Review: Korean Air 71 777-200 Business Class Seoul Incheon to Vancouver – Part 1

Given how many pictures I have in this report, I’ve broken the report for Korean Air Flight 71 up into two parts. This is part 1.


Introduction
SkyTeam Lounge Hong Kong
Hong Kong Airport Midfield Terminal
Korean Air 604 777-200 Business Class Hong Kong to Seoul Incheon
Korean Air 71 777-200 Business Class Seoul Incheon to Vancouver: Part 1
Korean Air 71 777-200 Business Class Seoul Incheon to Vancouver: Part 2
Our Whistler Apartment: Pinnacle Ridge
Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort: My Thoughts
Westin Wall Center Vancouver Airport
Plaza Premium Lounge Vancouver
Korean Air 72 777-200 Business Class Vancouver to Seoul Incheon
Korean Air 607 747-400 Business Class Seoul Incheon to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific 723 A330-300 Economy Class Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur
The Boulevard by St. Giles Kuala Lumpur
Cathay Pacific 720 A330-300 Economy Class Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong


This was actually the flight I was most looking forward to (apart from the 747-8, which I bummed out on), due to the birthday cake I was looking forward to and the light load. As of an hour before departure, ExpertFlyer suggested a load of six people (which was actually what happened – that’s great, considering our family consisted of four people, so technically I knew more than half the people in the cabin).

After I ran halfway across the terminal and got the iPad back, we cleared customs, which would have been a minute-long process – the line built up as I was doing my marathon. By the time we crossed, it was already 5:30, so the time I actually had was few.

I got the blame and was pissed, but I’ll keep that to the family.

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Departures Hall Seoul Incheon Airport

I went up to the lounge, which I won’t be reviewing as I’ve been before, except for the shower experience.

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Korean Air Prestige Lounge Seoul Incheon

I mean, I can’t not review the experience if I’m getting one of those cafeteria things that buzz when a shower room is available.

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Korean Air Prestige Lounge Seoul Incheon Shower Buzzer

I sat for an uncomfortably long time until my buzzer rang fifteen minutes before boarding. I knew the gate was, at least, a five-minute sprint away from the lounge, and I sure wanted some cabin pictures, so I had to be quick in there. The lounge attendant took my buzzer and gave me a key to the bathroom.

The shower rooms are actually pretty shabby and weren’t worth visiting. It featured a walk-in shower, some toiletries mounted to the wall and a toilet, though the actual decor was hideous.

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Korean Air Prestige Lounge Seoul Incheon Shower

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Korean Air Prestige Lounge Seoul Incheon Shower Rom

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Korean Air Prestige Lounge Seoul Incheon Shower Room

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Korean Air Prestige Lounge Seoul Incheon Shower

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Korean Air Prestige Lounge Seoul Incheon Shower Toiletries

Despite the water temperature fluctuating and the actual room being one of the worse showers I’ve been to, I managed to freshen myself up in five minutes and start dashing over to the gate. While I wanted to be first onboard, I decided against not taking a photo of our plane (Korean Air’s oldest 777) under the sunset, as it was stunning.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Seoul Incheon Airport

Next to us was a Korean Air 777-300ER in the special “Children’s Drawing Contest” livery.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-300ER Seoul Incheon Airport

While boarding was already taking place, I walked onboard, somehow ready to tackle the nine-hour flight.

Korean Air Flight 71
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Origin: Seoul Incheon (ICN) Gate: 21 Dep: 18:40 (18:50)
Destination: Seoul Incheon (ICN) Gate: D64 Arr: 11:20 (11:30)
Duration: 9 hr 40 min (9 hr 40 min)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Seat: 7H/7E/7F (Business Class)

This time, I was right into the cabin. The two other passengers were also in the cabin and were seated in 8F and 7A. The middle block of row 8 went to the guy in 8F, the left block of row 8 and the seat next to the guy in 7A went to the stuff that the guy in 7A had, and we (specifically, I) took 7E and 7F. My dad switched between 8H and 7D throughout the flight. It was a very spread out experience, even if my family was the only set of people moving around a lot throughout the flight.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Seat 7J

While I’m enthusiastic about plane riding every single flight, the third of four flights on this hard product was starting to limit what I could write about the hard product, given how much I’ve written about it before. However, what really differentiated this flight from any other was the soft product, so stay tuned.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Seat 7H and 7J

