At the Airport
This flight was scheduled to depart from Terminal Two at Incheon, into which Korean Air recently moved when it opened. This terminal is airy, with some excellent amenities such as a transfer lounge open to all.
I had already checked in at an earlier stop in the itinerary. The gate was given as 261. That was quite a walk as it was at the end of the terminal. I arrived shortly before the stated boarding time of 7.15. Just a couple of minutes before boarding, one member of cabin crew rushed to the gate with her suitcase, in a run. This stood out to me partly because it looked unprofessional and partly because it contrasts poorly with the poise with which Korean Air cabin crew generally present themselves.
Boarding began on the dot and was orderly. I boarded through a jetbridge directly into the economy class cabin. At the end of the jetbridge was a good selection of English, Korean and Chinese language newspapers.
This flight was operated by a Boeing 777-300ER (registration number HL7783) in Skyteam livery. It was arranged in a 3-3-3 configuration at my part of the economy class cabin, which felt a bit more spacious than the 3-4-3 on the 747-800 I had flown out on the previous day.
The seatback had a decent sized monitor, with a USB port. The control was in the seatback, which I think is not as good as the armrest as whenever I wanted to use it I felt I was slightly disturbing the person in front. Some important control keys are small and not coloured differently, so it is hard to use it without getting it out to look at it up close.
Generally I feel Korean carriers have a middling international entertainment selection. On this flight, for music and films, I thought that it was decent. For series it was weak.
The light for my seat also did not shine on my seat but on the one next to me, which was frustrating as the lights were dimmed multiple times during the journey.
There was a pillow, decent blanket for a short flight and set of headphones at the seat upon boarding.
The flight was about two thirds full in economy. The pilot announced a delay on the ground of fifteen
minutes due to congestion en route. At that point, the cabin crew came around with a tray of water. Once airborne, it was a fairly smooth flight. We arrived at gate 33 in Hong Kong a few minutes ahead of schedule.
Korean Air has consistently good, attentive, elegant service and this flight was no exception. The crew came around with a meal and drinks service soon into the flight, and did another wine run shortly afterwards. They then came around with hot drinks. When I asked for a drink later, it was served immediately, with several packets of honey roasted peanuts. The crew were visible in the cabin throughout.
Food and Drink
The choice was between bibimbap and pasta. I choice bibimbap, which was to the normal high standard. As it is the standard dish on every Korean Air menu, it is no surprise that they do it well. For dessert, the cabin crew came around with small tubs of ice cream from a Korean brand, which was fine. The wine – which Korean Air often chooses well – was on this occasion nothing special.
The service on Korean Air is always good and I appreciate that it varies little (which makes sense given the value placed on conformity in Korean culture). This flight, compared to my recent Cathay flight on the same route, made me realize again that in terms of flight experience alone, Korean Air definitely beats Cathay on this route in economy class.