Review: The Easy Way to North Korea – KE 607 Seoul Incheon to Hong Kong 747-400 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 607
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Origin: Seoul Incheon (ICN) Gate: 24 Dep: 19:45 (20:00)
Destination: Hong Kong (HKG) Gate: 26 Arr: 22:30
 (22:20)
Duration: 3 hr 45 min (3 hr 20 min)
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Seat: 21B (Business Class)

Korean Air uses their old international 747s on the route from Seoul Incheon to Hong Kong, which feature first, business and economy. Business class is located across two cabins featuring angled lie flat beds – a 21 seat cabin with a 2-3-2 configuration on the lower deck and a bigger 24 seat cabin with a 2-2 configuration on the upper deck.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Seatmap Lower Deck

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Seatmap Upper Deck

It would definitely be smarter to choose the upper deck, which has side storage and less noise from the economy cabin, albeit having more capacity.

I walked past the lower deck business class cabin, where my friends would be sitting, and I was glad I wasn’t stuck in the middle seat.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Cabin Lower Deck

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Seats 7A and 7B

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Cabin Lower Deck

I peeked at economy class, which looked rather spacious but was definitely older.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Economy Class

The padding looked great and the legroom was ample, but economy class with a laggy entertainment system is never fun, as I realised not long ago.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Economy Class

I went up the stairs to the upper deck.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Stairs

My seat was located at the last row, which marked my third consecutive time in front of the bulkhead (and fourth out of my past five flights).

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Cabin Upper Deck

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Cabin Upper Deck

The seats are standard angled flat, and do seem like the guinea pigs of Korean Air’s polished fully flat business class. They featured reading lights “shower heads” (holy crap, those things were like pestles), privacy dividers, tables, storage on both sides, screens and 110V power plugs (they weren’t universal, but there were USB plugs for my phone, though had I brought my computer there’d be no place to charge it).

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Seats 21A and 21B

As my sister wasn’t there yet I decided to use the time to get settled near the aisle away from boarding, so took seat 21A. Three windows are a joy, but three Boeing 747 big-ass windows are even better.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Seat 21A

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class View of Seat 21H and 21J

I went up to the exit row and took a picture of the cabin before it filled up. The exit row cuts clean across the two cabins and separates them into two little clumps of 12 seats, though I avoided the exit row as they face the flight attendant directly during takeoff (though I realised it wouldn’t be as much of a problem as I thought given how nice they were).

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Cabin Upper Deck

I sat down and got comfy with my home for the next few hours. Damn, if there’s one thing I f*cking hate about these seats, it would be the pillows. They were as about the size of my pet dog Floppy’s head (more accurately, before he disappeared).

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Seat 21A

I explored the seat. To my right were the seat controls, which were intuitive.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Seat Controls

The reading lights, as I mentioned, were like erections/pestles, though they turned to angle towards the desk. I guess that doesn’t fare well with reading, and you certainly can’t angle it towards you given the shell, but at least the light was strong. I’m not going to read on a four hour flight with work to do.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Reading Lights

The dividers were stable, which I find a plus for both the new and old product.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Dividers

Also to my right (and later my left) were the power ports and USB plugs.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Power Ports

Right above it was the remote control, which was like those on other airlines and definitely older than their new remote control. And it showed, as the buttons were much harder to press (and the flight attendant had to explain to me that “MODE” meant “Display Off”).

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class TV Remote Control

Also there was the cupholder.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Cupholder

Then to my left was the storage bin. While I knew that it existed going in, I didn’t know that the bin reached the floor, which definitely eliminated my need for the overhead bins. I also had three of them, which helped.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Upper Deck Storage Bins

At the bottom was enough legroom, as well as shoe bins.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Legroom

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Shoe Bins

We were offered slippers which were identical to those on the outbound and perfectly comfortable.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Slippers

On top of me was the Boeing panel, though there weren’t any air nozzles (though the cabin temperature was relatively cool). I love things that are either incredibly modern or incredibly old, and these panels were no exception (maybe the eleven A330s I flew were just a little too tedious). Okay, they’re not incredibly old, but definitely older than the panels of the A319s, A320s, A321s, A330s, A340s and 777-200 that I’ve flown nothing but since 2011.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Overhead Panel

The ceiling reading lights also excited me. Gotta love square things!

