Review: Korean Air 747-8 Business Class Hong Kong To Seoul (First Class Seat)

Introduction: A Wandering Seoul
SkyTeam Lounge Hong Kong
Korean Air 747-8 Business Class Hong Kong To Seoul (First Class Seat)
Park Hyatt Seoul Park Suite Twin
Korean Air Business Class Lounge Seoul Incheon Terminal 2 (East)
Korean Air Business Class Lounge Seoul Incheon Terminal 2 (West)
Korean Air 777 Business Class Seoul to Hong Kong


While I had booked myself in business class on the Korean Air 747-8, as I detailed in a separate post, Korean Air opened up their first class seats for business class passengers to select two days before departure. That’s quite standard for a few airlines on shorthaul flights, though this was the first time I’d flown a three-cabin flight with a two-class service. At the check-in desk I was denied a seat in the first class cabin (the plan was actually to get the rest of my family seats in the empty first class cabin, as I still wanted to review the Apex Suite), as the seats “weren’t for sale”.

I left the SkyTeam lounge at 1:15 PM and made it to gate 60 by around 1:30 PM for our 1:35 PM boarding time. Going to the gate desk, I decided to slip in a sneaky question if I could have a seat swap. To my surprise, without even giving her my boarding pass, she recognised that I was traveling in a group of four, and gave me a new boarding pass for seat 2A.

I believe the check-in desk decided to contact a higher-up after we expressed discontent, as we were misinformed by the call center that we’d “definitely” get the first class seats if they were available. The higher-ups then confirmed to them that we were indeed allowed to assign seats in first class, so they paged the gate agents to make the change for us. At least that’s what I believe ended up happening.

I was going to seat the rest of my family in the first class cabin and stay in business myself so I could review the Apex Suite, but what was I to do? Complain? At that point, people had already started lining up to get on the Korean Air 747-8, so I followed suit.

The gate agents, while friendly, were not very helpful in suppressing my excitement by stating that the last row of first class was also empty.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Hong Kong Airport

While I wasn’t first in the priority lane, everyone else in the lane turned out to be economy passengers with Korean Air status, so I was the first in the business class cabin, meaning that I could snap photos at my convenience.

My video review of the flight is here:

Korean Air 614
Friday, July 27, 2018
Origin: Hong Kong (HKG) Gate: 60 Dep: 14:05 (14:25)
Destination: Seoul Incheon (ICN) Gate: 232 Arr: 18:45 (19:00)
Duration: 3 hr 40 min (3 hr 35 min)
Aircraft: Boeing 747-8
Seat: 2A (Business Class)

After I boarded I turned left into the first class cabin to put down my belongings, as I’d have plenty of time to snap photos being alone in the first class cabin. After that I headed back to business class, so I’d still get to (somewhat) review the business class hard product on the Korean Air 747-8.

Korean Air’s business class consists of 48 Rockwell Collins Apex Suites (in this case there were 54 seats, as they were selling the 6 first class seats as business class). 26 of these seats are on the lower deck, and 22 are on the upper deck. The seats on the lower deck are laid out in a 2-2-2 configuration.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Cabin (Lower Deck)

Since most airlines with Apex Suites outfit them on narrower aircraft, such as the A330 or 787, with the same 2-2-2 configuration, it goes without saying that both the seats and the aisles on the lower deck of the Korean Air 747-8 are extra wide and spacious.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Cabin (Lower Deck)

Behind the business class cabin were 314 economy seats laid out in a 3-4-3 configuration. Since this flight was more empty than a modern-day Aerosmith concert, I had the chance to check it out later in the flight, so I’ll talk about my thoughts later in the review.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Economy Class

The upper deck was where I was originally seated, and it featured 22 seats in a 2-2 configuration.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Cabin (Upper Deck)

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Cabin (Upper Deck)

The first two rows were separated from the rest by an emergency exit. This means that the third row in the cabin, row 18, happens to be especially spacious, and the passageway that window seat passengers pass through to access the aisle is much wider.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Cabin (Upper Deck)

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Seats 18H and 18J

However, the other rows are also plenty spacious. Korean Air’s business class window seats on the upper deck of the 747-8 are some of the best seats you’ll ever be able to book in this configuration – they have the usual advantage of privacy and spaciousness, and there are also huge storage bins by the side, whereas storage in this configuration is usually less abundant.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class

The aisle and window seats in this configuration are slightly offset one another. The window seats are located slightly in front of the aisle seat to make way for a passageway that allows them to access the aisle. The aisle seats are located slightly behind, and in Korean Air’s case there’s also a little storage area (which the window seats don’t have, though obviously in this case there are massive storage bins on the sides of the upper deck).

