I have been systematically working my way through all of the airlines that have A380 products. So far I have flown (in date order) Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Emirates and Lufthansa. Today’s trip report: Korean Airlines A380.
Korean was founded in 1962. For a long time it had a very dubious safety record with 16 aircraft involved in serious incidents and accidents in the 1970s to 1990s. Total loss of life: 700. Their safety has improved enormously, with the last incident in 1997. They have also received several awards for their service with Skytrrax rating them four stars. They are a member of Skyteam Alliance, along with Delta and Air France. I have never flown them until this year. Their A380 flight was my second with them.
Booking: ? out of 10
I initially searched for flights at Korean’s website. I thought the search feature was very nifty as you could look for Business Class, Full economy and discount economy seats easily. I found re entering some of the data a little tedious. As I was intending to upgrade my flight using Delta points, I was searching for Full Economy. I actually made my booking 24 hours before I flew and discovered that you cannot make an online booking five days or less before travel. I rang the Korean Airlines call centre in Sydney. Their service was professional, friendly, prompt but I was given the wrong advice. I ended up paying full fare economy but never got my upgrade despite my rigorous efforts. Read more in Delta/Korean Fare Codes and Upgrades mean Downgrades. It is hard to rate the booking experience. I want to fail it but the process itself was largely excellent.
After confirmation of my booking, my next task was seat selection. Even as a Delta Gold Medallion® customer, I could not request an exit row seat.
Check in: 10 out of 10
Korea’s Incheon airport is huge. Apart from gates, terminals and check in area, apparently there is a a golf course, spa, ice skating rink, a casino and a Museum! Korean Air uses the massive main terminal which has 44 gates- all of which can cope with the A380.
As I was searching for the priority check in area, I came across a check in booth for passengers with no luggage. It had two staff waiting for passengers – and no line! The service was very friendly and very helpful. Again, I asked for Exit row but they were not available. . While, there was no direct acknowledgment of my Skyteam status except to note it was in the booking, the woman organised to block the middle seat off in my row (row 32) so that there would be an empty seat between myself and the next passenger. Thank you!
I gave Emirates (EK) 10/10, Qantas (QF) 9/10 and Singapore (SQ) 8/10 Lufthansa (LH) 7/10 for their A380 Check in processes.
Boarding: 10 out of 10
Security was impressively efficient. I boarded with the Skyteam elites so I missed the main boarding. The gate lounge felt very relaxed and orderly. Welcome on board was very warm. Cabin crew were very attentive all the way through the plane with welcomes, advice on how to find seats and where to put luggage.
True to the check in staff member’s promise, I had an empty seat between myself and the next passenger.
EK: 10/10, QF: 9/10, SQ 7/10, LH 7/10
Takeoff: 10 out of 10
I cannot express enough the absolute pleasure of an A380 take off and Korean gave a perfect rendition.
On Board: 10 out of 10
Korean’s a380s are brand, brand new being delivered between July and September of this year (my flight was in November). I knew already that Korean’s is the least densely packed of all of the A380s choosing to focus on Business Traffic. Seeing the configuration up close helped me understand how much room they have provided.
The airline has chosen to place the First and Economy cabins on the lower level with 12 First suites at the front of the plane (I didn’t see them) and 301 Economy seats in a 3/4/3 arrangement. In addition, Korean have placed a duty free store at the back of the lower deck.
On the upper deck, Korean have 94 flatbed Business seats. The interiors, even in Economy, felt very spacious. Seat-wise, Korean seats are 18″ wide and there is a 34″ pitch between the seats. They are the most generous economy seats of all of the A380 operators I have been on. Compare the space to Lufthansa’s mean 17″ by 31″ pitch.
Take off was followed by the distribution of amenity kits which included by the crew. Korean provided a pair of slippers for each passenger. Initially, I was sceptical because my feet are so large. The slippers turned out to fit well. It is part of Korean custom but I really liked the feel of the slippers and it was nice to wear something else to the lavatories.
Speaking of the lavatories, the staff cleaned them very regularly through the night. They were always spotless.
I asked one of the staff what she thought of the plane and she seemed pretty excited about it. She didn’t seem too interested in talking about comparisons with other A380s.I found the staff while very very friendly and courteous did not interact with the passengers. The exception being the Cabin Manager who came down to welcome the high status frequent flyers personally. I noted he did not welcome similar status passengers from other Skyteam airlines.
EK: 10/10, QF: 9/10, SQ 8/10, LH 7/10
Meals: 6 out of 10
On this flight, I chose a Korean meal: Bibimbap for dinner. The Korean woman sitting in the same row in seat 32A, chose a Western meal. This meant we could both compare notes! Even though, I have eaten Korean food before, I appreciated that my meal came with instructions for how to prepare it. Both meals were delicious and presented very very nicely BUT the portion size of the meals were dismally small! This was the same for my other Korean flight. I was hungry for most of the two flights I did with Korean. I discovered, after many hours that the staff will make you noodles in a cup and that there was a small range of snacks available. This was not mentioned by the crew. Reading other reviews on Skytrax, there are a lot of comments about the food portions.
The breakfast the next morning was also very miserly, consisting of a a small omelet with hashbrowns and tomato, a small yoghurt and muffiny cupcake, water and two (count them- see below) two slices of fruit. I left the flight feeling very hungry.
EK: 10/10, SQ 9/10. LH 8.5/10, QF: 7/10,
Entertainment: 8 out of 10
The entertainment system is called Sky Program. It offers Movies, Short films, Music (Approx. 500 albums), A Children’s World, games, and in-flight duty free shopping functioned well but I felt the quantity of TV programming was a bit limited. While there were a lot of albums, there were not many that ended up grabbing my attention.
SQ 10/10, QF 9/10, EK: 8/10 LH 7/10
Landing: 10 out of 10
We landed early into LAX with a perfect touchdown.
My rating overall: 86%
Out of all of my A380 flights, Korean came third- just. EK: 92%, QF: 87%, SQ: 83%, LH 80% (4 out of 5).
Positives: Ease of check in, nice layout of A380, great leg room
Negatives: Lack of sufficient on-board TV programming, entertainment, miserly meals. My other negative comment is that my frequent flyer points have taken a long, long time to come through.
Would I fly them again? Yes,but would eat beforehand and bring my own snacks