Korean Air will rely on the arrival of its first Boeing 787-10 to reboot its premium travel experience, with all-new business class and premium economy products making their debut on the Dreamliner in 2024.
While the business class suites will be a next-gen play for Korean Air, premium economy is a fresh addition to the mix.
Speaking with media this week, Korean Air CEO Walter Cho this week said the 787-10 jets – delivery of which has now been pushed back from late 2023 to sometime in 2024 – would be the launchpad for premium economy, with other parts of the fleet to follow.
The SkyTeam member has yet to reveal details on its premium economy offering, but expect this to follow the same lines as other airlines have adopted for this ‘in-between’ class, such as comfortable recliners with noticeably more legroom in a self-contained cabin, plus upgraded food and drinks.
As for business class, a regulatory filing made with the US Department of Transportation earlier this year described a “new business class suite seat design” for the Boeing 787-10s, with the same suites later being added to the long-range Boeing 777-300ER fleet.
And they’ll even be the same physical size, rather than being a wider version to make the most of the 777’s wider cabin, so passengers and crew will instead see the refurbished 777s sporting wider aisles.
The airline’s DoT submission redacted details such as the suite’s manufacturer and the specific model, as well as the layout, for reasons of commercial confidentiality.
Korean Air’s current flagship business class is based on the Apex suite, but expectations are that the new 777 and 787-10 business class suites will follow a more conventional 1-2-1 layout with sliding privacy doors.
The new business class has been in the works for some time, but like that of many other carriers – including Turkish Airlines’ own 777 suites – the program was stalled in early 2020.
“Currently, we are testing designs (and) talking to suppliers,” Korean Air Chairman and CEO Walter Cho told Executive Traveller on the sidelines of the World Air Transport Summit in Seoul in mid-2019.
Cho also indicated the airline’s new business class seat would also replace the current first class and business class seating mix on selected aircraft, moving instead to a single, larger and much better business class cabin – also a move being adopted by several airlines, among them American Airlines and Qatar Airways.
Additional reporting by Chris Ashton