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.)
The first leg of the trip between NRT and ICN was on the B777-300ER featuring Korean Air’s newest Kosmo Suite 2.0.
The much longer leg of the trip was on Korean Air’s Airbus A380 featuring their slightly older Kosmo Suite 1.0 first class seats.
They’re basically the same seats, except Kosmo Suite 2.0 is more private w/ privacy walls and a door. On the other hand, if you’re traveling as a couple, the older Kosmo Suite 1.0 might be nice too since you can talk to your travel mate easier.
I took this exact same flight and wrote a detailed review previously here. The purpose of this review is to add to my previous review some additional insights into the in-flight service on Korean Airlines.
When I first took this flight in 2016, the ICN-JFK flight served Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs champagne. When I took this flight in 2017, the champagne had changed to Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque Rose Vintage 2005.
Unfortunately, as of March 2018, Korean Airlines may have discontinued the special champagne service on the ICN-JFK route as my parents flew this route in first class this month and they told me that they were served the regular Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque found on Korean Airline’s other U.S. routes.
The meal service began soon after takeoff, and I was surprised to find that the menu was completely identical to the menu that I had in April 2016. Maybe they rotate them seasonally, and we keep getting the same menu because we’ve flown this route in April 2016, April 2017, and March 2018… but the menu was completely identical.
It wouldn’t be an issue for someone flying Korean Airlines first class for the very first time, but if you fly them multiple times, being given the exact same menu every time might be less than desirable.
For those of us who are fortunate enough to fly Korean Airlines first class multiple times, I would recommend trying different routes as their in flight menu does seem to differ based on routes. For example, their Seoul-New York flights serve foie gras and ribeye steak while their Seoul-Chicago flights serve caviar and filet mignon.
Anyways, since I had the western meal option the first time flew this route, I ordered the Korean meal option for this flight. I have to say that the Korean option was far superior. (Not surprising, consider the meal was catered in Korea.)
After the meal, we made our way up to the “Celestial Bar” at the rear of the 2nd floor business class cabin for a drink.
It’s definitely cool that there’s a bar onboard this aircraft. HOWEVER, there are some significant downsides to this bar.
-It’s apparently sponsored by Absolut Vodka, and only serves vodka based cocktails
-It’s in the rear of the 2nd floor business class cabin while first class is in the front of the first floor… so it’s basically on the opposite end of the aircraft.
-The first class cabin has its own mini-bar with far superior drink selection.
I would say that the Celestial Lounge is a cool thing to try out once, but as long as you’re in first class, you’re probably better off sticking with the first class mini-bar.
With about 5 hours remaining in our flight, we were served our second meal. This time around I ordered the kalbi and garlic bread. I had the same thing last time too, but this dish is absolutely delicious. I forgot to take pictures, but my wife had the dongchimi cold noodle soup and loved it too. Incidentally, the cold noodle soup also comes with a side of kalbi… so you’re actually better off ordering the noodle since you end up getting more food!
The other thing that I find really odd about this flight is that they only serve you 2 meals during the almost 15 hour flight. The one meal right after takeoff, and the other meal with about 5 hours left to go. If you want another meal an hour or two before landing, like you get on most other airlines, you need to call your flight attendant and ask for something or else you won’t get anything.
Korean Airlines continues to be an excellent option for getting to and from Asia using miles, especially due to their excellent award availability. However, in terms of in-flight service and food variety, they definitely lag behind other Asian airlines like ANA, JAL, and Singapore Airlines.