Review: Korean Air “KAL Lounge” Incheon Airport Terminal 1

Review: Korean Air “KAL Lounge” Incheon Airport Terminal 1

Exactly a week after my busy flights to and from Europe on Qatar Airways, I made another last-minute plan to travel to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, this time with Malaysia Airlines. I was hesitating until the day before departure whether to book flights on Korean Air directly to Vietnam or to transfer to Malaysia and Thailand.

In the end, I decided to book a round-trip flight on Malaysia Airlines from Seoul to Bangkok via Kuala Lumpur and then connect from Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK) to Ho Chi Minh City.

How last minute this was? These tickets were booked less than four hours before my first leg flight from Seoul to Kuala Lumpur departed. Anyways, without any sleep, I rushed to Incheon International Airport to check in for my flight.

Malaysia Airlines Check-In, Incheon International Airport

In the past, I frequently flew from Kuala Lumpur to Seoul on Malaysia Airlines but this time it was my first time flying inbound.

Malaysia Airlines is a Oneworld airline and hence it uses Incheon Airport Terminal 1 for check-in. I arrived around 8:30 AM the morning but the counter was pretty empty since the flight was not heavy that morning.

As a Oneworld Emerald member, I went directly to the business class check-in lane and my formalities were quickly finished I received my boarding pass and a lounge invitation card to Korean Air “KAL Lounge.”

Getting To Korean Air KAL Lounge At Incheon Airport Terminal 1

There are six lounges currently operating at Incheon International Airport Terminal 1. And of those six lounges, Asiana Airlines takes up most of the lounges. The remaining are Korean Air KAL Lounge, Matina and Skyhub third-party lounges.

Malaysia Airlines made a contract with Korean Air Service (KAS) for ground handling so customers flying in business class as well as Oneworld elite members are invited to use the only Korean Air lounge at Terminal 1.

The KAL lounge is located near gate 28 on the left-hand side of the airport. It is near the escalators that go under the shuttle train station to the midfield concourse.

KAL Lounge Terminal 1 Operational Hours

The KAL Lounge at terminal 1 operates from 06:30 AM to 21:30 PM in the evening. The reason KAL lounge exists here with such operating time is due to some of the Skyteam airlines departing out of Terminal 1 throughout the day.

For example, there are five Vietnam Airlines flights departing from Terminal 1 from 10 AM to 6 PM, and the recently inaugurated SAUDIA Airline departs at 10 PM.

KAL LoungeNear Gate 2806:30 ~ 21:30

KAL Lounge Terminal 1 Entry Requirements

While the Korean Air Lounges at Incheon Airport Terminal 2 allow only Skyteam Elite Plus or first and business class passengers, the entry requirements of KAL Lounge are a little bit different as it serves as a partner lounge for non-Skyteam airlines.

Below is the list of eligible passengers at KAL Lounge:

  • First/Prestige Class passengers boarding KE/SkyTeam carriers
  • SKYPASS Milion Miler Club and Morning Calm Premium Club members boarding Economy Class plus one guest
  • SkyTeam Elite Plus members plus one guest
  • SKYPASS Morning Calm Club members
  • Other Airlines ( VN, CZ, MH, OM, PR, HA, SV, HU ) business class and elite members

Passengers traveling on Vietnam Airlines, China Southern, Malaysia Airlines, MIAT Mongolian Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, SAUDIA and Hainan Airlines must travel in business class or have an elite membership tier on each respect frequent flyer program.

KAL Lounge Layout and Seating:

Given the scale of the passengers traveling through Terminal 1 is less for Skyteam, the lounge is not large as the other Korean Air lounges on the other terminal. But I really liked the layout and design throughout the lounge. It had a mixture of the domestic lounge with some boutique finishes.

As soon as I entered the lounge the first thing to see is a small locker storage area with a combination of small and large spaces. And above it, there was a screen with flight schedules.

Besides the locker room, there is an area with large sofas and rather uncomfortable-looking ball-shaped stools placed between a coffee table.

Further inwards, there is a couple of corner chairs with a table in between that are good when traveling as a family or large group. Even though the seats look uncomfortable, I had no issue seating on the corner chairs since the armrests were resting my arms.

And in the corner of this caved area, there are three semi-private partitions with massage chairs equipped. These massage chairs are based on first come first serve use so I noticed they were fully occupied throughout the day.

KAL Lounge offers diverse seating all around the lounge. opposite the massage chairs, there is a combination of lounge chairs and armchairs with partitions between small work tables and side tables.

All seats featured power outlets and USB charging ports for convenience to charge electronic devices.

Behind the semi-partitioned chairs, a literature rack is stationed. However, due to COVID, only Korean Air’s magazine is offered. In the past, there were more magazines and newspapers but I guess the lounge does not have plans to restore it yet.

Along the window area, a long work desk facing the airside is placed. This console table has power outlets for each seat and a desk lamp which are best to catch up on some work with your laptop or tablet.

On the other end, behind the buffet stand, there are a few red semi-private pods facing in each direction, some with a table while some don’t. What I like about these chairs is I can sit hunched up relax and play with my phone.

There are more armchairs along the edge of the lounge beside the window but these seats are too open in my opinion.

And behind this seat, there is a VIP room with a sliding door that is used by VIPs or celebrities. During my visit, I was lucky to spot a K-pop group called (G)I-DLE and guess what, they were on the same flight to Kuala Lumpur on my Malaysia Airlines flight. I will come up with the photos in my flight review to Malaysia.

When I was busy checking out the lounge, the group members were waiting in this area for some time until our boarding time arrived. The VIP room’s glass walls were not totally private so anyone could see who was inside.

KAL Lounge Dining & Bar

The dining area is located right in front of the lounge entrance and consisted of a buffet bar with a large communal table that sits 10 beside it. The table has a power outlet which was very convenient to charge my electronics while having a meal.

As an international departures lounge, the lounge offered similar dining options as the main Korean Air lounges. The meals are catered by Grand Hyatt Incheon’s kitchen which is one of my favorite dining locations in Incheon.

There are four different types of hot meals and soup as a main dish. Meals differ throughout the day but you can mostly find them similar styles overall.

One unfortunate story I’ve heard about the dining at this lounge is that SAUDIA passengers who prefer ‘Halal’ foods were not able to eat the buffet since most of the menu was made out of pork or non-Halal way of cooking.

On the side of the hot buffet, cold cuts and salads were readily available. Since it was morning during my visit, a selection of salads and yogurts were offered.

Pastries are also set up in one corner of the buffet area with cheese with different types of jam. I really love the pastries made by Hyatt and it was a great option for breakfast.

The lounge has one long beverage section together with the bar area. You can select drink choices from coffee machines to drink and beer dispensers. Craving for a cup of noodles? There is a rack in between the coffee machine and beer dispenser equipped with Korean cup noodles too.

I find the design of the buffet area quite open since it is located facing the lounge entrance but taste-wise, it never disappointed me.

KAL Lounge Restrooms

Restrooms in the lounge are located along the narrow hallway on the edge of the lounge. There are male and female restrooms as well as a family restroom.

A nursing room is also available in this lounge which is located beside the family restroom. All facilities are kept clean throughout the day thanks to the hardworking lounge staff keeping the lounge neat.


Prior to my flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I was invited to use Korean Air’s KAL Lounge at Incheon International Airport Terminal 1. This lounge is a Skyteam and partner lounge who are contracted with Korean Air.

I find the design of the lounge more similar to the Miler Club Lounge at Terminal 2 plus a brighter and more luxurious feeling compared to the Prestige Lounge thanks to the open apron view. It was a great reception before my long flight to Malaysia.

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