I was heading to Asia and decided to try Korean Air. My itinerary was Chicago O’Hare (ORD) – Seoul Incheon (ICN) – Hong Kong (HKG). This would give me a chance to sample Korean Air’s First Class product and it would also be my first flight on an A380 from Seoul to Hong Kong. I would have about a 3 hour layover at ICN.
This is part 1 of the trip report, including check-in and the lounge at ORD and the flight ORD – ICN.
Check-In at ORD
I arrived at Chicago O’Hare about 2 hours before departure time. Korean Air uses the International Terminal at O’Hare. There was a dedicated First Class check-in line with no queue, so I was promptly checked in within a minute. The agent offered to have someone escort me to security and then to the lounge. I politely declined, then proceeded to security.
There was a dedicated Business/First class security line with no line, so security was very efficient and took all of two minutes.
Lounge at ORD
The lounge is quite interesting. Korean Air has its own Business Class lounge at O’Hare, but it utilizes the Air France First Class lounge for its First Class passengers. What makes this a bit strange is that the Air France First Class lounge is simply a separate room within a business class lounge.
I was quickly welcomed and was shown the separate First Class lounge. It was a room with about 20 seats and small table in the middle with drinks and snacks. The agent asked if I wanted something to drink and served me a cup of coffee.
I was the only one in the lounge and it would remain that way for the duration of my stay. It gave me a chance to make a few calls without disturbing anyone and there were plenty of outlets to charge my electronic devices.
About 40 minutes before departure, the agent came back into the room and proceeded to escort me to the gate, to the front of the line, and down the jetway to the door of the aircraft where one of the cabin crew quickly showed me to my seat.
Korean Air Chicago O’Hare (ORD) – Seoul – Incheon (ICN) Boeing 747-400 First Class Seat 1J
The F seat on the 747-400 is one generation behind Korean Air’s latest Kosmo Suite, which can be found on A380 and 777-300ER aircraft and will be reviewed in part 2 of this trip report, but it is still a decent full-flat bed seat with plenty of room.
One nice thing about the seat is that the normal electrical outlet was in the side panel so it was very easy to charge an electronic device and either place it on the panel by the window or to use it while it is charging.
A glass of champagne would have to wait until we were airborne because the cabin crew could not serve alcohol on the ground at ORD. I opted for water instead.
There were slippers and a blanket at my seat. A Davi brand amenity kit was distributed along with pajamas and a small can of natural spray water. I have to admit the natural spray water actually was refreshing and kept my skin filling moist on this 13 hour flight. Unfortunately, I only took a picture of the slippers.
The door was now closed and there were 3 of 10 seats occupied in First including myself. I already had a feeling this would be a great flight. The purser stopped by my seat to make sure I was comfortable and to check if I had any questions. We chatted for a few minutes about the flight and the service.
Soon enough it was time for take off.
Lunch was served once cruise altitude was reached after take-off. We were now flying over Madison, Wisconsin, when lunch service began.
The lunch was amazing. All of courses were delicious. The bibimbap was very filling. By the time I received my green tea we were now flying over Northeastern Alberta, so during the lunch we flew over 1,000 miles.
I tried to relax a bit. The seat was really comfortable and I had no trouble resting. I don’t think I really slept that much but instead just rested and read a bit.
After a few hours I decided to move back into more of a sitting position. Within 10 seconds a member of the cabin crew approached my seat with a plate of cookies. This was perfect timing and really defines great customer service as they anticipated that I might want a snack and drink after resting.
The other mid-flight snack options included Ramen, but I was very happy with the cookies since I wasn’t too hungry after that large lunch.
A couple more hours passed and it was going to be time for the second meal of the flight. Another example of attention to detail was that the cabin crew asked me at what time I would like the second meal. I elected to have the second meal about 3 hours before landing.
The 2nd meal was tasty and the right size given the elaborate, large meal earlier in the flight.
The remainder of the flight went by quickly and soon enough we were on approach to Incheon. The purser once again stopped by to make sure I had a nice flight and to verify that I was flying on to Hong Kong.
Overall, this is probably one of the best experiences I have had on an airplane. The seat, even though one generation removed from the new Kosmo Suite, was comfortable and spacious. The food and drink was savory and plentiful. Most importantly, the cabin crew did an amazing job and the service was spectacular. I really felt that the service was genuine and that the cabin crew was trying their best to make sure I had a great flight.
I had about 3 hours at Seoul – Incheon. I will write about my transit at ICN as well as my ICN-HKG flight on the A380 in part 2 of this report.