September 28, 2012
Lv2020 Arr0005+1 Airbus A330-300 HL7551 (delivered in 1997 with updated cabin products)
Just began with a side story and how Korean Air is very inflexible with these ex-RGN tickets! I called a few days prior to flight, as I noticed that there was an earlier flight operated by Boeing 777-200ER with suite products, and it would allow me to arrive Bangkok at 10:20pm instead of after midnight. However the agent told me that this ticket could not be changed and I told her that I was not requesting date change. My feeling is that Korean Air went out of their ways to make traveling on these ex-RGN tickets difficult. If you swallowed your pride and honored these tickets, you should just honored the rules and treated them as full fare tickets. KE
could easily turn this situation and use it as a way to promote the A380. Since F is often empty, it is no big deal, but instead of making my life easier, I was stuck with a full first class cabin of a regional A330, which was a very terrible experience. I honestly cannot recommend anyone to book KE
F after this horrible flight.
Boarding began at 7:45pm and the flight looked busy as it was towards the end of the week. I was among the first one to board the flight and I took the chances to take pictures of the cabin and one picture of the business class cabin to show you how J was more spacious than F on these regional planes, if it is full house.
This aircraft features the updated cabin, and first class has reduced to one row of seats arranged in a six abreast seating. For a Boeing 777-300, it is okay, as the plane is wider, but on an Airbus A330, six abreast is just tight. On the other hand, business class has the updated cabin with 74 inches of legroom. The cabin looks spacious with three rows of seats, and with only one row of seats and full house, the cabin is cramped and very uncomfortable. Any airline not offering a long haul first class seat that offer direct aisle access regardless of being windows, aisles, or middles is just unacceptable. The cabin will be tolerable if it is in a 1-2-1 arrangement. I believe Korean Air is one of the few airlines left that offers “first-business-economy” on regional flights, and even SQ
is heading towards two class now. Do yourself a favor and book business class, unless of course you are flying F on long haul segments! These new “one row” cabins is fine if there are three passengers on them, but if it is full house, you will find business less crowded and more comfortable. Meal services differ little!
Of course a lunatic Korean woman as your neighbor and ATC delays made the flight worst, especially body was finally aching after a long transpacific flight. My neighbor seemed to live in her ideal world and kept on moving things around. She spoke no English but later complained my feet were shaking her movie screens. The first time I was okay, but the second time I just stared at her and about to explode. The weather was rough throughout the night as we all know how traveling in the South China Sea and with weather systems and typhoons in many spots, the plane was of course moving.
Anyway, door was closed on time, but we did not receive our pushback clearance till 8:55pm. We took off from R/W33L at 9:08pm. Flying time was five hours and twenty-one minutes today and we climbed to 36,000feet as we crossed the Korean Cities of Mokpo and Jeju, before climbing to 38,000feet. Then we passed Taipei, Taichung, Chiayi, and Kaoshsiung before entering the South China Sea. We then entered SE
Asian through Danang, and then began descent after passing Surin.
Dinner is offered on this flight but a number of courses are cut. Despite this flight being five hours, Korean Air eliminates the soup course, which is disappointing, and cheese course. Being a full F cabin, the F/As are reasonable with the speed of the service. The lobster salad starter is nice, and the seafood in mini pumpkin is an interesting item. There are shrimps, scallops, and fish pieces. However the pumpkin is still a bit too hard to consume together with the seafood. The presentation is nice though! I just had fruit, and my neighbor consumed two serving of ice cream, which is Vanilla ice cream with strawberry swirl. I wish I know Korean because it will be fascinating to report back on their conversations, but to give F/As credits, they are very patient with her.
Here is menu transcript:
Seoul Incheon to Bangkok
Beef and vegetable stuffed shitake mushroom with lotus root
Lobster salad with black sesame cream and yam
Lentil Cream Soup
Mixed Organic Green salad with a choice of Korean dressing or lemon dressing
Korean “Bibimbap” offered with minced beef and seasonal vegetables, accompanied by sesame oil and “gochujang” Korean hot pepper paste
Korean Style “Bulgogi” Beef with steamed rice served with side dishes
Grilled Beef Tenderloin with perigueux sauce served with boiled red skin potato and vegetables
Mixed seafood in mini pumpkin with black bean sauce served with vegetables
Seasonal Fresh Fruit or ice cream
Whole wheat Swedish, Walnut Soft roll, Garlic mini baguette, Steamed Chinese Bao
Coffee/Tea/Green Tea/Ginseng Tea
I honestly only had a number of flights that I wish it will be shorter, so I just watched my sitcoms and SNL on my i-Phone and finally the lady decided to go to sleep, so I was left alone.
Descent finally began at 11:52pm local time, and it was raining at Bangkok, so things were sort of slow. We finally landed on R/W1L at 00:29am and parked at gate E7 eight minutes later. One more disappointing – Korean Air does not offer premium lane service to first class passengers, which honestly is just cheap. Not giving to business class passengers is somewhat acceptable, but for first class passengers, that is not acceptable. But I saved one from my last CX
flight, so I got to skip the midnight rush.
In conclusion, my feeling of Korean Air remains unchanged and the A380 experiences are nice, and I appreciate this cheap opportunity to fly first class. If I can buy another ex-RGN KE
F ticket for this price, I will do dit again. Their first class products are nice, but obviously need lots of improvement if KE
wants to charge SQ
types surcharges. I have not surprised at the low F loading on these flights because their first class products are simply not at that top tier and KE
has three tier first class pricings: A380s feature R; 77W/772 features P, and finally F for the rest of the non-suite first class seats. The kind of surcharges is pretty outrageous and I don’t think they can command such fares like SQ
. Considered CX
and many top airlines do not go that track, despite their new F and J products, and how can KE
come up with such fare classes? The flight attendants are friendly and efficient, but their English speaking skills limit their ability to provide a personable service. Their amenity kits and pajamas are basically standard stuffs and the lack of a real turndown service like Asiana Airlines speaks out loud on their many areas of deficiencies. Their ground services are just at minimal and their lounge at LAX
, a major KE
North American hub, just looks sad. Their regional first class products are so bad that I am not sure whey they keep them. Maybe there is still a market in Korea, but those seats are so horribly outdated and un-first class. Not sure why they are still here. If KE
wants first class, suites are the only way to do it, and some of its regional flights are seven hours, and these A330s go all the way to Istanbul and Nairobi, and I can’t imagine any idiots paying a premium for these outdated first class products, considered business class is actually more comfortable because you feel less claustrophobic. That is why I felt that I have experienced the best and worst of Korean Air on these four segments. It is a good trip and despite all the shortcomings, I don’t mind doing one or two more RT just for the Delta EQMs, and $700 for an international first class is a good deal. However will I pay KE
“R” prices to fly A380 F? My answer is a big NO, as I can’t even justify the “A” fare with this current product. Asiana first class on its Boeing 747s (and even their staggered business class on 777s) is still better than all the bells and whistles of Korean Air’s A380s.
Thanks for reading and my next trip report is a visit to a struggling airline with its latest addition in its fleet! After flying that particular airline, I understand why it is struggling and not sure if I will repeat it again!