YUL-ATL DL4682 CRJ-700 seats 14AB
ATL-ICN KE036 747-400 HL7402 seats 1AB
ICN-PEK KE853 A330-300 seats 2GH
A little background : this trip was supposed to be YUL-CDG-PEK round trip. Due to (or thanks to!?) the infamous cabin crew strike and some forward thinking we got ourselves rerouted in the other direction. Fortunately I had seen the day before that the YUL-CDG flight AF346 was cancelled. That evening we went to the sales counter to settle all re-routings so as not to be set back a day.
The flight YUL-ATL on Delta was at 7am but went off without a hitch since the plane was already there overnight. The agent at check-in was quite friendly for Delta standards. She was able to through-check us and our bags all the way to PEK, which was reassuring.
Arriving in ATL, we had about 4 hours to kill. We came across the Korean Air customer service desk in Terminal E, which was manned by a friendly Delta agent. He confirmed our luggage tags, re-printed our boarding passes on Korean Air First class stock and then gave us invitations for the Business Elite lounge for our wait. He acknowledged us as First class clients and it showed that he knew the Korean Air product.
The lounge was disappointing to say the least. No food, only nuts and drinks. Who wants nuts at 11am ?
We went to the boarding gate a little early since we were curious to see how Korean Air’s operation was handled in ATL. There must have been a dozen staff in order to oversee a smooth boarding. Separate lines were made for First, Business and the main cabin. Pre-boarding announcements were made first in Korean and then in English. First class was announced first (only First passengers), followed by I assume pre-boarding for families and Business class. We were welcomed on board and escorted to our seats by one of the beautiful flight attendants in a way no other airline that I have flown could possibly do. It was clear they were there for us.
The 744 had the old style seats. We were hoping for the new suites, but we were not going to complain. From the moment we stepped on board we knew we were in for one of our best flights ever.
Pre-takeoff drinks and macadamia nuts were offered during boarding. Unlike other airlines who present drinks already poured on trays the flight attendant asked us what we would prefer (carte blanche I guess!). With everyone boarding aft of us, it was a quiet wait. We were 4 out of 14 seats on this flight leaving us plenty of room to stretch out. A short while later, before the doors closed, pyjamas and menus were also presented. The chief purser came to present himself and greeted us by NAME without the use of his paper work.
Departure was pretty much on time (give or take a few minutes) and we were airborne within 15 minutes for a 14h30 flight to Seoul !
Lunch service started immediately just as in a restaurant. Our tables were dressed with crisp table linens. The meal could not start without the traditional hot towel … but not to be used for the face ! The silverware was not yet presented since the amuse buche was to be eaten in one bite ! Silverware, butter dish, salt & pepper shakers, and bread dish followed in order to be ready for the next courses. The flight attendants used a service table to bring out the table settings.
Dishes were cleared using stainless trays. A service table was used to present the salad (salad dressing poured to your desire from a traditional gravy bowl) and the main courses came out on the stainless steel trays. The dishes were definitely dressed in the galley and to perfection at that.
Fresh china and silverware was presented for fruit and cheese of course.
Traditional Korean “bibimbap”, DELICIOUS
Interestingly the nice gray table cloth was lifted prior to dessert, with which a smaller white linen was used. Unfortunately the espresso machine was out of service, the flight attendant was so disappointed to disappoint us ! The coffee menu looked good though.
A bar was set up post-meal … which was also stocked with cookies later in the night … one of my weaknesses.
After the meal, I changed into my own pyjamas (I didn’t want to open what looked like such precious Korean Air pyjamas) and settled in. I watched ½ a movie before falling asleep. The seats, even though being the “old generation” were really quite comfortable. The only thing I reproached on this flight was not having a “turn down”, there were no big white duvets. Oh well, the blanket was warm enough anyway and that didn’t prevent me from sleeping 7 hours !!!
I woke up mid-flight. On my return from the lav, a flight attendant asked if I wanted anything to eat … I didn’t know what was available. When she saw my hesitation she proposed some soup noodles.
They were typical ramen-style noodles, but oh-so-good hehe. Note the real chopsticks.
Caught some more shut-eye before wanting to wake up again before arrival. About 1.5 hours before another meal service was proposed.
Different salad dressings were proposed from those of the dinner service, nice touch. My friend said the shrimp won-tons were really good. My chicken was quite juicy considering it had left Atlanta 14 hours prior !
Fresh papaya juice ! YUMMMM.
Note the full use of the tray table, nothing on a tray unlike a fellow SkyTeam airline for the secondary meal service.
Fruit and cookies … not as many sweets as the French counterpart
We were so sad to see the 14h30 flight come to an end. After an excellent lunch, a deep sleep, a snack, another nap, and more food, 14h30 never went by so quickly. Landing in Seoul was pretty much on time and we had about 2 hours before our connecting flight to Beijing. The flight attendants confirmed to us we did not have to claim baggage in Seoul.
We had only to go through the connecting security check-point (no specific lane for First/Business class) and made our way to the Korean First Class lounge where we were welcomed politely. This was our second time through this lounge so we made ourselves comfortable ; taking a shower was the perfect thing after such a long flight and a good refresher to keep us going until Beijing.
(The next three are from a previous visit but they give you an idea of what the lounge is like)
When we got to the gate the flight was already in the process of boarding. We were welcomed on board and escorted to our seats as one would expect. The seats are typical inter-continental C/F style seats.
Out of 12 seats, 6 were occupied. I guess there was some video programming but we didn’t use it. Note the wine list in the seatback pocket as well as the slippers. An aperitif was proposed along with the traditional hot towel. During boarding the Purser welcomed us on board, again, by name, without the use of any paperwork.
Departure was exactly on time for a 1h30 flight to Beijing. A light three-course meal was nonetheless proposed ! Service was warm, efficient, and full of smiles.
This is a service that can 2 hours during a 6 hour flight for a fellow SkyTeam carrier ! I imagine that the hot dishes were again carefully prepared in the galley before being brought out on stainless steel trays. It is interesting to note again the service method of uplifting the main table cloth for dessert to use a smaller, white one.
And with that our experience with Korean sadly came to an end. “Excellence in flight” ? Pretty much. Other than some personal preferences (more dessert choices) I thought both of our flights were perfect. The cabin crews were so attentive and sincere. They were impeccably dressed and their presentation irreproachable.
Thank you Korean !