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Seats 21H and 21J

The aisle seats on Korean Air’s 747-8 are actually the most private Apex Suite aisle seats currently flying. The reason is that Korean Air extended the privacy partition shielding the aisle seat passenger from the aisle, so there’s more or less a wall to the side of you (in this configuration on other airlines, aisle seat passengers only get a little head privacy shield). The privacy shield isn’t especially tall, so you won’t be completely protected from foot traffic in the aisle, though it does make a difference.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Aisle Seat

However, as noted above, in any Apex Suite configuration the best seats are the window seats.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Window Seat

While the window seats might look similar to the aisle at first glance, when the privacy partition goes up you truly have a suite of sorts to yourself, giving an incredible sense of privacy.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Window Seat (Privacy Partition Up)

It’s worth noting that the privacy partition has to be down during taxi, takeoff and landing, though. In a window seat you’ll be quite visible to the person in the aisle, and in an aisle seat you’ll have a clear view of the person in the window seat during taxi, takeoff and landing.

Each seat is decently padded, so you won’t have any qualms sleeping here on night flights. While the seat will be more akin to some harder mattresses that are typical in Asia, I didn’t find the seat uncomfortable in bed mode, by any means.

Business class seats in Korean Air’s Apex Suite configuration feature a decent, though not impressive amount of storage space. It’s clear that while the seat itself is lacking in the storage department, Korean Air managed to wiggle out a few storage compartments, maximising space around the seat.

To the left of the right window seat I looked at was a little storage nook for storing phones, headphones, small cameras, or Korean Air’s slippers (the top can be folded down to create a platform for drinks or small devices).

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Storage

On top of the ottoman was a bigger storage compartment which was capable of fitting a small laptop. This would be quite useful in bed mode, though it was out of reach from the seat, so wouldn’t be as useful during meal services.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Storage

Obviously the lack of storage is a moot point if you manage to snag a seat on the upper deck. By the windows are large, sturdy storage compartments that serve as a platform for a phone or even a laptop during meal services.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Side Ledge

These open to reveal storage bins that are big enough for a backpack (on other 747 journeys on the upper deck I’ve successfully put my backpack and my camera bag into a single bin, though you’ll probably have trouble trying to fit a carry-on in there).

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Side Storage (Upper Deck)

The tray table folded out of the side of the seat. I actually found it to be quite fiddly, but once it came down it was sturdy as ever. I quite liked that it was finished with faux wood, which felt quite classy (and paired well with the cabin colours, which are otherwise questionable).

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Tray Table

I really liked how you could swivel it for easy access to the aisle. That’s a small touch that makes a big difference, especially during meal services.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Tray Table

The business class seat had a “reclined” preset, which was somewhere around a lazy-Z position suitable for reading and watching movies.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Reclined Position

The bed was long and very spacious, and I appreciated the immense level of privacy in the window seat. Even on the lower deck there was a side ledge for glasses, headphones, or a water bottle. This is a very, very good product for longhaul flying.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Bed

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Bed

Of course, the product becomes even more spacious on the upper deck of the 747-8, with a side ledge big enough for placing a charging laptop when you’re dozing off (while the 110V power port is located on the other side, it’s located by the “end” of the seat, so you won’t be strapped in).

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Bed

Overall, I believe the Apex Suite is an awesome business class seat for longhaul flying. While the aisle seats are private enough, I totally agree with other bloggers that the window seats are far superior in this configuration. There might not be as much storage as there is in a reverse herringbone seat, though the privacy and spaciousness in this configuration are unparalleled.

The upper deck window seats on the 747-8 are some of the best modern-day business class seats you’ll find anywhere, and I’d rank the “normal” window seats in this configuration as about on par with a reverse herringbone seat, depending on your priorities. Those who need to work inflight might prefer a reverse herringbone seat due to the storage and extra side storage, though those who want to eat, relax, and watch a movie will probably prefer a window Apex Suite for the extra privacy (in fact, if you’re traveling with someone else you’ll prefer this configuration too, as it’s possible to sit next to a loved one – though one of you will be in an aisle seat).

