The Korean Air A380 readies for departure at LAX – Photo: Kevin P Horn
This summer, my partner Natalie and I decided that we wanted to visit one or two cities in Asia during the short window that we had off. I researched the airlines, routes, and cities that we were interested in flying to and ended up choosing Seoul and Tokyo for stops. I had accrued about 200,000 points through Chase credit cards and started looking through redemption options. A friend of mine pointed me towards Korean Air, since they were partnered with Chase for 1-1 transfers and had an excellent 62,500 mile redemption (63,000 since I could only transfer in 1000 point increments) for business class to Asia one-way. These flights had the option to select a multi-day stopover in Seoul, so it precisely lined up with our travel goals.
I booked two one-way flights to Tokyo Narita (NRT) in Korean Air Prestige class with a five-day stopover in Seoul (ICN). I ended up booking a return with United Airlines on an Economy Saver redemption for 35,000 miles. But I’m not writing this to talk about United economy; flying on the upper deck of both an A380 and Queen of the Skies 747-400 is much more interesting.
Korean Air’s new 747-8I glistening during delivery – Photo: Colin Cook | AirlineReporter
Earlier this week, at the Everett Delivery Center, Korean Air and Boeing celebrated delivery of the airline’s first of ten 747-8 Intercontinental aircraft. The delivery marked Korean becoming the only carrier of both the freighter and passenger variant, with Korean already operating seven freighters. We were invited to attend the delivery ceremony and it certainly did not disappoint.
Arriving about an hour prior to the ceremony beginning, I had the opportunity to do a little light plane spotting and to chat with some other members of the media. As you can imagine, security is tight at events like this and we had to go through a couple security checks. Once in the delivery center, I was allowed to step out onto the terrace to watch the big 747-8I be towed up to the Delivery Center. As the plane neared, the Korean Air pilots were also outside on the terrace with us. You could tell how excited they were to be a part of this event and to fly this beautiful plane home.
Korean Air’s A380 visits Prague for the first time – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Yesterday, Korean Air premiered their Airbus A380 to Prague on their regular scheduled flight from Seoul. I was fortunate enough to receive an invitation to welcome the aircraft to Prague.
This was the third A380 operation to Prague since its introduction to service. The first was a Lufthansa bird, which came to Prague for crew/diversion support training, and then Emirates last year on a medical diversion.
A special viewing area set up for the event in the adjacent gate – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Korean Air presently operate eight A380’s in their fleet and they deploy them primarily on their key routes to Los Angeles and Hong Kong; this one-off flight to Prague therefore came as a bit of a surprise. The reason behind this aircraft substitution (in lieu of the regular A330/B777 mix on the route) was due to a major EU technology conference in Hanover and the requirement for a large business class cabin.
Korean Air operates the least-densely-configured A380. The lower deck consists of 12 first class seats and 301 economy class seats with a generous 34-inch pitch. The upper deck is all business class, with a 94-seat cabin -this is by far the largest business class cabin on an airliner (mixed-class) to date.