New Korean Air Business Class Seat Coming To 777 & 787

New Korean Air Business Class Seat Coming To 777 & 787

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Back in July 2023, we learned (unofficially) how Korean Air plans to introduce a new business class product. While details remain limited, I wanted to take an updated look at this, especially as the product should be introduced in the coming months. I have a couple of theories as to what product we’ll see.

Korean Air plans new business class mini-suite

Seth Miller flagged a regulatory filing that Korean Air has made with the United States Department of Transportation, related to seat accessibility. In this filing, Korean Air states that it has plans to introduce a new business class product in the near future:

  • This business class product will debut on the Boeing 787-10, of which Korean Air has 20 on order; these are expected to be delivered imminently (in the coming months), and the first jet is already fully assembled
  • This business class product will be retrofitted on existing Boeing 777-300ERs, of which the carrier has 25 in its fleet; while many 777s have a first class cabin, Korean Air has stopped selling the cabin on some routes, so I’m curious if the airline ends up keeping a first class cabin
  • Unrelated, but Korean Air also plans to introduce premium economy as of 2024 on Boeing 787-10s, so it sounds like this will be the jet on which Korean Air debuts its all-new cabin concepts

The airline describes the product as a “new business class suite seat,” though the filing redacts the name of the seat model, for competitive reasons.

This filing is regarding aircraft needing to have a movable aisle armrest installed in at least half of aisle seats, for accessibility reasons. So the filing gives us another clue, which is that the seats used “are integrated suite designs which cannot incorporate a moveable aisle armrest into their design.”

With delivery of the first jet with the new product planned in the coming months, I expect we’ll learn more soon, ahead of entry into service (thank you Korean Air for not taking the Lufthansa approach, and announcing your “new” business class seven years before it actually enters service).

Korean Air currently has Apex Suites in business class

What seat business class seat will Korean Air introduce?

It’s always exciting to see an airline introduce a new business class product, since seating choices have come a long way over the years. That being said, Korean Air currently has Apex Suites as its standard long haul business class product, which is one of my favorite business class seats in the world. The window seats in this configuration are simply awesome, and offer an unparalleled amount of privacy and space.

The catch with Apex Suites is that they’re not at all efficient in terms of their footprint, so I imagine Korean Air is looking for a denser product.

Korean Air’s Boeing 787 business class seats
Korean Air’s Boeing 787 business class seats

So, what new seat could Korean Air choose? A few thoughts:

  • I assume Korean Air will select a “generic” seat from a major manufacturer, rather than a custom product; I assume this because that’s what Korean Air has historically done, and also because the filing has the name of the seat product crossed out, but with little further explanation, suggesting to me that it should be a product the DOT is already familiar with
  • I think it’s safe to say that the seat will have a door, both due to it being referred to as a “suite,” as well as mention of the aisle-side armrest not being movable
  • It’s important to understand that this could be a product that has an armrest that moves, but if there’s not sufficient clearance with the door, then the above regulatory filing is required (and I suspect that’s what’s going on here)
  • Korean Air has often used Collins Aerospace seats in the past, and I suspect that’s a trend that will continue

If you think of the most popular new “generic” business class products with doors, and if you consider Korean Air’s existing relationship with Collins Aerospace, I think two concepts are most likely.

I think one likely possibility is the Collins Aerospace Elements product. Starlux Airlines was the launch customer for this on the Airbus A350-900, and Etihad Airways will be installing these seats on 787-9s soon as well. This is an excellent reverse herringbone product with a door, which has some very nice incremental improvements over previous generation reverse herringbone seats.

Collins Aerospace Elements product
Collins Aerospace Elements product

I think the other likely possibility is the Collins Aerospace Horizon product. This initially debuted on Aeroflot A350-900s, but due to the trade restrictions in place against Russia, these A350-900s now fly for Turkish Airlines (and will soon also fly for Air India). This is a very nice staggered product with direct aisle access and doors.

Collins Aerospace Horizon product
Collins Aerospace Horizon product

So I’d guess that Korean Air will go with one of these types of products, though it’s anyone’s guess if that ends up being the case.

Bottom line

Korean Air will be introducing a new business class product in the coming months, which will debut on the Boeing 787-10, and then eventually be installed on all Boeing 777-300ERs. The airline is describing these new business class seats as suites.

We should find out the details of what Korean Air chooses in the coming weeks. I’m usually excited about a new business class product, though I also do like Korean Air’s current Apex Suites. Personally my money is on Collins Aerospace Elements or Horizon being the new product.

What are you expecting from Korean Air’s new business class?

Conversations (17)
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  1. Joshua H. Guest

    They need to do something about the Economy class on the A380's update them to the apex suites. You can't have this new wide body business class product out on 787's and 777's and then the A380 still stuck with the no direct isle access for everyone crap.

    1. ZEPHYR Guest

      The A380 is leaving in 3yrs time.

  2. Jerry Guest

    Still waaaaay behind SQ.EY.EK and many others..The menu hasnt changed for ages and the meals are a rushed service with cabin crew wishing to clear up ASAP.
    Inflight entertainment awful with very poor choice for non Koreans.
    Incheon Business lounge is a bun fight and again same old boring food.
    Try asking for wine and its as if your asking a huge favour.
    Cabin is very clean..girls are very polite
    ...

