Tried & Tested

Korean Air Los An­ge­les LAX – Seoul In­cheon A380 Pres­tige Class, Ho­tel de Rome, Ber­lin

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE -

CHECK-IN I’d ar­rived early via a con­nect­ing flight and the third floor Korean Air counter at the Tom Bradley In­ter­na­tional Ter­mi­nal was de­serted, mak­ing check-in with the ami­able KAL staff a breeze. Of course, at the south­side se­cu­rity point, my queue pri­or­ity ticket en­sured my or­deal was mer­ci­fully brief and be­fore long I was step­ping into the spa­cious Korean Air­lines lounge. As the board­ing gate was nearby and I had a few last minute e-mails to fire off, I grabbed some tasty snacks and holed up in the cozy meet­ing room – so cozy, in fact, that I stayed longer than in­tended and had to run to make the gate be­fore it closed.

THE SEAT Ten car­ri­ers op­er­ate A380s world­wide, but the con­fig­u­ra­tion of Korean Air’s makes it the most spa­cious in the skies. It only has 407 seats, to­tal – on the first level, 12 Kosmo First Class suites and 301 Econ­omy Class seats. Above, the en­tire up­per level is de­voted to busi­ness class, fea­tur­ing 94 lie-flat Pres­tige Sleeper seats spaced six feet apart. The shell­style seat pro­vides that triple whammy of com­fort, pri­vacy and space dur­ing the 13-hour flight. The elec­tric con­trol panel had one-touch up­right, re­cline and flat op­tions for quick shift be­tween sleep­ing, eat­ing and land­ing po­si­tions, plus sep­a­rate back and foot ad­juster. There was a cav­ernous stor­age space in spades along the hull and a cubby for stash­ing in-flight toi­letries and my plush slip­pers. KAL’s 15.4-inch large LCD mon­i­tors are also larger than most of its com­peti­tors’and the on­de­mand en­ter­tain­ment ser­vice in­cludes a large va­ri­ety of games, TV shows and movies to choose from, some of which are cen­sored by the air­line – some­thing to bear in mind when mak­ing your se­lec­tion.

THE FLIGHT The A380’s colos­sal size – 238 feet long with a wing­span a touch over 261 feet – trans­lates into a bump- and jig­gle-free take-off: the air­craft sim­ply glides along the run­way into the air, and if I hadn’t been watch­ing through the win­dow I wouldn’t have no­ticed its de­par­ture from terra firma at all. The space also ac­com­mo­dates luxe ex­tras like a Duty Free Show­case to the rear of the main deck. At the Pres­tige Class Bar Lounge to the front of the cabin, pas­sen­gers can make their own drinks and nib­ble tasty hors d’oevres, while in the Ce­les­tial Bar to the rear, a cabin crewmem­ber-cum trained mixol­o­gist shakes and stirs spe­cially de­signed mar­ti­nis from an Ab­so­lut vod­kaspon­sored menu.

A plethora of spe­cial meal op­tions – ev­ery­thing from Ha­lal to low carb and low calo­rie – could be or­dered prior to check-in; the“nor­mal”menu served in flight listed plenty of Western and Korean choices. (Korean Air’s award-win­ning bibim­bap with minced beef, sea­sonal veg­eta­bles and ‘gochu­jang,’Korean hot pep­per paste, is served in all three classes). The se­lec­tion of wines re­flects the flight route – I chose a stun­ning mal­bec from Cal­i­for­nia’s Napa Val­ley to go with my grilled beef steak with herb cream sauce, served per­fectly medium rare, as re­quested, and ac­com­pa­nied by parme­san pota­toes, mush­room and mixed veg­eta­bles. The ameni­ties bag, de­liv­ered with a smile and a bow by one of the very at­ten­tive cabin crew, was Mon­davi win­ery branded.

AR­RIVAL Prior to land­ing, I awoke to the smell of break­fast: veg­etable sweet po­tato frit­tata served with grilled tomato, roasted pork sausage, mush­room and broc­coli, ac­com­pa­nied by an as­sort­ment of yo­gurt, fresh fruit, breads and pas­tries. Prepa­ra­tion for land­ing was un­hur­ried and un­ob­tru­sive – cabin crew glided serenely around the cabin, bow­ing and smil­ing as they ful­filled last­minute shop­ping re­quests, and be­fore I knew it the air­craft was kiss­ing the In­cheon run­way.

VERDICT Korean Air’s lay­out and im­pec­ca­ble ser­vice el­e­vate the ex­pe­ri­ence aboard the A380 to that of a fly­ing ho­tel. Good food, great drinks and oo­dles of space. Dress light – Korean pas­sen­gers like it hot and the cabin tem­per­a­ture can bor­der on balmy. BT

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