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 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.
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.
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: Sherry
Choice: There are two Korean dishes and two Western dishes to choose from.
Delivery: Trolley service
Type of meal: Lunch
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
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.
Choice: There is one Korean dish and two Western dishes to choose from.
Delivery: Trolley service.
Type of meal: Snack.
- Seasonal greens with roasted garlic, courgette and aubergine with dressing
- Rice cake soup
- Seasonal fresh fruit
- Selection from the bread basket
- 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.