As mentioned above I wasn’t seated here, though, as much as I would’ve enjoyed the flight anyway. Instead I was seated in the six-seat first class cabin located in the nose of the 747.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Cabin

I’ve photographed multiple first class cabins before, and I thought this one was especially stunning and spacious. Not only is this in the nose of the 747, but Korean Air elected not to install any middle seats, so there’s a large open space in the middle of the cabin. Furthermore, since there’s a closet at each seat, Korean Air decided not to install overhead bins in the first class cabin, adding to the sense of spaciousness.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Cabin

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Cabin (with Yours Truly)

I was assigned seat 2A, which was in the second row of the plane on the left side of the aircraft.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Seat 2A

The seat itself was very wide and spacious, and also very well padded (the same padding is used in business class and first class). These are enclosed suites, so they feature doors, which can be used inflight even when sold as a business class seat.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Seat 2A

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Seat 2A

Across me was seat 2J, where my sister was seated. The seats are really massive and spacious, and even feature their own closets (I’ll detail that below).

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Seat 2J

Since I’d just been reseated at the gate, I was bubbling with excitement to see that I had four entire large 747 windows to myself.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Seat

In front of me was a large TV, surrounded by a faux wood border.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class TV

Below that was an ottoman. Honestly it could’ve doubled as a buddy seat (it was more than sturdy enough), though there was a sticker above it saying it was “not a seat”. I’m sure an understanding crew wouldn’t mind you dining across a travel partner in this configuration, as long as you returned to your seat during turbulence, as there isn’t a seatbelt in this buddy seat.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Ottoman

Next to my seat was a massive closet that was ample space for my backpack and my camera bag.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Storage Closet

The seats in the front row are a little too narrow for this, however, due to how the cabin tapers. So there’s a shared, bigger cupboard for seats 1A and 1J, though you do have to get out of your suite to access it, whereas you don’t even have to open your suite doors to get to your closet in rows 2 and 3.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Storage (Row 1)

I moved to 1J during the takeoff, so took a few of the below photos there. These features were identical in my own seat apart from the fact that they faced the other way, which might explain if some features look wonky if you’re trying to visualise the seat.

By the window was a huge platform where you could place a computer during meal services. The platform was a series of smaller storage compartments. The first one opened up to reveal a storage locker with three compartments, all big enough for a phone – one was big enough for an iPad or a small laptop.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Side Storage

By the windowside was a long and thin storage compartment that could also fit a laptop, though was probably more suitable for more stick-like things (such as my GoPro tripod).

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Side Storage

The last one wasn’t actually a storage compartment, though you could store small items in it if you wished to. It opened up to reveal the remote control for the TV screen, a USB port, a two-pronged headphone jack, as well as some more intricate seat controls, including being able to move the seat forwards and backwards, the lumbar support, etc.. I liked that you could store something there if you wished to, since you could close the compartment when charging your phone or a small device.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Remote Console and Seat Controls

Near the ottoman was a universal 110V power port.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Power Port

Finally, by the windowside of the seat there was also a lamp (the light wasn’t intense as a reading light, so it probably was meant for using a laptop or mobile device when the cabin lights were off at night).

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Lamp

To the right of seat 2A was a reading light, and an air nozzle. I love air nozzles as they regulate airflow around your seat making sleeping much more comfortable, though A/C was on and in full swing on this aircraft (too cold, almost, as my parents layered up), so there wasn’t as much of a need for it.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Light and Air Nozzle

There was also a tray table that folded out of the side of the seat. It was large, thick, and quite sturdy. However, here’s my one major beef with the seat. The tray table wasn’t manually adjustable at all. You could actually move your seat backward with the electronic controls to get out of your seat when your tray table was out, but the seat moved quite slowly, so this was less than ideal when I just wanted to pop out of my seat to use the bathroom during meal services or when I was working, etc. – as not only did I have to adjust my seat just so I could get out of it, but I also had to readjust it to my preferred position when I got back to my seat.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Desk

The tray table could also be folded in half of you wished.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Desk (Folded)

Overall the first class seat was awesome, especially since I was on a business class ticket. This was my first time actually seated in a first class seat, so I can’t comment on how it compares to the rest of the market. However, based on what I’ve read in the past, I believe it’s an industry-leading hard product, easily the best out of the three airlines who operate the 747-8 (though of course some airlines have gone out of their way to install even more extravagant products on the bigger A380).

