Korean Air 747-8 Business Class In 10 Pictures

Hello from Incheon! I just flew Korean Air’s 747-8 business class for the first time ever. I’ve flown Korean Air’s first class product several times before, including on the A380, 777, and 747-8, and have always enjoyed my experience on them, so I was curious to see how their business class product compared.

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Korean Air has Apex Suites in business class on the 747-8. I’ve flown the Apex Suite on Japan Airlines and Oman Air, and the window seats in this configuration are the best business class hard product out there, in my opinion.

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Well, I’d say Korean Air’s upper deck window seats on the 747-8 are the best Apex Suites out there, and by extension, the single best business class hard product in the world. Not only does the upper deck feel private, but there are huge storage bins along the side of the cabin, which make the seat feel even more spacious. I genuinely think the hard product is the best in the world.

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To focus on the other huge positive, the three flight attendants working the upper deck were a delight. I’ve generally found Korean Air crews to be excellent, and they were just as good in business class as in first class. They were genuine, constantly smiling, and attentive.

That being said, the service did feel a bit like an assembly line — everything is served from carts, there’s no dine on demand, and the meal timings were bizarre. This was a 12 hour flight departing San Francisco at 11:30AM and arriving in Seoul the next day at 5:30PM.

As you’d expect, a meal was served after takeoff. But instead of serving the pre-arrival meal a couple of hours before landing, it was served five hours before landing. What the heck?! I had finally just fallen asleep 30 minutes before that meal service started (I tend to sleep during the second half of daytime westbound transpacific flights), but then the cabin lights were turned on and it was quite noisy. I really don’t get it.

As far as the food quality goes, I’d say it was above average, but not amazing. After takeoff there was an amuse bouche consisting of a roasted bell pepper cream cheese roll. Then there was a prawn and scallop starter, followed by a green asparagus soup.

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For the main course I had the sautéed salmon, which wasn’t great, as the fish was pretty dry. I’m also not sure I get why they served spaghetti with it.

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Then there was a cheese course, followed by dessert. 

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For dessert there was the choice between ice cream and white almond cake.

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As usual you could also have bibimbap as your main course. I’ve had it many times in the past, so didn’t select it this time around. However, Ford had it, and he enjoyed it.

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Overall it was a solid meal, though not amazing.

In terms of amenities, Korean Air business class is a mixed bag. There’s a very nice amenity kit and slippers, as well as pretty good noise canceling headphones.

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However, the pillow in business class is tiny, and there’s just a fleece blanket. At a minimum I wish they’d have a better pillow, as it’s sad to invest so much in a great seat and then skimp on the bedding, which can make a huge difference in terms of seat comfort.

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The entertainment selection was decent as well. I worked for much of the flight, though did watch La La Land (I still don’t get all the hype?). Unfortunately Korean Air doesn’t have wifi, though I guess it was nice to disconnect for 12+ hours.

Bottom line

Overall my flight in Korean Air business class was excellent. I realize I have some complaints about it, but that’s just because I’m trying to be thorough.

The upper deck window seats on the 747-8 are the best business class product out there. The seats are incredibly spacious and private. The flight attendants were friendly, professional, and well intentioned.

The food, amenity kit, slippers, etc., were good overall.

Meanwhile there was definitely room for improvement with the odd meal timings, the small pillow, and the fleece blanket. I’d also love to see Korean Air add wifi, though it looks like that’s not happening anytime soon.

Some of the other aspects of the soft product were a bit off as well. For example, they only had one small bottle of water per person, and their water glasses almost felt like shot glasses to me, so staying hydrated was a challenge. I was also a bit surprised that they had no packaged snacks between meals. You could have noodles or warm cookies, though on longhaul flights most airlines have an area where you can just grab some packaged snacks, which Korean Air didn’t have.

Overall I highly recommend Korean Air business class, as they’re one of the few airlines to offer Apex Suites in transpacific business class. If they put just a bit more effort into the soft product, they’d have one of the most well rounded products out there.

If you’ve flown Korean Air’s business class, what was your experience like?

Comments

  1. I flew KE business a few years ago and remember being annoyed by the small beverage glasses, small pillow, and same odd meal timings, so interesting to hear that nothing has changed. Even though their first class really isn’t anything special, it might be worth the premium in miles just to avoid those annoyances.

  2. White people splainin’ jazz in a musical with two people who can’t sing. Moonlight on the other hand is spectacular.

  3. nice mini review. I’ll be flying this product on the 777-300ER in a couple of weeks (IAD-ICN). Maybe I need to bring a pillow.

  4. One bottle of water? What if you’re thirsty and need something to drink after you’ve finished your one bottle? You’ve got to drink something else? Or, do they have water, just not in individual bottles?

  5. @lucky, when you say that it was ‘the best business class product out there’ are you just referring to the hard product or to the combination of both soft and hard?

