Review: Korean Air A330 Prestige Class Seoul/Incheon – Bangkok

Review: Korean Air A330 Prestige Class Seoul/Incheon – Bangkok

  • Dec 2021
  • Korea Airlines 653
  • Seoul/Incheon (ICN) – Bangkok (BKK)
  • Departure: 1914 Arrival: 2306
  • Duration: 5:52
  • Aircraft: Airbus A330-323
  • Registration: HL7586
  • Seat: 1D

A couple of hours went swift visiting to review both Korean Air’s Miler Club Lounge and Prestige Class Lounge(West-Wing), it was almost time for boarding. My gate number was 264 which was one of the last gates on the east wing so it took some time from the lounge to physically reach there.

Upon boarding, I was surprised to see half of the Prestige Class was already filled. I recalled that there were only children and their families during preboarding. Those people who were already occupying the seats turned out to be deadheading crews who will operate the flight back from Bangkok later that evening.

And what about the crew who operated the outbound flight? A captain was seated next to me and I asked him about the deadheading crew. His reply was that due to high cases Covid19 everywhere, Korean Air limited crew members’ layovers. Instead, except for long-haul flights, there were no layovers on short to medium, haul flights.

Korean Air A330-300 Prestige Class Cabin:

The Airbus A330-300 which took me to Bangkok was a whooping 21-year-old aircraft. Although there were traces of aging around the cabin, the cabin conditions were in excellent condition and clean.

This aircraft was equipped with 24 lie-flat Prestige Class seats and 252 Economy Class seats. There used to be 6 First Class on the first row with a 2-2-2 layout on all Korean Air’s A330s but the CEO appointed in 2019, cuts First Class service on 27 international routes. Since then, all First Class seats are sold in Prestige class fare.

So who can seat in the “First Class” seating? There are three ways you can score these seats. First of all, you can get free seats assigned if you are Korean Air’s SKYPASS Morning Calm Premium or Million Miler holder. Next, you can purchase the “Prestige Flex fare” which is the highest fare. Lastly, if you are patient enough and there are empty seats during online check-in or at the airport, you can choose the seat if there is one available.

The 4-row Prestige Class cabin is configured into 2-2-2 with a direct aisle available only on the middle seat. The cabin is divided into two sections. Due to the old First Class cabin, there is a bulkhead between the first and second-row seats.

Korean Air A330-300 Prestige Class Seat:

I was seated at 1D which was the ex-First Class seat. The seat featured a footrest for extra comfort and a shelf to place your belongings in front of the IFE screen. Although the first row feels cramped with 6 seats, it is private and quiet at the same time.

The seat, called “Prestige Sleeper,” has almost 80 inches of pitch and 20 inches wide and reclines up to 180 degrees fully flat without the wiggling feeling from the built-in footstool. Prestige Sleeper seats have a seat pitch wider than that of the existing Prestige Class seats and the back support and footrest are fully adjustable too. On each seat, a small pillow, blanket, sleeper, and a bottle of water were provided.

On the Korean Air website, it states that “Experience First Class-level comfort and service in a Prestige Class seat.” And this description sounds funny as the Prestige Class cabin experience and quality were still way too low to be “First Class-level comfort.”

A one-touch button on the armrest offers convenience and freedom to change seats into different positions. The seat also has a small partition that can be pulled out between the seat for privacy if a stranger is seating next to you and besides the privacy partition, a reading light is installed by your shoulder.

There are quite a number of compartments around the seat. You can keep your personal larger belongings under the footrest or smaller things in the storage under the armrest.

Korean Air A330-300 Prestige Class Dining:

Around 90 minutes after departure, the dining started. Prior to departure, crew members will come to you and ask if you have chosen the meal preference. There were only two choices on the menu: One was Korean style Bibimbab and the other was Chinese noodles with vegetables.

Usually, I would go for steak but as the airline cut costs, the steak was not served on this route. I chose the first option since Korean Air’s Bibimbab is famous for its taste. The meal service started with an appetizer which was Caprese salad with tomatoes. Next, the main was served with a Pollock soup. And lastly, slices of orange and melons for dessert were served. Not to mention, the noodle on board Korean Air is amazing for pre-landing snacks. Since it is not on the menu, you have to request a crew member to make it.

Plenty of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages were served but it was served in plastic cup. I was curious about why Korean Air decided to use plastic cups and asked one of the crew members after the meal. She told me that this decision was based on customer feedback.

Oddly, passengers basically did not want to use glassware due to COVID-19. They thought there might be a virus residue from infected passengers if they use glassware even though it will be cleaned and sanitized. Indeed there was some cost-cutting going on with the airline which played a role in reduced service, but the feedback somehow also gave an impact as well.

Korean Air A330-300 Prestige Class IFE Systems:

Korean Air’s A330-300 Prestige Class is equipped with a 15.4-inch touch screen LCD monitor and a multipurpose remote controller. There was enough content with the latest songs, dramas, and movies and it functioned smoothly.

However, the disappointment comes from the headset. The “headset” was not a headset. In fact, it was an earphone which was the same ones as in the economy class. Of course, the earphone was not noise canceling and the sound was horrible. It felt like my ears were muffling.

With the noise and vibrations from the aircraft, it was awful to plug those earphones on my ear and trying to watch a movie or listen to songs.

The remote controller is attached under the armrest and you have to push the black button and pull it out to use. If you need to charge your electronics, the USB port and universal charging sockets are each located under the reading light and above the life vest compartment.

Korean Air A330-300 Prestige Class Lavatory:

For Prestige Class passengers, there are 3 restrooms located one right beside the cockpit entrance and the other two by the mid galley. Restrooms were kept clean throughout the flight and equipped with hand soap, toothbrushes, shaving kits, and mouthwash sticks.

Summary:

I am happy that I am once again experiencing Korean Air’s Prestige Class service and products. I have to emphasize, that compared to the price of the airfare, there need to be great improvements regarding the glasswares and IFE kits.

In conclusion, other than some flaws and frowns, it was a pleasant 6 hours flight to Bangkok. In-flight services were provided on time even though the flight was full and the crew members were amazing. I heard Korean Air is gradually changing its service back to the pre-pandemic standard starting next year and hopefully, on my return flight to Korea in three weeks, I am able to notice some changes.

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