At my seat was a large pillow. It’s interesting to see that we were given first class pillows despite being business class passengers.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Pillow

That’s a blessing, as the business class pillows are tiny. They’re the size of my hand, and most premium economy products have more substantial pillows.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Pillow

I also requested a blanket later in the flight (they’re provided at all business class seats, though we didn’t get them until we asked). Korean Air’s business class blanket is also disappointing. While perfectly fine for a three-hour flight, they use the same blankets on their longhaul flights, while most other airlines feature legitimate duvets. It’s worth noting that this is already an improvement over the even less substantial blankets that Korean Air used to have (the new ones are softer, slightly thicker, and less scratchy), though I still found these blankets to be subpar.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Blanket

Korean Air upgraded their headphones quite significantly since the last time I flew them. They’re on-ear and still not very comfortable, though they’re still a nice upgrade from the economy-style headphones I had on my last Korean Air flight, in terms of sound quality and sturdiness.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Headphones

Korean Air also offers slippers to all passengers even on regional flights, which I believe is a really nice touch.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Slippers

While I was still snapping away at the cabin a flight attendant came over and asked if I’d like champagne. While I’m more open to drinking nowadays, on flights I’m more wary of making sure I don’t break any laws, so I simply went for an orange juice.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Pre-Departure Beverage

The same crewmember also gave me a business class menu, and ran through the options with me, which is a thoughtful touch that I find to be the norm in Korean Air business class. She took my meal order right then and there, then took the menu away after that.

My parents soon got to the cabin, and their reactions to the first class cabin were quite satisfying to watch. They were also snapping away at the cabin, which isn’t something I’m quite accustomed to seeing them do (they’re not as keen on flying as I am, to put it mildly). Since I’ve heard so many cool things about watching a takeoff from the very nose of the 747, I moved to seat 1K, as I knew the best views would be from there. Such are the pleasures of having a cabin basically to yourself and your family…

Soon the safety video played, which alternated between Korean and English. I like it when airlines get creative with their safety video (since people actually pay attention to it, making it more effective), so I found Korean Air’s safety video to be especially bland.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Safety Video

Before our pushback an EVA Air Hello Kitty A321 pulled into the gate next to us, which I thought was quite cute.

EVA Air Hello Kitty Airbus A321 Hong Kong Airport

We pushed back from gate 60 at 2:20 PM, and taxied over across to the other side of the airport, as we’d be taking off from the south side (gate 60 is located at the north end of the airport). This meant that we’d be bypassing some interesting traffic, such as an Air China 737, and a landing Cathay Pacific A330.

Air China Boeing 737 Hong Kong Airport

Cathay Pacific Airbus A330 Hong Kong Airport

We also bypassed the midfield terminal, where I saw a stunning Malaysia Airlines A380.

Views Upon Taxiing Hong Kong Airport

Malaysia Airlines Airbus A380 Hong Kong Airport

Since we were taking off from runway 07R, this meant that we’d be passing HAECO, Hong Kong Airport’s aircraft engine overhauling warehouse. It’s the building from which I planespot, and on the way we passed through some interesting aircraft, such as an Orient Thai 747 (which the Hong Kong Airport Authority has seized, since Orient Thai couldn’t pay HAECO enough for the aircraft to undergo maintenance).

Orient Thai Boeing 747 Hong Kong Airport

The takeoff from Hong Kong Airport was indeed beautiful, and we even made our way over Victoria Harbour, which always makes for some awesome views. Plus, given the aircraft had four engines and was around 45% full, the takeoff roll was especially impressive.

Views Upon Takeoff Hong Kong Airport

Views Upon Takeoff Hong Kong Airport

Nothing beats flying over Hong Kong Island in the nose of the 747-8 on a Friday afternoon!

