I flew Korean Airline’s NRT-ICN-JFK route in first class in 2016 using points & miles and found it to be a phenomenal value, so I used my Chase Ultimate Reward Points to book myself and my wife on the same route from Tokyo to NYC in April 2017. (80,000 points x2 for 2 one-way first class tickets from Tokyo to NYC with an one-night layover in Seoul.)
Previously, I flew Korean Airline’s B777-200ER which featured their older Kosmo Sleeper first class product. (Link: Korean Airline B777-200 First Class Review ) Initially, our flight was scheduled to be on a B777-200ER again… but about a month after booking, the flight was downgauged to an A330-200 which features their oldest, Sleeper (Ottoman) first class product. But then, 2 weeks before our flight, there was another equipment change from an A330-200 to a B777-300ER featuring their newest Kosmo Suites 2.0 first class seats. I have no idea why they would be flying such a large jet on a 2.5 hour flight but hey, I wasn’t complaining!
At the time this post was written, you’ll find the various first class seat types on these Korean Airlines aircrafts:
Kosmo Suites 2.0 – B747-8i, B777-300ER
Kosmo Suites – A380-800
Kosmo Sleeper – B747-400, B777-200ER
Sleeper – A330-300, B787-9
Sleeper (Ottoman) – A330-200
B737-800 and B737-900 is a domestic configuration aircraft, so the best seat you can get is a standard reclining domestic first class seat.
My parents flew the exact same route a day earlier than us, but their NRT-ICN flight was operated by an A330-300. So this got me curious. Korean Airlines publishes aircraft schedule by route on their website, so I took a look and behold:
So for that particular week, one could end up flying in an A330-200, A330-300, B737-800, B777-200ER, or a B777-300ER. According to The Points Guy, Korean Airlines is also going to start flying their new B787-9 to Tokyo soon as well… so we’ll ultimately have the possibility of one airline using 6 different aircraft types between 2 destinations. So much for consistency!
The On-Board Experience
We boarded our aircraft and were escorted to our seats. In addition to the 2 of us, there was only 1 other passenger. Suffice to say, we had plenty of personal space and privacy!
Korean Airlines’ Kosmo Suite 2.0 in their B777-300ER is set up in a 1/2/1 distribution across 2 rows. The Kosmo Suite 2.0 setup in the B747-8i is set up in a 1/1 distribution, so if you want to sit in a paired seat with your significant other on a Kosmo Suite 2.0, the B777-300ER is your only option.
Since this was a short flight and we both wanted a window seat to have a chance to see Mount Fuji, we chose seats 1A and 2A.
Meanwhile, this is what the paired middle seats looks like.
Upon being seated, we were offered some warm macadamia nuts and a beverage. I opted to just have a Coke Light as it was only 9:00am local time.
The biggest difference between Kosmo Suites 1.0 and 2.0 is the privacy walls and doors around each seat. With the doors closed, you get your own private space. In fact, it was so private I actually had a hard time communicating with my wife who was behind me!
Upon departure, the in-flight meal service began. Both my wife and I ordered the bibimbap and a Bordeaux red wine. They also came around with a basket of breads and pastries so I grabbed a pastry as well.
Although the aircraft was in an international first class configuration, the service itself was abbreviated and did not feature a multi-course meal or super fancy champagne. We’d have to wait for our flight from Seoul to New York to experience that. 😉
As expected, sitting on the port side of the aircraft gave us a great view of Mount Fuji en route to Seoul-Incheon.
The meal service was followed by a fruit plate. I was also offered coffee or tea, so I tried a cup of tea.
After the meal, I checked out the first class lavatory, which was clean and reasonably spacious, but nothing special.
And just like that, our brief but awesome flight in Kosmo Suites 2.0 came to an end as we landed a few minutes ahead of schedule at Seoul Incheon Airport.
While the frequent aircraft changes and the complete randomness of aircraft schedule makes it pretty much impossible to ascertain which aircraft you’ll be flying between Tokyo and Seoul, if you’re lucky enough to catch a ride on Korean Airline’s B777-300ER, it will likely be the most luxurious way for you to fly commercially between Japan and South Korea!