Flight Review: Korean Air 747-8 First Class San Francisco to Seoul

Flight Review: Korean Air 747-8 First Class San Francisco to Seoul

1. British Airways “First Class” Lounge at SFO
2. Korean Air First Class San Francisco to Seoul
3. Korean Air Economy Class Seoul (Gimpo) to Jeju
4. Kensington Jeju Hotel (Seogwipo, Jeju Island)
5. Eating Jeju – the Ultimate Seafood Paradise
6. Korean Air Lounge at CJU (Jeju, Korea)
7. Korean Air First Class Lounge at ICN
8. Korean Air First Class Seoul to Hong Kong
9. Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Tsim Tsa Tsui
10. Conrad Hong Kong
11. Eating Hong Kong
12. Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong to Tokyo (Haneda)
13. Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Tokyo (Haneda)
14. Japan Airlines First Class Tokyo (Haneda) to San Francisco
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I could barely contain my excitement as I anxiously waited at the gate, counting down the minutes until boarding would begin. The gate agents finally gathered in a row and after their customary bow, I handed over my boarding pass and raced on-board the Boeing 747-8 that would be flying from San Francisco to Seoul.

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At the end of the jet bridge I was escorted leftward into the newly refurbished First Class cabin that featured Korean Air’s new Kosmo Suites 2.0. This cabin was about as open as I’ve ever seen with only 6 suites placed in the nose of the 747, where other airlines may try to squeeze in twice as many in the same amount of space.

In fact, even though the First class cabin was at full capacity on today’s flight, it honestly still felt like we had the place to ourselves.

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The suites were incredibly spacious and had more than enough space to get comfortable for the 12-hour flight. While the white and teal color scheme may seem boring or subdued to some, I’d take that any day over the “blingy” gold trim that you’ll find on other carriers.

We ended up placing our carry-on bags in the closet at the front of the cabin, and made use of the additional storage along the side of the suite for smaller personal items.

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While the seat was comfortable at first, it actually ended up feeling a bit short and narrow as the flight went on. In particular, it felt like the seat was made even narrower by the immovable armrests – good thing I hadn’t eaten too much at the lounge ahead of time!

The suite had great lighting fixtures, with the lamp behind the seat and two additional reading lights overhead that could be set at varying degrees of brightness.

And most importantly there was an air conditioning vent that is often missing in First Class, but the cabin was actually kept at a cool temperature throughout the flight anyways.

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We occupied seats 1A and 1J which were at the very front of the plane. I’d highly recommend these seats as there was literally no foot traffic in front of us, and therefore extremely private.

For those traveling with a companion, these seats are also the closest proximity to each other, while rows 2 and beyond get progressively further apart. Row 1 was close enough to carry on a brief conversation, but far enough to sit back for some alone time!

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The seat was decked out with a large TV screen which was controlled with the handheld remote at the seat. Korean Air’s Beyond system worked very smoothly, but the content selection was somewhat limited.

One strange quirk was that the electrical plug was underneath the footrest which meant that the charging cord dangled across the seat when the device was placed on the armrest. However, there was also a USB charger next to the armrest for smaller devices.

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The amenity kit and pajamas were identical to what we had last received a couple years back, which was great since I’m a big fan of the Davi lotions and creams.

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Shortly after takeoff, menus were distributed and it was time to eat!

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As I was making my decisions, macadamia nuts were handed out and I paired them with a glass of champagne.

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Meal service started with a bruschetta amouse bouche.

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Followed by the caviar service.

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Up next was the soup, which was followed a mobile salad bar which was wheeled over to the seat. The salad was customized and paired with your choice of 3 dressings. The best part of a customized salad was having all the greens covered with bleu cheese and anchovies, which I’m sure more than negates any health benefits.
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korean-air-first-class-salad

I’m philosophically opposed to ordering the Bibimbap since i can get that for lunch for $10 near my office, so instead I went with the beef tenderloin. The flight attendent asked how I wanted it cooked, and I responded with “medium rare” even though I was fully expecting well-done, since that is generally how all steaks end up being served on an airplane. To my surprise, the steak was cooked very well and was incredibly tender, although it lacked much flavor without the sauce.

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Next up was the cheese course.

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And finally a pretty mediocre raspberry mousse cake paired with a heaping scoop of delicious vanilla ice cream.

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After dinner the flight attendent helped setup the bed, but since it was only early evening Pacific Time at this point, was only able to catch about 3-4 hours of sleep. This is why I much prefer the redeye flights that leave around midnight, even though some people may feel that it doesn’t allow you to “maximize” the First Class experience.Just for fun I had the flight attendant unlock the doors to the suite, which were kept latched until after the meal service. In reality, since there was no foot traffic near the seat, the doors were not really necessary other than to provide an extra layer of privacy.
korean-air-first-class-bed-2
About halfway through the flight I started to get a bit hungry, but neither of the two refreshment options really appealed to me. With about four hours left to go I was about to cave in and order something, when the second meal service started. I was a bit surprised since typically the second meal happens just an hour or so before landing.

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The meal started with a refreshing salad.

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Followed by the seafood udon noodle dish.

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And a fruit bowl to finish.

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Overall this was an excellent flight, highlighted by the service which was a perfect mixture of attentiveness while also leaving you with enough space to relax. For example, I even noticed that each time i went to the bathroom my seat was tidied up by the time I returned. Also, I really enjoyed the new Kosmo Suites 2.0, and given Korean Air’s amazing award availability, will almost certainly be flying this product again on future trips to Asia.

8 Comments

  1. The food and its presentation looked underwhelming. It looks very simple for a First Class product.

    Reply
    • It certainly wasn’t a highlight of the flight, but not terrible either.

      Reply
  2. Thanks for the report. No dine on demand, pajamas, slippers? I’ve never flown KA but want to try their Kosmos 2.0 and hope to on a shorter route, e.g. ICN-SIN. Sometimes they rotate aircraft with the 2.0 seat. That said, the cabin does look boring and I agree with the other OP regarding food presentation. One of the best F cabin decors I’ve experienced is Qatar A380. I don’t care for the enclosed suites (flew JAL’s and ANA’s F cubicles), but prefer a more open F cabin like Qatar and Air France.

    Reply
  3. Going to be flying one way from SFO to BKK on this plane. In your opinion, is it worth the extra 20k points per person to go from business class to first class.

    Reply
    • Yes, yes, yes. I flew Korean Air Biz Class a month later and it really is no comparison, for 20k additional point it’s definitely worth it.

      Reply
      • Sorry for the follow up question in advance. Just found out that the flight I want would have me in first class on the 747-8 to inchen Korea, but then form Inchen to Phuket, they would put me in prestige class in a normal sleeper seat, not the sleeper suite. Is it still worth the 20k extra points in your opinion? I am leaning towards doing it anyways, but was curious if being bumped to business would be a deal breaker.

        Reply
        • It’s not ideal, but personally I’d still do it. The SFO-ICN leg alone is worth the buy-up, even if you won’t get F onward to Phuket. Would also recommend verifying if you’ll get F lounge access in ICN – each airline has its own rules.

          Reply
          • Thank you for the reply. I am still leaning towards taking that flight. If I go to bangkok instead I get first the whole way so I am considering that one as well. Thanks for the tip on checking if I still get lounge access. As for the business class product, I dont mind the seats but I will miss the first class service.

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