Korean Air Business Class A380 (The Celestial Bar), Seoul, Republic of Korea (ICN) to New York, NY (JFK)

I have always had good experiences flying Korean Air whether in economy, business or first class.  Business class on Korean Air A380 is a special treat since this aircraft is the only Asian airline with an onboard bar, The Celestial Bar.  Worldwide, only a handful of airlines, including Emirates, Qatar and Etihad, offer on board bars.

Even though this the last international leg of the trip to Bangkok, I was very much looking forward to this flight from ICN to JFK.  The flight path covers 6,898 miles.   Leaving the Asiana business class lounge, I arrived at the boarding gate 25 minutes before the scheduled 10:00am departure.  Boarding was ongoing through the Sky Priority Lane and about to start for economy passengers.

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Departure gate at ICN

Many Asian carriers and airports have mastered the art of boarding aircraft without the usual crowding and blocking of access (gate lice) that normally accompanies boarding in the US.

Korean Air A380 Business Class Seat

Korean Air devotes the entire upper deck of the A380 to business class.  There are 94 Prestige Sleeper seats arranged 2-2-2 in three cabins.  The seats are 21.6 inches wide and have 74 inches of pitch according to Korean Air’s website.  The seats recline to full flat.

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The middle business class section which is the largest of the three upper deck cabins

My seat was 11H, a window bulkhead seat on the starboard side.  My preferred seats on this aircraft are in rows 20 (incredible leg room) or 21 in the rear section.  I like the window seats for the view and because of the spacious storage compartments next to the window.  These compartments are perfect for storing blankets, pillows , amenity kits, etc.  This flight was reasonably full, and it looked like 11H was the best bet to have a window seat with an empty seat on the aisle.

Amenities and Seat Features

Korean Air provides a well stocked amenity kit, slippers, and noise cancelling headphones but no pajamas.

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Amenity kit
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Amenity kit contents, including Davi face cream, cooling eye gel and lip balm, displayed on one of the storage compartments by the window

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A blanket and small pillow are placed on each seat before boarding.

Controls for the lie-flat seat are straightforward.

A/C power is located near the floor between the seats.  Two USB ports and the headphone connection are easily accessible at shoulder level.

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As on the Korean Air 777-300s, the tray table deploys easily without having to remove items from the console.

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The tray table is under the console but slides out and up easily

In the bulkhead seats the video screen is located in a compartment that is an extension of the console.  This extension provides some additional separation from the lower body of a seatmate, if there is one.  The video controller is mounted below the console in a somewhat awkward position.

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Video controller and small storage area below

Seat controls are located on the armrest.  It takes only one touch to move the seat to the position indicated on the control.20170420_010156

Pre-departure service consisted of pre-departure beverages (champagne, juice or water) and distribution of newspapers and headphones.

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Champagne and packaged nuts

At 10:00am the flight attendants (FAs) gave the traditional welcome bow to passengers.  The Service Manager, the head FA, also came by to introduce herself.  The pilots announced that the projected flight time to JFK was 13 hours and 17 minutes.  ETA at JFK was 10:43am almost 40 minutes ahead of schedule.

Pushback was at 10:07am.  We taxied to runway 15 right and departed at 10:22am.

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Departing 15R view from tail mounted external camera.

In-Flight Service 

The service began at 11:06 with hot towels.  The menus for the flight, which were distributed before takeoff, were:

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The pre drink service followed shortly after hot towels.

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Glenfiddich and king crabmeat puree

The appetizer was served at 11:30am.

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Roast chicken appetizer
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Wine with the appetizer

Soup and more wine at 11:45am.

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Celery and potato soup

The flight attendants served the entree at 11:56am.

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Beef tenderloin snap peas and mushrooms and mashed potatoes

Everything from the amuse bouche to the dessert was presented and prepared well and tasted great.  I chose the western steak (Australian or New Zealand  beef) for the entree because I knew it would be prepared medium as I requested, and the Korean bibimbap and bulgogi, although served more elegantly in business class, are pretty much the same as what is offered in economy.  Korean Air has won awards for its bibimbap.

The FAs brought the dessert cart at 12:16pm.  I always try a little of everything. 20170420_123403_resized20170420_121901_resized

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Haagen Dazs ice cream

I like being served from these carts and eating off of linen as opposed to trays.

