Flight-Report

Review of Korean Air flight Hong Kong Seoul in Business

Airline Korean Air
Flight KE608
Class Business
Seat 8A
Aircraft Boeing 787-9
Flight time 02:42
Take-off 21 Feb 19, 01:15
Arrival at 21 Feb 19, 04:57
KE   #17 out of 128 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 118 reviews
hometoyyz
By SILVER 1288
Published on 20th February 2019

introduction


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


Routing


photo map

when last we saw our intrepid flight-reporter…


… he had just arrived at his hotel in North Point and was desperately in search of sleep.

As usual, the plan backfired on me. I got in a nap, and then explored for a while, had some dinner, and went to bed still reasonably early. But I woke up at 3:00 am and couldn’t get to sleep again afterwards.

Oh well. Time to suck it up. I spend most of the day walking through Hong Kong taking in the sights, sounds and smells of this bustling super-city.

But about 5:00 pm, after 22,000-odd steps, I’m starting to get tired and decide I’d like to head back to the airport and hang out there. So I stop by the hotel to pick up my bags and catch the A11 bus back to the airport.

Once I get there, my first priority is to try a spotting experience I’ve yet to try, the Sky Deck. So I make my way over to Terminal 2, pay my HKD 15 admission fee, and head up to to the Deck. It’s a very cool place to spot and really makes me wish I had a better camera with me because the picture I can take with optical or reasonable digital zoom doesn’t do justice to the experience. 


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The planes may look far away, but they seem very close when the roar of their engines running on full for takeoff shake your core. 


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The Sky Deck provides a great view of the airport and all of the runways.  


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It’s also a great place to play with the augmented reality mode in Flightradar24’s app. 


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Even if you can’t “zoom” the camera view in AR mode, and sometimes, the labels struggle to keep up with the reality of the situation at this close a range. 


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I hang out here for the better part of an hour as the sun goes down, and thoroughly enjoy my time. But it’s getting dark, and the weather in the distance is looking more ominous, so I decide to head back into the terminal to see if I can check in. 


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But on the way out, I check out some of the aviation-related displays just outside the entrance to the Sky Deck, some of which warrant a little gentle jostling.

For example, if you’re going to have displays up long term, you might want to be careful with your declarative statements. I’d say the 787 and A350 would like a word with this assertion. 


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And further to the ongoing discussion of the rapid evolution of premium cabins, this 1990s Cathay First Class product looks really out of date. The seat’s pretty beat up too. 


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There’s also an interesting display of models in various scales. 


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Having seen what there is to see here, I head back over to Terminal 1, which is looking quite lovely in its Chinese New Year finest.  


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Korean uses check-in aisle G, so I head on over there, and sure enough, there are Korean Air check-in stations. Sadly, there are no Korean Air check-in agents. 


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So I grab a seat not too far away and kill some time by doing some work, and starting this flight-report. The free airport WiFi is more than adequate. 

I check in with my ride tonight, which is well on its way down to Hong Kong and looks to be fixing to show up a little early. 


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Check-in and security


At precisely 8:55 pm, four hours before departure, a group of Korean agents appear en masse, and check-in begins. I’m checked in by a male agent and ask him if there are any window seats on the ICN-JFK flight with an empty aisle seat next to them, and he moves me to one of them. It’s worth a roll of the dice, I figure. I’m sent on my way with my three boarding passes for the trip home, and a flyer explaining the location of the SkyTeam Lounge.

The entryway for security has been automated since last I was here. There are a pair of doors, each controlled by a scanner. Scan your passport to get in, and scan your boarding pass to get out. The first part works seamlessly, but a security agent seems to have to help at least two out of every three passengers going through to get their boarding pass scanned, myself included. 


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Security is quick, and only about five minutes later, I arrive at immigration, which has also been automated. Same two-step approach, but this time the first scanner checks your passport, and the second scanner does facial recognition. Pass both, and you’re good to go. I have to imagine this will dramatically speed the immigration process here during the busiest times. 