I asked the flight attendants about the birthday cake. First of all, they welcomed me onto the flight, noted down where I was sitting, then noted down where my sister was sitting, which I really appreciated. Then they confirmed the birthday cake was there in the pantry, then repeated four times that I could ask for it whenever I wanted it. They also noticed me taking lots of photos and asked if I wanted to take photos of the back cabin, as it was empty. While I wasn’t allowed to move there due to them wanting to center the service on the few seats, the purser said I could take pictures whenever I wanted to.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Forward Cabin

While my sister and I had a full view, my parents’ row was missing a window, as is the same with all 777-200s Korean Air has in row 8.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Forward Cabin

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Forward Cabin

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Forward Cabin

I sat down in my aisle seat 7H and admired the view out of the window, a spectacular sunset that I had caught a glimpse of outside the plane.

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Sunset Seoul Incheon Airport

I had a look at the economy cabin, which was the same as the one before, except for the fact that it was virtually empty.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Economy Class

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Economy Class

The seat was more or less exactly the same as on the flight to Seoul, right down to how worn the seat actually was. While, yes, it was in “mint condition”, it wasn’t that sturdy to start with, as noted in the previous post. At least, all the power ports worked.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Power Ports

And the seat went flat, which is what I need the most for a longhaul.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Seat Controls

The main issue with row 7 and 9 is that you can’t watch TV during takeoff and landing as the TV has to be stowed. Due to the massive seat pitch, it was probably impractical to install the TV on the bulkhead, so that’s the best they could do. While the second row in the forward cabin on the older Korean Air 777-300ER (with these seats) might be better for this reason, it’s a small price to pay for the forward cabin in row 7, as row 8 is missing a window (doh).

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Row 8

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Row 8

Soon the purser came and welcomed the two other passengers and me on the flight, wishing us a nice flight. At the same time, we were passed amenity kits, which, while by no means impressive, contained all the basics.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Amenity Kit

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Amenity Kit Contents

I mean, I would rather actually be in business class compared to first class, given the 50% load up there and the 20% load down here.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Cabin

Being in the first row of business class I also got a peek at first class, which seemed nice, but I was happy where I was.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 First Class

Not long after my parents arrived (the last again, but much earlier, and with Dunkin’ Donuts this time, so I can’t blame them at all), the plane pushed back, and we were off on the nine-hour flight to Vancouver. We pushed past some interesting traffic, including a Korean Air A380.

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Korean Air Airbus A380-800 Seoul Incheon Airport

We did a short taxi to the runway, and were off on the 19-year-old 777 in no time, bound for Vancouver. The views upon takeoff were sensational – the evening twilight overcast Seoul, which made for some amazing views and some, uh, pixelated photos.

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Takeoff Seoul Incheon Airport

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Takeoff Seoul Incheon Airport

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Takeoff Seoul Incheon Airport

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Takeoff Seoul Incheon Airport

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Takeoff Seoul Incheon Airport

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Takeoff Seoul Incheon Airport

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Takeoff Seoul Incheon Airport

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Takeoff Seoul Incheon Airport

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Takeoff Seoul Incheon Airport

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Takeoff Seoul Incheon Airport

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Takeoff Seoul Incheon Airport

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Takeoff Seoul Incheon Airport

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Takeoff Seoul Incheon Airport

After takeoff the lights were dimmed slightly – since there were only six people, that was at our discretion. However, the bulkhead between first and business class wasn’t properly sealed, so I could see what the guy in front was doing. Guess that doesn’t bode well for a full flight.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Bulkhead Gap

At this point, the friendly purser came to pass out menus.

The dinner menu read as follows:

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Dinner Menu

The refreshment and breakfast menu read as follows:

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class

The purser came to take our orders, and told us that there were extra “new year” options for breakfast, including a stew and a rice cake stew (I’m imagining that the stew is like the rice cake stew, but without rice cake…let’s just call the rice cake stew dduk, which is what the Koreans seem to call it). I went for the steak, medium rare, for dinner, and the dduk for breakfast. My sister went for the same option.

Apparently the flight attendant forgot to tell my parents about the presence of the dduk cup. That wasn’t a big deal, as she apologised without excuses (more on why I say that later).

