Review: Korean Air Business Class 777 Seoul To Kathmandu

Filed Under: Korean Air

We spent the night at the Grand Hyatt Incheon, and the next day headed to the airport at around 11:30AM for our 1:25PM flight to Kathmandu. Immigration and security were reasonably quick (they took about 20 minutes, while in the past I’ve sometimes had to wait over an hour), and we quickly found gate 21, where our flight would be departing from.

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Incheon Airport departure gate

As we arrived our 777 was just getting catered, and a few minutes later the crew arrived.

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Korean Air 777 Incheon Airport

Boarding was announced at 12:55PM, starting with business class.

Korean Air 695
Seoul Incheon (ICN) – Kathmandu (KTM)
Tuesday, March 7
Depart: 1:25PM
Arrive: 5:55PM
Duration: 7hr45min
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Seat: 7H (Business/Prestige Class)

First I should mention that this was a pretty unique flight in terms of how they sold it. The flight was operated by a three class 777 (with first class, business class, and economy class), though they only sold business class and economy class. As a result, first class had the standard business class service, and select business class passengers could assign seats in first class.

On top of that, they only sold the front half of the business class cabin as business class. The last two rows of business class were sold as economy, and had economy service.

I asked about the possibility of getting a first class seat at the gate, but was told that our fare class wasn’t eligible for that (I suppose because we were on award tickets). All the better, since I wanted to review Korean Air’s business class seat anyway.

Here’s what the seatmap looked like (the blue seats are occupied). As you can see, nine of the 21 seats were occupied.


We boarded through what was technically the first class cabin, which consisted of eight seats spread across two rows. I’ve reviewed this exact first class product before.

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Korean Air 777 first class cabin

Then we found ourselves in the forward business class cabin.

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Korean Air 777 business class cabin

This cabin consists of a total of 14 seats, spread across two rows in a 2-3-2 configuration. The middle seat in business class isn’t ideal, and on top of that these seats aren’t fully flat. Do note that many of Korean Air’s longhaul 777s feature the same seat I had on the flight from San Francisco to Seoul.

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Korean Air 777 business class seats

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Korean Air 777 business class seats

I had assigned us seats 7H & 7J, which were the aisle and window seat in the first row on the right side.

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Korean Air 777 business class, seats 7H & 7J

On the outside armrest were the seat controls, which were easy to use.

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Korean Air business class seat controls

Underneath the center armrest were two power outlets.

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Korean Air 777 business class power outlets

Above that was the rather clunky entertainment controller (though the monitor was also touchscreen, so there wasn’t much of a need to use it).

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Korean Air business class entertainment controls

Between seats was a privacy partition, reading lights, and USB outlets.

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Korean Air business class reading lights

Since we were in the bulkhead, the personal television could be extended from the center armrest — in other rows, it’s simply located on the back of the seat in front.

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Korean Air business class personal television

Waiting at my seat were a pillow and blanket, which were very similar to the ones I had on the previous flight.

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Korean Air business class pillow & blanket

Waiting in the seatback pocket were the same type of slippers I had on the previous flight.

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Korean Air business class slippers

The menu was also in the seatback pocket.

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Korean Air business class menu

Within about 10 minutes of settling in, we were offered pre-departure beverages, including the choice between water, champagne, and juice (they didn’t offer champagne out of the US, I assume because they don’t want to pay the tax on it). I had champagne, though it had to be one of the smallest pours I’ve ever been offered (the below picture was before I had anything to drink). We were also offered honey roasted peanuts again.

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Korean Air business class pre-departure beverages

The crew then came through the cabin with newspapers and headphones. I quickly realized that service on Korean Air is very consistent, as the entire service procedure mirrored the previous flight.

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Korean Air business class headphones

At 1:35PM the door closed, at which point the (American) captain added his welcome aboard, and informed us of our insanely long flight time of 7hr15min, and cruising altitude of 34,000 feet. While the direct air distance between Seoul and Kathmandu is only 2,500 miles (which should take less than six hours to cover), they can’t fly the direct route. See a previous post I wrote for details about why — it’s interesting stuff.

Looking at the airshow, the route seems innocent enough, but as you’ll see further down in the report, that’s a far cry from the route we actually flew.

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Airshow enroute to Kathmandu

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Airshow enroute to Kathmandu

At 1:45PM we began our pushback, which finished with the typical waving from the ramp agents.

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View after pushback at Incheon Airport

We had a very quick taxi to our departure runway.