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All told, from the first gate at the entry to the second scan of immigration took just seven minutes to get “from the door” to airside. Even more efficiency for an already highly efficient airport. 


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I make the short walk towards Gate 15, where we find the entrance to the SkyTeam lounge.  


SkyTeam Lounge HKG


The lounge is down a level, on the same floor as the arrival hallways, just like Cathay’s own The Pier lounge here. That’s where the comparisons to The Pier end, though. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fine lounge for an alliance without a big hometown player, but it doesn’t come close to the definitive flagship lounge at Cathay’s singular stronghold. 


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Reception is at the bottom of the escalator. My boarding pass is scanned, and I’m reminded that there are no boarding announcements in the lounge. 


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Reading materials by the door. 


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The signature SkyTeam “green wall” look — totally not ripped off from Amex’s Centurion Lounges — is seen throughout the lounge. 


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It’s a large lounge, and it’s nowhere near capacity when I show up. Judging by the amount of French being spoken in the lounge, I’m guessing there’s an Air France flight leaving in the not-so-distant future.

There are a variety of seating options, from bench seats to many single seats. They offer a lot of power outlets, as a relatively new lounge should. Each of those little white tables has at least two power outlets and two USB ports. 



This business room was a yoga room the last time I was here I believe, and these computers were out on a raised bar area around the corner. I guess there just aren’t that many people looking to do a little airport lounge yoga pre-flight. 


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This sectional is at the end of the hall past the yoga… errr… business centre. There’s a TV on the wall, but it seems like nobody goes here. 


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The buffet and a bunch of seating for dining is centrally located, surrounded on two sides by the curving wooden feature-wall that SkyTeam seems to love in its lounges. 


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A toaster and bread. 


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A sausage dish and bread pudding. A match made in heaven. 


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Pumpkin cream soup. 


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A pork dish and fried chicken. 


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Veggies. 


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Fried rice. 


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A limited number of dim sum options. 


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The highlight of the buffet is the chef station, where you can order some noodles and rice dishes. 


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Snacks along the back of the buffet. 


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Self serve pancakes. That’s a different option. 


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Salad fixings. 


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Sandwich fixings. 


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And instructions. Just in case making a sandwich is tricky for you. 


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Across from the buffet is the beverages area, which features coffee makers, water and other soft drinks in a cooler, and a half-decent selection of booze, including G.H. Mumm as the champagne on offer. 



I grab myself a bottle of water and request the Hong Kong-style pork rice from the chef. If it’s made and served in Hong Kong, do they still call it Hong Kong-style here? It’s a pretty good meal. 


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I follow that up with a glass of Mumm, another bottle of water, and the Taiwanese beef noodle. This one isn’t as good as the pork rice, but still pretty tasty. Beef broth with a half decent dosage of chillies is pretty delicious. 


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And finally, a bit of the bread pudding with vanilla sauce for dessert. It’s simple, but quite a pleasure. 


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WiFi in the lounge is locked down with an SSID password, and it’s doing just fine. Corporate shot time! 


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Around 10:45, the lounge all but clears out. Coincidentally, it’s all the French-speakers who depart. This would seem to support my flight to France theory. And sure enough, at around 11:15, they make a final boarding announcement an Air France flight to Paris. Hey, I was told there would be no boarding announcements in the lounge.

About ten minutes after that, a grey-haired man in a black suit suddenly darts out of the lounge. I can only presume he fell asleep and woke up just now to realize his flight to Paris has probably already left. I can sympathize with that. Given the hour and how little sleep I’ve had in the last 48 hours or so, I’m legitimately concerned that it could happen to me. Well, except with Seoul instead of Paris.

At this point, there’s probably about one lounge attendant for every two, or maybe three, guests. They’re working diligently, cleaning things that don’t appear to need cleaning, straightening anything that’s even slightly askew.

