With four international lounges at Seoul's Incheon Airport, Korean Air brands two of them as 'Prestige Lounges', being open to travellers flying in Prestige Class (business class), as well as many SkyTeam Elite Plus frequent flyers who share the same space.
Prestige Lounge East is the smaller of those two lounges – the other being Prestige Lounge West, and twice the size – and while both offer much the same services, Prestige Lounge East can often be quieter: overlooked by many travellers, but the go-to of those in the know.
Location & Impressions
Once through passport control and security, turn left after the main checkpoint, or if coming from a transit area, you'll either spot signs for the Prestige Lounge East, or for gates 249+. You'll know you're heading in the right direction if this is your view:
The lounge is up an escalator, shared with the nearby transit hotel.
Once inside, the bright and airy space offers a variety of seating suited to solo travellers, pairs and groups.
Many of the seats offer access to AC and USB power, as you'd expect.
In some areas, those power outlets are built into cocktail tables, allowing you to keep any devices out of your way when they're plugged in and recharging.
However, just because you see a cocktail table doesn't always mean there's power available, so select your seat accordingly:
Korean Air's Prestige Lounge East opens daily between 6am and 10pm. Korean's separate Prestige Lounge West has wider daily opening hours of 4am to midnight, if your flight is departing early or late in the day.
- Business class passengers of Korean Air and those of its SkyTeam partners Aeroflot, Aeromexico, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, Czech Airlines, Delta, Garuda Indonesia, KLM and XiamenAir on flights from Terminal 2, along with former SkyTeam member China Southern by special arrangement.
- SkyTeam Elite Plus frequent flyers travelling with any of the SkyTeam airlines above (China Southern excluded).
- China Southern Sky Pearl Club Gold members prior to China Southern flights only.
- Korean Air Morning Calm Premium Club and Million Miler Club members travelling in economy.
- Korean Air Morning Calm Club members using one of their four yearly lounge invitations.
- Other Korean Air Skypass members who purchase a Korean Air Lounge Award for 4,000 Skypass miles per visit.
Morning Calm Premium Club and Million Miler Club passengers travelling on a Korean Air (KE) flight number in business class or first class can access the higher-tier Miler Club Lounge instead, but, must use the regular Prestige Class lounge if booked in economy.
Food and beverage service in Prestige Lounge East mirrors that available in Prestige Lounge West, so for food alone, there's no reason to visit one lounge over the other.
Many would simply choose the lounge closest to their departure gate, as both provide buffet dining:
A mid-afternoon visit found a variety of bakery items including bread and muffins, to kick things off.
Nearby, prepared sandwiches kept chilled and ready to take.
To accompany them (or open up and build upon that sandwich), some simple salad ingredients are here too.
Hot food choices included sweet and sour pork, mushroom fried rice, vegetable croquettes, and braised spicy chicken.
These were all fresh and tasty, and being popular with lounge guests, were regularly replenished.
To finish, cheese, crackers and accompaniments are at-hand.
To drink, there's machine-made espresso coffee, boiling water for tea, a variety of juices, and the usual soft drinks.
Not far from the buffet is a bar counter, which is self-serve during the day and then staffed from mid-afternoon.
There's beer on tap, red and white wine, and a small line-up of spirits.
Standard spirits like rum and vodka are unfortunately absent, but there's Jack Daniel's Whiskey (entry-level), Ballantine's 17-year Scotch Whisky (a more premium choice), and Rémy Martin XO Cognac, which might otherwise be expected of a first class lounge.
There are plenty of tables adjacent to the buffet and bar space for dining, which again provide USB and AC charging facilities.
However, these outlets are attached to a support beam which runs at knee height, which was painfully reminded several times before moving to a better-designed seat.
For a quick and productive pit stop, there's a long working bench not far from reception, equipped with charging facilities.
To avoid staring at a blank wall, a communal working table is located just behind.
For something less office-like, perch yourself here at this round bench, where you'll again find power outlets.
Or, just behind, at these banquette seats, many of which have cocktail tables for drinks and the like.
For more private or solitary work, these pods are available too.
And, you guessed it, there's power available inside the armrest. There's also a recess near the handle of the lid, allowing cables to run through and reach your devices without getting squashed.
Complimentary WiFi is available with multiple speed tests revealing downloads of 62-67Mbps, and uploads in the region of 40-60Mbps: both in the 'very fast' category.
With nothing to do before your flight besides relax and kick back, you could share a drink with a companion at one of many seat pairs.
Solo travellers might instead prefer the more 'communal' seats, many of which face towards a TV.
Speaking of TV, there's a 10-seat sports viewing room near the entrance with a trio of screens displaying various satellite channels:
Otherwise, take this LG 'personal beauty clinic' electric mask for a spin, with English instructions at the ready, or head to the relaxation room for some peace and quiet, and perhaps a chair massage.
There's also a selection of reading material available, including English-language newspapers and magazines. Showers are available here too.
All things considered, Korean Air's Prestige Lounge East gets the basics right for business travellers, and can be much quieter than the larger yet near-identical Prestige Lounge West.
Having said that, there's room for Korean Air to improve its food and beverage offering, particularly to reflect this lounge's status as an international business class facility at the airline's home hub.
Chris Chamberlin travelled as a guest of Korean Air and IATA.