Review: The Easy Way to North Korea – KE 604 Hong Kong to Seoul Incheon A330-300 Business Class

Introduction
Korean Air Business Class Lounge Hong Kong
Korean Air 604 A330-300 Business Class Hong Kong to Seoul Incheon
The Westin Chosun Busan
The Westin Chosun Seoul
JW Marriott Dongdaemun Seoul
Korean Air Business Class Lounge Seoul Incheon
Korean Air 607 747-400 Business Class Seoul Incheon to Hong Kong


Korean Air Flight 604
Friday, April 3, 2015
Origin: Hong Kong (HKG) Gate: 26 Dep: 12:05 (12:20)
Destination: Seoul Incheon (ICN) Gate: 15 Arr: 16:45
 (16:40)
Duration: 3 hr 40 min (3 hr 20 min)
Aircraft: Airbus Industrie A330-300
Seat: 9G (Business Class)

We walked through the first class cabin on the way to our seats, which seems infinitely inferior to its competition. The seats are basically the same as those in business class with slightly bigger headrests and bigger pillows, as well as an ottoman.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 First Class

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 First Class

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 First Class

Korean Air markets their second generation international long haul beds as Prestige Sleeper seats, which are featured on their Airbus A330-200, A330-300, A380, Boeing 777-300ER and select Boeing 777-200 fleet (whereas their Boeing 747 and the rest of their Boeing 777-200 fleet feature their older Prestige Plus angled lie flats). These Airbus A330-300s are in the process of being retrofitted with their new Prestige Suites (staggered fully flat beds that resemble Japan Airlines’ new Boeing 777-300ER business class seats), but in my knowledge none of them have been retrofitted yet.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Seatmap

The business class features 18 fully flat beds in a 2-2-2 configuration. I was assigned seat 9G, next to my sister at the last row of the cabin.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Cabin

I tend to like the colour tones – they’re bright, relaxing and feel like daytime (if that makes any sense). The cabin was also fairly intimate, with only eighteen seats, and it was fairly quiet.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Cabin

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class

The seats had tiny pillows and Korean Air-branded blankets on them, and also featured two USB ports, a headphone plug, adjustable reading lights, tray tables and lots of storage.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Seat 9G and 9H

It’s great to be at the last row of a cabin for the third time in the past four flights. Makes for good whole cabin pictures, surely!

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class

I sat down in my seat, and realised just how f*cking spacious the cabin is. Holy sh*t, I couldn’t touch the panel in front of me.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class

Legroom was, as aforementioned, massive.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Legroom

I sat down, and explored the seat. While forward facing seats aren’t world class these days, I feel like these seats were designed perfectly in every small detail. To my left were the seat controls, which were fairly intuitive.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Seat Controls

To my right were the reading lights, which were pretty strong.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Reading Lights

Also to the right was a panel with a sturdy divider and the two USB ports, along with a jack for headphones. What’s better than one USB power port? Two, of course!

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Power Port and Headphones

“Real” 110V power ports were located by the legrests, and were functional and fit “wall climber” power ports, for example extension wire-less MacBook chargers.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Power Plugs

One thing worth noting about the cabin is that nearly everything is static electricity-inducing. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but I was given little static shocks every time I touched the iPhone charger when my iPhone wasn’t plugged into the cable, which probably suggests that battery was still being pumped from the USB power ports. Similarly, our whole family found ourselves electrocuting each other after using the blankets on the flight.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Blanket

Slippers were placed at the storage area, which were handy (and the seat also came with shoe storage areas, which is a nice touch).

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Slippers

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Shoe Storage Area

Also to the right were the entertainment screen controls. It’s funny that the screen doesn’t work like a gaming system like most other entertainment screens, but rather like a real computer, where there’s a mouse that you move. I’m not sure if it’s actually better that way, but the screen was responsive and featured an extensive entertainment selection (which was turned on on the ground), so I’m definitely a happy camper.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class TV Remote

There was more storage under the remote, which the seat sure as hell didn’t have shortage of.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Storage

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Inflight Entertainment

The privacy dividers are sturdy and functional enough.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Privacy Divider

While we settled down, the senior purser came and welcomed my parents and I, introduced herself (Korean names are hard to remember…Kim Dong Byong Jong Un…) and wished us a great flight (which I immediately knew it would be). Another flight attendant came after her with newspapers, which I declined.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Newspapers

I ripped apart the headphone packaging and wasn’t impressed – these headphones were of extremely low quality. Sucks that I’d lost my own, or else I’d have used them.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Headphones

The cabin started to fill up. It doesn’t suck that I knew half the people in the cabin, given how small it was.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Cabin from 9G upon boarding

My sister took a few photos of the Boeing 777-300ER next to me, running the exact route that my next outbound flight in business class would be on!

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Hong Kong Airport

Shortly the door closed, and the safety video played. Apologies that I couldn’t find a better version online, but they played the 747 safety video (either that, or they use the same video across the board):

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Safety Video

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Cabin after Safety Video

I flipped on the airshow after that. Korean’s airshow is one of the more detailed ones out there, with interactive information – kind of like FlightRadar24 on the plane itself. Pretty damn wacky.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Airshow

We pushed back, and taxied over to the runway, and the senior purser went on the PA and announced that we were fifth in line and would have a delayed takeoff. Only on a Korean airline (or a Japanese airline, in that matter).

We were delayed by about seven minutes (*grumble*) and there were four planes taking off before us, so the information was accurate.