Views Upon Takeoff Hong Kong Airport

Views Upon Takeoff Hong Kong Airport

The seatbelt sign was switched off not long after we left the ground, and the crew turned on some nice orange mood lighting.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Cabin Inflight

At this point the Korean captain came onto the PA and announced our flight time of 3 hours and 5 minutes. I found it quite interesting that the captain decided to make the announcement after takeoff, as I find that on most airlines captains tend to announce this information after the safety video while still on the ground.

At this point I decided to use the lavatory, which was similar to what you’d get on a 787 (there was nothing first class about it).

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Lavatory

I also walked back to the galley and asked the crew if we could unlock the doors to our suite. She taught me how to do so, which required pushing a button near the floor by each suite door.

The doors can be opened and closed manually, and they aren’t incredibly tall; though they do add to the suite’s privacy quite a bit, especially in bed mode. Here’s my suite with the doors closed from outside:

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Door

And here’s what the suite looks like from inside with the doors closed:

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Door from Inside

Since it was a daytime flight and I wasn’t planning to sleep away my first experience in a first class cabin, I decided to test out Korean Air’s 747-8 first class bed mode in another suite. The bed is plenty wider than in business class, and with the high suite walls and the door it’s also incredibly private and spacious – and the copious amounts of side storage didn’t hurt either. Korean Air also normally offers first class passengers mattress pads, though since we were “in” business class this wasn’t offered to us on the flight.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Bed

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Bed

The meal service started around 20 minutes after takeoff. The menu read as follows (this was taken away after I ordered my meal on the ground):

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Menu

We were offered hot towels, and were advised to be careful, as the towels were “very hot”.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Pre-Meal Service Hot Towel

Since business class tablecloths were provided, I found it quite amusing how much smaller the tablecloth was compared to the table.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Meal Setup

Soon the appetiser was served, along with drinks, where I asked for water. While Korean Air’s service culture is great, their meal service is done entirely on trolleys, which doesn’t give a high degree of personalisation. The appetiser was a mozzarella and tomato dish – I liked the mozzarella, though didn’t finish the tomato. The dish could have done with a bit more seasoning.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Appetiser – Italian Tomato with Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese

The dish came with a choice of bread. I selected garlic bread, which was warm, crisp, but not incredibly garlicky.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Garlic Bread

After the appetiser was cleared I was presented a soup, which was a cauliflower soup. While I normally like Korean Air’s soups, I found this one to be rather watery – though I did like the prominent cauliflower flavour.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Soup – Cauliflower Soup

For the main course I requested the beef, and I ordered it medium rare. It came exactly according to my specifications, though unfortunately I was filming on the upper deck at the time, so it was slightly overcooked by the time I got back to my seat. Still, it was a juicy and high-quality steak for an airplane, and it’s very nice that Korean Air offers steaks cooked to order for business class passengers, especially on regional flights.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Main Meal – Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Port Wine Sauce Served with Seasoned Fingerling Potato and Mixed Vegetables

While the meat itself was tender (I’m sure it would’ve been even more so had I not spent so much time on the upper deck), I wasn’t as much a fan of the sides. The peas were fine and the mushroom was good, though the fingerling potatoes and onion were quite bland.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Main Course Beef Medium Rare

After I finished my main course the cabin crew came around to clear it. I was then offered a choice of vanilla and chocolate ice cream. I selected vanilla. While I find ice cream to be a rather boring “safe” choice on flights, at least it was the perfect temperature for eating, and I didn’t have to chisel my way through it.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Dessert – Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream

After this the crew came around with tea and coffee. I elected to have a coffee, which was decent, and served with cream.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Coffee

I found the pace of the meal service to be great, as each course was cleared basically as I finished it. That said, the cabin wasn’t anywhere near full, so I’m not sure how the service pace would’ve fared on a full flight given the trolley service. Despite that, I was impressed with how quickly we were served throughout, as we were kind of “out of the way” from the flight attendants and the rest of the business class cabin.

It’s worth noting that my parents weren’t quite as impressed, though. Since we weren’t within the vicinity of the cabin crew most of the time (since they were serving business class, and had to walk with purpose to the first class cabin if they wanted to serve us), the cabin crew rarely ever came by to see if we needed anything (they did so once between the meal service and landing, which is more than what most airlines do). I was enjoying my privacy in the first class cabin, though if you’re used to being pampered, that might be something you should take note of if you end up in the nose of a 747 on a business class ticket.

