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Korean Air flight review – London – Seoul – Brisbane – the “new” less flying time kangaroo route that is really worth considering!

November 29, 2019 Headline News, Reviews 1 Comment Email Email

Until I flew with Korean Air recently from London’s Heathrow Airport to Seoul’s Incheon International Airport and on to Brisbane, quite honestly, I had never really thought of flying via Korea as a viable option, particularly in terms of time and route.

Why, because I thought it would be a long and slow way to get to Australia and I had never really heard of Korean Air as an airline that provided the sort of high-quality service and food we have become used to on long haul flights.

Well, how wrong was I because not only was the service and food on board the Korean Air flights I experienced, world class and as good as, if not actually much better than many airlines on which I have recently flown, but it was also delivered by in flight staff superbly trained in superlative customer care.

Plus, the timing was perfect and in terms of flying time, my calculations say the flight time was a good few hours shorter than the long-haul routes from down under, for example via the Middle East and the major SE Asia cities.

In terms of service, the first thing that wows you is the very calm, reserved and courteous …and for that read Korean atmosphere you enter when boarding…and it gets better!

Because, when you are seated, the Captain or First Officer and your flight attendant come along to your seat in first and business [called Prestige Class by Korean Air] and I believe the sections of the cabin in economy, to bow and introduce themselves and wish you an enjoyable flight!

Plus, they also they come along at the end of the flight to bow, thank you and also check if you have had a good flight!  This is amazing Korean cultural service and care which other airlines should and could learn from!

 

In the meantime, it has become even harder to choose an airline that can not only deliver what it promises in its promotional material…mostly on line, but also demonstrates continuing ongoing high quality improvements, which not

only retains business across all classes, but also raises the bar even further for its competitors to strive to achieve, with these personal touches and elements like this, separating the market leaders from each other…and I have no doubt from my experiences in awarding Korean Air the accolade of a world-class aviation market leader.

With flying aircraft through the skies becoming even more competitive, it was also very interesting to be able to experience two market leading aircraft, Korean Air’s Boeing 777-300ER and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, with the quality and in particular consistency of service on and between both aircraft being excellent.

To join me on my Korean Air flights, check out my video clip snapshot below of my excellent Korean Air business class experience and read on, by also checking out my review below:

FLIGHT DETAILS 

Airline:            Korean Air

Route:             London Heathrow – Seoul Incheon International – Brisbane International

Flight Nos:       London Heathrow – Seoul Incheon International – KE908

Seoul Incheon International – Brisbane International – KE123

Seat:                London Heathrow – Seoul Incheon International – Business [Prestige] Class 07A

Seoul Incheon International – Brisbane International – Business [Prestige] Class 07J

Aircraft:           London Heathrow – Seoul Incheon International – Boeing 777-300ER

Seoul Incheon International – Brisbane International – Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

Dep time:        London Heathrow – Seoul Incheon International – 18.50

Seoul Incheon International – Brisbane International – 19.45

Arrival time:   Seoul Incheon International – 14.45 [on time]

Brisbane International – 06.00 [early]

My Flight

Rating:            10 out of 10 – a very rare and high score for me to give, but totally and very well deserved as the flights, service and food were highly professional and could not be bettered or improved upon by any other airline.  Congratulations Korean Air.

OVERVIEW

Check In:        

The check-in process in London Heathrow Terminal 4 was very quick, very smooth and highly

professional, with while I was early there were no lines or delays in any class and the staff particularly

courteous, efficient and amicable. While the check in was outsourced to a handling company the

process was perfect and very speedy.

The Lounges: 

Korean Air is a member of Sky Team and Business Class passengers have access to the Sky Team Lounge,

which is smart, modern and well equipped, with plenty of space over two levels. The Lounge looked and

felt new with a good choice of food and drinks and also flight announcements made, which was very handy!

 

The Sky Team Lounge in Seoul Incheon was also very smart with plenty of space and great facilities, food and drinks, with a selection of scrumptious Korean food as well as Western food and even a pot noodle bar – yes a pot noodle bar, beer dispensing machines and spa facial machines and of course both lounges with free high speed wi-fi and everything else and more you would and have come to expect of a leading airline business lounge.

Transit in Seoul Incheon:      

The transit in Seoul Incheon was very straightforward following the transit signs, going through a security check, then to the lounge.

Seoul Incheon International Airport reminded me of some of the world’s leading airports, e.g. Dubai and especially Singapore, very smart, very green and very clean – simply excellent with a massive range of restaurants, cafes, designer stores and duty free stores on par if not exceeding the vast majority of international airports I have transited through or utilised.

 Boarding: 

On time in both London Heathrow and Seoul Incheon. Very efficient and friendly.

Welcome on Board:  

The welcome on board on both aircraft was really good with happy smiling crew on meet and greet, with welcoming flight attendants at the door taking you right to the seat – excellent. Note that the Korean Air flight attendants tend to be rather reserved and they may not fully understand or be very fluent in English or at least English that is spoken rapidly!  This is also demonstrated in some of the announcements as some can be a little challenging to understand. 

Safety briefing: 

Very good video version and fully understandable on both flights. 

Departure: 

Both sectors departed on time and arrived on time – perfect. 

Service: 

Excellent and very professional on both flights.

Boeing 777-300ER

I love 777 aircraft, the workhorse of many a long haul carrier today and I also loved the Korean Air Business or Prestige Class window seat, which was very comfortable and very well equipped for this first leg of around 10hrs, a rather nice, pleasant and comfortable cocoon on the front row of one of the cabins, with an electric up and down privacy screen between my seat and the person alongside.