The Celestial Bar

Back in the 80s, I flew many flights on Continental Airlines’ DC-10s that had a Pub where coach passengers could gather and order drinks.  Korean Air’s business class Celestial Bar at the rear of the upper deck reminds me of that era.  Bars on Emirates, Qatar, and Ethiad A380s maybe more opulent, but I’d put the Korean Air Celestial Bar right up there with any of them in terms of size, service and enjoyment.

The bar is sponsored by Absolut Vodka and serves featured vodka drinks.  The bar is staffed by a flight attendant.

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Flight attendant manning the Celestial Bar
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There is room to stand or sit and buckle in during turbulence.
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Reading material and large video screen

 

In addition to drinks, the bar offers some finger food (“anjou” I believe the Koreans call it) to consume while enjoying a beverage.

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Anjou to go with a drink

The Celestial Bar stocks only vodka.  When I asked for scotch the attendant brought the whole supply.20170420_150547_resized

There is another smaller, self-service lounge at the front of business class.

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Self-service lounge

The Celestial Bar and forward business class lounge are great places for getting up and stretching one’s legs and meeting and talking with fellow travelers.   We will see if features like this last as airlines struggle to make the A380 as profitable as possible or if they go the way of the lounges of the 70s and 80s like the Continental Pub.

For a snack I tried the Onigiri.

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Onigiri, a rice ball wrapped in seaweed

The onigiri was okay.  I liked the nori (seaweed) wrapping best.  Five hours before landing  we were served a light meal.  It was nice to have a meal rather than the breakfast foods that are usually served at the end of a long flight.

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Chicken thigh light meal main course
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Fruit dessert

There is a lavatory and galley in front of the bulkhead at seat 11H.  A curtain separates the lavatory and galley from the passenger cabin and there is a curtain at the entrance to the galley.  On a night flight with a darkened cabin, light from the galley was annoying when both curtains were not closed.   I mentioned it to the head flight attendant.  The flight attendants made sure the galley curtain was closed because passengers often failed to close the curtain to the passenger compartment when they went t the lavatory.

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When the curtain to the passenger cabin was open, the curtain at the galley kept light from the galley out of the cabin.

As usual, the lavatories were always clean.  They were stocked with dental and shaving items that were not included in the amenity kits.20170420_145957_resized

JFK Arrival

We started the descent over the Fingerlakes region of New York and touched down on runway 31 left at 10:52am.

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Short final to 31L at JFK. The weather was just like the departure at   ICN.

We reached the gate at Terminal 1 at 11:06am ahead of the scheduled arrival time of 11:20am.

Overall Impression

This flight reinforced my high regard for Korean Air and the experience in business class on the A380.  While the seating arrangement is not all aisle access and they do not provide pajamas, the food, service, beverages (primarily scotch), and the wonderful Celestial Bar make the Korean Air A380 an excellent choice for long haul business class travel.  It was the last flight on my Asia trip but definitely the best.

Other posts about this trip:

Delta CRJ 900 First Class, Charlotte, NC (CLT) to New York, NY (JFK) and a “Midfield” Takeoff

Delta Airlines SkyClub, New York, NY (JFK) Terminal 4

China Eastern Airlines Business Class New York, NY (JFK) to Shanghai, China (PVG) – Terminal 1 Check-in and Expedited Security Process

Quick Look, Korean Air Lounge, New York, NY (JFK) Terminal 1

China Eastern 777-300 Business Class, New York, NY (JFK) to Shanghai, China (PVG)

Transfer at Shanghai, China (PVG) and China Eastern VIP Lounge, Terminal 1

China Eastern 777-300ER Business Class, Shanghai, China (PVG) to Bangkok, Thailand (BKK)

Bangkok Hotel Review – The Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, A Starwood Luxury Collection Hotel

Bangkok Hotel Review –JW Marriott, The Best Hotel Lounge Buffet

Review — Air France/KLM Lounge, Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), Bangkok, Thailand

Korean Air 777-300ER Business Class, Bangkok, Thailand(BKK) to Seoul/Incheon, Korea (ICN)

Asiana Airlines Business Class Lounge Seoul/Incheon (ICN), Republic of Korea — Priority Pass Lounge Review

 

 

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