This trip is part of a longer sequence, however, as this leg features the larger than life A380, I thought it best to treat is as a separate trip report to give it the space it deserves.
The story starts early in 2011, after countless hours of harassing AeroMexico's Club Premier
agents into finding KE
award tickets for me.
you might ask? After being less than impressed with AeroMexico's J Class
I thought I'd try another Skyteam carrier, with Korean having a rather bright reputation as of late, I think it was the best idea to give them a shot.
With the A380 appearing in the GDS, there seemed to be an increase in award availability, which finally helped me score the tickets I coveted; LAX
for October 2011. A380 here we come !!
Unfortunately, as it tends to be the case when booking so far in advance, the A380, originally scheduled to operate both LAX
, was swapped to a 773 on the outbound, not a big loss I thought, at least the 773 has the same seats.
Fast forward to October 30th, beautiful and sunny autumn morning in Seoul, it's cool and crisp and we caught the KAL Limousine Bus from the Renaissance Hotel in Gangnam. Thanks to the light weekend traffic, the bus trip took about 55 minutes, which sure beats the 90 minutes it took getting to the hotel the previous evening.
Korean Air 017
Incheon is still one of my favorite airports, the modern architecture coupled with the vegetation and wood accents make for a very nice atmosphere. As we had already been checked in the previous day at Hong Kong, we only had to pass through security and passport control. It was not too busy so this was all done in about 10 minutes. After that it was off to the very nice Korean Air Prestige Lounge.
Curbside at ICN
Glass and trees
ICN Check in Lobby
ICN Check in Lobby
The new Prestige Lounge at Incheon is a great place to spend some timein, good variety of snacks and drinks, good wifi, and beautiful views of the ramp below, does one need much more for happiness?
Prestige Lounge at Incheon
Managed to spot our A380 arrive from Tokyo Narita at noon, as well as the Lufthansa A380 heading to Frankfurt. Impressive to see that ICN
is now receiving whale jets from KE
Korean Air jets
Beautiful weather today
Korean Air A380 arriving from Tokyo-Narita
The winter Olympics jet
My boarding pass for today
As the time for boarding came, my anticipation grew, headed down to the gate areas to snap pictures of the big jet.
Departure gates at ICN
Big blue smurf
General boarding started exactly at 2:40pm, 30 minutes before departure. We had 3 whole jetways to make things smooth, amazing ! But before you could board, there was that always lovable bag check, thankfully there was a staff of about 20 agents to make things smooth. My check didn't take more than a minute or two before I was free to go.
Prestige Class takes up the entire upper deck of the A380, hence there's a dedicated boarding bridge. I hurried to get on in order to snap a few pictures with the cabin as empty as possible.
Boarding commenced smoothly
3 jet bridges
First impressions on the new whale jet were very favorable, the 2-2-2 arrangement is very comfortable, the side bins are also very welcome albeit not as big as the ones in the 747-400 upper deck. I took a look at the small lounge in front of the cabin and found it a very welcome addition, main lavatory in the front as well was quite spacious. The big cabin and lounge made me feel like I was on board a flying Winnebago.
Custom IFE welcome screen for the A380
Crew was very welcoming, pre-departure beverages were served, however by the time they got to me they were out of champagne so I had to settle for water (on other airlines I've usually seen them go back to the galley to restock in order to give a full choice to everyone). Not really a big deal though. A lady who appeared to be the FA
in charge of biz came by and introduced herself, she was very nice.
When you get to your seat there's a blanket and a pillow, as well as slippers in the front pocket. I never used the blanket though and was not tempted to take it home, why you ask? KE
's blankets are exceptionally electric ! They manage to build up an impressive amount of static, with me being a rather electric individual myself, it made for a bad combination on my first encounter with them, I decided against even unwrapping them in subsequent flights.
Before pushbacks, FA
's also distributed amenity kits containing the usual amenities.
We pushed back on time at 3:10pm local time, playing around with the IFE it was awesome to see the nose and tail cam, the outside view from the window is more of a challenge though, as many others have noted before, the thick fuselage makes good pictures a bit difficult, still, I managed to shoot a few pictures, and yes yes, I even shot a
for you folks.
We took off to the North and afterwards did a loop over the airport towards the East, it's a shame I wasn't seated on the left side as views of Seoul must have been great.
Wingspan seems to droop down
Excellent camera view
Our shadow still seems huge
Love the sunlight coming through the cabin
Finally headed East
After takeoff, FA
's passed through the cabin with menus in typical KE
fashion, after a few minutes they come back and take your order for both dinner and breakfast.
Afterwards they passed through the cabin with beverage carts, it was somewhat surprising that the cart didn't really have much on offer other than soft drinks/wine/beer, if you want anything complicated, and by complicated I mean something like a bloody mary or a whiskey, they have to go back to the galley and get it for you which on occasions can take a while as the crew is busy with the regular workflow of the meal service.
