Review of Korean Air flight Seoul Hong Kong in Economy

Airline Korean Air
Flight KE603
Class Economy
Seat 34A
Aircraft Boeing 777-300ER
Flight time 03:38
Take-off 19 Feb 19, 09:24
Arrival at 19 Feb 19, 12:02
KE 127 reviews
By BRONZE 1407
Published on 19th February 2019


I love Hong Kong. I’m not sure what it is that attracts me to this city among all the other destinations in the world, but I find it the perfect escape. A place to be delightfully alone with millions of other people. I kind of feel like something is missing if I don’t get to spend a day or two in Hong Kong in a year.

And in early 2019, it had been almost a year since I last spent some time in Hong Kong. Sure, I’d spent the better part of a day lounge hopping on a First Class Cathay ticket last September, but that didn’t really count. Not the way I needed it to count.

So when I planned out my early-2019 adventures, my first priority — although it would be the last of the three to occur — was spending some time with the land of skyscrapers and that intoxicating blend of Chinese and English cultures. 

the rundown


photo map

when last we saw our intrepid flight-reporter…

… he had just arrived into Incheon’s Terminal 2 from Atlanta and cleared transit security.

Terminal 2 is a very impressive building, and at the early hour of 5:30 am, it’s all but empty.  

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This little park/garden area is the dominant central feature of the terminal, and it’s beautiful. 

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It’s time to find the lounge.

Oh, wait.  

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I guess I could make the long walk to the Prestige Lounge farther from my departure gate, but I decide to just wait for the half-hour until this lounge opens. To kill time, I head out to Gate 255, from which we’ll be departing this morning, to see what’s going on.

Unsurprisingly, there’s not much going on at this hour. 

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But there is a very cold-looking 777-300ER waiting for us outside. 

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The windows in this terminal are big and offer great spotting, but they’re a bit challenging for photography because they’re offset by more than 18 inches of a short ledge on which you have to climb up to get up close and personal and reduce glare and reflection.

It’s almost 6:00 am by the time I get back to the centre of the lounge, so I head upstairs to be there for the lounge’s opening. 

KAL Prestige Lounge ICN T2 East

Upstairs, there’s a small lineup forming of people waiting to get into the lounge. This feels more like a check-in desk for a flight than a lounge since it’s outside the lounge and there are these barriers to form lines.  

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A beautiful model of the Korean A380 on display. But I’m not so sure I’d be bragging about those seats in 2019, guys. 

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Right at 6:00, the entranceway is opened up, and I’m among the first people into the lounge. 

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It’s a pretty big, open space with a lot of seating options. 

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There’s a media room. 

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And these convenient single seats with tables. 

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A central circle area, with this raised “bar” with stools and plugs. 

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The buffet is compact and not terribly exciting, but you already knew that since it’s Korean. 

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There’s a staffed bar, and some self-serve options also available. 

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A look at the cold contents of the buffet — salads and yogurt, pastries, cereal, cheese, and bananas in little yellow plastic bags. Don’t bananas kinda come in their own wrappers? 

There are also a few hot dishes, an odd combination for breakfast.

Egg fried rice. 

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Prawns in tomato sauce. 

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Fish croquets. 

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And a vegetable porridge. 

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There’s an extensive collection of self-serve drinks, including juices, soft drinks, and beer and coffee machines. 

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I make myself a small snack, and an espresso to go with it. Nothing is terribly impressive. Except for the coffee. The coffee’s fine. 

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There are USB and AC ports hidden under the armrest of these seats. Very convenient. 

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WiFi requires a password but is blazing fast. Hey, look at that exciting newest flight-report! 

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I kill some time watching videos and responding to email from back home. I had hoped with it being Presidents Day in the States, things would be quiet. But not so much.

About 7:35, some 15 minutes before scheduled boarding time, I decide to make my way out of the lounge and down to Gate 225, which I’m sure will be a lot more active now. 

Boarding Time

From the lounge level, a floor above the main departures level, the scale and architecture of the new terminal are quite impressive. 

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I make my way down to Gate 225, where things are decidedly busier than when last I was through here. In fact, although it’s almost 10 minutes before the boarding time shown on my boarding pass, they’re already letting passengers onboard.  

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I join the Sky Priority lane, and I’m on my way down to Hong Kong. 

The Flight-Report

Flight: KE603
From: Seoul Incheon (ICN)
To: Hong Kong (HKG)
Date: 2/19/2019
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Registration: HL8209
Seat: 34A
ATD (STD): 09:24 (08:20)
ATA ( STA): 12:02 (11:20)

Boarding at 2L, I make my way through the rear business class cabin and into the first economy cabin. Despite being in row 34, I’m actually in just the seventh row of economy. I’m in the port window seat, and none of my seatmates are here yet, so I’ve got some time to set up. 

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A look across row 34. Pitch is quite reasonable, and the seat width isn’t bad with nine across on the 777.  

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The seat is equipped with a decent pillow for economy class, a light blanket, and a pair of headphones that I won’t even bother taking a closer look at. Still, kind of them to offer. 

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Seatback features include a decent-sized IFE screen for Y, a coat hook, a drink holder, tray table, and a remote for the screen. There’s a USB port, but it doesn’t seem to provide enough juice to charge my iPad Pro. My phone, however, charges happily enough, and it appears to offer enough power for my iPad’s battery to not be depleted during use when plugged in, just not enough to charge it up while it’s in use. While the screen’s off, though, it gets charged up to 100 percent and stays there for the duration of the flight. 

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Should I need more power, there is an AC outlet located below the seat between 34A and 34B.

Legroom shot — it feels quite generous. Visually, it actually looks like a bit more space than offered up front two flight-reports ago on the Delta Mad Dog. 

