Each year since opening in 2001, ICN has been ranked as one of the world’s best airports. That ICN has many good Priority Pass lounges only reinforces its high ranking in my view. The Korean Air Prestige Lounge in Terminal 1, though, was at best just an average airline business-class lounge.
The term “new and improved” is a cliche in American advertising. But when applied to the Prestige Lounges in the recently opened Terminal 2, that term is exactly correct.
I reviewed the five ICN Terminal 1 Priority Pass lounges (Part 1)and the three Priority Pass lounges in the Concourse Terminal (Part 2) on a prior lounge crawl. Part 4, covers the new Priority Pass lounges in Terminal 2. Part 3, Lounges?….We Don’t Need No Stinking Lounges, covers things to do at ICN other than sitting in a lounge.
ICN Terminal 2 opened in January 2018 just in time for the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea. Korean Airlines, joint venture partner Delta Airlines, Air France/KLM, and some other SkyTeam airlines are the only airline tenants. My Korean Air 737-800 flight from Beijing, People’s Republic of China (PEK) parked at the gate at Terminal 2 at 05:00. I was eager to disembark, see the new KAL Prestige Lounge, and investigate this new terminal that I’d heard little about.
Connecting passengers at ICN only need to go through security before entering the terminal. Terminal 2 has an enormous security area with many more lanes than were available in Terminal 1 or the Concourse. If most lanes are open, getting through security should be a breeze even at the busiest times.
After security, an escalator carries passengers up one level to the concourse near Gate 247.
To get to the Prestige Lounge East from here, do a 180 and head toward Gate 249. It is farther than one imagines, but the walk is pleasant and aided by moving walkways.
The use of local flora moderates the sterile look common in many contemporary airports.
Korean Air Prestige Lounge East
Korean Air grants access to Prestige Class customers, business class customers on SkyTeam carriers, SKYPASS Million Miler and Morning Calm Premium members, and SkyTeam Elite Plus passengers traveling in economy. One guest is allowed. Also having access are certain credit cardholders, Morning Calm members with a pass, and mileage redemption passengers using a lounge award. Of course, passengers travelling in first class can use this lounge, too. I got in because I was flying business class on Korean Air and my SkyTeam Elite Plus status as a Delta Airlines Diamond medallion.
Hours and Location
The East lounge is open from 04:00 to 24:00 daily. The West lounge opens two hours later and closes two hours earlier. The Korean Air Prestige Lounge East is located above a sign for tax refunds near Gate 249. The West Lounge is near Gate 253.
A luggage room with lockers lies just past the check-in/rep assistance counter.
A hall leads from the luggage room to the seating areas. Korean Air has definitely improved the seating compared to the old Terminal 1 Prestige lounge.
The main seating areas are open and spacious. They are in one large room that is divided into several distinct seating arrangements.
Electrical outlets with USB ports, receptacles for U. S. plugs, and places for food, beverages and personal items are available at about every seat. No need to get an adapter at the check-in desk. Although the open floor plan offers little individual privacy, the seating is very comfortable.
There is an area on the side of the lounge that provides recliners in a more private setting.
Those wanting to watch sports or news can retire to the large TV room on the left side (facing the windows) of the lounge.
Women can use a private relaxation room or nursing room just off the main seating areas. A smoking room is open to all.
Food and Beverages
The options for food and beverages in the Prestige Lounge in Terminal 1 and the KAL Concourse lounge weren’t very good. All of the ICN Priority Pass lounges offered significantly better food and beverages. The Prestige Lounges in Terminal 2 narrow that gap but don’t erase it completly.
The food service area is much larger than the one in the old lounge.
The biggest improvement is in the quality and quantity of hot entree offerings. Now one can create a satisfying meal, and that was hard to do in the old lounges.
The beverage offerings appear to be the same; however the presentation is enhanced. Korean Air has added a bar. The bar was unattended during my early morning stay but patrons could help themselves.
If Korean Air added Korean BBQ, ponchon and Charm Isul (sp?) soju, I’d be in seventh heaven. You?
The lounge has six shower rooms located on a hall at the rear of the lounge. I took a look but did not shower because time was short on this layover.
The toilets, of course, are high tech.
Other services and features of this lounge include wifi, newspapers and magazines, a sleeping area, and fax and printer. The wifi is fast as is the general rule in the Republic of Korea. I connected upon entering the lounge without logging in.
Perhaps the best feature of the Korean Air Prestige lounges at ICN is the cheerful assistance provided by the agents. Too bad that attitude hasn’t spread to some of the agents in the KAL lounges at JFK and LAX.
After exploring the Prestige Lounge East for an hour or so, I departed to complete The Great Seoul/Incheon Priority Pass Lounge Crawl by checking out the three new Priority Pass lounges in Terminal 2. That report will appears in Part 4.
Korean Air has greatly improved the food, look and feel of the Terminal 2 Prestige Lounges over the Prestige lounge in Terminal 1 and the KAL lounge in the Concourse Terminal. While every lounge looks better when empty and uncluttered, the East and West Prestige lounges should be able to handle crowding and still offer a much improved experience. As will be reported next, however, food and beverages at the Priority Pass lounges in Terminal 2 still surpass the offerings in the Terminal 2 Prestige Lounges.
In the battle between Asiana and Korean Air, the Asiana business-class lounges in Terminal 1 and the Concourse were a significant advantage for Asiana. The improved Prestige Lounges reduce that advantage. Plus, Korean Air and the new Prestige Lounges have improved their position just by being in Terminal 2. The beauty and functionality of this terminal are outstanding. For Terminal 2 and the new Prestige Lounges, Korean Air deserves a well done.