I had my own large personal video screen with a good if not massive, but adequate selection of movies, TV

shows and more available and although I have my own noise cancelling headsets, Korean Air also provides those.  My seat was around 6ft and lie flat if I wanted, with simple controls, long enough for me for certain and I was also able to recharge all my electronic paraphernalia from the in seat power sockets, with what appeared to be a portfolio of recline and other seat permutations plus a very cosy and comfortable blanket and pillows.

The service was really very good and attentive and the food very good indeed and I particularly liked the option of a Western or Korean main course, and I chose the Bibimbap.  Now I know you are thinking what is Bibimbap?  Well, in Korean Bibimpap literally means “mixed rice”, with “bibim” meaning mixing various ingredients, while the “bap” refers to rice. So, the Bibimbap I had was a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul, which are sautéed and seasoned vegetables or in this case, kimichi, traditional fermented vegetables and gochujang, which is chili pepper paste, sesame seed oil and sliced  beef, with this all stirred together thoroughly by me just before eating.  The best bit is they give you an instruction sheet on how to prepare your Bibimpap and let me tell you it was very tasty indeed and must try when you fly Korean Air…so much better than the traditional “chicken or beef”!

Other dishes on the menu for those less adventurous included roasted beef tenderloin with merlot sauce, roasted potato and vegetables or mixed seafood  with basil tomato sauce, two colour fettuccini and mixed vegetables, with a good cheese platter and seasonal fruit and ice cream to finish off!

There was a good but not overly extensive, but most certainly adequate, choice of wines including to start off, a glass of ice cold Perrier Jouet Grand Brut, followed by a Chateau de Cranin 2018 Bordeaux or an Alsace Gewurztraminer 2016 or for the lovers of good red, a very palatable Bordeaux, Cap de Faugeres 2104 or an equally palatable Rhone, Jean Luc Colombo Saint Joseph 2017, plus of course a wide range of other drinks, all of which formed the perfect complement to my Korean Air experience, which was superb!

For breakfast, pre arrival in Seoul there was Korean style rice porridge served with side dishes, but I went for the more traditional and very tasty western herb scrambled egg with vegetable ratatouille, herb potato, sautéed spinach and grilled pork sausage.

 

 

Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

My window seat 7J on the Dreamliner was very similar to the seat in location, quality and facilities on the 777-300ER giving excellent seat consistency across the two aircraft, which some other carriers cannot provide.

My seat of course again had its own large personal video screen with a good selection of movies and TV shows and again, it really did feel like a very cosy cocoon, with a 6ft bed, long enough for me for certain, lie flat bed.  I was also again able to recharge all my electronic paraphernalia from the in seat power sockets plus again a very cosy and comfortable blanket and pillows, perfect for sleeping and the Dreamliner’s sophisticated lighting system making a sleep very much on the cards.

or dinner I again chose the Korean option but this time Korean Style Bulgogi beef with rice and side dishes and it was scrumptious.  So, what is Bulgogi beef with rice? Bulgogi literally “fire meat”, bul for fire and gogi for meat, is made of thin, marinated slices of beef grilled on a barbecue or on a stove-top griddle, often stir-fried in a pan in home cooking, originating from the Pyongan Province in North Korea, but a very popular dish throughout Korea. Interestingly, after the liberation of the Korean Peninsula from the forced Japanese occupation in 1945, the dish became popular in Seoul and other parts of South Korea, with refugees from Pyongan.  The Western alternatives were grilled beef tenderloin with Madeira sauce, potato risotto and vegetables or seared black cod with dill lemon cream sauce with fingerling potato and seasonal vegetables and they all looked very good indeed.

The wine choice was slightly different with Perrier Jouet Grand Brut perfect to kick off the second leg of this flight, followed by an Australian Tyrrell’s Moon Mountain Chardonnay 2016 or a Californian Kendall Jackson Sauvignon Blanc, bot very pleasant, or for lovers of red, a very nice Australian No6 Shiraz Cabernet or a Californian Frei Brothers Reserve Merlot.

No sooner than I had enjoyed some really sound sleep than it was brekkie time, being awakened by the Dreamliner’s soft wake up lighting and I thought, what the heck let’s go Korean and ordered the Korean style beef bone soup with side dishes.  I am sorry to have to say that after tasting it, I realised it was an acquired taste, so without any hassle from the flight attendant, just a beautiful smile and perfect bow, I changed to a chive omelette with chicken sausage and assorted vegetables, all very scrummy before landing in Brisbane…perfect timing!

Summary:

Flying long haul from London Heathrow via Seoul with Korean Air was an awesome flying experience. I have to say, I am not the easiest to please and I tell it the way it is, so it was great to have so many positive things to say about Korean Air.

The points of difference between the world’s leading carriers, are getting smaller, with other more traditional mainstream carriers being left way behind and I flew on two recently, one from the northern hemisphere and one from the southern hemisphere and they were pretty average, with other perhaps lesser known carriers emerging as world class with Korean Air beating many if not most others hands down.

I also spent time in economy and spoke with passengers who were very impressed with Korean Air, including the service, seats, quality of food, the Korean culture and said that Korean Air was great value for money.

This combination of great service by excellent crew, Korean culture and Korean food, good entertainment, very comfortable seating and much more made Koran Air an extremely enjoyable long haul flying experience, which I look forward to experiencing again soon and most definitely an airline and route you should also consider.

A Korean Air in flight review by John Alwyn-Jones

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Oskar Gloom says:

    If you hadn’t heard about Korean Air before, or that Korea’s gateway airport is world class quality, one wonders how you can call yourself informed enough to be writing under the banner Globsl Travel Media.

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