First Impressions of Korean Air and Japan Airlines First Class

a seat in a plane

My recent trip to Korea and Hong Kong included many great memories, like climbing Mount Hallasan on Jeju Island and eating a lifetime’s worth of abalone.

But the trip also included highlights up in the air, since I was able to try two new First Class products. The full trip report is still to come, but for now, here are my first impressions.


Korean Air’s new Kosmo Suites 2.0

I got my first taste of Korean Air First Class in 2013 as part of the ex-RGN bonanza, and came back for seconds in 2014 on the way to the Maldives.

Both of those flights were in the old First Class product, and since then, Korean Air has released the refreshed Kosmo Suites 2.0. These seats are exclusively available on its Boeing 747-8i planes. Lucky for me, the route San Francisco and Seoul is serviced by one of those 747-8i’s.

The First Class cabin only has 6 seats, spread across three rows in a 1-1 configuration. This is in contrast to other airlines which squeeze anywhere from 9 to 12 seats in the same amount of space.

So even though the First Class cabin was at full capacity, it never felt crowded.


In a word, the updated seats were fantastic. They were incredibly comfortable and private, especially once we were allowed to close the doors after take-off.


We were fortunate to snag the two seats in row 1. This meant that we were seated in the nose of the plane and had ultimate privacy since there was no foot traffic in front of us, other than the handful of times that someone accessed the closet.

For that reason I would recommend selecting row 1 if available. And for those that like to keep in contact with their travel companion, you’re still within chatting distance across the hallway.


The Kosmo Suites 2.0 really takes Korean Air’s existing First Class product to the next level. Combined with the excellent service, above-average food, and plentiful award availability, this will continue to be one of my go-to options to Asia.


Japan Airlines First Class

The Japan Airlines Boeing 777-300ER cabin had 8 seats in the First Class cabin, spread across two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. With the increased density and the open suite design, there was a clear difference in the amount of privacy between this flight and the previous one on Korean Air.

The seat was perfectly comfortable, but in itself was nothing special.


However, the highlight of this flight was the food. This was, without a doubt, the best food that we have ever had on a flight.

Since we had been eating Asian food non-stop for the past week, for dinner I opted for the Western menu.


While my wife chose the Japanese dinner.


Overall both of the meals were incredible. Although as usual, she may have made the better choice. I stared enviously as each of her courses arrived, and snuck in a few bites!

My meal started with an impressive presentation of caviar.


Followed by a perfectly cooked steak that was a true medium-rare, and even had some impressive grill marks.


Lastly, for dessert I had this delicious Tarte Tatin.


This was a relatively short 9-hour flight that already had two scheduled meal services. So you would think that the snack menu would be limited to simple things, like chips and cookies.

But no, Japan Airlines does not mess around when it comes to food. The snack menu had 11 items to choose from! There is no possible way that you could leave this flight hungry.


The free wifi was also a nice touch, and even though the cabin was completely full, we still received very personalized service from the three flight attendants that were dedicated to the First Class section.

Overall, Japan Airlines’ First Class is a top-notch product, and in my opinion, has superior food to its Asian airline counterparts, including ANA, Singapore Airlines, and Cathay Pacific.

Sadly, this may be the one and only time I’m able to fly it given the massive AA devaluation.


  1. Luckily JL F between US and Japan only went up to 80k from 62.5k, so if you can book JL F, not a whole lot more expensive.

    Looking forward to the rest of the report!

    1. That’s a great point, and these days, 80k for F to Asia really isn’t that bad. Hopefully JL F is also available with Alaska Airlines miles once the partnership is official.

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