With the lounge so empty, surely there’s not going to be a wait for a shower. And I’m right. I’m shown to a shower room in exchange for my boarding pass. The shower suite is basic, but it’s spotless, and it does the job. The water is nice and hot, the body wash is pleasant, and the water pressure is okay, although rainshower heads just aren’t great for that. 



After my shower, I feel somewhat refreshed, almost bordering on human. At this point, it’s coming up on 25 minutes until boarding time. I feel like I haven’t been here very long, but time is flying. It’s about time to head out and see what’s going on down at my gate. But first, I should figure out to which gate I should head, so I ask at the front desk. Off to gate 29 I go. 


Boarding Time


Sure enough, when I get there, there’s a Dreamliner in Korean colours awaiting me, looking good on a clear Hong Kong night. That threatening weather earlier never materialized at Chek Lap Kok, at least. 


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Boarding begins at about 12:30 am, and off I go. 


The Flight-Report


Flight: KE608
From: Hong Kong (HKG)
To: Seoul Incheon (ICN)
Date: 2/21/2019
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9
Registration: HL8082
Seat: 9A
ATD (STD): 01:15 (00:55)
ATA ( STA): 04:57 (05:20)

I’m in 9A, a window seat in the 2-2-2 staggered business class section of three rows. Korean does something very odd on their Dreamliners, also offering First Class, but on the same hard product. I believe there are some small upgrades (a bigger IFE screen and the like), but for the most part, the seat is the exact same.  


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The feature that allows 2-2-2 all aisle access is this aisle in front of the aisle seat that leads into the window seat.  


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I’ve flown these seats before on the 747-8, and on the upstairs version of these seats, storage is greatly enhanced by the side bins built into the wall. On other planes, the window seats suffer from relatively little storage. The primary storage space is less than functional — this large bin above the ottoman, which is hard to reach when seated. Note also the power outlet at the end of the inside suite wall. The IFE screen is large, and the system is responsive, although I’ll only use it for moving map on this flight. 


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Seat controls and a touchscreen IFE controls are in the armrest. 


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Your other main storage area is this cubby space under the armrest. Here, you’ll find slippers, headphones, and the menu. The space is a little hard to access, particularly with the armrest top flipped down, but is large enough to house my iPad and keyboard comfortably. 


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Headphone and USB ports are in the front face of that storage bin. 


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Legroom shot. Miles and miles. 


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The seat is equipped with one way-too-small pillow and a decent blanket. 


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Storage contents revealed. 


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The slippers are typical Korean-style. 


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A flight attendant stops by and offers an eye mask and earplugs, a nice touch since there’s no amenity kit on this relatively short flight. 


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The headphones are captured just for posterity. They certainly don’t appear too impressive. 


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A simple menu serves in both directions. Orders are taken on the ground, and I request the steak. She asks how I’d like it, and I ask for medium rare. We’ll see how that turns out. The menus are then collected. 


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Pre-departure beverage options include orange juice, water, and champagne. I opt for one of each of the latter two. Note the incredibly generous pour of champagne — all of the glasses were like this. 


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The service director for the flight, the only male flight attendant I’d see onboard, stops by every business class seat to offer his welcome aboard and a bow. That’s about all I’d see of him throughout the flight.

The safety video rolls and we push back right on time at 12:55 am after a speedy boarding. Korean keeps the lights on throughout the nighttime takeoff and landing, so getting pictures out the window is a challenge, to say the least. 


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I just flip on the moving map, which is a modern interface, to keep myself updated on the flight. 


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After about a 20-minute taxi, we’re off to Seoul.  


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Once we pass the 10,000-foot mark, service begins with a hot towel.  


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The woman in 9B is already asleep, so I put up the divider to give both of us some privacy. With this up, the window seats feel very private. 


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Tables are set, and then the flight attendants offer a juice run. It seems odd to not do full bar before the meal, but I guess this is in support of accelerating service. 