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Taxiing Incheon Airport

I enjoyed looking out the window, especially given the unique airlines you don’t always see, like MIAT Mongolian and Aurora.

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MIAT Mongolian 767 Incheon Airport

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Aurora Airbus Incheon Airport

By 1:55PM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 34.

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Taking off Incheon Airport

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Korean Air 777 Incheon Airport

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FedEx 777 Incheon Airport

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View after takeoff from Incheon Airport

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View after takeoff from Incheon Airport

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View after takeoff from Incheon Airport

Usually airlines close the curtains between first and business class after takeoff, but since first class was being sold as business class, they left the curtains open.

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View of Korean Air 777 first class cabin

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Korean Air 777 business class cabin

The seatbelt sign was turned off about 10 minutes after takeoff. At that point the cabin supervisor (who was a guy — I’m not sure I’ve ever had a male flight attendant on Korean Air before) came around to each business class passenger to welcome them aboard.

A few minutes later the crew came around to take lunch orders, and then collected menus. The lunch menu read as follows:

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The wine list read as follows:

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The crew then came around with warm towels.

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Korean Air business class hot towels

Since the cabin was so empty, service was really quick. The flight attendants rolled a cart through the aisle with drinks.

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Korean Air business class beverage service

I had another glass of champagne, and was offered an amuse bouche consisting of a roasted fig tart with feta cheese and tomato salsa.

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Korean Air business class lunch — champagne and amuse bouche

After that I was offered a tray with the appetizer.

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Korean Air business class lunch — appetizer

The appetizer consisted of a small mixed green salad with shrimp, and was pretty good.

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Korean Air business class lunch appetizer — mixed green salad with shrimp

I was also offered bread, and chose the garlic option.

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Korean Air business class lunch — garlic bread

Next up came the soup course, which was a broccoli cream soup.

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Korean Air business class lunch — broccoli cream soup

For the main course I ordered the cod with roasted potatoes and vegetables. The dish was much better than the fish dish on my previous flight, even if the presentation left a bit to be desired.

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Korean Air business class lunch — cod fish with roasted potatoes and vegetables

Ford had the stir-fried chicken, which he said was reasonably good.

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Korean Air business class lunch — stir-fried chicken with fried rice

The dessert selection on this flight was simpler than on the previous flight — the choice was between ice cream and fresh fruit. I selected the ice cream, and they had strawberry and vanilla to choose from.

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Korean Air business class lunch dessert — ice cream

The meal was done just 75 minutes after takeoff, and we were offered bottled water and landing cards for Nepal.

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Korean Air business class water and landing card

Much like on the previous flight, the crew was friendly, and they were able to be a bit more efficient, given how few business class passengers there were.

I checked out the lavatory after lunch. There are two lavatories between the two business class cabins, and they looked like they had seen better days.

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Korean Air 777 business class lavatory

They did have the basic amenities, though.

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Korean Air 777 business class lavatory amenities

We were quite exhausted at this point, given that we had only flown from the US the day before, and it was the middle of the night in the US. I figured I wouldn’t be able to sleep given that the seats on Korean’s 777s are angled. Not to be a diva, but in general I’m a person who struggles to sleep, and I need perfect conditions to be able to sleep. A fully flat bed is one of those conditions.

However, I managed to sleep with no issue, as these are among the most comfortable angled seats I’ve ever flown in. The angle is very minor, and it almost feels fully flat since planes are at a slight nose up angle during the flight. I got a solid four hours of rest, which was awesome. As a point of comparison, I thought this seat was about as comfortable as the EgyptAir 777 business class seat. So as far as angled seats go, this is as good as it gets.

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Korean Air business class bed

When we woke up I turned on the airshow, and as you’ll see our routing was far from direct.

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Airshow enroute to Kathmandu

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Airshow enroute to Kathmandu

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Airshow enroute to Kathmandu

About 20 minutes after I woke up, the crew came through the cabin with a variety of juice.

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Korean Air business class pre-landing juice

They served a light snack, consisting of a beef focaccia sandwich. While I’m sure I could have asked for a different drink, the crew specifically asked if I wanted coffee or tea with it.

The sandwich was not especially appetizing — while the bread was good and the sandwich was warm, there was very little meat on it.

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Korean Air business class pre-landing snack

For the rest of the flight I gazed out the window, given how incredible the scenery is in this part of the world. About 50 minutes out, the captain provided us with updated arrival information, informing us that we’d be landing at around 6PM.

The views weren’t especially dramatic at first.