As aforementioned, I spent some time on the upper deck of the aircraft during the meal service. The upper deck was also quite empty, with a total of five passengers. Three of them were seated in row 18 (which is a great choice, since there’s more space due to the exit row in front), whereas there was one person in each of the two rows in front. I sat in the right window seat in the last row (21J) for a little while (since I was filming on my GoPro for an upcoming project), and found the seat to be very spacious. This is a spectacular business class hard product.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Upper Deck Cabin Inflight

It was time to get a little bit of work done once I got back to my seat. Korean Air doesn’t offer WiFi, even on their newest 747-8s. Fortunately I knew that coming in, so I’d pre-loaded work on my computer. It’s sure nice to have an office in an enclosed suite…

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class Office Inflight

…especially when you’re in the nose of the Queen of the Skies! Honestly I’m not even sure how productive I was, since inside I was still buzzing with excitement and trying to savour every bit of the experience.

Working in Korean Air First Class!

Working in Korean Air First Class!

One minor disadvantage of being in the nose of the 747 is that you don’t get a good view of the aircraft’s beautiful engines. So I went back to the galley and asked the flight attendants if I could grab a shot from there, to which they gladly obliged.

View From The Wing Korean Air Boeing 747-8

Since the economy cabin wasn’t anywhere near full, I decided to check it out midflight. Korean Air’s 747-8s feature their latest-generation economy class seat.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Economy Class Cabin

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Economy Class Cabin

While the seat has an impressive 34″ seat pitch, it’s otherwise rather “no-frills”. Other airlines have been finding opportunities to add as much storage space to economy seats as they can, while it’s apparent that not much effort was made here.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Economy Class Seats 60H and 60J

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Economy Class Legroom

The seatback featured a USB port, and there was a 110V port between seats. However, any sort of storage nook was noticeably absent, which would be annoying on a longer flight.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Economy Class TV and Seatback

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Economy Class USB Plug

The closest thing to a storage platform was the cupholder, which could house an iPhone when you’re trying to sleep – if you’re careful.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Economy Class Cupholder

One advantage of having more legroom than the industry standard is that there’s more space for your knees when the person in front of you reclines. Korean Air’s 747-8 economy seats have substantial recline that’s on par with the industry standard in economy.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Economy Class Empty Row

I briefly tested out the recline position and found it to be quite comfortable. However, on this flight it was a moot point – the flight was so empty that people spread out across their own rows of 3 or 4 seats.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Economy Class Recline

Overall, Korean Air’s 747-8 economy class hard product excels on the legroom front, and I’ve heard good things about their food and service as well. However, on a long flight I’d take issue with some of the seat’s ergonomics. For example, no storage nook of any sort was present, which could be annoying when trying to keep a phone or pen within arm’s reach. The best economy seats I can think of continue to belong to Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, and Singapore Airlines’ newest seats on the A380 and 787.

Back at my first class seat I checked out the entertainment system. I quite liked the interface, though found the movie and TV selection to be limited.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Entertainment Selection

The airshow was modern and featured a range of views, though it didn’t feature the “cockpit view” that I’ve been accustomed to on similar inflight maps, which also display the airplane’s altitude and speed. That’s ultimately a very small thing, though the same can be said about all the other flaws that I’ve pointed out in this cabin.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Inflight Map

Korean Air’s 747-8 features two different camera views – a nose “forward” camera view, and a belly “downward” camera view. Neither view allows you to see any part of the aircraft (where’s the tail camera?!), but it’s still a nice thing to have, especially during landing.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Outside Camera (Front View)

At around 6:15 PM Incheon time the captain came on the PA and announced that the cabin had to be prepared for landing. The cabin crew came around and offered pre-landing beverages, and I chose a pineapple juice, which I quite liked.

Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class Pre-Landing Beverage

Soon enough all seats had to be upright, and we found ourselves descending into Incheon Airport.

Views upon Landing Seoul Incheon Airport

Views upon Landing Seoul Incheon Airport

Views upon Landing Seoul Incheon Airport

Views upon Landing Seoul Incheon Airport

We made our short way over to Incheon’s Terminal 2, though on the way I saw Vietnam and T’Way Airlines A320s taking off, and also saw a few other Korean Air heavies, such as one of their last remaining 747-400s.

