Review: Korean Air First Class Lounge Incheon Airport

Filed Under: Airport Lounge Reviews, Korean Air

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Incheon Airport has long been ranked as one of the world’s best airports, though personally I always thought it was incredibly overrated. That’s why I was excited to check out Incheon’s new Terminal 2, which opened earlier this year.

My connection at Incheon was about three hours, as I arrived from Hong Kong at around 5PM, and my flight to San Francisco was departing at 8PM.

It was quite a walk from our gate to the transfer and immigration area, though thanks to the moving sidewalks it only took about five minutes.

Incheon Airport Terminal 2

I was pleasantly surprised to find no wait at transit security, though since I was on a US-bound flight I got a separate screening. I guess at the first boarding pass check they direct you to a different lane if you’re on a US-bound flight, and then the screening is a bit more intensive.

From there I found myself in the Terminal 2 departures area — WOW, this is a beautiful terminal.

Incheon Airport Terminal 2

While the old terminal never impressed me, this one did. This has to be one of the most architecturally stunning terminals in the world. The ceilings are very high, there’s lots of greenery, and just in general the design is beautiful.

Incheon Airport Terminal 2

Incheon Airport Terminal 2

Incheon Airport Terminal 2

ICN Terminal 2

ICN Terminal 2

ICN Terminal 2

There was even some live music in the terminal. These ladies were really good.

Live music at ICN Terminal 2

I wanted to stand and watch them for hours, but I had a lounge to review, so I made my way to the Korean Air First Class Lounge. The escalator to the lounge is located right near the center of the terminal, and there’s a sign saying “KAL Lounge First Class/Miler Club.”

Korean Air First Class Lounge escalator

Once at the top of the escalator there’s a reception desk straight ahead, and then the million miler club is to the left, and the first class lounge is to the right.

Korean Air First Class Lounge reception

Korean Air First Class Lounge entrance

Inside the entrance was a long hallway, with some storage lockers for luggage, as well as a selection of magazines and newspapers.

Korean Air First Class Lounge entryway

Korean Air First Class Lounge storage lockers

Korean Air First Class Lounge magazines & newspapers

The lounge is quite small, though despite that, it wasn’t crowded at all. The entire lounge is basically what you see in the below three pictures (which are just different angles of the same space).

Korean Air First Class Lounge ICN seating

Korean Air First Class Lounge ICN seating

Korean Air First Class Lounge ICN seating

As you can see, there was a glass shield separating the lounge into two parts — in one area was the dining area and buffet, and in the other area was the space for lounging. All of the seating in the main area had plenty of privacy shields, so there were anywhere from one to four seats in each section.

Korean Air First Class Lounge ICN seating

I love the privacy of all the seating options here. For the areas for one person, you could choose between a day bed or a chair with ottoman.

Korean Air First Class Lounge ICN seating

Korean Air First Class Lounge Incheon seating

Korean Air First Class Lounge Incheon seating

Or there were areas for two people, where you face one another.

Korean Air First Class Lounge Incheon seating

Then the areas for four people had two seats facing one another.

Korean Air First Class Lounge Incheon seating

All of the seats had both 220v and USB outlets.

Korean Air First Class Lounge Incheon outlets

Unfortunately the lounge didn’t have any exterior views, but rather just faced the inside of the terminal. At least Incheon has a nice terminal.

Korean Air First Class Lounge Incheon seating

Then the other main section of the lounge is a dining area, which features a buffet and about half a dozen tables, seating 2-4 people each.

Korean Air First Class Lounge buffet

Korean Air First Class Lounge dining area

On one side of the buffet were drinks and ice cream. This included water and soft drinks.

Korean Air First Class Lounge drink selection

Then there was self serve prosecco, one bottle of white wine, and two bottles of red wine.

Korean Air First Class Lounge wine

Korean Air First Class Lounge wine

The liquor selection was very limited, with just three options.

Korean Air First Class Lounge liquor

Then there was a coffee machine with some syrups.

Korean Air First Class Lounge coffee machine

Korean Air First Class Lounge syrup

Then there was a fridge with a selection of Haagen-Dazs ice cream.

