2/21/2012 Was FINALLY the day I got to fly the new A380, and this wasn't just any A380 - it was the ONLY A380 with the entire upper-deck dedicated to business class, a full bar/lounge in the back of the business class deck reserved for Business class and First class passengers ONLY, a small self-service bar in the front of the plane and a "duty free showcase." Needless to say I was MORE than excited to fly the Big Blue Smurf!
My Big Blue Smurf ICN - JFK today!
After leaving the Prestige Class lounge, 30 mins prior to our scheduled take off time, boarding had begun (slightly 5 mins ahead of schedule) and by the time I got to the gate it appeared as though there were about 100 people waiting to board. However thanks to Inchon's Amazing set up, the economy/skyteam Elite and the Business Class/First Class/Sky Team Plus entrances are a good 5 feet apart and have separate doors to the bridge allowing for quick and easy processing of both classes after the initial call for first class passengers and business class passengers. By the time I got there was no line at this door and I was able to board after showing my boarding pass and US passport. I walked into the secured area and down the ramp and there was a crew of about 12 security personal checking bags for liquids and other contraband that is band on flights flying to/from the USA. This same procedure was not done on my intra-asia flights, but an additional measure Korean Air takes to be in compliant with the US Security rules and regulations.
Processing was quick and efficient and I was soon walking up the ramp to the boarding bridge tot he upper-deck. At ICN the A380 has 3 boarding bridges, 1 for first class, 1 for Economy, and 1 for Business. I boarded the plane and found myself in the middle cabin of the upper deck. The very delicate Korean Airline FA bowed and smiled at me when i was about 1/2 way up the ramp and then welcomed me again when I boarded the aircraft. She took my ticket stub and then took me to my seat in the front cabin of the business class cabin. The A380 is set up as 3 different cabins on the A380 to make it feel more intimate. The front cabin was very nice, only consisting of 4 rows, each with 2 seats in a 2x2x2 pattern. I had the very front row (bulkhead) and found the legroom to be equal to every other seat in the cabin and the TV screen was in the armrest, but was not any smaller.
A few minutes after sitting down another FA who was almost a mirror image of the first FA greeted me with a choice of drinks which included water, campaign, Guava or Orange Juice. I opted for Campaign, for it was a long 14 hour flight and I was hoping to get a little nap in! Next another FA greeted me with a choice of two Korean newspapers both in English. Finally a few minutes later the FA returned with amenity kits for everyone. As I sat in my seat I started to read my newspaper and sip my campaign I opened my amenity kit to find it half empty. The Amenity kit was missing the normal eye cream and face cream and instead had a flatten face cream box with nothing in it, a tooth brush, lip balm, and a comb. I laughed at this and called the FA over. I thought it was just a fluke. The lady was very polite and apologized and ran away to grab me another one. A minute later she returned with two other flight attendants and they opened a new amenity kit, fresh from the packaging and that one too was missing items. I wasn't that upset, but at the same time it is nice to get free travel size eye cream and face cream (as i would say, anything free is a double-wide delight). The ladies then hurried from seat to seat apologizing to each individual passenger about their "lacking amenity kit". While they were doing this, another FA sneaked around me from the other aisle and replaced my campaign glass with a new one that was refilled :)
Empty Plane, right before take off
After sitting in my seat for about 15 minutes I realized that the cabin was 1/2 empty. My assigned seat was a middle Seat in the front of the aircraft. I had personally chose a middle seat for I didn't want anyone crawling over me in the middle of the flight, nor did I want to have to crawl over stranger. I really liked the front cabin because it was small and intimate, but I really wanted a window seat so I could look out, see the night stars, experience the oversize windows, etc. However I only wanted a middle seat if there was no on seated next to me. So I got up and asked my lady if I could move to an open window seat. She told me the plane was just about done boarding and I could move to any seat that I wanted to that was open for business class was 100% checked in. I got up from my seat and she was very polite and helped me with my items. As I walked past the divider between teh front and middle cabins I saw a VERY empty cabin, not even 10 people sat in the middle cabin which holds 48 people (8 rows of 2x2x2). I was shocked by how empty this aircraft was, how could it possibly be flying so far with so many open seats! This is obviously not profitable! I sat myself down in 16H and there was not a single person within 3 rows of me! I then walked to the rear cabin (another cabin set up with 4 rows of 2x2x2 seating) and found it 100% empty! I stopped and counted, 19 of 94 seats were filled today, a mere 20%!!!!
The flight took off shortly after and we were on our way towards NYC. About an hour into the flight Cabin Service was initiated. FA first brought a round of drinks (juice or water) and took orders for those requesting something different. This was followed by towel service and then our meal. This was my 4th KE biz class segment and I was ecstatic to see a true business class menu with a 5 course meal! Every other flight I had been on was only a dinner or breakfast dish and then fresh fruit. However for this flight there was everything! An Appetizer, Soup, A salad, Dinner w/ bread, cheese, and dessert!
Camera view during take off
Over all the meal was wonderful! The Shrimp tapa was a party on my palate, I was sadden that there was only one shrimp though for I could of had more! The salad was good but lacking dressing, however this was solved quickly by a simple request. The fish was very flavorsome and not overcooked this time (unlike my flight from LAX to ICN). By the time the dessert and cheese cart came by I was so full I could barely thing of eating. However when I saw the Häagen-Dazs I couldn't resist! I asked for the ice cream cup (good yes, but not nearly as much fun as an ice-cream sunday some airlines offer in Biz class) and asked them if I could have the cheese and fruit plate later in the flight. The smiled and agreed and I was soon in a heavenly sugary bliss. In addition to great in flight food, the purser came by a number of times with the wine basket and one never had to worry about their wine glass being empty.
