Korean Air first class Kosmo Suites ICN-DFW – Review

On the return from our first trip to Asia we flew Korean Air’s 777-200 Kosmo Suites from Incheon International Airport in South Korea to Dallas. We flew this leg as a continuation of our free stopover in South Korea from our earlier flight from Beijing, also in first class and operated then by an A330.

Korean-Air Incheon is currently ranked as the #2 best airport in the world in terms of airport experience, and I have to say it didn’t disappoint. We breezed through check in (expedited with first class), customs and security in approximately 25 minutes and spent some time at the Korean Air lounge making some calls home and catching up on email.

Korean Air first class lounge Incheon

Korean Air first class lounge Incheon

Korean-AirKorean-AirA few minutes before boarding we headed to the gate, which was at the very end of our concourse.

Our plane

Our plane

What makes flying Korean Air so great is that they release a ton of first class award space both in advance and close to departure, so finding space is really easy. The booking process is a whole other story, which involves multiple phone calls, getting a call back from them a few days later to provide your credit card info to a different department (I’m not making this up), faxing documents (seriously?), etc. It’s very 18th century…

Our flight was on time, scheduled to leave at approximately 10:00 a.m. local time, arriving at Dallas at 9:30 a.m. the same day because we would cross the International Date Line (I love time-travel!). The gate was pretty busy with lots of people standing around to board, but a gate agent caught an eye of our boarding passes and waved us over when it was time to board and we were the first ones on the plane.

Korean-Air After boarding and quickly settling in, our flight attendant came by and introduced herself, welcomed us aboard and offered pre-departure beverages. I ordered the Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque 2007 champagne and my wife skipped drinks.

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Nuts properly plated. This never gets old.

Nuts properly plated. This never gets old.

We were also offered a spray water bottle, which I’ve never seen before on a flight. It was somewhat odd at first, but then I loved the concept, given that your skin and lips always get dry under the dry cabin air, so I used it quite a few times during the flight.

Korean-AirThe first class cabin was less than half full. The layout is a total of 8 seats with two rows of 1-2-1 configuration, with us occupying the two middle seats in the second row, and another passenger occupying a window seat on the first row. A fourth seat was occupied by a relief pilot, who then disappeared halfway through the flight while one of the original front end crew took up another seat in first class to rest, and they then switched back about 2 hours out of DFW. So we had the first class cabin almost to ourselves.

The captain then came on the PA and welcomed everyone on board. As he first welcomed everyone, all the flight attendants bowed in unison. It was very classy. The captain then announced our flight time of approximately 12 hours and 30 minutes, with a bit of chop halfway through the flight (which turned out to be pretty light only for about 30 minutes, but otherwise a smooth flight). Our flight attendant also brought us our amenity kits and pajamas.

First class pajamas

First class pajamas and slippers

Amenity kit

Amenity kit

Amenity kit contents

Amenity kit contents

While everyone boarded I also spent some time checking out the seat features and storage compartments.

Storage with USB and power ports

Headphone storage with plugs and USB power ports

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Seat and partition controls

Seat and partition controls

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Korean-Air's signature light "dispenser"

Korean-Air’s signature light “dispenser”

Power port

Power port

Tray table

Tray table

After everyone boarded and the door was closed, I quickly moved over to a window seat so I could watch the takeoff. We taxied for a few minutes while sightseeing some Korean Air and Asiana aircraft on the tarmac.

Asiana 777

Asiana 777

Korean Air A-380

Korean Air A-380

Positioning for takeoff

Positioning for takeoff

Takeoff roll

Takeoff roll

I was then treated to some incredible sights on the climb out.

Korean-AirKorean-Air Including this one, which was strikingly similar to the continental U.S.

Korean-AirKorean-AirKorean-Air

Air show

Air show

After reaching 10,000 feet the seatbelt sign was quickly turned off. At that point I went to the lav and quickly changed into my pajamas. The lav wasn’t anything extraordinary other than being spacious and well stocked with the essentials not included in the amenity kit, but I did appreciate the bench to sit down while changing.

