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