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Back to the Islands: Korean Air First Class SFO-ICN, British Airways lounge at SFO

1. Introduction
2. Korean Air First Class SFO-ICN, British Airways lounge at SFO
3. Eating our way through Seoul + Park Hyatt Seoul
4. Korean Air First Class ICN-CMB-MLE, Korean Air First Class Lounge at ICN
5. Back to the Islands: Cocoa Island by COMO
6. Cathay Pacific Business Class MLE-HKG-SFO, CX lounges at HKG

Our flight was scheduled for departure at 1:30pm so we left for the airport around 11am and arrived to the check-in counter by 11:30am. I had already checked-in online so they just verified the credit card used for booking as well as my return itinerary since I had only booked a one-way on Korean Air to the Maldives.

The A side of the international security was very empty and within minutes we were at the British Airways lounge which is shared with Korean Air. The lounge feels very new with open space and lots of natural light. There are two seating areas, one for Business class and a separate one for First class passengers. Each has a pretty decent selection of food (soup, sandwiches, cookies) and drinks.

This was definitely one of the nicer domestic lounges I’ve been to, and one of the best parts is being able to board directly from the lounge. The only other time we’ve been able to do this was from the Emirates First Class Terminal in DXB and it makes the whole boarding experience so much less hectic – hopefully this is something that more and more airlines will adopt.

British Airways lounge at SFO – Business Class area

First Class seating area

View from the lounge – our ride to ICN

Boarding straight from the lounge

We boarded and were shown to our seats, 2D/G. There are 8 F seats in the cabin and the load was very light today. In fact, we were the only customers, with the 2 seats in front of us reserved for crew rest, so we basically had the cabin to ourselves.

This was actually our 2nd time in Korean Air F, the 1st coming on our return home BKK-ICN-SFO as part of the the ex-RGN round 1 fares. Back then I was still a budding trip reporter and it was only the 2nd F flight I’d ever taken.

Now with a few more flights under my belt, I’m glad that I had another chance to experience Korean Air and I absolutely loved it. The food and service were among the best we’ve ever had, just the right amount of warmth and proactivity without feeling like they are always keeping an eye on you. At a couple points during the flight it almost felt like they read my mind. In one instance I was ready for a snack, and before I could push the call button the flight attendant showed up with freshly baked cookies. No way I could say no to that!

In my opinion there are only a couple of things that are holding them back from being among the cream of the crop. First is the hard product which reminds me a lot of the TG A380 F suite – certainly good but not world class. There’s more than enough space and the bed is quite comfortable, but there isn’t a lot of privacy. Also the IFE really didn’t have much of a selection of movies, and there is only 1 bathroom which became a bit hectic just between the 2 of us and the crew. Can’t imagine what it would be like with a full crowd.

Korean Air Kosmo Suite

IFE controller

Reading lamp

Seat controls

Shortly after take-off the flight attendants came by to pass out pajamas and amenity kits. Both were the same brands that we had received on our flights a couple years ago.

The first meal was lunch and it was spectacular. It started with a small amuse bouche, followed by caviar service (including a proper caviar spoon for the purists), a delicious soup, hand-prepared salad from the cart, and delicious tenderloin of beef that was a true medium rare as requested. This was then followed by cheese, fruit, and lastly red velvet cake with ice cream.

At the end of the meal I honestly couldn’t move and food coma set in immediately. I requested turn down service and got comfortable but just couldn’t sleep as the cabin was way too hot. Why don’t seats these day have air vents!? I ended up tossing and turning for a couple hours before giving up on trying to sleep.

Lunch menu

Snack/Dinner menu

Table setting

Amouse bouche


Caviar service

Potato cream soup

Salad – love that it has anchovies

Beef tenderloin – perfect medium rare

Cheese selection

Red velvet cake

So instead of sleeping I did the next best thing, and got right back to eating. The snack menu has just a couple options with ramen and cookies, and I sampled them both. The flight attendants were great at checking in at regular intervals and always making sure we had refills of bottled water throughout the flight.

Turndown service, really comfortable bedding

Ramen snack, spicy!

Before landing we had one more which was much smaller but again really delicious, highlighted by the sea bass.

I’m a sucker for a good focaccia

Chilean sea bass with purple cauliflower

As you can tell, I’m a huge fan of Korean Air, and overall we had a fantastic flight. Between the quality of the flight and the wide open availability of premium award space, this has become the primary destination for my Chase UR points.

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