Note: Korean Air retired their 747-400s in 2020, so this product doesn’t exist anymore – check out my review of their new 747-8 business class.
Introduction: The Easy Way To Seoul
Korean Air Business Class Lounge Hong Kong
Korean Air A330 Business Class Hong Kong to Seoul
The Westin Chosun Busan
The Westin Chosun Seoul
JW Marriott Dongdaemun Seoul
Korean Air Business Class Lounge Seoul Incheon
Korean Air 747-400 Business Class Seoul to Hong Kong
Korean Air 607
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Origin: Seoul Incheon (ICN) Gate: 24 Dep: 19:45 (20:00)
Destination: Hong Kong (HKG) Gate: 26 Arr: 22:30 (22:20)
Duration: 3 hr 45 min (3 hr 20 min)
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400 Reg: HL7461
Seat: 21B (Business Class)
Korean Air uses their old international 747s on the route from Seoul Incheon to Hong Kong, which feature first, business and economy. Business class is located across two cabins featuring angled lie flat beds – a 21 seat cabin with a 2-3-2 configuration on the lower deck and a bigger 24 seat cabin with a 2-2 configuration on the upper deck.
It would definitely be smarter to choose the upper deck, which has side storage and less noise from the economy cabin, albeit having more capacity.
I walked past the lower deck business class cabin, where my friends would be sitting, and I was glad I wasn’t stuck in the middle seat.
I peeked at economy class, which looked rather spacious but was definitely older.
The padding looked great and the legroom was ample, but economy class with a laggy entertainment system is never fun, as I realised not long ago.
I went up the stairs to the upper deck.
My seat was located at the last row, which marked my third consecutive time in front of the bulkhead (and fourth out of my past five flights).
The seats are standard angled flat, and do seem like the guinea pigs of Korean Air’s polished fully flat business class. They featured reading lights “shower heads” (holy crap, those things were like pestles), privacy dividers, tables, storage on both sides, screens and 110V power plugs (they weren’t universal, but there were USB plugs for my phone, though had I brought my computer there’d be no place to charge it).
As my sister wasn’t there yet I decided to use the time to get settled near the aisle away from boarding, so took seat 21A. Three windows are a joy, but three Boeing 747 big-ass windows are even better.
Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class View of Seat 21H and 21J
I went up to the exit row and took a picture of the cabin before it filled up. The exit row cuts clean across the two cabins and separates them into two little clumps of 12 seats, though I avoided the exit row as they face the flight attendant directly during takeoff (though I realised it wouldn’t be as much of a problem as I thought given how nice they were).
I sat down and got comfy with my home for the next few hours. Damn, if there’s one thing I f*cking hate about these seats, it would be the pillows. They were as about the size of my pet dog Floppy’s head (more accurately, before he disappeared).
I explored the seat. To my right were the seat controls, which were intuitive.
Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Seat Controls
The reading lights, as I mentioned, were like erections/pestles, though they turned to angle towards the desk. I guess that doesn’t fare well with reading, and you certainly can’t angle it towards you given the shell, but at least the light was strong. I’m not going to read on a four hour flight with work to do.
The dividers were stable, which I find a plus for both the new and old product.
Also to my right (and later my left) were the power ports and USB plugs.
Right above it was the remote control, which was like those on other airlines and definitely older than their new remote control. And it showed, as the buttons were much harder to press (and the flight attendant had to explain to me that “MODE” meant “Display Off”).
Also there was the cupholder.
Then to my left was the storage bin. While I knew that it existed going in, I didn’t know that the bin reached the floor, which definitely eliminated my need for the overhead bins. I also had three of them, which helped.
In front of me was ample legroom, which extended towards the shoe bins attached to the seat in front.
I also tested out the lie flat position of seat 21A, and subsequently moved to the aisle seat (staring at a parked, deplaning 777-200 isn’t exactly the most exciting thing in the entire world). I like how that while the seat is old, shabby and angled flat, there’s no part of it that notedly “juts” out, so at least it guaranteed stretch out space, if not decent sleep. It’s worth noting that the seat motors on this bird are about sixty nine times as loud as that on the new A330 business class.
We were offered slippers which were identical to those on the outbound and perfectly comfortable.
On top of me was the Boeing panel, though there weren’t any air nozzles (though the cabin temperature was relatively cool). I love things that are either incredibly modern or incredibly old, and these panels were no exception (maybe the eleven A330s I flew were just a little too tedious). Okay, they’re not incredibly old, but definitely older than the panels of the A319s, A320s, A321s, A330s, A340s and 777-200 that I’ve flown nothing but since 2011.
The ceiling reading lights also excited me. Gotta love square things!
In front of me was my screen, literature storage and a pocket which was not out of reach, unlike the outbound.
The tray table folded in half.
The seat was rather well designed, I guess, though there definitely could’ve been some improvements (though the new seat on the outbound covered basically all of them). I settled back, and was immediately offered guava juice, orange juice or water.
The flight attendant introduced herself to me and offered me the menu.
While row 21 was somewhat close to the lavatory, I quite liked being in the last row of the cabin, as it gave me an expansive view of the upper deck (as well as quick access to the lower deck, if I was ever in need of inflight exercise).
Out the window was a Korean Air 777-200.
Shortly after I put the seat back up and had a look at Instagram before takeoff my parents and my sister boarded. Clearly my sister was psyched about the upper deck, as she was more excited about boarding a plane than ever before.