Korean Air First Class Lounge ice cream

The food selection was along the center aisle, and was alright. This included fruit, finger sandwiches, a couple of types of salads, cookies, cheese, packaged bananas, soup, and several hot options.

Korean Air First Class Lounge food selection

Korean Air First Class Lounge food selection

Korean Air First Class Lounge food selection

Korean Air First Class Lounge food selection

Korean Air First Class Lounge food selection

Korean Air First Class Lounge food selection

Korean Air First Class Lounge food selection

Korean Air First Class Lounge food selection

Korean Air First Class Lounge food selection

Korean Air First Class Lounge food selection

Korean Air First Class Lounge food selection

Korean Air First Class Lounge food selection

Korean Air First Class Lounge food selection

Not an impressive selection for a first class lounge, but not terrible either. I should also mention that there’s a lounge host with an iPad, and the second you sit down they offer you something to eat from the menu. There are five options, including soba noodles, seafood, chicken, beef, etc. I was already full, so couldn’t even bring myself to try one of them.

The lounge had a room with frosted glass windows that had a massage chair.

Korean Air First Class Lounge massage chair

Rather oddly the lounge only has a one person bathroom for men and a one person bathroom for women, so you may sometimes have to wait to use the bathroom here. On the plus side, the bathroom was quite nice.

Korean Air First Class Lounge bathroom

The lounge also has a single shower room, so I decided to get a quick shower before my flight. Even though there was only one shower, it was readily available. The shower room was massive, and had a sink, toilet, and a huge walk-in shower.

Korean Air First Class Lounge shower room

Korean Air First Class Lounge shower room

Korean Air First Class Lounge shower room

The shower room had several toiletries available, and the water pressure and temperature control were excellent.

Korean Air First Class Lounge shower room amenities

Korean Air First Class Lounge shower room toiletries

My flight to San Francisco was departing from gate 256, and boarding was scheduled for 7:30PM. So I headed in the direction of the gate at around 7PM. It was a long walk to the gate, and the departures level of the terminal doesn’t have many moving sidewalks.

Incheon Terminal 2

Incheon Terminal 2

Incheon Terminal 2

Incheon Terminal 2

On the plus side, there was lots of great plane spotting enroute to the gate.

Korean Air 747 Incheon Airport

Korean Air 777 Incheon Airport

Gate 256 was located at the pier at the very end of the terminal.

Incheon Terminal 2

Incheon Terminal 2

Boarding at Incheon is always so civilized, as just about everyone seems to stay seated until boarding is called, etc. Furthermore, boarding always seems to start on-time. So as expected, boarding started at exactly 7:30PM.

Departure gate to SFO

I was excited for my first flight on the Korean Air 787!

Korean Air 787 heading to SFO

Korean Air First Class Lounge bottom line

First of all, Incheon Airport’s new Terminal 2 is beautiful. It’s easily one of my new favorite new terminals in the world. Incheon Airport used to be mediocre, in my opinion, but the new terminal actually puts it up there in terms of global airports.

Korean Air’s lounge experience has long been quite sub-par. I’ve reviewed their first class lounge in their old terminal as well, and it was at best a mediocre business class lounge, and most definitely not one of the top first class lounges out there. This lounge still isn’t great, though is better.  All in all, it doesn’t rank anywhere near the top of the best airport lounges in the world for me, but it’s still made lots of improvements since last time I visited.

If you’ve visited the new Incheon Terminal 2, and/or the Korean Air lounges in the terminal, what did you think?

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  1. Due to my weekly First class flights, I had the chance to experience quite a few first lounges worldwide. The best first class lounges overall IMHO remain The Pier at HKG, JAL at Tokyo Haneda and Qantas in Sydney. I know there are quite some haters out there but I keep in mind that I pay for my flights.

  2. Nice to see you enjoyed your experience. I visited the new Korean Air business class lounges at this terminal. Both were absolutely crap (except for the decent frosted relaxation rooms and shower rooms). Not sure how they’re fine with such mediocrity at their newest terminal (which I didn’t enjoy either — reminded me of PEK T3, architecturally stunning but dysfunctional — but I’m glad you did).

