I flew Korean Air first class from ATL to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (SGN)!  This was the beginning of what was in fact a round-the-world trip with stops in Vietnam, Thailand and the Maldives.  Other posts about this trip:

Lounge Review – Korean Air First Lounge Seoul/Incheon (ICN)

Korean Air A330-300 First Class Seoul/Incheon to Ho Chi Minh City

Hotel Review – Park Hyatt Saigon

First Look – Thai Airways A350-900 Business Class Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) to Phuket, Thailand (HKT)

Thai 777-200ER Business Class Phuket to Bangkok and Domestic Royal Silk Lounge

13 Pictures – Vietnam Airlines A321 Economy Class and SkyTeam Lounges – Ho Chi Minh City to Bangkok And Return

Ethiad A330-200 Ho Chi Minh City to Abu Dhabi Or What the Ethiad Airways A330-200 and New Thai A350-900 Business Class Have in Common.

Lounge Review in 15 Pictures – Ethiad Business-Class Lounge Abu Dhabi

Ethiad A320-200 Pearl Business Class, Abu Dhabi to Male, Republic of Maldives

Hotel Review – Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort& Spa

Trip Report – MLE Lounge, Maldivian Airlines Dash 8, Male to Koodoo, Maldives, and Transfer to Park Hyatt Maldives

Hotel Review – The Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa!

Male Leeli Lounge and Ethiad A320-200 Pearl Business Class, Male to Abu Dhabi

First Look – Ethiad New First Class Lounge & Spa Abu Dhabi And a Bonus Review

Ethiad A380 First Class – Abu Dhabi to New York. The First Class Apartment!

The trip began with a flight from my home in Charlotte, NC to ATL to connect to the Korean Air flight to Seoul/Incheon (ICN) on a 777-300ER.  This flight was scheduled to cover 7,152 miles between ATL and ICN in 15 hours.

ATL-ICN via the Arctic Ocean

The flight to ICN was one of the best experiences I’ve had on a plane.


Typically an advance-purchase, first-class fare for this trip costs around $11,000 or more.  Instead of shelling out such an outrageous sum, I acquired my ticket with 90,000 Korean Air frequent-flyer miles.  To get the required miles I transferred to my Korean Air account 60,000 Starwood Starpoints (equaling 75,000 Korean Air miles) and 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

For the trip to Atlanta from my home in Charlotte, NC, I used 7,500 Avios from my British Airways account to book a coach seat on American Airlines.

Exit row economy seat American Airlines A319 from CLT to ATL.  Plenty of leg room for the 35-minute flight

Connecting in Atlanta

Terminal F Check In

I was a little disappointed by the experience at the Atlanta airport.  First, there is no TSAPre in the F Terminal where you must check in for Korean Air even if your departure is from the E Terminal on an A380.  Second, Korean Air first class passengers must use the Delta Skyclub in Atlanta.

Delta SkyClub Terminal F

The F Sky Club is one of the nicer Sky Clubs in the Delta system.  It has a Skydeck for outdoor viewing and nice showers.

Delta F Terminal Skyclub Skydeck

Overall, though, I’d give this lounge a B- as an international business-class lounge and a D as an international first-class lounge.

Bar and food service area Delta F Terminal Sky Club

The Flight to Seoul/Incheon


Boarding for KE 36 had begun when I arrived at Gate F5 after a short walk from the Sky Club.

Boarding gate on the F Concourse

Being in first class, I bypassed the line using the Sky Priority lane, walked right up to the gate agent handling the boarding and presented my Boarding pass and passport.  After a short wait in the jet bridge with other boarding passengers, the Korean Air flight attendants greeted me at the door and escorted me to my seat in first class.

I was impressed.

Seat 2A, a Kosmo Suite

I put my carry on in the overhead bin along with my backpack.  Once airborne, I stowed the backpack under the ottoman where it was out of the way but easily accessible during the flight.

The Amenities

First class always comes with a bunch of neat stuff to maximize comfort and enjoyment.

A packaged blanket and pajamas
Bose headsets
Korean Air first class amenity kit

Seat Features

Korean Air operates 777-300ER and 777-200 aircraft with the Kosmo Suite in first class.

Seat 2A Korean Air 777-300ER

The Kosmo Suite is a generous 26.5 inches wide and 79 inches long when reclined into a full-flat bed.  The Kosmo Suites 2.0 on the 747-8 is Korean Air’s newest first-class seat.  That seat offers an enclosed suite, but it is three inches narrower.

Seat 2A has four windows

The seat controls are straight forward and easily accessible on the right armrest.

Seat controls

The reading light is mounted on a post on the console beside the seat.  It is in a good position for directing variable illumination for reading, working  or eating.

