Review of Korean Air flight Istanbul Seoul in Economy

Airline Korean Air
Flight KE 956
Class Economy
Seat 52A
Aircraft Boeing 777-200ER
Flight time 11:00
Take-off 03 Jun 13, 21:20
Arrival at 04 Jun 13, 14:20
KE   #17 out of 142 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 123 reviews
By 2951
Published on 16th December 2015
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KE 956 IST-ICN (Istanbul/Ataturk->Seoul/Incheon)
DEP IST 03 JUN 2013 21:20
ARR ICN 04 JUN 2013 14:20
Flight Duration: 9:00
Aircraft: B777-200ER
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Flight route map courtesy of

After a short 3-day travel in Istanbul, it was time for me to go back to Korea. Unlike the 3-leg inbound trip from Korea to Turkey with China Southern, I took the non-stop flight from Istanbul Ataturk Airport back to Incheon Airport. Needlessly to say, it was a lot more comfortable experience than with China Southern.

My friend works in the Ataturk Airport, so she lent me her metro card for me to use throughout my last stay in Istanbul. I decided to take the shuttle (which cost me 12 Turkish Lira or 7 USD) from hostel to the airport.

Ataturk Airport entrance
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The International Terminal Departures Floor
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At every large buildings in Turkey, there are always security checkpoints in the entrances. The airport terminals are no exceptions.
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The international terminal map.
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Since I arrived early, I headed toward the fourth floor observatory deck.
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Bad thing about observatory deck is that it's not really an observatory deck, but smokers' balcony. It's the only place you can really check out planes without going through passport control and security.
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Lot's of Turkish Airlines planes everywhere here.
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You can see two of the Turkish Airlines' B777-300ER aircrafts here.
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A Panorama shot through the fence
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This aircraft looked like a military plane for the Turkish Air Force.
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This was a shot taken from Popeye's seating area second floor through the glass windows. On the left side you can see the passport control and security checkpoint.
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The check-in counters for KE 956 were scheduled to open at 1800.
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There were a lot of Korean tourists on this flight.
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My friend works here. TAV Airport Holdings is a construction company mostly for airports in Turkey and Europe.
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A big B777-300ER model I found in TAV.
The offices are basically just a wall away from the boarding gates in Ataturk Airport, so she says that she can sometimes hear boarding announcements.
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I went to check into my Seoul/Incheon-bound flight at around 19:00.
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Right after passing through customs and securities.
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This is the airside for Ataturk International Airport. I like the cozy-style architecture. I ended up buying some Turkish booze and souvenirs for parents and families.
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My friend used her employee pass to pass through customs. She bought me a simit sandwich. Simit is equivalent to bagels of Turkey. The bread is harder than a normal bread and often shaped like a ring.
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My simit sandwich (the left one) contained tomatoes and cheese.
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Boarding time came, so I headed toward my flight.
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Korean Air flight KE 955 had already arrived from ICN.
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The livery looked great tonight on this B777-200ER.
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Panorama view of the plane.
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I had some time to kill so I walked all the way to the other end of the terminal.
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It seemed as if this side of the terminal were being used by short to medium-range international flights. Most of the gates here were dominated by Turkish Airlines, and flights leaving here were mostly bound for Europe or Middle-East. The domestic terminal can be seen far away.
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I headed back toward Gate 226 to board my flight to Seoul/Incheon.
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Every gate had a waiting room with restrooms.
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Boarding time came around 20:50. There were one ground staff wearing Korean Air uniform.
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Boarding bridge to KE flight 956.
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Korean Air B777-200ER interior cabin view. The economy class was divided into two sections, one with dark blue colored seats and one with chocolate brown colored seats.
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Most of the passengers were Koreans traveling back home.
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My seat, 52A.
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The aircraft was equipped with new economy seats, each of them with AVOD systems.
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The seat pitch, compared to that of China Southern, was much better. But, I would still say the seats in China Southern Airlines were more comfortable.
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Local time 21:00
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It seemed as if the entertainment system for Korean Air had changed a bit. The layout changed slightly.
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The flight to Seoul/Incheon was scheduled to be 8 hours and 30 minutes long.
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The flight attendants getting cabin ready for departure after safety demonstration.
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And the plane took off into the Istanbul night sky.
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And veered immediately to the east.
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Flying toward the Black Sea.
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It took about 40-50 minutes for the seat belt sign to turn off. The flight attendants were seated until then. Beverages and snack services did not begin until one hour after take-off.
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Sun was completely set by this time.
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And I received honey roasted peanuts and pineapple juice.
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The meal choices were beef, chicken, or Korean Air's Bibimbap. I opted for chicken.
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And I decided to get a red wine to go around with the dish. The chicken was pretty good and nicely seasoned. The rice did not taste like a Korean rice, but tasteful nonetheless.
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Most of the passengers fell asleep after dinner service.
I took another glass of wine and took a long nap.
I woke up after 5 hours and the plane was already near Beijing.
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Cabin lights were dimmed after the dinner service.
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It was about local time 11:00 (China) when I woke up near Beijing.
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The sun was shining brightly.
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The flight attendants were preparing for the breakfast service.
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I walked around the plane to stretch..
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The breakfast the choices were scrambled eggs and Korean porridge. I wanted the porridge but unfortunately they were out when the meal cart finally got to my row.
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I did not like the scrambled eggs at all, since they used the American cheese and put ketchup all over the eggs. American cheese and ketchup are my two least favorite food items.
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I watched the first Hobbit movie as I ate.
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Looks like the plane made some zig-zag turn around near Beijing. Not sure if the plane really did make those turns or the GPS was faulty.
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Flying past Dalian, China
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30 more minutes to go..
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Approaching ICN.

After touch-down the plane taxied to ICN's main terminal Gate 10.
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Disembarking was quick.
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Last shot of the plane that took me from Istanbul to Korea.
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I was able to pass right through the passport control with no wait.
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Baggage claim of Seoul/Incheon Airport
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See more


Korean Air

Cabin crew9.0

Istanbul - ISL


Seoul - ICN



Overall, nice comfortable ride by KE from IST to ICN. I did like Istanbul-Ataturk Airport's layout, but I could see that the airport was about to reach is full capacity in the near future. It took me some time to get through the security/immigration & customs and a lot of the restaurants and shops were crowded.
I am glad I chose to do the return-flight to Korea with Korean Air, and not with China Southern Airlines again. Though China Southern Airlines wasn't a bad airline to fly with, I would've been thoroughly exhausted from having to stopover at Urumqi and Beijing all over again (the stopover at Beijing would've been a 20-hour long one).
If given a chance, I would definitely travel to Istanbul again. To this day, Istanbul remains one of my favorite cities.

Information on the route Istanbul (ISL) Seoul (ICN)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 4 reviews of 2 airlines on the route Istanbul (ISL) → Seoul (ICN).


The airline with the best average rating is Turkish Airlines with 8.1/10.

The average flight time is 10 hours and 23 minutes.

  More information


  • Comment 152701 by
    NGO85 1622 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR! Having just read a report on TK for IST-KUL, there are some obvious differences in service between TK and KE. The KE hard-product looks much better and the seat pitch on KE is significantly better. TK catering looks much better, as expected using Do&Co, but doesn’t offer a choice for breakfast. Even though you didn’t get to pick your breakfast option since they ran out, the fact that they at least offer two options is an advantage over TK. Interesting that KE was very careful to avoid Russian airspace as they left IST; flying through Georgia and Azerbaijan instead.

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