seat looks nice, though I’m guessing the ottoman doesn’t allow for having a partner join you during dining?

  27. In Seoul now and took KE’s Biz Class here in the new APEX Seats. Very nice but F looks like a much better experience! The 747-8 is a great plane, it’s a shame more aren’t flying around.

    @Lucky – I’ll be in ICN later tonight, when do you fly out? Maybe there could be an impromptu OMAAT readers meetup as I’m sure there are other readers that will be flying through there!

  28. @Ryan – Asian crews ignoring Westerners? Impossible ! If that has been your experience you must fly SQ. it is a well known fact in Singapore that SQ FAs are especially nice to westerners especially white men. One of the nasty vestiges of colonialism that 51 years of independence hasn’t changed. My ethnic Chinese Singaporean friend once had to poke her white Californian husband real hard on an SQ flight, the fawning by the FAs was so obvious.

  29. @Ryan and @Tabea

    I’ve never seen either happen, not on JAL, and not on SQ. All customers were treated equally, and equally well, I might add.

    @Kent Miller

    It isn’t that bad, to be honest. And it could be worse. Asiana, for example. Great airline overall, but dang, THOSE are ugly colored seats.

  30. I have seen westerners ignored or underserved on JL flights. I’ve experienced it myself, in fact. I think it was a function of the FAs not wanting to lose face because their English wasn’t so great. But it was definitely apparent–and at $6K a pop for a RT flight in J, a little annoying.

  31. So you went YVR to ICN on the 23rd? I went ICN to YVR that day, haha! Unfortunately, JL’s 787 business class is the shell flat neo. It made me happier just pretending it was the best PEY seat I’ve had rather than a subpar business class seat

  32. Flying the same plane in first next week. I’ve got a 9 hour layover in incheon. Will you be publishing a report on the lounge and ground service? Thanks, Lucky.

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