Airline Reviews: Korean Air

17 Feb

Date:

2012, 2013

Airline: 

Korean Air–International & Domestic (8 flights).  

Plane(s):

Airbus A330-200, Airbus A332 (no longer used?), Boeing 737Boeing 777-200.

Pre-flight Interactions:

I prefer ordering Korean Air tickets via Orbitz or other online systems because their website is fairly complicated.  One nice element is that it comes in a multitude of languages–English, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, etc.  It isn’t always so difficult to look up flights, but it can be difficult to compare them via their home site.  There isn’t a lot of explanation as to what exactly their “Skypass” does for you, although I’ve signed up since the beginning. As far as I can tell, it just gets me through the check-in a little easier because I can have everything easily accessible online.  They say that you can pre-check in via the web and just use their machine at the airport, but it has always failed for me.  I might be using it wrong or not qualifying, but the instructions are confusing.   It helps if you have ticket in hand, along with your itinerary, and your passport. That is enough for them to get started.

However, the personnel are amazing at their jobs. I can’t say that I have ever had a single complaint with them. Their English is superb, they get me through the lines quickly and efficiently, they have people standing around waiting to answer questions, and they are charming at it. They seem to have an unending line of patience because I can honestly say I’ve never seen the less than lovely.  For all that I stumbled through on my first couple flights, they were fabulous. They always verified that I knew what I was doing and where to go, they actively came around the counter and led me to where I needed to go next, and they even worked with me the day I was late for the flight check-in.  I can’t speak highly enough of their service.

Baggage Allowance:

The deal is that if you are flying internationally (and I often am), all airlines must honor the baggage requirements/allowance of the airline with the longest flight (if tickets are all bought together–not separately). I always try to get Korean Air’s baggage allowance if traveling.  

First/Business Class always get 3 free checked bags, but it differs for Prestige and Economy depending on the destination.  You can find all the rules here under At the Airport–>Baggage.  Generally, Prestige gets 2 bags, while Economy gets 2 bags for to/from America and 1 for anywhere else.  You also get a personal item (I always make it a backpack because it counts as a purse but is bigger) and a carry-on.   Small tip, if you are stopping in other countries during our trip, buy all the tickets at the same time as you purchase your flight back/from the US. It gets you the 2 bags instead of 1.

Boarding:

Amazing. There are always 2-3 people at the gate waiting to answer questions and handle problems.  They are extremely efficient at the process, working with children and the elderly first, then everyone else. Everyone is divided into groups and you just wait your turn, making the lines more manageable. The flight attendants greet you at the door, check your ticket, and direct you to your seat. If you need help (have kids, strollers, elderly, etc.) one of them will come with you to help you settle in.  They never complain about weirdly shaped baggage or oversized items; they simply gather them all up to be dealt with quietly.  Your seat already has the amenities there including a blanket, pillow, slippers, and water bottle.  They are eternally polite in getting everyone situated, it’s a smooth process that eases both adults and children.  

In Flight:

The best part about Korean Air is their customer service and amenities. Domestic is a little rougher because you don’t get the televisions or as many amenities, but I really appreciate having the water bottle already in hand.  They arrive quickly when the button is pressed, and return promptly with your requested items.  I once watched a flight attendants rock and walk a screaming baby for nearly an hour while the parents tried to sooth their other kids, and she acted like it was no big deal.  They serve drinks and food to First Class first of course, but they move quickly and you don’t have to wait too long. The food is generally amazing (cakes, puddings, salads, curry, baked chicken, etc.), and it is actually a full meal.  They offer soda, wine, water, juice, milk, etc. free generally, and usually come buy with snacks a couple of times. The seats are pretty well spaced with lots of leg room so I never feel crunched up (Domestic less so, but still better than AA), and they are comfy too.

By far the best part is the tv screens each chair has for international flights. They offer music (International, Korean, American, Country, radio, etc.), Television shows (European, American, Kdramas, comedies), Movies (dozens of films are always there including tons of kids films), tourism information, flight information, maps, even Video Games.  Kids are entertained for hours, and I rarely see any making a big fuss on these flights.  They can even compete together in the video games since the tvs connect for them.  Some have plug-ins for USB cables too, which is nice if you have an I-pod or laptop.

Then there is of course the flying. I have run into some very late flights with Korean Air, but we were avoid a big storm hitting Korea and China so it couldn’t be helped. They are very careful about safety measure, demonstrating the procedures in case of emergency. They always alert you when the seat belt lights come on and explain the issue. Generally there is also an apology.  They have been turbulent but not scary. It’s nice that the pilot comes out and thanks you as you walk off the plane too.

Luggage Retrieval:  

This usually goes pretty well. I had one flight where my luggage wasn’t where they told me, but I’m not sure whose fault that was. My suitcases ended up in first class, so I had to hunt to find them, and then they changed the location of retrieval which confused things. But my suitcases always made it back, and I’ve never had anything break.  

Overall Conclusions

I attempt to always get Korean Air if possible. To be honest, customer service is one of the most important things to me when choosing an airline; flying is stressful enough without having to deal with grouchy workers.  So, I particularly appreciate their customer service and amenities.  It helps that they sent me up to Business Class once after they had an opening and I slept at their feet the whole night before.  I was also touched by the flight attendants relating to me personally.  I once lost my boarding pass and the woman rushed all over helping me look and figuring out the process of what to do.  I spent several minutes talking to one flight attendant as we waited buckled in for take-off (storm delays)  with him describing everything I should see, talking about where I was from, etc.  He then caught back up and wished me a good trip when we were leaving.  That’s just how kind they are.  Flying Domestic is less fun because the planes are more cramped, older, and offer less entertainment, but it is still as nice as I’ve found elsewhere. 

The only negatives I see with Korean Air–They are almost always more expensive and I don’t understand enough about the Skypass for it to be doing me any good.  Also, my miles are going to expire before I reach the upgrade, and I’m within reach if I could just afford one more international flight 😦

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