Korean Air, Business Class – Boeing B 777-300: Seoul to Frankfurt



I suppose it probably is unusual for me to take as much as four flights with the same carrier in one trip. Perhaps that is also why I am not really quite sure what else to write about on this last leg of my journey. Having said that, I think the fact that I really am somewhat at a loss for what to write is a testimony to the consistency and strength of the Korean Air product. On all the flights I have taken, the crews have been excellent, friendly and very professional.

In the sum of all things, I think Korean Air is highly underrated. But possibly that is just my perception because I live in Switzerland. Although Korean Air flies to Zürich, they are not at all prominent in the market, most likely because the Swiss market is such a Star Alliance stronghold. In a way, Korean Air feels a lot like an invisible airline, and I can not fully explain why, because I think they can certainly hold their own compared to many of the other Asian carriers.

In my view, the only area where Korean Air is seriously lacking, is the inflight entertainment. The selection is really very limited and the available choices are somewhat strange. The Business Class earphones are nothing to write home about either. But at least you can work your way around that problem and use your own pair. The standard plug works.


My first stop is at the check-in counters on Row C to drop off my bag for the flight to Frankfurt. My boarding pass for the flight was already issues the day before when I checked in for the flight from Auckland to Seoul. The check-in agent writes the gate number on my boarding pass and wishes me a pleasant journey.


The airport is very busy this morning, especially the Korean Air counters. The line for Economy Class check-in is winding itself along the length of rows A, B and C. Even so, everything is neat, calm and orderly and even security and emigration do not take long to complete, despite all the passengers.


The Korean Air Lounge

In contrast, the Korean Air lounge is nearly deserted this morning. Later on, one of the flight attendants explains to me that there is a big Korean holiday in two days time. I suspect that might explain the long queue for Economy check-in and the lack of Korean passengers in the Business Class lounge.



As it happens, my flight today will be boarding from gate 22, from where I caught the flight to Nadi earlier in the week. There do not appear to be any First Class passengers on today’s flight.


The Cabin

The load on today’s flight is very light. Of the fourteen seats in the forward Business Class compartment only six are occupied. One of the cabin crew confirms that there are many empty seats on today’s flight.


The Crew

Once the doors close, the cabin crew position themselves in both aisles at the front if each cabin compartment and bow as the first announcement is made, welcoming passengers aboard. Once the announcement is finished, the purser comes by to introduce herself personally and thank each passenger for flying Korean Air. It is obviously just a small gesture, but I think it has style.


The Meal

Welcome drink on the ground: A choice of sparkling wine, still water, guava juice or orange juice, served with a packet of coated peanuts.
Hot towel before the meal: Scented hot towel
Pre-meal drink:
There are two Korean dishes and two Western dishes to choose from.
Trolley service
Type of meal:


Amuse Bouche

Green olive, mozzarella and cherry tomato in olive oil.


The First Course

Seared scallops with mixed salad, black mushroom and filled aubergine.


The Main Course – Bibimbap


The Cheese

Crackers and cheese – Chaumes, Carré de l’Est, St. Maure de Touraine.



Mocca Chiffon cake.


Just as the meal finishes, I look out to see we are just passing over Beijing, the airport clearly visible from above.


The Second Service

Hot towel before the meal: Scented hot towel.
There is one Korean dish and two Western dishes to choose from.
Trolley service.
Type of meal:

  1. Seasonal greens with roasted garlic, courgette and aubergine with dressing
  2. Rice cake soup
  3. Seasonal fresh fruit
  4. Selection from the bread basket
  5. Tea or coffee

The second service starts four hours out of Frankfurt. By the time the service is completed, we still have three hours to go to our destination. So the lights go out again. This is really the one thing I do not understand about Korean Air. Would it not make more sense to start the service later, rather than waking people up to feed them in mid-flight, at the risk of them not being able to fall asleep again?

The rice cake soup was a mistake, by the way. Like a really big mistake. It is not that the meal was badly cooked or anything like that, it is just that it does not really tasty of anything much. When the cabin crew sees my plate is still full, she immediately offers to bring me something else from the menu. She seems genuinely upset that I did not like the dish. I try to explain to her that it is okay, but she seems reluctant to let it go.