Korean-AirAfter leaving the lav, one of the flight attendants offered to hang my clothes for the remainder of the flight. We were then offered beverages and I stuck with the champagne while my wife ordered white wine. We were also given a hot towel and were served a pre-drink snack of prawn with fruit salad which was delicious while we browsed through the menu:

Prawn and fruit salad

Prawn and fruit salad

Korean-AirKorean-AirKorean-AirFor appetizers, we both had the lobster medallion with king crab meat and a roquefort cheese which was served inside a grilled pepper. It was excellent. The appetizer also came with a bread basket, and we both chose what I can assure you is the best bread I’ve had in my whole life. It was basically a Korean black rice bread, and it was incredible. I asked for more during our second meal later on in the flight.

Korean-AirWe each then ordered a soup, with my wife ordering the red bell pepper puree while I ordered the pine nut porridge. I tried them both, and while they were both excellent, I really liked my pine nut porridge by a mile. It had a very smooth texture and unique flavor.

Red bell pepper puree soup

Red bell pepper puree soup

Pine nut porridge

Pine nut porridge

After finishing then it came the salad cart. Korean Air plates the salads at your seat, which is great since you can custom build your salad with whichever ingredients and dressing you’d like. My mango dressing was delicious and the salad ingredients were really fresh.

Korean-AirKorean-AirKorean-Air I enjoyed our lunch while looking at this beautiful view of the Japan mountains to the east.

Korean-Air

Lunch with a view

For entrees, being that we were flying Korean Air, I had to have their signature dish, the Bibimbap, while my wife ordered the seared black cod with yam.

Black cod

Black cod

Bibimbap

Bibimbap

I really liked the combination of flavors and the variety, including the fish as one of the included side dishes. After we finished we were so full that I skipped dessert. The flight attendants really wanted to keep feeding us and asked us if we were sure we didn’t want dessert. I promised to try it later on.

Throughout the flight all flight attendants were fantastic. They were courteous, friendly, and helpful with any requests, including happily taking some pictures of us a few times.

After dinner I went to the lav and brushed my teeth while the flight attendants made our beds with a mattress pad, comforter and pillow.

Korean-AirThe Kosmo suites have partitions that you can raise by pushing a button and they make the suites more private. The partition shields you better from the aisles, which is especially useful when you’re sleeping. There is also a dividing partition between the two middle seats for people not traveling together. While it wasn’t anything like our Singapore suites experience, the partitions and seat have relatively good privacy and the bed was very comfortable and spacious for sleeping.

Privacy partition

Privacy partition in the raised position

I was expecting no sleep on this flight after having slept all night and being on Asia time for a 10:00 a.m. flight, but I wanted to push the issue since it would be a 13-hour night flight arriving in Dallas in the morning, so I needed to at least try. After much trying and a couple of sleeping pills, I still couldn’t get any shuteye, so I resorted to just watching TV. And TV I watched. A lot.

Entertainment and other controls

Entertainment and other controls

The entertainment system was pretty decent, with many shows to choose from, although I have to admit most of them I’ve heard of, but never watched, since I really don’t watch TV, so I watched a couple of ‘Friends’ episodes (literally, there were only two, which was the only thing I didn’t like). It was funny to watch Joey with Korean subtitles.

Korean-Air I also watched a documentary on Pele, and some Korean news and CNN.

Korean-AirKorean-AirI ordered a diet Coke at some point since I was feeling dehydrated and with a bit of a headache, so I wanted the caffeine jolt without actually drinking coffee.

Korean-AirI also watched The Forger with John Travolta, which despite the terrible reviews I still enjoyed and was good to fill in time. The seat was also pretty comfortable for lounging, which we did a bit of since neither one of us could sleep.

Korean-Air After a few hours I started getting hungry, so I started thinking about that dessert. With plenty of empty seats in first class I wanted to keep my bed, so I transferred to the window seat and set up shop there and our flight attendant served me the dessert, which consisted of a lemon tart with ice cream. I’m not a big fan of lemon desserts in general, but it was pretty decent and not too acidic.

Lemon tart with ice cream

Lemon tart with ice cream

A couple of hours later the crew started setting up for the second meal, with options listed on this menu:

Korean-Air I ordered the dongchimi noodles with grilled beef rib, and my wife ordered the Jedong free-range chicken thigh.

Korean-AirFree-range chickenThe cold noodles felt great to eat. I didn’t try my wife’s chicken, but she enjoyed it as well. While it wasn’t on the menu for the second meal, I also ordered some more of the earlier awesome black rice bread, and was happy they had extras. For dessert they brought a fruit cart and plated our fruit choices for us.

