Review of Korean Air flight Seoul Shanghai in Business

Airline Korean Air
Flight KE895
Class Business
Seat 8A
Aircraft Boeing 777-200ER
Flight time 01:30
Take-off 25 May 16, 19:30
Arrival at 25 May 16, 20:00
KE 125 reviews
Quirrow
By 2167
Published on 1st October 2016
Welcome to another series of flight reports by Quirrow. For this journey, it will be about a return trip from North America to Asia. The journey was a one way itinerary on board Korean Air. This would be my first time on Korean Air and I will be heading to Shanghai for some work. Finally I will be on an Asia Miles redemption towards Jakarta on Cathay Pacific.

Like my previous TR, the journey can also be read in my blog for the original format.

The flights for this journey was as follow:
KE72 YVR-ICN - Read it here
KE895 ICN-PVG - Current report
CX367 PVG-HKG - Read it here
CX797 HKG-CGK - Read it here

With a short layover and the delay in finding a docking space for our arriving airplane, it meant I have less time to explore the lounge and Incheon isn't exactly the smallest of airports. In summer, the airport is filled with Asian tourists and the duty free shops and food courts around the airports are all packed with people. In fact it resembles a market more than an airport with all the noise.

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Korean Air KAL Lounge at Seoul Incheon

Both Asiana and Korean Air has their lounges in the main spine that holds the 'fingers' where the gates are located at. That meant quite a walk to the lounge from our arrival. A large signboard to KAL Lounge with the classic baby blue colour of the airline is not difficult to spot though. After spotting the entrance, guests take an escalator up to the reception desk.

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Lounge signage with the escalator at the back

Being a common lounge for Korean Air and Sky Team Elite Plus members, the reception can get quite crowded at times. Beside the reception counter there is a flatscreen TV showcasing the time and current condition for flights and a model of Korean Air's A380.

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Reception counter

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Airbus A380 model

One of the features in the lounge I like is the luggage lockers with guests being able to set their own numbered combination. The locker space allows for the fitment of hand luggages too. Thus far, most Japanese and Korean lounges I visited have such a facility and I only hope they are picked up by more lounges as it makes it easier for guests to get food or just to relax in the lounge.

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Lockers for luggage

There are seating space on either side of the reception counter. Most lounge guests, I assume, would turn left where there are more private seating for 2 people. These seating space have tall partitions making it easier to hold conversations in.

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Privacy screen for seats

A wall partition separates this space with the buffet counter. The partition also holds several magazines and newspapers. Though like many foreign airline lounges, there are not much English magazines on offer, but they have a good selection of foreign newspapers aside from the Korean dailies.

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Magazine shelves

The buffet counter has a variety of food that are edible but no better or worse than say Air Canada's Maple Leaf or Lufthansa's Senator lounge. There are a couple of hot food like fried rice that seems to be having an identity crisis as it was termed to be vegetable fried rice with pork ham.

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Vegetable fried rice with pork ham

There is fortunately sauteed beancurd or tofu for vegetarians.

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Sauteed bean curd with Korean garlic sauce

Along with a chicken stew for the rest of the passengers.

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Chicken tomato stew

If one is looking for a lighter meal or snack, there are always mini-sandwiches, a salad bar, some soup choices and assorted pastries.

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Salad bar counter

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Assorted pastries

As one of the main producer and consumer of instant noodles, they do have cup noodles with hot water dispensers which occupies a significant space on the buffet counter just beside the espresso machine.

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Cup noodles and coffee

At the end of the buffet counter there are several dining tables though I find them to be a bit small in respect to the rest of the lounge. Even though this space was empty, I figured they wanted lounge guests to dine by their seats during meal time. As a note, I visited the lounge in the afternoon, before dinner time. The space also felt a lot like a high school cafeteria, and not something that befits a 'Prestige Class' lounge, especially with Korea getting significance for being a 'design' nation.

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Dining area

There is a more open lounge space across from the dining area with more chairs in this section.

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Lounge chairs

Moving across to the other end of the lounge where guests turn right from the reception desk, guests could find restrooms and shower room. The restrooms are pretty nice since they are individual rooms with a washbasin. It was like the restrooms in the Lufthansa First Class Terminal albeit lacking in the premium amenities.

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Bathroom and private toilet

This section of the lounge also features a large common seating area. All the seats faces the tarmac with small side tables in between seats. This space definitely felt the most crowded and noisy, and quite undesirable as a lounge since it felt like being in the main departure gates. While the lounge has windows overlooking the tarmac, the decor made it dark and it feels 'cold'.

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Open lounge facing the window

The size of the KAL lounge in Seoul Incheon was a good size though they did have a note in the reception desk they might turn away guests at peak hours. Thus this lounge might be inadequate considering it is their main hub. However the complete range of amenities from a functioning and adequately fast wifi to a nice secured luggage storage lockers and a clean restroom area makes it a good space for a few hours of layover. But I might just have my meals elsewhere since the airport has a better variety on offer. To sum up, KAL Lounge in Seoul Incheon was somewhat unappealing compared to the wealth of shops, eateries and things to do in the airport itself.

KE895 Seoul Incheon ICN - Shanghai Pudong PVG
STD-STA: 1905-2010
Actual: 1928-1958
Boeing 777-200ER HL7715
Gate 35 Seat 8A

Once again was one of the last to board the plane as the gate was really far from the lounge. On boarding I passed by the first class which was empty. Business class also has a light load with only 5 passengers in the first mini cabin. A same plane configuration as my inbound flight meant it was a familiar experience to the seat.