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View enroute to Kathmandu

However, as we began our final approach the views were incredible.

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View approaching Kathmandu

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View approaching Kathmandu

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View approaching Kathmandu

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View approaching Kathmandu

We had a smooth touchdown in Kathmandu at 5:55PM, and from there a short five minute taxi to the gate.

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Taxiing at Kathmandu Airport

Kathmandu Airport is small, so the 777 we arrived in almost felt out of place.

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Taxiing at Kathmandu Airport

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Taxiing at Kathmandu Airport

There wasn’t much traffic on the ground, other than an Oman Air 737 and US-Bangla turboprop.

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Kathmandu Airport tarmac

Kathmandu Airport doesn’t have any gates, so you have to get off the plane by stairs.

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Korean Air 777 upon arrival

There was no bus or anything on arrival, but rather we were directed towards the arrivals facility by foot. The departures terminal was right in front of the plane, while the arrivals facility we were walking to was located behind it.

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Kathmandu Airport terminal

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Kathmandu Airport arrivals facility

We were getting visas on arrival, which turned out to be a bit more complicated than I was expecting. You have to fill out a separate form on arrival to get a visa, and on top of that the visa form has to be filled out on one of their outdated computers. That took quite a while, and then we had to pay our visa fees, and then we had to go through immigration.

The entire process took about 30 minutes. Once in the bustling arrivals area, we spotted our driver, who would take us to the Hyatt Regency.

Korean Air 777 business class bottom line

While this flight was much longer than I was expecting (due to the circuitous routing), the product itself was much better than I was expecting. The flight attendants were friendly, the food was good, and I managed to get some solid sleep. Korean Air’s 777 angled seats are among the most comfortable angled business class seats out there. Furthermore, keep in mind that many Korean Air 777-300ERs even feature the new business class product.

  1. “I asked about the possibility of getting a first class seat at the gate, but was told that our fare class wasn’t eligible for that (I suppose because we were on award tickets). All the better, since I wanted to review Korean Air’s business class seat anyway.”

    I’m not sure it was “all the better”…had you been able to get a first class seat, I’m sure you would have taken it and justified not reviewing the business class seat…

    Were they just as stingy with the drinks on this flight as they were on the last one? The amount of liquid in your various glasses seems to indicate they are. Otherwise, looks like a solid business class product overall.

  2. There are a few male flight attendants around for KA. The poor flight attendent who took a beating from Peanut Cho (aka CEO’s daughter) was male.

  3. I would have been so curious about the “seafood soybean paste soup.” It sounds sort of yucky; but, I just would not have been unable to resist giving it a try.

    Was economy as empty as prestige?

  4. I don’t know why you couldn’t get a first class seat, but it wasn’t because you were flying on an award ticket because I did just that about a month ago (the opposite way, though: KTM – ICN) and I got seat 1A on a LifeMile award ticket.

  5. “I figured I wouldn’t be able to sleep given that the seats on Korean’s 777s are angled”

    this is becoming a trend, methinks… at Egyptair and the last angled seats you’ve reviewed, you always claim that you thought it wouldn’t cut it, but it came down with solid sleep. The same was true at that flight review from American’s old first class.

    maybe old seats are good for sleeping, but not for anything else?

  6. Isn’t there a small typo wherein in the beginning you have mentioned that your allocated seat number as 7H whereas in your flight/seat details, you mention that your assigned seats were 8H and 8J… 🙂

  7. I really, really hate these seats. I actively avoid them when possible. It’s a shame given I live in Atlanta and KE through Seoul is generally the most efficient way to get to most of Asia. They’re nowhere close to flat, and also pretty hard and lumpy. I also can’t understand the mid-flight meal. It makes no sense. I’ll book through Europe or even, gosh, on DL to avoid KE. Shame.

  8. Lucky actually walked to the terminal? Gasp! The horror! And forced to slum it in business class as well. Oh no! 🙂

  9. Kathmandu is indeed a small airport and the 777 does look a little bit funny there, but it looks like part of the reason why it looked so out of place was the time of day. When I flew out of there I was on a Thai 777-200 and Qatar+Turkish a330’s were there at the same time.

  10. I’ve flown in and out of KTM 4 separate times, most recently almost 8 years ago also on Korean. The terminal hasn’t changed one bit since my first visit in 1999. Having the visa form in advance and filled out (with a photo in hand) allows you to skip past the people filling it out in the arrival lobby. On the other hand, it did me no good my last trip as my checked bag didn’t show up for an hour.

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