The entertainment system was already on.
It’s worth noting, though, that the entertainment system had a mouse, though it was incredibly laggy.
I needed the craps after three/four/five/six bowls of fried rice at the lounge, so helped myself. I love the latches instead of buttons in lavatories on the 747, and find them much less of a pain in the ass.
Admittedly it’s a small point, but I like how the flush button on the 747 is a latch instead of a button. I have a fear of the loud roar airplane toilets make (long, long story), and it did feel kind of reassuring that at least I was making a “bigger” action to induce the roar, if that made any sense.
As on the outbound there were toothbrushes, lip balm, mouthwash and Jurlique amenities in the toilet, as well as a shaver power plug (though I’m not sure who the hell brings a shaver onboard unless they’re trying to f*ck themselves at customs).
I went back to my seat, in which the plane pushed back, and the safety video played, identical to the one on the outbound (yes, Korean Air has the same video across the board in my understanding).
Apologies for the quality of the non-cabin pictures, as my sister took them, and in terms of iPhoneography, she’s definitely just a rookie. 😉
We taxied through the Asiana terminal, where I saw a few interesting jets, including a few Asiana A380s in the distance.
Our takeoff roll was quick, though my iPhone 5S wasn’t great at shooting photos in the dark.
I browsed the entertainment system upon takeoff, which was extensive, though I’d seen most of the movies before, so in addition to how laggy the screen was I just turned on the airshow for the rest of the flight.
Anyone notice that the 747 windows are huge, but the window that you actually see out of is as big as the Airbus windows?
I scrolled through my pictures of the trip after takeoff, and the meal service started soon enough. The purser gave us hot towels.
Which was then followed by more drinks and nuts (I selected guava juice).
The appetiser then followed. The richness of the scallops and the shrimp went really well against the grapefruit, though there was way too much grapefruit on the plate. The acidity of the grapefruit is like that of a lemon, leaving a bitter aftertaste and quite inedible alone., so I’d had appreciated if I didn’t have to eat one piece of grapefruit with one piece of seafood to prevent the aftertaste.
That was served with a piece of bread. I regretted my choice of Chinese bread, but it’s because my palate doesn’t collaborate with it, not because it didn’t taste good.
Korean main courses don’t have soup to go with it, but my course had. The soup was creamy and really flavourful (I find that airplane soups either are either underseasoned or lack any hint of the “hero” of the soup, and this one was smack in the middle).
I also liked the salt and pepper shakers, though the stickers on top do look crude and after thought.
Then the main course came. The piece of meat was cooked to absolute perfection. It was perfectly medium rare, with brick red running right through the middle, and it had a melt-in-your-mouth quality. That said, all the vegetables were slightly overcooked.
There was a choice of mixed fruit and strawberry or cheesecake ice cream. I took the last strawberry ice cream, and my mom took the last fruit plate, so my dad was stuck with the cheesecake ice cream, which he f*cking hates, so we switched. It was okay – on the hard side, definitely not as soft as the ice cream on the outbound, but not like the pieces of flavoured Antarctica I’ve had on previous flights.
Meal service was finished east of Ningbo two hours into the flight.
The purser was on top of her game during the whole meal service, and was a delight. I feel like there was a new hire which was slightly flustered during the service, especially with the purser conversing to her in hurried Korean, but she sure was polished and did smile in her interactions with us. I’m just not sure if it masked any frustration and annoyance from the purser hurrying her all the time, so I wish her all the best.
My sister’s friend came up right after meal service and asked me to turn on Paddington for his screen, as he couldn’t quite find it anywhere. I did that for him, and subsequently began my aircraft tour.
The lower deck was already finished with meal service, and most people were sound asleep or watching a movie. There was a little gangway after row 8, which meant that crossing aisles is a little less awkward than expected.
The back of the 747, in my opinion, is big and looks kind of like a boat.
I then returned to my seat, in hopes of signing up for SkyPass, which seems like the best SkyTeam reward around.
With the reading lights on and the cabin lights off, I sure felt like I had a cool office, accented by Korean Air’s antique cabin colour scheme.
After that, the purser came and told me that I would receive my SkyPass card in the mail in two weeks.
I turned my own seat into angled lie flat mode, and despite it not being fully flat, I slept really well for about half an hour, when landing was called. Holy crap, after almost fainting of hunger, a day at Lotte World, stuffing myself and going through all that duty free and immigration sh*t, it wasn’t really the best day for me in terms of adrenaline.
I woke up about twenty five minutes before landing, though couldn’t get a good picture of our descent. It was rainy and dark outside, so photo opportunities were limited.
We made our way to the Korean Air gate at Hong Kong (gate 26), passing a Philippine Airlines A330.
We parked next a Cathay Pacific 777-300ER.
We were the last in business class to deplane, and bypassed Korean’s old sleeper first class along the way, which looked plenty comfortable for a 1990 product.
Bottom line: Korean Air 747 Business Class
Let’s get one thing right – the hard product isn’t one of the best in the sky.
However, the soft product was near perfect – the service was among the best I’d received, the food was amazing, and it was just an all rounded experience.
My outbound flight set high standards for me, and the return flight just proved that it wasn’t a fluke.
I’d be more than willing to fly Korean Air shorthaul again.