Korean-AirA bit after dinner I ordered a mint after-dinner liquor, wanting to try something other than Bailey’s. I should have stuck with what I like. I did not enjoy it at all. It was too strong for my taste.

Korean-Air My wife purchased duty free Korean makeup during the flight. We had heard that Korean makeup is of very high quality, and she wanted to take advantage of the opportunity and take some samples home. We also considered purchasing a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue label to take advantage of the duty free option, but having domestic flights coming up I quickly nixed that possibility, since we would have been required to check it with our luggage.

Eventually the sun started coming up again, and the crew started preparing and going through their checklists for arrival. Our flight attendants brought us a cup of omija punch, which was one of the best teas I’ve ever had and I’m looking to buy it locally when I find it. It is served cold.

Omija punch

Omija punch

I went to the lav and changed back out of my pajamas and started filling out the customs forms. I then moved over to the window seat again to watch the approach into DFW, which was spectacular.

Korean-AirKorean-AirLanding to the south, you could follow the 777’s shadow all the way to the ground, which was really cool to capture up against buildings and highways:

777 shadow on the main building

777 shadow on the main building

Roof shadow

Roof shadow

Road shadow

Road shadow

On final approach into DFW

On final approach into DFW

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Touchdown at DFW

Touchdown at DFW

Taxiing only took a couple of minutes and we were quickly at the gate ahead of schedule. After the cabin door was open, the flight attendants asked the prestige class cabin to wait a few seconds to give the first class passengers (all 3 of us!) a chance to exit the aircraft first so we could head out to the immigration lines before anyone else (which was really fast anyway thanks to our Global Entry credentials).

Korean-Air Customs was pretty fast, and then we checked our carry-ons into our domestic flight to Tampa so we wouldn’t have to drag them around the airport for the next 3 hours, went through TSA again and headed over to the DFW Centurion Lounge for a shower, complimentary much needed massages and breakfast before our connecting flight home.

Overall impression:

This was my first time flying Korean Air, and I had high expectations based on other online reviews and comments from friends who have flown them in the past and always speak highly of them. I have to say the service, quality of food and hard product did not disappoint. In fact, they were all amazing. The flight attendants were friendly, helpful and made us feel welcome, and always showed up immediately when we needed anything. The bedding was very comfortable and the food was fantastic. It will be one of my top choices while flying to Asia due to the availability and free stopover rules, and cannot wait to fly them again in the future.

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4 Responses to Korean Air first class Kosmo Suites ICN-DFW – Review

  1. Adam says:

    Darn. I almost wish you hadn’t posted this because now everyone (including me :D) is going to want to book awards on Korean. Heh, I kidd, but… their first class sounds amazing!

    For sure it’ll be hard to top the SQ Suites I enjoyed (also on award travel), but it looks like the food might be even better than that on SQ :).

    Anyway, I enjoyed the enthusiastic and detailed write-up; appreciate you taking the time to do that. Now to see if they fly this same product from SFO or SJC…

    • travelguys says:

      Adam, well the SQ food is significantly superior when you throw in caviar and lobster thermidor, not to mention both Dom and Krug, although KE food was excellent as well, but SQ suites are really hard to score, especially for 2 at Saver level, so in that respect KE wins. KE flies the 747-800 out of SFO, which supposedly has the new suites with the door, so that’s an upgrade from the 777. I personally would love to fly their A-380 next to check out the onboard bar. Hope you get to fly them soon. Thanks for reading!

      • Adam says:

        Somehow neither the lobster thermidor nor the caviar were offered on the SQ SFO-HKG-SIN flights I flew. I demand a refund! 😀

        SQ suites *used* to be easier to snag (at least years ago when I looked), but now that Chase, Amex, and Citi all offer SQ point transfers… well, no wonder avail is a bit lessened :\.

        And hmm… didn’t realize about the KE 747-800 w/ suites was flying from SFO. Okay, that’ll be my next points splurge (via Chase). Oh, and I’ve never been on a plane with an onboard bar; that would be fun!

        Anyway, all the best to you for the new year, flights and all!

  2. Carlos says:

    I have flown both first class product, they difference is very little, I also agree that getting Korea award is much easier than SQ, I have never had an issue booking Korean awards so its always my first choice

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