Flight Review: Korean Air First Class A380 ICN – LAX

We flew this flight (KE11) in July 2017 as part of our trip around the world. This flight was in Korean Air First Class on an Airbus A380.

The one-way flight cost us 80,000 Korean SkyPass miles + $80 in taxes/fees per person. I earned all of the Korean Air miles by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards. If we would’ve paid for these seats in cash, it would have cost us around $6,575 per person. That means we got a value of over 8 cents per point.

Boarding and Initial Thoughts

There were 12 seats total in our first class cabin. The way Korean Air has their A380 setup is that the business class cabin is situated on the upper level (Yes, this airplane had two floors). On the main level, you have the cockpit, a foyer and stairs up to the second level, the first class cabin, followed by the premium economy and economy cabins.

As we took our seats, we noted that there were four other passengers seated with us in the first class cabin. Since we were in first class, we were one of the first 10 or so people to board, which meant we had probably 30-40 minutes before the plane was fully boarded. During this time, the flight attendants helped us store our luggage and provided us with a warm towel. They also came by and offered to store my jacket, which they returned to me at the end of the flight.

We were given an amenity kit, which was filled with lotions, sprays, creams, eye mask, toothbrush, and much more. The flight attendants came around again and asked what size pajamas we would like. I was so excited for these! Pajamas are pretty much only given out in first class with the exception of a couple airlines. My wife and I both asked for small pajamas, which fit us both pretty well.

The Seats

We selected the middle seats in the first row 1E and 1D. These seats are more ideal for couples rather than having an aisle separating you or sitting behind one another. Korean Air calls these seats their Kosmo Suites. They are an open air suite, unlike their Kosmo Suites 2.0, which actually have sliding doors that allow for additional privacy.

Each seat has a control panel, which are pretty much like your power seating controls in a car. You can move your seat up, down, forward, back, reclined, flat, etc. The controls weren’t super intuitive, but after playing around with it for a bit I figured out what each button did.

The seat itself was pretty wide and the cushions were comfortable. To be completely honest, there was almost too much legroom in this seat. When seated, my feet could not touch the ottoman in front of me. I like having the option to put my feet up even when I’m seated. This makes taking off and landing (when you can’t be reclined) much more enjoyable. However, all the extra legroom meant that the seat could recline straight into a completely lie-flat bed with tons of space.

There was a throw blanket that you could use while you were seated, but when they made up your bed they pulled out an actual comforter and mattress pad. This made the seat/bed significantly more comfortable to sleep on.

There was a reading light that was placed on the inside armrest of the middle seats. It was kind of odd placing and I wish they would have built it into the seat better. It kind of looks like a water fountain of some sort. There was plenty of storage around the seat, which is a huge plus for me. My messenger bag also easily fit under the ottoman, which allowed for easy access.

In-Flight Entertainment

This was one of the areas that was severely lacking on this Korean Air flight. There was not much of a selection in terms of movies and only 1 or 2 episodes of a handful of TV shows. Granted it, we were at the end of a long trip where we had flown several different airlines and watched countless movies/TV shows. Nonetheless, my wife and I both felt there weren’t enough options on the in-flight entertainment system.

In-Flight Meal: Lunch/Dinner

For dinner, I decided to be adventurous and chose the preset Korean dish called hansik jeongchan. This dish actually consisted of many small dishes that you ate together. It was quite delicious, but a little difficult to eat.

After the main course, they served some cheese and crackers followed by a delicious dessert.

In-Flight Meal: Breakfast

After catching some much needed sleep, we were served some breakfast. There wasn’t anything super special about breakfast. I ordered an egg frittata and mushroom, which tasted okay, but I wasn’t a huge fan.

In-Flight Experience

In the foyer between the first class cabin and the bathroom, they had a little mini bar where snacks and drinks were laid out throughout the flight. It’s a neat concept, but I’d honestly rather just ask the flight attendants to mix me a drink.

Now I’m not one to usually take pictures in the bathroom, but I just had to snap a picture of this first class bathroom. It was a little bit bigger than your normal airplane bathroom, but the coolest feature was that it had an actual window!

Overall Thoughts

In these flight reviews, I’ll typically rate the hard and the soft product. The hard product is primarily anything that is attached to the plane itself. Examples of the hard product would be: the seat, in-flight entertainment system (not the content), on-board amenities. Whereas the soft product would include things that might be different from flight to flight. Examples of the soft product would be: food, service, amenity kits.

My rating (1-10, 1 being awful and 10 being awesome) of this flight would be as follows:

  • Hard Product: 7
  • Soft Product: 5.5

Hard Product: The seat itself was very comfortable as was the bedding. There was quite a bit of room around the seat, but given that it was an open suite there wasn’t much privacy. However, the on-board amenities (i.e. minibar and bathroom) were definitely a nice touch.

Soft Product: The amenity kit and pajamas were great. The food wasn’t really anything to write home about, which brought my rating down a bit. Considering we were in first class, I didn’t really sense much of a difference in terms of service. The flight attendants were attentive and friendly though. The content on the in-flight entertainment system was mediocre at best.

Overall, I would rate this flight a 6.5 out of 10. There isn’t too much of a difference in cost between first class and business class on Korean Air (when using their miles). However, in the future, we may try to save some points and just fly in business.