Lunch between Korea and Japan
Amouse Bouche: Plums in pomegranate vinegar
Goat cheese with fig, greens and parma ham
Beef fillet with herb cream sauce, potatoes and veggies
The beef was a more medium than medium well but it was still ok, most important of all, it was tender and flavorful.
One big complaint I have with KE
catering though is the glassware used, glasses, both drink and wine are very small, three gulps of water and you're done.
After the nice meal I was feeling a bit sleepy, but my friend suggested we go try out the bar, not one to shy away from a drink (or three) I was happy to oblige.
I had seen pictures of KE
's bar and I was underwhelmed, it looked a bit plain, but it looks good in person, simple, clean and elegant, while there's only one formal 3 person bench, there's a few spots where you can lean on and hang out.
on duty as a bartender was very nice and enthusiastic and seemed to enjoy the festive atmosphere amongst the passengers there, even posing for pictures with a few passengers.
I had a few drinks and they were all very good, after the full meal I didn't really feel like having anything too strong and these drinks really hit the spot.
The famous Celestial Bar
Mid flight snack and IFE
Curious to try some of the snack offerings, I decided to try out the pizza margherita. Pushed the call button and an FA
was at my seat within one minute, while I was waiting, I took some time to tinker with the IFE, offerings were the same as with previous KE
flights, which isn't a bad thing of course, Korean offers a large sample of movies and short subject documentaries to keep yourself entertained with.
After about 20 minutes my pizza came, I was a bit disappointed to see it was a rather simple microwave style pizza, but it tasted good.
I felt a bit guilty chomping down on so much stuff so I went to the front lounge to move about a bit and snap some shots.
First class bar, there's a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue amongst other goodies
Forward cabin lounge
The front cabin lounge is also quite nice as it has a similar layout as the bar in the back, sans bartender and windows.
How many people could we fit in here?
After walking about a bit it was time for some shuteye.
Ir really is unfortunate how time flies when you're having a good time. After some hours of sleep, we only had 3 hours of flight time to go. Watched some more TV
and soon after (about 2 hours before landing), lights were turned on for breakfast service.
We had a choice of either sweet potato omelette with mushrooms or Korean beef bone soup, the soup actually sounded very tempting but having ordered the beef for dinner, it was a bit too much to have more beef a few hours later.
Nice moving map
After breakfast there were still about 90 minutes until arrival so most passengers dozed back to sleep or just sat and relaxed.
We arrived on time at LAX
to the usual great views of Southern California and the LA
Basin. Landed on runway 24R and had a view of no less than 7 Qantas widebodies grounded, sad sight. Due to construction at LAX
, we had to taxi all the way to the end of runway 7R and then taxi back to TBIT to park.
Good morning California
LAX viewed on our downwind leg
Can't get enough of that camera
Turning off the runway
Qantas jets gorunded
Scenic tour around the airport
Pulling into TBIT
Deplaning at LAX
was via 2 boarding bridges, managed to snap a pic of our plane before leaving.
View from our arrival gate
Head on with the giant
Thanks to global entry, customs and immigration was painless. Too soon we were out of the terminal and the dream had finally ended.
What can I say? as an aviation enthusiast it really was a treat to fly on the new superjumbo, if one were to speak of the cabin only it would be just another plane from the passenger perspective. The difference with the A380 I think lies in the new territories that are carved out for passenger comfort; I really did love the new lounge spaces available. While nothing truly spectacular, they provide an excellent spot to chill out and socialize with fellow passengers, especially welcome in a time when seats are turning into little private cabins that isolate us from others.
With regards to KE
, one certainly has to be thankful to them for configuring their A380s to allow such passenger convenience, others like AF
have not been quite so kind.
Service on Korean is generally very good, although there is room for improvement.
Seat and cabin comfort:
The seats were lie flats and were generally very comfortable, although the seat didn't feel quite flat I still managed to find good positions to both sleep and relax. IFE had a good selection of movies and short programming.
Food and wine:
Catering was good quality and very tasty, it was nice to have your steak cooked to order and wine runs were well executed. There was also a good selection of spirits and mixed drinks. Although, as mentioned before, actually asking for them seemed to throw the crew out of the loop. Water runs were surprisingly absent during mid-flight, you could certainly ask for water if you wanted and FA
's were quick to respond but it would be nice to get this without having to ask, it's easy to get thirsty with those tiny glasses.
Most of the crew were very nice and polished, we were welcomed upon boarding and thanked for our business before arrival. Perhaps due to the language barrier though they seemed a bit reserved and didn't go off script much. This will probably sound like blasphemy, but on all of my KE
flights, the senior FA
's were the ones that seemed most in tune with passenger needs, although many of the more junior crew were also very good in this regard.
Many thanks for reading, questions or comments are welcome.
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