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Before dinner, I check out the lav just behind door 2L. It’s surprisingly large, and reasonably well appointed. 


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The meal tray is offered around 30 minutes after takeoff. The potato leek soup is delicious, but the garlic bread is a mix of good and bad. It’s soaked with very garlicky butter, which is good. But the bread itself feels a little stale, which is not so good. The tray comes with a glass of water, and I have a glass of the Shiraz to accompany it. I enjoy it. 


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When I’m done my soup, the flight attendant who promptly clears my dishes asks me if it’s okay that it will be about five minutes for my steak. But then she appears with it in what would be no more than two minutes. The steak is pretty good. It’s a bit north of medium rare, but still very tender. 


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The potatoes are quite tasty, and the veggies are a nice mix and not overcooked.

After dinner, coffee, tea, green tea and fruit are offered, but I decline. I’m full, and I’m ready to get some sleep. Impressively, the meal service is done about 50 minutes after takeoff. I put the bed down, and get ready for sleep. The bed is reasonably comfortable but surprisingly feels a little bit short. I don’t recall feeling this way in this seat before, either on the KE 748, or the JL 788. 


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I’m asleep before the house lights are turned down, and manage to sleep for a little over an hour and a half, waking up as the lights come back up and a flight attendant makes another juice run. 


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By this time, we’re already quite close to Seoul. 


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We touch down a couple of minutes before 5, and taxi for about 20 minutes before our flight comes to an end. 


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One last look at the nose of our Dreamliner as I head into the terminal. 


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Arrival into ICN


It’s a short walk through the arrivals level to the transit security checkpoint. 


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When I get there, there’s literally no one there except the security agents. As I walk in, several of them have to leave their conversation to return to their stations. One agent gives me the “You’re flying to the U.S.” extra questions, which today include what electronics I’m flying with, and whether or not any of them have been repaired. I’m not sure if she means ever, or just on this trip, but she seems satisfied by my answers, and I get the sticker applied to my passport.

Even with those questions, I’m through security in less than five minutes, and upstairs I go to the departure level. 


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That’s where we’ll leave this flight. We’ll pick it up next time when I go off in search of the other Korean Prestige Lounge at Incheon. Dontchadaremissit.

Cheers! 

See more

Verdict

Korean Air

7.4/10
Cabin7.5
Cabin crew7.0
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Meal/catering7.5

SkyTeam Lounge

6.5/10
Comfort6.0
Meal/catering6.5
Entertainment/wifi6.5
Services7.0

Hong Kong - HKG

8.6/10
Efficiency8.5
Access8.0
Services8.5
Cleanliness9.5

Seoul - ICN

7.4/10
Efficiency8.0
Access7.0
Services6.0
Cleanliness8.5

Conclusion

This was a fine red-eye business class flight with Korean. The service was quick and very friendly if a little cool. I was very impressed with the speed of service, and I thought the catering was good for a short after-midnight departure.

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

The contributors of Flight-Report published 21 reviews of 6 airlines on the route Hong Kong (HKG) → Seoul (ICN).


Useful

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

The average flight time is 3 hours and 13 minutes.

  More information

4 Comments

  • Comment 489488 by
    ISTFlyer GOLD 167 Comments

    Hi hometoyyz and thanks for sharing this report as well as the first parts of the serie,

    -SkyTeam had started to improve their own lounges in their non-hub signature lounges. Even though I would prefer the CX lounge's compared to the SkyTeam Lounge, the SkyTeam Lounge looks nice and comfortable. Also the offerings seem good.
    -Even though the Dreamliners of KE are brand-new, the seats look old and not attractive. I guess they should offer a better product. However, these seats seem alright for shorter flight like this one.
    - The service of light-meal seems OK for this red-eye flight but the tray and the service looks like a paid dinner in a 4 star beach resort hotel. Especially, the style of the tray and the presentation of the meals. However, the meals look tasty.