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Hong Kong Express Airbus A320 Hong Kong Airport

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Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Hong Kong Airport

We took off on runway 25L, and were in the air in no time. I’m sure getting used to A330s with my eleventh (and FINALLY last) continuous flight on it.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Views upon Takeoff

Taking off on runway 25L on the right side of the plane probably has the worst views. Not that it’s much, but on the left side of runway 07R you get a view of the whole terminal, and in the other two circumstances you get an overview of Hong Kong, which is always cool. In my circumstance, we just got a view of the water.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Takeoff Roll Views

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Takeoff Roll Views

I visited the bathroom after we were airborne. It’s rather old though fully functional, and lacked any “premium” amenities (unless mouthwash acts as one).

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Lavatory

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Lavatory

I also slunk back to economy to visit four of my friends who didn’t get the cheap prices we got in time and were stuck back there for the outbound. That said, economy looked rather nice and spacious, especially since Korean Air is one of the only airlines with 34″ pitch.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Backward Cabin

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Economy Class Forward Cabin

I woke up rather early to finish some work, so was rather tired by the time we were airborne. I asked to be woken up for lunch, and had a nap after testing out the bed position (which is pretty comfortable, though slightly lacking in padding).

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Bed

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Bed

I’d say the seat has the ever-so-slight 3˚ angle that some planes have due to the fact that the plane flies at a 3˚ angle, though there’s a pillow anyway so I’m not sure if that 3˚ makes much of a difference.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Bed

There were “simple” controls to get the seat back into upright or reclined position, which I found a nice touch. It’s worth noting that the seat motors are really quiet.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Bedside Controls

I napped for a while and was woken up for meal selection, which I selected the bibimbap. The menu read as follows:

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Menu

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Wine List

My dad also asked for bibimbap, and since he was served before me, he was given a pamphlet on how to eat bibimbap (as he told the purser he’d never had it before). I asked for it and took a picture.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Bibimbap Instruction Card

When the flight attendant asked me if I had tried bibimbap, I showed her the photo I had taken, where she said “wow”, gave me a thumbs up and moved on. It’s nice when you’re faking as a regular when you actually have no idea what bibimbap actually is. 😉

Service began with hot towels, which were presented nicely (thank god).

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Meal Service Hot Towel

Which was followed by my table being set (which slides out from the center console).

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Table

Drinks followed along with packaged honey nuts (which Korean still serves that way albeit the great kerfuffle they had, but that’s slightly further upfront).

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Drinks Service

The appetiser was soon served, which consisted of smoked salmon with feta cheese (as the flight attendant described intricately). The feta cheese worked with the salmon, the salsa was great, the salmon was flavourful but it was about a minute over and bordering on tough and powdery. I’m not sure if that’s “smoked” salmon, but I’ll let slide.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Appetiser

It was followed by some garlic bread (which wasn’t a showstopper, but was good).

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Garlic Bread

The bibimbap was soon served. I applaud the airline for serving traditional bibimbap in business class, as it was definitely one of the best airline meals I had, along with the main course featured on my Dragonair flight from Hong Kong to Fukuoka. The soup was perfectly seasoned, the bibimbap was perfectly balanced (not that I can properly judge given that I’d never had it before, but the flavours definitely worked), and the side dishes were great as well (but I may have overestimated my tolerance for hot food given that I added half the container of hot paste despite the fact that I had already been warned about how hot it was).

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Main Course

It was followed by ice cream and a fruit plate. The ice cream was perfect in temperature and the fruit was good (I’ve had some less than stellar experiences with inflight oranges).

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Dessert

Meal service finished over Taipei, about two hours into the flight.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Airshow

Overall the meal was way better than expected, and service was great too, as the flight attendants were polished with every course, even in their explanations.

The cabin lights dimmed, and I slept for a while, before waking up and filling in immigration forms for the family. I find Korean’s service mentality to be somewhere in the middle of Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines (which I had flown before I started blogging). Once the call button is pressed, the flight attendants are there within seconds with a smile, but between cabin checks and meal services they do appear every fifteen minutes to see if anyone needs anything. It’s kind of a perfect balance, in my opinion.

Before we knew it, we were on the way down for my first landing in South Korea.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Views upon Descent

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Views upon Descent

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Views upon Descent

The views upon final approach were nothing short of amazing.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Views upon Final Approach

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Views upon Final Approach

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Views upon Final Approach

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Views upon Final Approach

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Views upon Final Approach

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Views upon Final Approach

After a great flight we touched down in Incheon five minutes ahead of schedule.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Views upon Touchdown

Taxiing views were rather interesting, as we cruised over the cargo terminal and soon after the Asiana terminal to get to our gate.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Views upon Taxiing

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Views upon Taxiing

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Views upon Taxiing

Pardon my plane spotting skills, which are rather rusty.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-200 Incheon Airport

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Korean Air Airbus A330-200 Incheon Airport

We taxied over to the Korean Air terminal, which I spotted an A380 (which always gets me excited).

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Korean Air Airbus A380-800 Incheon Airport

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Air China A320 Incheon Airport

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Korean Air Airbus A380-800 Incheon Airport

We parked next to a Korean Air 777-200.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Taxiing Incheon Airport

We definitely left our seats in worse condition than we should’ve.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class Seat Condition upon Deplaning

We deplaned, and had the chance to take a last glimpse of the plane along the way to the terminal.

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Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Incheon Airport

From there it was off to the Westin…

Bottom line on Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Business Class

I was blown the hell away by Korean Air’s business class service. While the hard product is one of the better business class products for regional flying out there, it was the service that was the showstopper, in my opinion, and on the inbound I learned that it was not just a fluke.

Especially at sub-HK$4000 fares, I’d be sure to fly them again.

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