Review of Korean Air flight Colombo Malé in Economy

Airline Korean Air
Flight KE 473
Class Economy
Seat --
Aircraft Airbus A330-300
Flight time 01:30
Take-off 10 Feb 19, 06:00
Arrival at 10 Feb 19, 07:00
KE 127 reviews
By 1371
Published on 18th March 2019
Hi everyone,

Welcome to the 3rd report of this new series covering my latest trip to Sri Lanka and Maldives with Qatar Airways and Korean Air.

The whole trip plan looks like this:

01 FEB - WAW-DOH, QR 264 - A330-300 you can find it here
01 FEB - DOH-CMB, QR 662 - A350-900 - you can find it here
10 FEB - CMB-MLE, KE 473 - A330-300 - you are here
14 FEB - MLE-CMB, KE 474 - A330-300
16 FEB - CMB-DOH, QR 665 - A340-600
16 FEB - DOH - WAW, QR 261 - B787-800


Planning a trip to Sri Lanka I couldn't miss the opportunity to visit the nearby Maldives - a place (almost) everyone would like to go to one day. I always thought Maldives are not for me as I can't afford a 5* resort hotel but… then I learnt that in 2005 inhabited local islands were allowed to host tourists and you can just go to one of these islands, book a room in a small hotel or a guest house and enjoy the same fabulous sea and views with a unique opportunity to see some local life with a price definitely higher than in Sri Lanka, yet affordable.
The CMB-MLE route is one of the most "5th freedomish" I have seen. There is only one no 5th freedom airline on this route - Sri Lankan, while the rest of the flights is operated by forreign carriers flying form their hub to MLE and making a stop in CMB (like Korean Air) or making the opposite (like Saudia, Emirates, Oman Air). I chose KE not only because they had the best offer (200 euro for a return ticket with 23 kg luggage included) but also because it was an opportunity to try an exotic airline as for this route.


Before the main flight report I would like to share with you some photos of my 8 days stay in Sri Lanka. We decided to stay first one day in Negombo, then visit the center of the island with its most known attractions and finish in the mountain region before coming back to the coast for our flight to Maldives.

Bonus : Click here display


Have I told you that early morning flights are what I hate most… What to do if your flight departs at 06:00 a.m.? Find a place to sleep close to the aiport, wake up at 3:00 a.m and go to the airport at 04:00 a.m. and try not to fall asleep.

I think the one and only terminal in CMB must have been rebuilt and extended so many times that today it looks a little bit like a labirynth full of corridors. A funny thing is that even to get to the check-in area you need first to enter a strange space, then pass a corridor with souvenir shops and finally a security check when your main luggage is scanned.
The first flight to Male today is operated by Oman Air, then there is our Korean Air flight with Sri Lankan's departure at 07:20 being third in line.

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I love this ancient FIDS, it reminds me of the train stations when I was a child.

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Korean Air check-in desks. There must be a good demand for seats on this route concerning the number of daily flights.

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As we are already checked-in online, we just dropped our luggage and answered many questions regarding the lenght of our stay and further travel plans (I was asked to show the reservation for flight back to CMB and also for the flight back from Colombo to Doha and Warsaw).

Even if it's very early the airport doesn't seem asleep (except for the guys in the left corner)

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Boarding starts and it is just here at the gate where we pass the final security check.

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Here is our A333 that came the previous evening from ICN

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After a very warm and polite welcome from the crew, we take our seats in the very rear part of the aircraft where the traditional 2-4-2 seats are reduced to only 2-2-2. The cabin looks very fresh and new.

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Look at this legroom! The IFE box is very small and it doesn't steal half of my legroom as it was in QR.

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There is a pillow on every seat and blankets are distributed on request

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Seat pocket is full of interesting stuff

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Safety card

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Inflight magazine with destination map but no fleet information at all :( Strange!

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Safety video is dispalyed on the screens

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It is still dark when we start to taxi, but it gets brighter every minute. Sri Lankan fleet waiting for the morning departures.

We take off towards north-east so need a deep turn to fly in exactly opposite direction.

Sunrise on its way. I must say I feel a little bit anxious flying towards open ocean with our destination airport being a little bit like an artificial platform.

Let's check the IFE and the inflight maps showing that we actually fly towards… nowhere

Breakfast arrives soon after the seat belt sign is off. It contains two muffins, yoghurt and fresh fruit - ok for 1 hour flight but one muffin could be replaced by a sandwich. Water, juices, soft drinks, tea and coffee are available without limits.