The service began with a hot towel and amuse bouche (which they seem to call a pre-drink service). The hot towel was standard, and the amuse bouche was tasty but rather unmemorable compared to the rest of the meal.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Hot Towel

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Amuse Bouche – Mini Tartlet with Shrimp Salad

This was served around 40 minutes into the flight, which I found a rather nice time to start.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Meal Service Commencement Location

I declined the drink service and moved straight on to the appetiser. While there’s no sear on the scallops, it was above average for business class (at least, the scallops were tender, the eggplant was fine and the tomato was fine).

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Appetiser – Marinated Scallop and Eggplant with Tomato

Western main courses come with soup, and in this case, it was chickpeas cream soup. My sister and I added a knob of butter into our soup, to make us fatter it taste richer.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Soup – Chickpeas Cream Soup

I finished my soup rather quickly and was served the main course. My steak was perfect in terms of portion size, temperature, flavour and seasoning, and the side dishes were great too.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Main Course – Grilled Beef Steak with Thyme Sauce served with Pasta and Tomato Gratin, Mushroom and Broccoli

While I find their steaks to normally run rare, this one was perfectly executed and melt-in-the-mouth.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Main Course Steak Temperature

Meanwhile, my sister finished her soup about five minutes later, and her steak was mostly well done, even though we both requested it medium rare. The purser did show concern, but ended up saying that it was only overcooked because my sister took longer to finish the soup – clearly they could have come up with a better excuse or executed better, or just owned up to it.

The flight attendants may not have been at fault due to the fact that they just wanted us to get our dishes immediately, but it definitely wasn’t my sister’s fault, let’s get that right. The purser’s defensiveness was really the only fault I managed to point out – even though each counterargument was showered with apologies, I’m not sure where they were trying to go with it, as I wasn’t pissed or anything.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Steak, Medium Rare (?)

The meal ended with a (decent) blueberry almond cake or ice cream, but given the very heavy load, I was able to take both.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Dessert – Blueberry Almond Cake/Ice Cream

The purser and her crew were on the top of their game, despite their defensiveness on the main course, and they made sure we were enjoying the meal.

What was funny was that during the meal, I had the photo contest pictures up in a slideshow so I could have a look – I had flashbacks to the good times I had in Bagan when that photo showed up. I actually was in one of those horse carriages to the exact same pagoda as well – shame that Myanmar no longer allows pagoda climbing.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Entertainment Picture Slideshow

For the record, my calendar that Korean Air sent has the exact same pictures – though I didn’t have it with me, so I wanted to gain some travel inspiration. I think I’m the only person who finds it rather funny that Korean Air flies to every single destination that’s pictured…

After dinner the purser also gave me some facial spray, which was explained as “to refresh your face”.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Facial Spray

I sprayed some on myself before realising how bad exactly the cabin dryness was. Even at 15-minute intervals, my chapped skin hurt every time I sprayed the bottle on myself. But that’s not a complaint about facial spray – just a complaint about how old exactly the plane was.

I went back to the galley and explained that the cake could be served now. They took it out, and before I did they immediately noticed a small caveat at one end. They immediately apologised, but here’s what they said:

It’s not our fault, it was loaded that way. I’m so sorry.

So it’s not your fault, but you’re sorry? I appreciated the apology, but I thought that she was getting a touch defensive at that point. Which is fine, because a chip on the shoulder of someone won’t annoy me whatsoever.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Cake

As they got it ready I admired the 777 doors, which are great.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Door

The cake was served, but my sister told me not to put her reaction on the blog, so I’ll keep it to the family. It was a good reaction, to put it frankly.

After the cake, the purser talked to us for a while. My parents blew my cover (damn it) and said that I wrote reviews on my travel blog, but they also talked about how I took care of my sister. I mean, I spent the flight not taking care of my sister, but instead getting the flight attendants to take care of her…

Whenever she didn’t understand something she would say “I don’t follow” – she managed the language barrier better than any other flight attendant I’ve ever had a language barrier with.

My sister and I then went to the back cabin, where we kept taking photos of the empty cabin.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Cabin

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Cabin

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Cabin

Even when the cabin lights were turned off, the party continued. The purser offered to turn on the lights so we could take a few photos, but I was fine with the setting I had.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Cabin

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class

We also tried poses, which didn’t work.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class and Yours Truly

We spent an amount of time turning off the lights, and she offered to do it for us, but we declined – instead of standing there like we kind of expected her to, she did it with us, which tells you how much of a delight she was.

The plane wasn’t a delight, though – it was just…old.

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Korean Air Boeing 777-200 Business Class Lavatory Sign

Read: Part 2

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