45 minutes out of Frankfurt the captain makes an announcement to inform us that we have started our initial descent. The cabin crew make one last drink round, offering water and juices and then secure the cabin for arrival.


Korean Air uses Terminal 2 in Frankfurt. I collect my suitcase and head over to Terminal 1 from where my flight to Basel will be leaving.

Korean Air, Business Class – Boeing B 777-300: Frankfurt to Seoul



I only arrived back from a meeting in Amsterdam yesterday, and today I am off again. So I can hardly say I am well prepared for this trip. But that does not matter that much anyway. I am on vacation. In fact, I am on my way to attend the wedding of a very old and dear friend of mine. So as long as I arrive in time for the cake, everything else will be just fine.

Getting to the Airport

I arrive in Frankfurt just before four in the afternoon on a Lufthansa flight from Basel. With all the changes Lufthansa is making right now, I do not think I could say whether the flight was operated by Lufthansa, Lufthansa Cityline (Do they still exist?) or Germanwings. But it is of no real importance one way or another.

I pick up my suitcase from the A arrivals concourse in Terminal 1. My flight to Seoul with Korean Air will be leaving from Terminal 2.


To get there, turn right upon exiting customs and keep on walking until you reach the escalator. From there, head one floor up, which should bring you to the main Lufthansa check-in area. There are signs indicating the way to Terminal 2, although in fact eventually they will lead you to the automated people mover that makes the journey between Terminals 1 and 2 in approximately two minutes.



Location: Korean Air has its own dedicated check-in counters on the D concourse of Terminal 2.
Facilities: There are six counters: the Duty Manager’s counter, one First Class counter, one Business Class counter, one Morning Calm counter (KE’s loyalty programme) and then two Economy Class counters.


The check-in agent is friendly enough I guess, but her welcome is far from courteous. I place my case on the belt and hand her my passport. She types my name into the check-in system and then belches out a loud and obviously very annoyed ‘Was soll denn das jetzt wieder – Now what?’. Apparently they only just switched to a new reservations systems which requires the agents to verify that you are in possession of the credit card with which you made the booking. Eventually one of the Korean Air staff comes along, explains every thing and finishes checking me in. With my boarding pass I also receive an invitation to the Sky Lounge Korean Air uses here in Frankfurt.

The Sky Lounge

Location: The Sky Lounge is located before the security check for gates D1 – D8, from where my flight will be leaving this evening.
Type of Lounge:
Contractor lounge
Toilets and showers are available in the lounge. There is a small area with workstations. As far as food options are concerned, there is a buffet with a small selection of cold food – sandwiches, Würstchen with potato salad and gherkins, doughnuts, slices of cake.
Internet: There is a bowl with wifi codes and passwords at the reception desk. However, as soon as I select the correct network I am online, without having to provide neither a username nor a password.

The Sky Lounge is, admittedly, not particularly nice. In fact it reminds me a lot of those ghastly lounges you find at American airports, which usually have the sad and tired look of a mid-range hotel lobby. Still, the lounge’s saving grace is that it has windows, providing an excellent vantage point for aircraft making their approach to the northernmost runway as they fly past fairly low above the ground.



There is a priority lane for security. Boarding is via the L1 door for First and Business Class passengers. Boarding for all other passengers is via the L2 door.


Boarding for my flight is scheduled to begin at 19h15. So I leave the lounge thirty minutes before. I still need to go through security. I am travelling with a cuckoo clock – the wedding gift for my friends – which caused a bit of a stir when I left Basel earlier. So security might take a moment.

The Cabin

Configuration: 2 x 3 x 2
Seat: 8A, window
Pitch: 74 inches
Width: 21 inches
Facilities: Reading lamp, USB port, power outlet.
Length as a bed:
Audio and Video:
Audio and video on demand. The selection of films is somewhat limited and a bit strange, think ‘Charades’ with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. I mean, seriously?

There is a total of 56 seats across eight rows, with a mini Business Class cabin of only two rows located between the First Class cabin and the L2 galley. That is where I am sitting. I suspect that previously this may have been part of the First Class cabin, because there are no overhead bins over the middle aisle, contrary to the main Business Class cabin.