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Reading Lights

In front of me was my screen, literature storage and a pocket which was not out of reach, unlike the outbound.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Screen and Storage

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Literature Storage

The tray table folded in half.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Tray Table

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Tray Table

The seat was rather well designed, I guess, though there definitely could’ve been some improvements (though the new seat on the outbound covered basically all of them). I settled back, and was immediately offered guava juice, orange juice or water.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Guava Juice and Nuts

The flight attendant introduced herself to me and offered me the menu.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Menu

The menu read as follows:

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Menu

I chose the beef for the main course, in hopes of trying out their meat offerings as well as their bibimbap offerings. The flight attendant asked me what temperature I wanted my steak, which put my expectations up a bit. I requested it medium rare.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class View from Seat 21A

Doesn’t suck to be right in front of the stairs if you want to take good cabin pictures and visit your friends on the lower deck inflight!

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Lavatory and Stairs

Out the window was a Korean Air 777-200, though I’m not sure where it was bound for.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Incheon Airport

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Incheon Airport

I also tested out the lie flat position of seat 21A, and subsequently moved to the aisle seat (staring at a parked, deplaning 777-200 isn’t exactly the most exciting thing in the entire world). I like how that while the seat is old, shabby and angled flat, there’s no part of it that notedly “juts” out, so at least it guaranteed stretch out space, if not decent sleep. It’s worth noting that the seat motors on this bird are about sixty nine times as loud as that on the new A330 business class.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Bed

Shortly after I put the seat back up and had a look at Instagram before takeoff my parents and my sister boarded. Clearly my sister was psyched about the upper deck, as she was more excited about boarding a plane than ever before.

The entertainment system was already on.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Entertainment

It’s worth noting, though, that the entertainment system had a mouse, though it was incredibly laggy.

I needed the craps after three/four/five/six bowls of fried rice at the lounge, so helped myself. I love the latches instead of buttons in lavatories on the 747, and find them much less of a pain in the ass.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Lavatory

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Lavatory

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Lavatory

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Lavatory

Admittedly it’s a small point, but I like how the flush button on the 747 is a latch instead of a button. I have a fear of the loud roar airplane toilets make (long, long story), and it did feel kind of reassuring that at least I was making a “bigger” action to induce the roar, if that made any sense.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Lavatory

As on the outbound there were toothbrushes, lip balm, mouthwash and Jurlique amenities in the toilet, as well as a shaver power plug (though I’m not sure who the hell brings a shaver onboard unless they’re trying to f*ck themselves at customs).

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Lavatory Amenities

I went back to my seat, in which the plane pushed back, and the safety video played, identical to the one on the outbound (yes, Korean Air has the same video across the board in my understanding).

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Safety Video

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Safety Video

Apologies for the quality of the non-cabin pictures, as my sister took them, and in terms of iPhoneography, she’s definitely just a rookie. 😉

We taxied through the Asiana terminal, where I saw a few interesting jets, including an Asiana A330.

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Asiana Airbus A330-300 Incheon Airport

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Asiana Airbus A380-800s Incheon Airport

Our takeoff roll was quick, though the pictures weren’t as smooth as I’d hoped.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class View upon Climbout

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class View upon Climbout

I browsed the entertainment system upon takeoff, which was extensive, though I’d seen most of the movies before, so in addition to how laggy the screen was I just turned on the airshow for the rest of the flight.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class View from Seat 21B

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Entertainment System

Anyone notice that the 747 windows are huge, but the window that you actually see out of is as big as the Airbus windows?

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class View upon Climbout

I scrolled through my pictures of the trip after takeoff, and the meal service started soon enough. The purser gave us hot towels.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Meal Service Hot Towel

Which was then followed by more drinks and nuts (I selected guava juice).

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Drinks and Nuts

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Cabin during Meal Service

The appetiser then followed. The richness of the scallops and the shrimp went really well against the grapefruit, though there was way too much grapefruit on the plate. The acidity of the grapefruit is like that of a lemon, leaving a bitter aftertaste and quite inedible alone., so I’d had appreciated if I didn’t have to eat one piece of grapefruit with one piece of seafood to prevent the aftertaste.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Mixed Seafood with Grapefruit

That was served with a piece of bread. I regretted my choice of Chinese bread, but it’s because my palate doesn’t collaborate with it, not because it didn’t taste good.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Chinese Steamed Bread

Korean main courses don’t have soup to go with it, but my course had. The soup was creamy and really flavourful (I find that airplane soups either are either underseasoned or lack any hint of the “hero” of the soup, and this one was smack in the middle).