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It’s nice to have a window again. In this case, it’s lightly snowing outside, and the window reveals a snow-covered left wing. I think we’ll be stopping at de-icing this morning. I hope we’ll be stopping at de-icing this morning. 

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When I board, the IFE screen is in Korean, which is no surprise. After a few minutes of fumbling around, I figure out that the icon in the top right corner is the language control, and get it switched over to English. 

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We end up very full in economy, if not 100 percent, then very close. I’m joined by two young men in 34B and C. There’s plenty of shoulder room for us, mainly because the gentleman in the middle seat is quite slim. Unfortunately, they both seem to be smokers. Oh well. Such are the joys of flying in the main cabin.

The IFE system offers many of the same films available on Delta, although its lineup of English-language content is more limited than Delta’s, as one would expect. I’ll stick to some podcasts on my phone for this flight, in anticipation of needing some movies on my ICN-JFK flight in a few days. From my playing with it, though, the system is quick and responsive. 

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The safety video rolls at a few minutes before 8:30 and we push back. Shortly after that, a flight attendant makes the announcement that we will be headed over to the de-icing pad. Yeah, I think that’s the right good decision. 

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We arrive there a few minutes later, and the plane gets a long and thorough bath after waiting a while for our turn. 

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While we’re waiting here with the engines turned off, the flight attendants distribute Hong Kong arrival forms, giving us a chance to get them filled in early in the flight. Always a good idea. 

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We taxi away after almost half an hour on the de-icing pad, and the snow has picked up a bit outside. The wing’s looking better, but still a bit snowy. 

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t takes another ten minutes of taxiing to get to our turn on the runway, and at about 9:25 am, about an hour behind scheduled departure time, we take off into the light snowstorm above Incheon.  

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It’s so much more beautiful up here once we’re through the clouds. 

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I kill some time catching up on writing this flight-report on my tablet, and watch as the flight attendants start their service run at the front of the economy cabin.

The sun is on my side of the plane, so it’s quite warm in my seat with it streaming in the window. Having been in the dark for so long, and the grey in Seoul, I’m loathe to close the window shade, both for enjoyment’s sake and for the sake of sunlight likely helping me to acclimate to Asian time.

Meal service is a choice between seafood and rice and frittata. I decide to go with the latter, and it’s presented with a bun and butter, a cup of water, blueberry yogurt, and a chunk of pineapple for dessert. I take a glass of pineapple juice along with it. 

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The frittata isn’t bad, although not very tasty without the tomato compote. Miraculously, the hash browns aren’t entirely soggy and are even a little bit crispy. 

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Meal service ends with coffee and tea offered. It’s not Delta quality, but it’s not bad for airline coffee. 

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Airshow tracks our progress towards Hong Kong. It’s an older generation of the moving map, and the whole IFE experience reminds me of a much more responsive version of the old-generation Air Canada IFE system. 

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I putter for a while, writing and playing some Civ to entertain myself, and then decide it’s time to stretch my legs, which, unfortunately, means displacing my seatmates. Sorry about that. The seats aren’t bad, but sitting in one for a few consecutive hours means I’ve got to get up just to ease the discomfort in my behind and upper hamstrings.

I stop by the lavs immediately forward of the fourth doors. They’re pretty standard, although stocked with toothbrushes to my surprise. 

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Here’s a look at the forward Y cabin mid-flight, taken from right in front of door 4L. 

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By the time I’m back at my seat, we’re a little less than an hour out of Hong Kong.  

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Half an hour before arrival, the flight attendants make a juice run. I grab another pineapple juice. Because it’s delightful. 

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Descent is almost wholly cloud-covered. I entertain myself by watching the action of the moving surfaces of the wing on the way down. These are things you don’t get to see up in J.

Finally, we break through the clouds just before arrival at Chek Lap Kok. 

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And touchdown! 

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It’s only about a ten-minute taxi to the gate at HKG’s main terminal, at a position relatively close to immigration, if I’m not mistaken. 

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arrival into hkg

It feels like it takes a long time to get off the plane, but in reality, it’s only seven minutes later that I’m on my way through the halls of the arrival level of HKG. 

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As we get close to immigration, I remark to myself that it’s packed at this hour. It seems like there are masses of travellers streaming towards immigration from every direction. Surely, it’s going to be a long wait to get through, which doesn’t hit me that well because by this time, I’m feeling pretty exhausted and am looking forward to making it to my bed.

But I’m wrong. Perhaps because they know it’s a busy time and just about every immigration position is open, there’s not much of a line for foreigners, and I’m through after a very minimal wait.

Only about 12 minutes after I got off the plane, I’m landside on the arrivals level in Hong Kong. That’s great efficiency. 

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From here, I grab some Hong Kong dollars and make my way out towards the bus departure terminal. I’m just in time to catch the A11 bus towards my hotel in North Point, where I’m looking forward to hitting a pillow.

That’s where we’ll leave this portion of this trip. Thanks for joining me for this slightly convoluted tail of getting to Hong Kong. Hopefully, the trip back won’t have quite so many twists and turns.


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This was a perfectly acceptable short international economy flight with Korean Air. The seat and catering were about what one would expect, with excellent seat pitch and just nine-across seating.

Do I wish I’d been on my scheduled China Airlines flight and arrived in (very dated) style on the CI 747 in business class? Yes. But I’m also glad that Delta was able to pull the fat out of the fire on this trip, even if it meant 1,200 miles in economy.

Information on the route Seoul (ICN) Hong Kong (HKG)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 21 reviews of 8 airlines on the route Seoul (ICN) → Hong Kong (HKG).


The airline with the best average rating is Cathay Pacific with 8.4/10.

The average flight time is 3 hours and 50 minutes.

  More information


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