Korean Air’s configuration on the B 777-300 is pretty standard, it is a classic set up. The configuration with three seats abreast on the middle row though, is a bit antiquated, especially given the fact that carriers like Cathay Pacific have long switched to a 1 x 2 x 1 configuration. Having said that, I recently saw a press release in which Korean Air announced that it was introducing a new cabin layout across its B 777-300 fleet that will be introduced with the arrival of new aircraft.

The seat Korean Air has is pretty similar – if not even the same – to the one Air France has in stalled and is currently in the process of replacing. It is a comfortable enough seat to sleep. When fully extended to a bed, the seat is only lightly angled. However, it is slightly too short. I am 184 cm tall and am unable to fully stretch my legs.


Earphones, a blanket and pillow and slippers have already been placed at every seat before boarding. A vanity kit and the menu are distributed after take off.


The Crew

The crew on this flight are pretty much what you would expect. They are all very polite and attentive in the way they go about their work. The guy on the other side of the aisle from me has fallen asleep sitting upright. I think he was out before the wheels even left the ground. Later on when on of the cabin crew comes round taking orders for dinner, she fetches a blanket to cover him up and extends his seat into a bed. Other than that though, the crew seem reserved, but that is mainly a cultural thing I think.


The Meal

Welcome drink on the ground: A selection of still water, orange juice and guava juice and served with nuts.
Hot towel before the meal: Yes, scented.
Pre-meal drink: Orange juice, served with a capsicum and eggplant dip with sundried tomato and an olive and garlic focaccia.
Choice: There are three choices for the main course.
Trolley service.
Type of meal:



Amuse Bouche

Grilled scallop.


The First Course

Mixed seafood with a fresh green salad and Thousand Islands dressing.


The Koreans use metal chopsticks instead of wooden ones.


The Main Course – Bibimbap


This is just a minor detail, but I notice during the meal service that there are no salt and pepper shakers on the trays of passengers who have chosen the Korean option for the main course. Quite apparently bread is also not foreseen if you are having the Korean dish.

For the main course I am having the Bibimbap. It is a very typically Korean dish made with seasonal vegetables and cooked minced beef. The get the full on Bibimbap experience, here is what to do:

  1. Dump the rice in the bowl with all the other ingredients.

2. Take the sachet of sesame oil and poor it over everything.


3. Take the tube of Korean chilli paste and squeeze that into the bowl as well.


4. Use the spoon provided to give everything a good stir and mix it until it starts to look like somebody just threw up on your plate.


Your Bibimbap is ready to eat. As condiments there are pickled onions and cucumber served with the dish. I think it is delicious!


The Cheese



Panna cotta with strawberry.


Once the tray is cleared away, I extend the seat into bed mode and go off to sleep. Earlier in the day I had been to the gym, which usually leaves me feeling completely knackered. So as soon as my head hits the pillow, I am out like a light.

I awake just over two hours out of Seoul.


The Second Service

Hot towel before the meal: Yes, scented
Pre-meal drink:
Guava juice
There are two choices for the main course
Trolley service
Type of meal:

  1. Selection of bread with butter and jam.
  2. Quiche Lorraine with potatoes, grilled vegetables and a pork sausage.
  3. A selection of jam.
  4. A selection of fruit.
  5. Coffee and tea.

The second service begins with the distribution of a refreshing scented hot towel, which is followed by a glass of juice. For some reason the juice is served in a plastic cup.



The service is completed with one hour to go to Seoul. I change back into my winter clothes and spend the rest of the flight gazing out the window. To me, the view from up here is simply addictive.

Our approach is a circuitous one, presumably there are a few restrictions in place towards the north of the airport. But it also looks as though Incheon is rather busy at this time of day, so we end up doing quite a few rounds before eventually we are cleared to make the final approach and land.


Getting to the Hotel

Transport: Complimentary shuttle bus
Departs from: Door 14
Frequency: Every thirty minutes at 15 and 45 past the hour
Journey time: Fifteen minutes

In Seoul I shall be staying at the Nest Hotel in Incheon, which only recently opened. I chose this hotel due to its close proximity to the airport and the fact that I simply liked the way it looked.