Appetizer. Wish they were better nuts
Salad and bread
Cod - cooked perfectly
After dinner I kicked back in my seat that was "lay flat" per the Korean air website and watched a few movies on my oversize 17" high resolution TV. The seat was very comfortable, but it was not 100% lay flat. The seat was MUCH better than the angle lay flat seats, but it was still only about 178 degrees. In addition, I'm 5'10" and when stretched out I almost didn't fit into the seat! So tall guys (and gals) be prepared to sleep on your side and bend your knees a bit.
another passenger enjoying the bar
Throughout the flight service was very good and the flight attendants were very friendly and would get you anything you requested. I never once press my call button because I would prefer to get up and walk around the cabin. I spent a good amount of the flight sipping delicious hand crafted cocktails in the back of the A380 that had a dedicated bartender for the entire flight. There were a number of snacks available to munch on as well, which included almonds, peanuts, rice balls, olives, etc. The FA was very friendly and social and her English was very clear and probably better than most on the flight. As Is at there and read my book and sipped on cocktails I enjoyed a few small conversations with the FA. The Lady/bar tender told me that one crew member is hand selected by the male purser (on KE flights, the purser is always a middle age male and the rest of the crew are young doll like females) and then both the purser and the one FA have specialized training for that position. In addition, they are limited to flying the A380 to twice a month. The drinks were all good, all absolute vodka base, and honestly were not very strong, which was fine, because I was not trying to get drunk
While flying I also visited the bar in the front of the business class cabin, this bar is self-serve, but only included a bottle of Absolute vodka, cranberry juice, tonic, and lime juice. There were also snacks here and room for 4-5 people to sit and entertain themselves. Overall it was a nice use of space and a good place to socialize or read if one wanted to get out of their seat.
Downstairs in front of the 1st class cabin there was another self-serve bar, but nowhere for passengers to sit on congregate. 1/2 way through the flight I sneaked downstairs and snapped this quick photo of it. I also helped myself to some johnny walker blue and I must say, since this was my first taste of JWB I almost wet myself in excitement! Who knew it was so smooth! Upstairs in Biz class They offer Chivas Regal 18, which is still better than anything I've ever had on Delta, but not NEARLY as good as JWB!
1st class bar
Later I explored the Duty Free Showcase and I must say this was more disappointing then anything else. I was expecting real products to be displayed, but instead it was just a wall with the same couple of fake items repeated a dozen times on 4 walls. It looked cool, but didn't entice me to shop at all. In addition each bottle of liquor, perfume, etc had a large magnet on the bottom to ensure it didn't fall over in case of turbulence.
In my PJs w/ empty bottles
@ duty free showcase
The flight continued and I took a nice nap of about 4 hours, not Long, but longer than I can sleep on most flights. I finished up the remaining hours of the flight with another movie, reading my book, and breakfast. The flight was long, but overall very comfortable.
Breakfast was served 3 hours before landing, which seemed a bit early to me. If you wanted to sleep later you were woken up by the bright lights being turned on, for even in Business class eye shades are not part of the amenity kits.
On this flight, I found it odd that Breakfast was actually more like a lunch or Dinner meal. We were scheduled to land at 10am in New York, or 10pm in Korea depending on how you look at it. I would have expected breakfast, but instead another dinner was served, minus the 5 courses. Overall my breakfast was alright, but a little to saucy and a little to "seafood" tasting, more or less just not tasting as fresh as it could have. However I still enjoyed it. Service ended with another plate of fruit.
Overall I would say the A380 was a nice aircraft, one of the coolest parts of this plane was the bar in the back of the plane and the cameras outside. It honestly didn't seem any quieter to me than the B777 or B747 and it was actually a bit nerve racking while landing, because it took almost the ENTIRE length of the runway to stop! I thought I was going to end up in the Hudson!
Seat: Comfortable, but I would not like sleeping in this seat if I was over 6 feet tall. It's not 100% lay flat but it's MUCH better than the cradle style seats on a number of KE aircrafts
Notice the slight angle
Food: MUCH better on this flight then any other KE flight I've flown on. If you are flying 2 legs with Korean air, know that the famous bibimbap is served on all afternoon, evening, late night flights. Therefore I would wait and order this at a different time, because it surely is the SAME meal that is offered in couch.
Drinks: Free flowing, lots of this flight compared to other KE flights. Bar in the back is a nice touch! But if you're not in the mood for Vodka, the bar tender has to go to the galley to make your drink
Drinks from the bar are MUCH larger then other drinks
Service: Great! 4.5 stars! Everyone was very friendly and helpful. The Purser even acknowledges guests and thanks them for flying at the start and end of each flight. Only reason why I didn't give them a full 5 stars is because they do not great people by names. However the purser when he greeted me, acknowledged that I changed seats and wanted to be sure I was happy with my new seat assignment.
1st class bathroom has a window
Amenities: Pillow is small for business class and the blanket is alright. Nothing overly fancy or great about either one. The pillows were smaller on this plane than other KE flights I had been on. The Amenity kits are also lacking in the fact that on this flight they didn't have eye cream or face cream. Some hand moisturizer would have been nice, but at least there's lotion in the bathrooms along with mouthwash, shavers, and shaving cream. Furthermore ear plugs and an eye shade is a MUST and is currently left out of the kit.
AVOD: Great 17" high resolution display with hundreds of hours of TV, Movies, Games, and Music. Only downside is the crappy headphones they give. Might as well be flying economy class.
Would I fly KE Biz class again? YES! But would I rather fly someone else. Probably. KE business class was nice, and a HUGE upgrade over economy, however there's still room for improvement.