Review: Korean Air A321neo business class

The SkyTeam member goes literally flat out with its latest regional business class seat.

Overall Rating

By Gordon Smith, April 5 2023
Korean Air A321neo business class
Route

Seoul-Jeju

Aircraft Type

Airbus A321neo

Airline

Korean Air

Cabin Class

Business

Notes
The Good
  • A fully lie-flat bed for short flights
  • AC, USB-C and wireless charging
  • Stylish design update
The Bad
  • 2-2 seating layout may bother some
  • Some footwells are too narrow and confining
X-Factor
  • A new direction for Korean Air's single-aisle experience
Service
Meals
Seating
Overall

Introduction

Korean Air’s latest regional business class sees the Seoul-based airline join the likes of Singapore Airlines and Starlux with fully lie-flat beds in a nimble single-aisle jet.

In this case that jet is the Airbus A321neo, which is set to become a heavy-hitter on Korean Air’s short- to medium-range routes over the coming years.

Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.
Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.

Executive Traveller stepped on board an early ‘proving flight’ between Seoul and Jeju – which actually rates as the world’s busiest air route – to see what travellers can expect.

In moving away from the business class recliner of Korean Air’s Boeing 737s, the new ‘Prestige Sleeper’ class also swaps the carrier’s familiar baby blue palette for a more premium look of patterned grey, black and rose gold trimming.

Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.
Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.

It’s not a million miles from that of the Starlux A321neo, which also uses the exact same seat (the Collins Aerospace Diamond) which is 19” wide and converts to an 82” flatbed.

Starlux's A321neo business class.
Starlux's A321neo business class.

And while the eight Prestige Sleeper seats are set in a 2-2 layout, the limited length of A321neo routes means the two-abreast configuration will only be a real drawback on longer overnight flights.

Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.
Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.

Korean Air’s A321neo business class cabin sees each of the two rows numbered as 7 and 8, with each row framed by three full windows for a very open feeling.

Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.
Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.

The shared ‘cocktail table’ between each two seats is one of the longest we’ve encountered, and if anything, it might be too long: the designated drink-holding area is almost out of reach, even when seated fully upright.

Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.
Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.

Closer to your seat is a wireless charging spot for smartphones...

Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.
Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.

... which is complemented by AC and USB-C outlets – the former at the front of each seat, the later tucked away on a shelf adjacent to the headrest.

Oddly, there’s no sign of the older but far more common USB-A outlet in Korean Air’s A321neo business class, despite each economy seat having a USB-A socket.

The A321neo’s extra-large overhead bins are fantastically generous when you consider there’ll be just eight passengers in the cabin.
The A321neo’s extra-large overhead bins are fantastically generous when you consider there’ll be just eight passengers in the cabin.

A literature pocket under the armrest could serve as a handy home for a tablet or thin laptop, except that it’s already bulging with the 150-page Morning Calm inflight magazine and 250-page Sky Shop brochure.

Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.
Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.

Just below each seat’s sizeable 17” video screen is a modestly sized shelf which can hold quick-access items such as a magazine or a small handbag.

Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.
Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.

The weighty tray table itself is quite robust for working on your laptop and includes a novel flip-up stand so you can watch movies on your own tablet or a large-screen smartphone.

Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.
Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.

Between each pair of seats is a frosted partition which, while being fixed in place rather than adjustable, strikes a balance between offering privacy for two solo travellers while keeping things open enough for those flying together.

Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.
Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.

The footwell area of the front row (seats 7A, 7B, 7D and 7E) is much wider than those of the second row...

Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.
Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.

... and especially more so than the narrow confines of seats 8A and 8E.

Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.
Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.

However, taller travellers may want to consider 8B and 8D if stretching out is a priority, as the ottoman footrests are deeper than those of row 7.

The 17” HD video screen fronting each seat is easily navigated through a responsive touchpad, with the option to use your mobile device (after punching in a four-digit code, the screen and our phone synched perfectly) with Bluetooth audio streaming available for your own noise-canceling headphones.

Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.
Korean Air's A321neo Prestige Sleeper business class.

Currently missing from the mix is WiFi, although Executive Traveller understands the carrier is eyeing May 2023 as a potential launch date.

The author travelled as a guest of Korean Air

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1209

What routes are Korean targetting for these new planes?  Obviously ICN-CJU was just a proving flight.  It wouldn't make sense having these seats on a flight basically the same length as MEL-CBR.

The article clearly says this is "an early ‘proving flight’ between Seoul and Jeju" and that the A321neo "is set to become a heavy-hitter on Korean Air’s short- to medium-range routes" so clearly it will be appearing on short-medium routes from Seoul, which basically means Japan, Southeast Asia, and China.

18 Sep 2015

Total posts 127

Good to see more airlines adding lie flat seats to their new narrowbodies.


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