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Forward Business class cabin

As I got settled into the seat, I was offered beverages to drink and I had another guava juice. Like my other flight, the pre-departure beverage came with the same packet of honey roasted almonds that came from the US.

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Guava juice and almonds

I was welcomed into the cabin by the male steward and he mentioned some turbulence was expected for the flight as he passes through the Business class cabin.

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There was a bit of a delay before takeoff as the runway was busy and the captain came online to apologize for it. I took this time to read the menu for the flight, as the stewardess came around to take meal orders. The meal menu was printed in 3 different languages (Korean, Chinese and English) and the meal for the return flight to Seoul for tomorrow morning was detailed as well.

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Prestige Class menu

The menu for the flight was:

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While there is a wine list, it did not mention the wine types and there is no champagne for this regional flight.

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There was a leaflet with instructions on how to eat bibimbap, something I see onboard both Asiana and Korean Air as they offer them to passengers.

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I did not like the way that Korean Air does not provide the salad for passengers who chose the Korean option, which made choose the western option which was steak once again. I have also had bibimbap before and was not keen on having it again. After the meal orders was taken, we took off for the skies, though not much view of the airport and Incheon was visible due to the smog in the afternoon.

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Asiana Airbus A321 from my window seat

After a fast take-off and gain in altitude, the crew distributed hot towels. There was a pair of slippers in the same re-usable shoe bag on the seatback pocket. Inside there is a pair of headphones. However for this regional flight, a pair of flimsy headphones unlike those found in Economy class was provided. I was expecting a better pair of headphones as I did not bring mine along with me for this trip.

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Hot towel after take-off

An evening flight meant I was able to catch some nice sunset views from the skies while waiting for the meal service to start.

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Sunset flight are the best for views out of the window

The first course was provided to me on a tray, and bread was offered with the appetizers. A bowl of fruits was included on the tray which saves the crew from offering it again at the end. It was acceptable considering it was a short sector and thus makes it a challenge for a longer meal service. Sadly though the pork slices was not as flavourful as I liked it to be so the salad was quite plain.

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Mixed green salad with 5-spiced pork

Fortunately, the steak was nice and I finished that since it was cooked to my liking. The red wine sauce that came with it was enjoyable too! Maybe I was fortunate to get 2 steaks done to my taste!

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Sauteed beef tenderloin with red wine sauce

I found the seasonal fruit selection to be great too as it featured cherries. For once, it was truly seasonal since cherries are in season during the mid of the year in summer. Coffee or tea was offered to passengers and I had the former to last me for the night.

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Seasonal fruit with cherries and coffee

Service during the flight was really minimal since the seatbelt sign was switched on for most of the flight due to the turbulence as mentioned. However the turbulence does not seem to delay our journey and I just had time to check out one TV series while having my meal before I decide to take a shuteye.

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Inflight map

Before landing the stewardess came around the cabin to apologize for the lack of aerobridge on arrival in Shanghai. Apparently we will be in a remote stand for the arrival.

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Business class cabin on landing

For the slightly turbulent flight, we did land safely into Shanghai Pudong well in advance of our scheduled time of arrival. This was not bad at all, but the taxi to our remote stand took a while as we parked beside a KLM jumbo jet. It seems numerous international flights are parked during this in remote stands. I believe this is to prevent the gates from being taken up this early at night.

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KLM Boeing 747 parked beside our flight

Only the front door was provided with a stairway and that allowed me to take some photos of the First Class cabin on the way out of the plane. Those suites are indeed nice in a 1-2-1 layout and was a step-up to its Business class cabin.

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Middle First Class seats onboard Korean Air 777-200ER

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Korean Air First Class

However there was no separate bus for Business class passengers after disembarking from the plane and that negated the early de-plane for Business class passengers as we have to wait for a while for the bus to be packed full before it brought us to the terminal.

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Disembarking Korean Air 777-200ER

This short regional flight was incident-free but the long walk to the gates in Seoul and the remote stand arrival at Shanghai made this flight somewhat unpleasant. The waiting in the bus and eventual drop off into the terminal results in the lack of any premium feel. While the immigration queue was short, there was a bit of a wait for my luggage to come off the belt.

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Korean Air 777-200ER after landing at Shanghai Pudong
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Verdict

Korean Air

8.0/10
Cabin7.5
Cabin crew9.0
Entertainment/wifi7.0
Meal/catering8.5

Korean Air Prestige Class Lounge - - 1

7.0/10
Comfort7.0
Meal/catering7.0
Entertainment/wifi6.5
Services7.5

Seoul - ICN

7.1/10
Efficiency6.5
Access5.5
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.5

Shanghai - PVG

5.5/10
Efficiency5.5
Access4.5
Services6.0
Cleanliness6.0

Conclusion

A short regional flight is nothing extraordinary, and the standard services by Korean Air made this a comfortable but normal flight. The long walk from the lounge to the plane and the lack of a jet bridge on arrival in Pudong at the end of a flight certainly made it more tiring. Both airports ICN and PVG Terminal 1 are not really the best airports in Asia and neither is the lounge that great. As a result, Korean Air has great service on board and the empty flight still makes it good to fly with, but they are a distance from being great.

Information on the route Seoul (ICN) Shanghai (PVG)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 4 reviews of 3 airlines on the route Seoul (ICN) → Shanghai (PVG).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is Korean Air with 8.0/10.

The average flight time is 2 hours and 7 minutes.

  More information

1 Comments

  • Comment 368951 by
    757Fan 601 Comments

    Looks like you had a nice short flight to Shanghai. It was interesting to read the Flight Attendant apologized for the use of stairs, instead of a jetway. I'd love to deplane via stairs every now and then, but that's just me! :)

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