  3. Only 2 whiskeys and 1 cognac (even if it’s XO)?! That is an incredibly poor selection, shameful for a 1st class lounge.

  4. Lucky, is the new KE first class lounge better than the OZ first class lounge in your opinion?

    Also, Is it just me that thinks the way the bananas are packaged is disgusting?

  5. I was there in the new terminal in July. Absolutely stunning. I stayed at the Priority Pass lounge though but it did the job. I truly felt like I was in a huge mall and not at an airport. Loved it!

  6. Was there back in March shortly after opening and my expectations were met. Wasn’t thinking I was getting a CX style lounge. But also, the presentation of food in the air was much better than what I’d have on CX the following day. I’d much rather be impressed with service in the air than service on the ground.

  7. Does terminal 2 have the same awful carpets in the arrival area like terminal 1? The carpet in terminal 1 sucks when you have a wheel bag.

  8. T2 is definitely an impressive bit of interior design. Not to rehash an old argument but T1 has live music, too. KE lounges aren’t the best in the world, but there are lots of plugs. My single biggest gripe is that water is served in these teeny tiny jeju brand cups. By the time I leave, I’ve usually acquired a tower of the things. I’d kill for a faucet. Or even a bottle.

  9. I was there last week, it’s smaller than previous lounge. However there’s lounge next to first class serves same food ,more bathrooms,more showers,more massage chairs. You can use both lounges.
    Was also in Asiana lounge, serves really good food (except CX lounges in HKG) most first class airline lounges.

    ICN airport is better than LAX, FRA,HND,NRT,BKK,HKG in my opinion. Easy to find gates, fast service thru immigration ,security area and transportation to the cities.

  10. The sit down made to order steak was made sous vide, best lounge meal I’ve ever had. I ended up ordering the steak twice. However, they needed about 15-20 minutes each order.

    I agree that the lounge itself was not impressive but the made to order steak really made the visit worth it. Must try!

  11. @Endre

    Girl, please, you’re more fake than Kim Kardashian’s face.

    I have a feeling that had the lounge been a bit bigger, and had more food options, it would be considered a much better lounge. But as you said, it is an improvement over the one in T1…

    And the new terminal is very lovely, architecturally speaking.

  12. @Lucky, or anyone who answer,

    Can first class passengers still get the engraved luggage tags? If so, is that done at this lounge?

  13. @ Lucky…. while you likely have addressed in previous articles what would be your top ten lounges at this point and time? Just a list and not any elaboration on why what lounge was ranked where it was ranked. I see links to your previous reviews and will read through those I haven’t yet read.

  14. Great review as usual, Lucky, but a disappointing lounge. Certainly not what I would expect for an airline with such a good reputation for their onboard first class product.

  15. Is the adjacent ‘million miler lounge’ Lucky mentions considered a level above or below the F lounge?

  16. @ Lucky
    I’ve been to this lounge earlier in the year and I think there are two things you forgot to mention. First, there’s another separate “massage” room that’s connected with the miler lounge that has about six additional awesome Panasonic massage chairs. And second, more importantly there are 2 or 3 relaxing private rooms that are gigantic with sofas, 65 inch OLED TVs with sound systems that you can use. I think you may have missed the rooms as the doors may have been closed and it is located towards the right as soon as you enter the lounge.

  17. @Michelle yes you can get a tag here.

    Overall I agree with the review. I guess you could say it has a good hard product but average soft. It’s surprisingly empty for how small it is… I’ll show up a little early for it.

  18. Excellent Review which brings back happy memories !! I was in that lounge this past June for less than one hour. For an infrequent flier like myself, it is quite a treat to enjoy such facilities.

  19. If I’m not wrong this is already the 5 days’ round the world trip happening in July.
    With such a significant team (7,8 persons) aren’t there more trips that could be reviewed?. Just being curious… When I see facts in a review that were prereviewed, prepared, arranged, and bought/redeemed, all of them generating the same articles I get a bit confused.

  20. Korean is such an overrated airline. Let’s not forget that on some of its aircraft the first-class seats are identical to the business-class seats; the only difference is the food and wine. I’ve never once seen a Korean lounge that was impressive nor competitive compared to other airlines. At this rate, China Eastern is offering a better product for Delta than Korean..

