Yesterday I detailed how I managed to “charter” the nose of a Korean Air 747-8 out for our family on business class tickets. We were incredibly lucky for everything to have worked out the way it did, and at the end I probably ticked something off my bucket list that I never thought I’d be able to – getting the entire family in first class and letting them see firsthand what our entire industry aspires to be able to do for pennies on the dollar. While obviously I’ll have a full review coming next week, this is the “teaser” post detailing the first class cabin. As for the soft product, I detailed this in my teaser post of the business class experience yesterday, as we still received business class service and catering.
Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Cabin (not pictured: me silently screaming behind the camera)
The Korean Air first class cabin is stunning. It features seats along the curvature of the 747 in a 1-1 configuration, though they elected not to place a seat in the middle. So while other airlines might have 8-9 business class seats in the nose of the 747 (or even up to 14), Korean Air only has six seats, making this one of the most spacious first class cabins out there.
Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Cabin
Each seat is a privately enclosed suite, so it’s outfitted with a door. The seat itself is plenty wide and quite well-padded, though it isn’t the most well-padded seat I’ve ever sat in (the business class seats are made of the same padding, and the padding isn’t exceptional in either seat – though really, you won’t have any qualms at all sleeping in either seat).
Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Seat 2J
The first class seats have a ton of storage. There aren’t any overhead bins, though the seats in the second and third row have a large closet enough to fit most carry-ons. Due to the curvature of the cabin, the first row doesn’t have this – instead, there’s a cupboard in the nose of the 747 specifically for them.
Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Cupboard
Aside from that, there’s two separate, deep compartments for seat-side storage. One’s big enough for a tablet or iPhone (don’t leave it charging, however, as there’s no “hole” to fit a cable through), and one’s big enough for a small laptop.
Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Side Storage
Each seat has a door, which is unlocked after takeoff. I found that the doors made quite a difference in bed mode, since you have a sense of privacy being encapsulated in your own little bubble. However, obviously, the doors are “only” around 4.5 feet tall, so you may still be prone to some foot traffic from your five fellow passengers with the doors closed if anyone’s especially tall.
Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Door
There’s also an ottoman. Technically there’s a notice there saying that the ottoman is “not a seat”, and there’s space under it for shoes. However, the ottoman itself is quite sturdy, and the crew had no issues with me sitting opposite my parents when having quick minute-long discussions.
Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Ottoman
In front is also a TV. I’m not sure if it’s touchscreen, since it’s way out of reach. It can be navigated with a remote control beside the seat, though it isn’t the easiest to navigate (that said, there aren’t many first class seats that have a similar amount of space, yet a TV that’s within arm’s reach).
Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class TV
Then there’s a table. The good news is that it’s very big and sturdy. The bad news is that the table can’t be moved forward and backward (or swivelled), which seems like such a minor oversight for an otherwise great first class seat. Technically you can use the electronic seat controls to move the seat forwards and backwards, though the problem with that is that the seat moves at a snail’s pace, so it takes a while to move yourself back sufficiently so that you can get out of your seat. It’s such a minor oversight, but I can see how it can get annoying on a longhaul flight.
Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Table
Speaking of seat controls, the seat also reclines into a fully flat bed. The lumbar support and bed length are all adjustable using the electronic seat controls (the headrest goes up and down to make the bed shorter or longer depending on how tall you are), which is cool. Since the armrests automatically go down in bed mode, I’d say the bed is around 25 inches wide, and over two meters long. That’s more than sufficient for most passengers out there.
Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Bed
Bottom Line: Korean Air’s 747-8 First Class Seat
Now, I can’t judge if this seat is industry leading, since it’s the first first class seat I’ve spent more than two minutes in. It’s annoying that an airline would design such a practical first class seat, only to miss the mark on something considered in the most basic business class configurations – the ability to swivel the table. However, as a business class passenger you bet I enjoyed having this seat to sit in for three hours, and even as a first class passenger I wouldn’t mind spending 16 hours flying in this seat.
Now, the first class cabin is still empty on the inbound flight to Hong Kong next week, so we’ll see how things go (I highly doubt we’ll be as lucky).
Have you flown Korean Air’s first class on the 747-8 before? How was it?