  6. A good way to stay hydrated on a plane is to bite the bullet and avoid alcohol and caffeine altogether 😉

  7. I find young Korean women so attractive. Just the right mix of stupidity, innocence and arrogance.

    Always fun to fly Korean air, even economy. Wish they were less conservative.

  8. I flew the same route and upstairs product in December and loved it. The meal timing is odd, but I thought I remembered fresh baked cookies as well. I tend to drink lots of water when flying, and had no problem being constantly replenished of bottles. Upstairs is definitely private and seemed to be less occupied as well over the downstairs J class. On my outbound the crew spoke limited English, which seemed odd and the pilot decided to “rest” next to me in the almost empty upstairs, and read with his light on all “night”. Still loved it and love your perspective.

  9. Thanks, Ben – do you know on which routes KE flies the 747-8? Also, I agree with your POV on La La Land. I’m a huge fan of musicals. It could have been great if they had trusted the material enough to hire great singers and dancers, upped, the choreography, and not felt the need to use A-list stars. I hope that someone figures that out. Plus, Moonlight is one of the most exquisite works of art and representations of the human condition I have ever seen.

  10. Thank you for your writing skills….. loved the dash of 2 hours watching LaLaLand (totally agreed it was all ………..*what!???*………. with that hype?!).

  11. hey Lucky — I also flew 747-8i from AKL-JFK (stopover in ICN). I also sat upstairs in the middle behind the emergency doors. For the first part of my trip, my seat controls were half-broken (can only go in lie-flat mode or upright and my remote control was also broken (however touch screen works so it was a pain to get up to the screen whenever you wanted it paused, volume changes, etc.).
    however, after the 2nd plane onwards to JFK, everything worked well and I agree that upstairs on the 747 was very private and the service was top-notched.

  12. Did a LHR-ICN rotation last October on a 777-300 out and A380 back and was disappointed in the old, three-in-the-middle hard product. Good western food out, terrible back some hideous fish and pasta combo. Crew were great but very hard to understand. The ‘lounge’ areas front and back of the A380 top deck are very sterile and seating limited. They need to put the Apex suites across the fleet and revamp the soft product, gimme Emirates any day.

  13. Lucky, How did you find the seats as a couple traveling? It doesn’t seem very conducive to having a conversation. Did you find that to be true and if so, are there any seats/area you would recommend for couples more than others? Thanks.

  14. Thank you always for your insightful reviews. Your personal insights are good.

    I have a question about WiFI and how Korean does not have Wifi on board – “Unfortunately Korean Air doesn’t have wifi”.. For me no WiFI would be a blessing (especially on a business trip (and even a vacation)); to let me relax without the need to worry about the internet: I wonder if have no WiFi is a deliberate Korean Airlines choice: thoughts?

  15. There are no good meal time options on a flight leaving at that hour. I don;t want to stay up until 2am eating. This is crying out for pre-flight dining and then sleep, with the second mean being served on demand or not at all.

    But the bubble deck looks great

  16. Agree completely with your opinion on the bedding. It’s not as big a deal on the newer seats, but on the older Prestige Sleeper, even a basic mattress pad or at least a bigger pillow would make a world of difference.

  17. @Ben The ‘spaghetti’ looks more like thick, yellow egg noodles, which are popular across Asia

  18. You don’t like La La Land?!?!? Either you like La La Land or your wrong. On a more serious note, it seems like an accurate quick recap. The seats do looks awesome and much better than their previous version.

  19. Hi, Lucky. Thanks for your review of Korean air. Actually end of this month, I am scheduled to take B747-8i from ICN to HKG and already chose the seat on 18B. I really expect this plane.

  20. Korean Air always serves the second meal just as I’m finally drifting off to sleep, and then everyone else on the flight seems able to get back to sleep again except me.

  21. I agree with you that Apex Suites are relatively rare on transpacific flights given all the options out there, but at the same time, of the three airlines that have them, two of them (and also the only two that fly to the US) fly transpacific routes…

  22. Will be booking soon for August from San Francisco or LAX to Bangkok. My plane choices are the A380 or the B747-8i in either business or first. Never done any of them. Which would you recommend?

  23. Hi Folks, loving reading your comments, I’m flying London-Melbourne later this year, and I hear that Korean Air are swooping the 777 for a 747-800 I can’t get a reply from Korean, anyone have any news ? I would much prefer the 747. Thanks

  24. I just told them I was very thirsty and needed lots of water and they delivered. You just have to ask for what you want. They don’t know you are King Lucky!

  25. Thank you for the excellent report, I’m looking forward to flying on the KE 747-8 from Seoul to Sydney on the overnight flight.

    I understand that there is no pyjamas handed out, but are they making up the beds to sleep? (mattress covers, sheets).

    I also wonder whether the meal times on a strictly overnight flight (departing 7pm, landing 7am, 10 hrs flight time) would also be strange – it would definitely be odd to have a meal around the midway point of such a flight!

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