  21. Wow, I’ve had a million times more liquor choice in just about any sub par or contract lounge worldwide. International first class…… very disappointing

  22. @FNT
    Korean Air is not overrated airline.
    Just took a trip from LAX – FRA-ICN
    Flying 747-8I. Lufthansa ‘s first class seats do not compare to Korean air ‘s.
    8 open seats vs 6 closed suites. Not to mention worst first class meal I ever had.

  23. @Mike jones makes a valid point about airport carpeting. Who wants to drag a wheelie or 2 across carpet? Feels like you’ve just hit a sand trap! Hate it, hate it, hate it!

  24. @FNT Delta Diamond:

    I couldn’t agree more. Their F hard product is middle-of-the-road, at best, as it varies way too much across aircraft and they try to push J seats as F. That’s nonsense and they should be professionally embarrassed by that. We give BA F a lot of flack as being “a really good J product” – which is a fair assessment, but I’d still take BA F over the pathetic showing KE has on some of their planes.

    I’ve always found the in-flight soft product to be good, but the service is incredibly impersonal. And the thimble-full of water/champagne you get whilst in the air is laughable. I should NEVER have to ring a call button to get a refill after two small sips. Who drinks shots of champagne?

    Beyond that, their lounges are terrible at out stations. At their hub, they’re almost as good as a middling J lounge for most other competitive airlines. I don’t get why so many people have boners for KE when they’re clearly “meh”, at best. I actively avoid them now which is a shame because they have real potential to be a really great carrier but it’s like they just don’t care and laurel-resting is perfectly okay.

  25. Yes, there is variation in their product in F class, but their enclosed suites are really nice. The soft product in F class is also really good overall. The experience of flying in their enclosed suites ranks them with the best of the best overall in F class, if you ask me.

    In J class, the hard product can be inconsistent as well, but their apex suites are really great. Good food and service there as well, even if it isn’t the best, it’s still better than above average.

    Do agree that their lounges are really weak, both at home and abroad, and is an area this airline can really work on to make the overall experience better.

  26. Every Single @Endre Comment:
    – Starts of by stating the product he flew
    – Mentions that he paid for this ticket
    – Ends by saying there are haters

    Just to be clear, I don’t dislike you, @Endre because you pay for first class tickets(congrats) but do you have to write the same comment on every review? Is that necessary?

  27. That lounge entrance suggested a posh private clinic, acres of white. Sterile and reminiscent of the so called lounge at the back of KAL’S 380 top deck.

    Sure, the new terminal looks pretty but is service in shops etc any better that In T1? Last time thru Incheon I lost any chance of lounge time thanks to inept shop staff shuffling me from one cash terminal to another just to purchase a few last minute items for the kids. Queue city.

    Looking forward to your take on the 789.

  28. I need to spend more time in this airport. Two times I’ve just walked through and exited, knowing this airport is supposed to be amazing. The next time I’m there I want to try the Korean Cultural Experience Center.
    I love that the lounge color scheme matches that of the airplane interiors. It reminds me of architecture I’ve seen in pictures of TWA lounges.

  29. I like the luggage lockers, I think that’s a great idea. I don’t know how common they are in lounges but seems like a great idea.

  30. @Sir BoonBuckle, @Julia: I don’t know why to be bothered by someone who’s clearly a troll.
    You should just go with the flow.
    Also, I’m glad that he/she made again to pay for first class tickets. Not long ago he/she was struggling and was even telling us about tickets in business class, and we get worried about his financial status.

  31. @Leeza1 good point. I would say he only flew those paid business class tickets, because those planes did not have a first class cabin service? Oh, the shame and anger he must have had to endure.

  32. Those giant trees are stunning! What a beautiful new terminal.

    Is that liquor selection is geared toward Asian businessmen? Basically 3 whiskeys. 😉
    And yes, very cheap sparkling selection considering how little they probably go through.

  33. I felt exactly the same way you did. I flew SIN-ICN-IAD in KE F in February. The flights were fantastic with great service. I thought ICN Terminal 2 was beautiful. The KE F lounge was fine, but nothing to write home about. I preferred spending time in the terminal.

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