Korean Air's Boeing 787 first class is the same as business class

By David Flynn, March 10 2017
Korean Air's Boeing 787 first class is the same as business class

It's a truism that today's business class is become as good as first class used to be – sufficiently so that we're seeing many airlines wind back or abandon first class altogether.

So here's a twist from Korean Air: its new Boeing 787-9 sports exactly the same seat in business class and first class.

This is Korean Air's Boeing 787 first class 'Sleeper First' berth (shown here on the SkyTeam member's Airbus A330 fleet).

And here is Korean Air's Boeing 787  'Prestige Suite Business' seat.

It's a bit like those 'spot the difference' guessing games except there's no difference to spot.

Same design (seat geeks will recognise it as the Apex 'super first class suites' from B/E Aerospace). Same dimensions. Same slightly staggered 2-2-2 layout in both cabins.

Same everything, really, except that the six first class pods get a 23 inch video display compared to 21 inches of the 18 business class seats (below).

Clearly, the many extra thousands of dollars you pay to sit at the pointy end of the Dreamliner has got to deliver more than two diagonal inches of video screen.

A spokesperson for Korean Air alluded to "special services provided only for First Class passengers."

"Just one example would be that only first class passengers are provided with comfort clothes for sleeping and premium bedding service" the spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller. "The kinds of In-flight meals are of course very different."

If this leaves first class flyers feeling a little underwhelmed, at least it's good news for those in business class who will be  ensconced in what's effectively a first class suite.

Korean Air is getting 10 of the long-range Dreamliners: five this year (the first has just arrived) and five more by 2019.

They'll fly from Seoul to Toronto from June 2017, with Los Angeles, Madrid and Zurich to follow later in the year. Seattle, Las Vegas and Barcelona are also on the roadmap.

However, the airline tells Australian Business Traveller that it has no plans to restart the Seoul-Melbourne route which it shuttered in March 2013 – its Boeing 787 fleet will be used to drive higher flight frequencies to existing destinations rather than open up new routes.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 377

That's an interesting strategy. I would be surprised if it worked unless First is priced only just above Business. In which case, what is the point of First?

Its also interesting considering Asiana is introducing an Economy Plus product, and also culling First more dramatically. Will Korean Air remain first-business-economy only? Maybe. KE often talk about how they don't want premium economy because they'd rather have 34" legroom in Econ. 

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 125

It would be nice to have Korean Air daily to Brisbane year round instead of just in the summer!

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1196

I don't doubt that the products are the same.  What I doubt is that these pictures are any different.  Both are clearly A330s as the window size is too small for 787 and the pictures are obviously identical right down to the ruffles on the pillows and curtains.  Are you sure you've posted the 787 picture?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2551

Hey Reeves: we didn't post 787 pics because KA was unable to provide them in suitable resolution, so we ran A330 pics and noted in the text that they were from the A330 (third par).

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Nov 2011

Total posts 122

But the pictures are of exactly the same cabin? 

Will be interesting if it lasts as first or whether later on they just sell J and place status pax in the F cabin

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2551

Same photo, yes, because it's identical product. 

20 Feb 2012

Total posts 67

Also gives opportunitiy to sell more or less first class tickets depending on demand

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