Reading light with four levels of illumination

There are three storage compartments within easy reach.  These are ideal for securing things like wallets, glasses, headsets and amenity kits.

Storage compartment with USB outlets and headset connection


I put my amenity kit in one of the compartments and forgot to take it with me when I deplaned.  Damn.

The video screen is directly in front of the seat.  It is 23 inches wide.  The in-flight entertainment system offers a wide selection of the latest movies, TV shows, and documentaries as well as games, audio selections, landscape cameras and flight following.

The Korean Air 777-300ER has cameras in the nose and tail that are great for watching takeoff and landing

The tray table is recessed in the console on the left.  It pulls out easily and slides forward or back for eating or working.  The video remote control is also stored on the console.img_0395

The Service


While the seats and amenities on Korean Air aircraft are commendable, the service of the flight attendants is the real highlight.

The service began with a pre-departure beverage.  Only non-alcoholic beverages were offered as the attendant said they could not offer alcohol on departures from the US until after takeoff.  Hmm.  She promised to return with champagne once airborne.

Pre-departure beverage with nuts in a bowl

A couple of years ago on a flight from JFK, a Korean Air flight attendant made the mistake of serving a pre-departure beverage in first class with nuts in a package.  The head of in-flight service (who also happened to be the daughter of the Chairman of the airline) was on the flight.  She made the captain taxi back to the gate to have the offending attendant removed.  It made headlines in South Korea.

First Meal Service

Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque 2007 served as promised.


The menus for the flight had been provided before takeoff.

Cocktails and spirits

Champagne and Wine Choices:



Food menu:



Since our departure was at 12:20, the first and most elaborate meal of the flight was lunch.  The flight attendants began lunch service about one hour after take off.

Beef Tenderloin Dinner

Of the three options, I chose the beef tenderloin for the main course.  Korean Air has won awards for its Bibimbap, which I’ve had in coach and business class previously.  The business class version was almost identical to coach, so I wasn’t going to “waste” my first class choice on this simple but tasty Korean dish.  I’ve also had the beef and sea bass in business class on Korean Air.  Both had been excellent.

I was in the mood for beef and wanted to see how it was prepared in first class.


Pre-drink seared scallop amuse bouche

Then a choice of wine.img_0405

The appetizer follows.

Blue crab cannelloni and poached prawn on mango salsa

After clearing the appetizer, the flight attendant serves soup.

Champignon cream soup

The flight attendant prepares the salad at your seat to your specifications.img_0418

At last the beef tenderloin entree.  It was indeed prepared medium rare as I requested.

Grilled beef tenderloin with rosemary sauce

Desert is also prepared at the seat to individual specifications.img_0422

Even though I was quite full, I could not resist trying a little bit of everything.img_0424

I was in such a stupor after this meal that I forgot to get a picture of the pina colada cake and green tea ice cream.

Sleeping in the Kosmo Suite

After dinner I watched a movie and then asked the flight attendant to make the bed.  She reclined the seat to full flat and put down a mattress pad, sheet, pillow and quilt.  After getting into the pajamas, I slept soundly for almost five hours.img_0426-1

The First Class John

I changed into the Korean Air pajamas in the bathroom.  The bathroom is roomy, and the flight attendants keep the bathroom clean.img_0433


The first class bathroom is stocked with cloth hand towels, razors, and hand lotion in addition to the normal hand soap, paper towels and tissues.

The pajamas are very comfortable.  Pjs make sleeping easy and keep your clothes fresh.  When you change, the flight attendants hang your clothes in a closet at the front of the cabin.

The second meal service

I woke up before the time I’d asked to be roused by the flight attendant.  I started watching another movie.  The sound quality of the Bose headset is excellent b/t/w.  The attendant offered a refreshment.  I asked for cookies (rather than the ramen with side dishes) and I had a glass of wine to go with them.img_0434

About four hours before landing I ordered the second meal.  The second meal service is never as elaborate as the first even though this meal was called “dinner” in the menu.

I had the roasted chicken thigh, one of my favorite dishes at home.  It was preceded by warm bread and a garden salad prepared in the galley. img_0438

The chicken came with a pesto sauce, grilled polenta, and vegetable lasagna.img_0439

The chicken easily surpassed my homemade version.  A selection of fresh fruit was desert.

Final Thoughts

My enjoyment of premium cabin travel usually turns on the level of service provided. Korean Air flight attendants always provide service that is second to none.  The service on this flight topped even their normally high standards.  I had even more personal attention since only four of the eight first class seats were occupied on this flight.

The next posts will cover the Korean Air first class lounge at Incheon and the first class flight to Ho Chi Minh City.