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Asparagus Cream Soup

I also liked the salt and pepper shakers, though the stickers on top do look crude and after thought.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Salt/Pepper Shaker

Then the main course came. Holy crap, that piece of meat was cooked to absolute perfection. It was perfectly medium rare, with brick red running right through the middle, and it had that melt in your mouth quality. That said, all the vegetables were slightly overcooked, but the hero of the dish, the beef tenderloin/filet mignon/whatever big-ass piece of meat that was was nailed.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Sautéed Beef Tenderloin with Meaux Mustard Sauce served with Chive Mashed Potatoes and Mixed Vegetables

There was a choice of mixed fruit and strawberry or cheesecake ice cream. I took the last strawberry ice cream, and my mom took the last fruit plate, so my dad was stuck with the cheesecake ice cream, which he f*cking hates, so we switched. It was okay – on the hard side, definitely not as soft as the ice cream on the outbound, but not like the pieces of flavoured Antarctica I’ve had on previous flights.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Cheesecake Ice Cream

Meal service was finished east of Ningbo two hours into the flight.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Location after Meal Service

The purser was on top of her game during the whole meal service, and was a delight. I feel like there was a new hire which was slightly flustered during the service, especially with the purser conversing to her in hurried Korean, but she sure was polished and did smile in her interactions with us. I’m just not sure if it masked any frustration and annoyance from the purser hurrying her all the time, so I wish her all the best.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Cabin after Meal Service

My sister’s friend came up right after meal service and asked me to turn on Paddington for his screen, as he couldn’t quite find it anywhere. I did that for him, and subsequently began my aircraft tour.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Stairs

The lower deck was already finished with meal service, and most people were sound asleep or watching a movie. There was a little gangway after row 8, which meant that crossing aisles is a little less awkward than expected.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Lower Deck Cabin

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Lower Deck Cabin

I then toured the Economy class cabin, where many people still seemed to be having dinner. While the cabin is standard 3-4-3, 34″ seat pitch is great, though as I mentioned earlier I wouldn’t want to be stuck there with no decent entertainment system.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Economy Class

The back of the 747, in my opinion, is big and looks kind of like a boat.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Economy Class

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Economy Class

I then returned to my seat, in hopes of signing up for SkyPass, which seems like the best SkyTeam reward around.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Cabin Inflight

I sure had a cool office, let’s get that right.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Inflight office

After that, the purser came and told me that I would receive my SkyPass card in the mail in two weeks. She was really polished, and definitely was clear, though it’s been a month and my card is…uh…

I turned my own seat into angled lie flat mode, and despite it not being fully flat, I slept really well for about half an hour, when landing was called. Holy crap, after almost fainting of hunger, a day at Lotte World, stuffing myself and going through all that duty free and immigration sh*t, it wasn’t really the best day for me in terms of adrenaline.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Flat Bed

I woke up about twenty five minutes before landing, though couldn’t get a good picture of our descent.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class View upon Descent

It was rainy home, and my pictures got slightly better after we touched ground.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class View upon Final Descent

It wasn’t the best weather day, in my opinion.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Business Class Views upon Taxiing

We made our way to the Korean Air gate at Hong Kong (gate 26), passing a Philippine Airlines A330.

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Philippine Airlines A330-200 Hong Kong Airport

We parked next a Cathay Pacific 777-300ER.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Hong Kong Airport

We were the last in business class to deplane, and bypassed Korean’s old sleeper first class along the way, which looked plenty comfortable for a 1990 product.

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Korean Air Boeing 747-400 First Class

Bottom line on Korean Air 747 Business Class

Let’s get that right, the hard product isn’t one of the best in the sky, obviously.

However, the soft product was near perfect – the service was among the best I’d received, the food was amazing, and it was just an all rounded experience.

My outbound flight set high standards for me, and the return flight just proved that it wasn’t a fluke.

Bottom line on this trip

I got to stick my middle finger through the border to North Korea.

All in all, there were many amazing moments in this trip, and my sister does have a new favourite airline. I’d definitely return to Seoul given the chance, though I do want to try out Korean’s main competition, which is, of course, Asiana.

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