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A few words about the crew on this flight: I was really impressed by how well orgainized their work was. All the male and female FAs were very polite and attentive but I wouldn't call them friendly, it was not this type of crew that you can talk with standing in the galley, rather a very task concentrated and strict one, yet smiling and helpful.

There is nothing to see outside but the endless oceans and some clouds

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Teddy reminding us to keep seatbelts fastened

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Uff, we are getting closer!

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It is strange to descent when there is nothing but ocean down there. We are already very low when the first island appear. Wow! I have never seen such views! It was worth this 1 hour of anxiety ;)

Artificial islands are built on the edge of the atol. Each island will become a luxury resort.

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One of the strangest capitals (a city with 150.000 inhabitants built on a small island in the middle of the ocean) in the world appears on the left with freshly constructed (in August 2018) Sinamale bridge conntecting the city with MLE airport.

Finally there is some ground underneath!

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Maldivian Dash landing after us

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The cabin during deboarding

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There are no jet bridges in MLE, so we need to disembark by stairs

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The terminal looks as a very local airport. The only difference is it has connection to main aiports all over the world with flights being operated by the biggest jets. The immigration process is very smooth, no questions, just a stamp in the passport, so we can collect our luggage and search for the boat that will take us to our island.

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Many thanks for reading. To be continued soon :)
See more


Korean Air

Cabin crew7.5

Colombo - CMB


Malé - MLE



Korean Air leaves the impression of a very good and reliable airline with modern aircraft, well trained crew and organized boarding. Service on this short 1-hour hop was enough, but one of the muffins could be replaced with something else, e.g. sandwich. CMB and MLE are very traditional, old fashioned airports that definitely need some upgrade works.

Information on the route Colombo (CMB) Malé (MLE)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 9 reviews of 4 airlines on the route Colombo (CMB) → Malé (MLE).


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

The average flight time is 1 hours and 30 minutes.

  More information


If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 493600 by
    EuroAirport68 154 Comments

    Thank you for this report with the interesting travel bonus in Sri Lanka! Nice views before landing.
    I was not aware of this CMB-MLE 5th freedom flight with KE. 2 muffins, were they the same flavor? Which one?

    • Comment 493669 by
      loukas AUTHOR 343 Comments

      Hi, thank you for your comment! Yes, both muffins were the same and a little bit too dry. It looked like someone had no idea what to put inside this breakfast set, so instead of leaving some free space, he added an extra muffin ;)

  • Comment 493646 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 5887 Comments

    Hi Loukas! Thanks for a beautiful report as always! I had no idea that KE flew this 5th freedom route--how exotic! Your aerial shots are absolutely stunning and it was a great day to fly.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Comment 493815 by
    Pilpintu SILVER 809 Comments

    Absolutely lovely report, Lukasz!!

    The tourism bonus was ind blowing! I completely love strawberries but I never imagined there were so many kinds. It's funny that so many varieties have Spanish names like Oso Grande (Big Bear), Selva (Jungle) or Macarena! (Dale a tu cuerpo alegría Macarena...) XDDD And "Ventana"? (Window)

    Everything is stunning in those photos, from the gorgeous slopes and tea plantations to the fire walker. Ouch!!! Thank you very much for sharing.

    And then I had to hold the tears at the sight of that breakfast for a 1 hour flight! I hate latam from the bottom of my heart!!! XD

    The sight of Malé is absolutely insane. A full blown city with high rises and all in the middle of nowhere. I would sleep with an eye closed and the other on the tsunami warnings if I lived there!!

    I read about the Korean macabre chaebol system which might explain much of the flight staff behavior.

    Oh, BTW, the bear is leaving tomorrow. I apologize with all my heart for the delay. A bit of neglect from my part and a bit of frantic beginning of the school year.

    Thanks again! This report was much fun!

    • Comment 493864 by
      loukas AUTHOR 343 Comments

      Hi Nechus, I'm glad you like the report and bonus pictures. Living in the middle of the ocean must be strange, especially when the experts say these tiny islands will disappear within 20 years (destruction of natural environement seems worse than tsunami). Thank you very much for the bear, he's expected by the Penguin and his mates ;)

  • Comment 494000 by
    757Fan 612 Comments

    I had no idea Korean Airlines operated this flight - awesome! Thanks for sharing and great photos. I would love to visit this part of the world some day!

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