Korean Air requires little introduction. Founded in 1969, the globe-striding carrier and SkyTeam founding member has been frequently named among Asia’s top airlines over the decades since – and a recent accolade has only cemented its reputation.
If you’ve ever visited South Korea, there’s a high chance it was on one of Korean Air’s baby blue and silver birds. If this is the case, you’ll know it delivers more than just a way from A to B. And if not, it’s time the two of you became better acquainted.
That’s because on top of its network, lounges and seats, including lie-flat Prestige Class on the Dreamliner between Sydney and Seoul, the South Korean flag-bearer offers an authentic taste of its culture and cuisine, well before your feet touch foreign soil.
With the airline recently achieving a Skytrax 5-Star certification for the second year in a row – a mystery shopper-determined rating based on its seats, service, amenities and more – now’s an ideal time for a deep dive into what awaits when travelling on Korean Air.
The service and dining
South Korea is renowned for its culinary delights, from delicious bibimbap – nourishing bowls of varied meat and vegetables atop freshly-steamed rice, crowned by an egg – to just about everything you can imagine lavished in rich, spicy gochujang sauce.
The inflight dining on Korean Air adheres firmly to the brief, plating up a fresh and flavoursome classics (think bulgogi beef and spicy Korean pork in lettuce leaf wraps), in addition to more Western-oriented dishes.
Travellers seated in Prestige Class, the airline’s name for business class, on flights from Korea can also pre-order a meal of their choosing up to 24 hours prior to take-off. The menu includes a couple of exclusive dishes otherwise unavailable onboard.
Wines too are perfectly paired, with Korean Air collaborating with award-winner Marc Almert – named ‘World's Best Sommelier 2019’ by the International Sommelier Association – to whittle down a list of more than 150 wines from Australia, USA and Spain to just 50.
On the card are 19 wines in First Class (including a Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz from South Australia’s Eden Valley) plus 21 in Prestige, followed by a further 10 in Economy.
Complementing the taste bud-pleasing fare is characteristically Korean service: warm, caring and attentive with just the right amount of interaction to fit your preferred travelling style.
Korean Air operates a fleet of 157 aircraft – a mix of Boeing and Airbus, including the A380 superjumbo and 787 Dreamliner often found on international routes, as well as the recently-delivered A321neo found on regional hops.
For flights to and from Sydney, it’s the Boeing 787 which is regularly spotted at the aerobridges. Onboard is a two cabin configuration with 24 Prestige Class seats in a staggered 2-2-2 layout, meaning direct aisle access to every passenger.
As for the seat, it’s 21-inches (53cm) wide and slides down to a lie-flat sleeping position, with a full length of 75-inches (190cm) – enough room for someone 6’ 1” to stretch out.
Supplied noise-cancelling headphones allow you to take advantage of the 17-inch touchscreen, while a power outlet and USB charging port will keep your devices topped up and ready to go.
Brisbane to Seoul takes off on the Boeing 777-200, which features an alternate Prestige Class with angled-flat seat in a 2-3-2 layout.
The network and connectivity
From the United States to Singapore, Vietnam to Australia, Korean Air has an impressive global network, with its hub airports of Incheon and Gimpo acting as gateways to the world.
Seoul’s Incheon Airport is the chief hub, and it’s picked up an enviable list of awards over the years including being named ‘world’s best airport’ an impressive 12 years a row. Facilities, service and cleanliness are all part of its appeal, yet there are other big benefits.
Incheon is serviced by around 80 airlines from across the globe, with a reach from Europe to Oceania, Africa and beyond. When you also take into account Korean Air’s 36-strong list of codeshare partners, it offers seamless connections just about anywhere you want to go.
When transitting via the airport, travellers with a stopover of four hours or longer can also enjoy a taste of Korean culture with free transit tours covering food, history, and daily life.
There are four Korean Air lounges at Incheon Airport: KAL First Class Lounge and the Miler Club Lounge, the latter welcoming first class and frequent flyers who have flown a million miles or more, alongside two Prestige Class business lounges – East and West.
As you can imagine, the First Class Lounge is the star of the show. It adheres to an elegant, light and bright aesthetic and is filled with varied seating arrangements for privacy and conversation. Dining takes the form of both buffet and à la carte table service.
The Miler Club opts for a more contemporary design, giving frequent flyers plenty of space to work or relax. Given its exclusive access requirements, it’s the quietest of the four lounges.
Over in the Prestige lounges business class travellers will find an eclectic mix of seating choices to suit your mood, along with buffet dining for a pre-flight snack before tucking into the main course onboard.
Prestige Class passengers arriving at Incheon Airport can also freshen up with a complimentary Arrival Shower Service at the Grand Hyatt Incheon, right next door. Simply catch the free shuttle and hop off at the first stop, West Tower, and present your boarding pass to reception.
Thanks to Korean Air’s SkyTeam membership, lounge-worthy jetsetters bound from Sydney also have access to the newly-refurbished SkyTeam Lounge, which houses a live-cooking kitchen, private booths and a quiet zone. A fantastic option.
Given all of the above, it’s really little wonder Korean Air has received the five star rating – and it’s not resting on its laurels, with new aircraft waiting in the wings and international WiFi taking to the sky on select routes just this month.
Regardless if you’re a frequent flyer or it’s been a while since you’ve flown Korean Air, now is a perfect time to step aboard again and experience its award-winning service for yourself.
This article was produced in collaboration with Korean Air.