Vietnam Airlines Airbus A320 Taking Off Seoul Incheon Airport

Korean Air Boeing 747 Seoul Incheon Airport

T’Way Airlines Airbus A320 Seoul Incheon Airport

I also saw a Cathay Pacific 777 that had just landed, as well as an Asiana A330 and Etihad 787.

Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Seoul Incheon Airport

Views upon Taxiing Seoul Incheon Airport

I spotted a Korean Air A380 on the way. Korean Air used to fly their A380s to Hong Kong a long time ago, though they haven’t for quite a few years now. I’ve always been intrigued in the bar that the aircraft houses at the back of the business class cabin, which seems impressive.

Korean Air Airbus A380 Seoul Incheon Airport

The first 747 I reviewed was Korean Air’s 747-400 on the last row of the upper deck, so despite their subpar hard product I will miss their 747-400s when they’re finally retired (one of Korean Air’s 747-400s is committed to flying between Bangkok and Seoul, and the other occasionally makes its way over to Hong Kong on one of Korean Air’s four daily frequencies, as well as a few other regional destinations).

Korean Air Boeing 747 Seoul Incheon Airport

We eventually parked at gate 232 at Incheon’s brand new Terminal 2, located next to a Korean Air A330.

Korean Air Airbus A330 Seoul Incheon Airport

We were one of the first off the plane, and made our way towards immigration. I liked the large panoramic windows that Incheon’s Terminal 2 arrivals hall featured, which gave great opportunities for planespotting.

Korean Air Airbus A330 Seoul Incheon Airport

Getting through immigration was quick, as there was no one in the line. Soon I found myself in the baggage claim area. As stunning as it was, we did have to wait 15 minutes before luggages started coming out of the belt, which seems slightly slow for a brand new airport during off-peak hours.

Seoul Incheon Terminal 2 Baggage Claim Area

Seoul Incheon Terminal 2 Baggage Claim Area

From there, we exited the baggage claim area and met Mr. Kim, who would be driving us to our hotel (for the record, he was referred to us by a friend, so he wasn’t a Park Hyatt employee). I couldn’t wait to spend a few days in sunny Seoul, though my excitement quickly wore out on me, as I fell asleep on the way to the hotel.

Bottom Line: Korean Air 747-8 Business Class

Even if I was seated in business class, I would’ve found this flight to be fantastic. Korean Air’s business class hard product is top notch. Apex Suites are very private and comfortable, especially the window seats – and Korean Air went the extra mile to install privacy partitions in the aisle seats to ensure that privacy was maximised at all seats. The aisle seats still aren’t as private as windowside staggered seats or reverse herringbone seats, though they still feature decent privacy that beats aisle seats in many forward facing business class products.

Obviously it’s sweet having a first class seat on a business class ticket as well. We really got lucky being seated in Korean Air’s newest first class product, which is unarguably the best that any airline offers on the 747-8 (neither Lufthansa nor Air China offers enclosed suites, and their respective first class products also higher-density). Normally Korean Air reserves their first class seats on these flights to their full-fare business class passengers, and we were on discount tickets, so I’d really take this as a rare, even once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. While I haven’t flown in any first class seats prior to this flight, it’s safe to say that Korean Air’s new first class suite is one of the best non-A380 first class hard products out there.

I found the soft product on this flight to be good as well. Ultimately Korean Air is most lacking in the amenities department. I would prefer to see higher-quality pillows and blankets on longhaul flights in business class – I’ve seen economy products with bigger pillows. While Korean Air’s headphones have been massively improved, they still don’t have the best business class headphones out there (though the return flight seemed to have better headphones…hmmm).

The food and service on this flight were great. I found the service to be quite hands-off, especially seated in the first class cabin quite a distance from the galley, and didn’t take issue with that, though some of you might be more sensitive to that. While Korean Air has issues executing their non-signature dishes, I find their bibimbap, bulgogi, and beef tenderloin to be consistently excellent, and this flight was no exception.

Korean Air business class is a fantastic way to fly. Korean Air first class for HK$2,600 one-way is just slightly fantastic-er. 😉

Have you flown another airline on the 747-8 before? How did it compare to the experience I detailed in this post?

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