    Thanks for sharing this report and hope to see you in the next parts of your series.

    • Comment 492493 by
      hometoyyz SILVER AUTHOR 498 Comments

      Hi IST! Thanks for stopping by and offering your thoughts.

      “SkyTeam had started to improve their own lounges in their non-hub signature lounges. Even though I would prefer the CX lounge's compared to the SkyTeam Lounge, the SkyTeam Lounge looks nice and comfortable. Also the offerings seem good.”
      - I like the SkyTeam lounge. I like the common visual elements, and generally the offerings are okay. HKG is the best of the ST lounges I’ve made it to thus far. This lounge would be better if it had views. But the hometowners are hogging those spots for themselves.

      “Even though the Dreamliners of KE are brand-new, the seats look old and not attractive. I guess they should offer a better product. However, these seats seem alright for shorter flight like this one.”
      - The Apex seats are generally pretty well thought of. I really liked them on the 747-8i. A little less on the 787, where there were storage challenges. But the seat itself is pretty comfy, and an ingenious design to get airlines the six-across design they want, and passengers all aisle access.

      “The service of light-meal seems OK for this red-eye flight but the tray and the service looks like a paid dinner in a 4 star beach resort hotel. Especially, the style of the tray and the presentation of the meals. However, the meals look tasty.”
      - Yeah, it’s not great presentation to be sure, although a pretty good meal for the hour especially.

      Thanks again for stopping by. Cheers!

  • Comment 490026 by
    YGeorgeW 77 Comments

    Thanks for the report Hometoyyz!

    “For example, if you’re going to have displays up long term, you might want to be careful with your declarative statements. I’d say the 787 and A350 would like a word with this assertion.”
    -Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s wait until the 777X and the A330 Neo before writing them off.

    “And further to the ongoing discussion of the rapid evolution of premium cabins, this 1990s Cathay First Class product looks really out of date. The seat’s pretty beat up too.”
    -That said, with the privacy partition up, still better privacy that United’s old GlobalFirst seat.

    “I grab myself a bottle of water and request the Hong Kong-style pork rice from the chef. If it’s made and served in Hong Kong, do they still call it Hong Kong-style here? It’s a pretty good meal.”
    -Was there a menu? I’m just curious to what the different noodle dishes you could order were.

    “A simple menu serves in both directions. Orders are taken on the ground, and I request the steak. She asks how I’d like it, and I ask for medium rare. We’ll see how that turns out. The menus are then collected.”
    -This is still pretty impressive for a sub-3-hour flight.

    “The steak is pretty good. It’s a bit north of medium rare, but still very tender.”
    -Not bad at all, in my opinion it looks better than the steak you had on DeltaOne recently.

    Thanks again.

    • Comment 492495 by
      hometoyyz SILVER AUTHOR 498 Comments

      Hi YGeorge W! Thanks for stopping by.

      “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s wait until the 777X and the A330 Neo before writing them off.”
      - Fair enough. Perhaps the authors have better future vision than I give them credit for. Although I thought the 330 Neo was likely to come in a bit behind the A350 in terms of fuel efficiency. Not sure about the 777x.

      “That said, with the privacy partition up, still better privacy that United’s old GlobalFirst seat.”
      - The epitome of damning through faint praise.

      “Was there a menu? I’m just curious to what the different noodle dishes you could order were.”
      There was. I wish now that I’d grabbed a picture of it. I think there were about six items all told. The pair I had, a fish ball soup… and I forget what else. I seem to recall there was at least one vegetarian dish, as one might expect.

      “This is still pretty impressive for a sub-3-hour flight.”
      - Yep, not bad at all for a short flight departing after midnight.

      “Not bad at all, in my opinion it looks better than the steak you had on DeltaOne recently.”
      - It was. If it had been given a bit more pepper, it would have been far better. But that’s just my preference.

      Thanks again for offering your comments. Cheers!

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