    Still waaaaay behind SQ.EY.EK and many others..The menu hasnt changed for ages and the meals are a rushed service with cabin crew wishing to clear up ASAP.
    Inflight entertainment awful with very poor choice for non Koreans.
    Incheon Business lounge is a bun fight and again same old boring food.
    Try asking for wine and its as if your asking a huge favour.
    Cabin is very clean..girls are very polite
    However as above Koreans dont normally travel with other carriers so they have nothing to compare it with.They would be enlightend if they did.
    By the way ive been travelling Business class for 20 years so i can speak with knowledge.
    SQ still the best by miles

  3. Dave Guest

    I'm waiting to see if they'll introduce air nozzles - that's the real news

  4. dko3tgk Guest

    Too bad. I like their Apex suite. I prefer it over the SQ, BR, OZ Smartium, transpac to Asia. APEX is the right amount of space and privacy in my opinion. but I understand if they consume too much space.
    A better scoop would be if they actually come back to Chase Ultimate Rewards. That's infinitely more impactful.

  5. Brianair Guest

    I’m really hoping Korean Air uses the Collins Aerospace Elements, Safran Versa, or Adient Ascent (reverse herringbone version) model for their new business class seat. We need more options for reverse herringbone seats with doors on those long transpacific flights. So far Starlux is the only one I’m pretty sure. Also, given that the other major premium airlines in Northeast Asia are all using or planning on using some type of staggered seat model as...

    I’m really hoping Korean Air uses the Collins Aerospace Elements, Safran Versa, or Adient Ascent (reverse herringbone version) model for their new business class seat. We need more options for reverse herringbone seats with doors on those long transpacific flights. So far Starlux is the only one I’m pretty sure. Also, given that the other major premium airlines in Northeast Asia are all using or planning on using some type of staggered seat model as their future business class seat (ANA - The Room, JAL - Safran, Air China - Recaro CL6720) Korean Air having a reverse herringbone seat would provide some necessary variety in the region.

    For the new first class, I hope they do a suite with floor to ceiling walls or curtains to allow for 100% privacy like Emirates or Air France. I was kind of shocked that the new JAL A350 and Qantas Project Sunrise first class suites won’t have it. Even the lauded SQ A380 suites don’t have it. I don’t understand why there aren’t more premium airlines with that in first class. I feel like it would provide a huge benefit.

    Speaking of which, are there any updates on the merger with Asiana? Last time I checked sources were saying it was most likely going to fall through. Not sure that is true or not. It wouldn’t surprise me too much to be honest because Skyteam (particularly the DL/KE JV) would have too much of a monopoly on routes to and from South Korea. From what I can understand, while South Korea has just 50 million people, it has a very high travel propensity and a large diaspora population around the world with a large portion that regularly travels to the motherland and are fiercely loyal to Korean airlines. This is a major reason why KE and OZ have such a large global network (especially in the US at least in KE’s case) and can fill up multiple daily A380s to places like LAX and JFK. It’s also why Korea has so many (albeit smaller) airlines, almost as many as much larger Japan in fact. I bet a lot of Koreans abroad would be unhappy with their Korean options being reduced to KE. Especially since it’ll inevitably lead to higher fares. Then there’s the Seoul to Jeju sky bridge. Imagine how dominant the new KE would be on it. I haven’t even mentioned the loss of a beautiful livery (and possibly 2 more if they merge the LCCs). Competition is better for all of us.

    1. Nick Guest

      I think reverse-herringbone seats are better choice if they're gonna make a "suite" business class seat, rather than staggered seats. Staggered suites except ANA THE Room and Qsuites look quite cramped. Sadly I think it's safe to say that KAL is opting for the Collins Horizon at this point...

      Speaking of KAL-Asiana merger, it's still going on, and I think this is a major news: KAL claimed that "Air Premia", South Korean long-haul LCC,...

      I think reverse-herringbone seats are better choice if they're gonna make a "suite" business class seat, rather than staggered seats. Staggered suites except ANA THE Room and Qsuites look quite cramped. Sadly I think it's safe to say that KAL is opting for the Collins Horizon at this point...

      Speaking of KAL-Asiana merger, it's still going on, and I think this is a major news: KAL claimed that "Air Premia", South Korean long-haul LCC, can compete against KAL well on the US routes, but the US DOJ disagrees (which is fair) with this. This basically mean that DOJ or FCT won't approve this merger, unless there is an airline with Asiana-level competiton in SK. Also, Asiana recently decided to sell their cargo division to a third party.

      Even if KAL acutally takes Asiana over, there would be no one - except KAL and other SkyTeam carriers - benefitting from this. Some routes' fares might increase as much as double and frequencies would decrease since basically all countries demamd KAL to give up some slots, and so on.

  6. iamhere Guest

    Not worth the article. It is one of the standard seats out there for purchase that many airlines already have.

  7. tom Guest

    KAL's APEX suite configuration on the B747 upper deck is spectacular. They also have 3 flight attendants taking care of about 18 passengers. Compare that to the cramped LH configuration with almost double the seats. I would be sad to see the APEX seats go. KAL service really has been improving over the years. They are a good choice for long haul travel (except for the missing Internet issue).

  8. Pete Guest

    I wouldn't be surprised if they dumped first class. If pax aren't buying tickets, there's no point wasting the space on staff travel & upgrades. It has to pay its way.

  9. K O Guest

    They already announced it would be Collins Horizon a few months ago. Can’t remember if it was a Korean source or what.

    1. KE Guest

      As rumored, Korean Air is planning to introduce Collins' Horizon seats.

  10. RK Guest

    I’m done with KAL. Last Friday ICN-LAS supposed to be newer prestige and equipment swap done prior to departure, after check-in at airport and no notification. I ended up middle seat and my husband had the aisle. Full so couldn’t re-assign. They should have at least let us know before boarding so I could have cxld and rebooked (on mileage so would have stayed one night or two). Hard and soft product is just too...

    I’m done with KAL. Last Friday ICN-LAS supposed to be newer prestige and equipment swap done prior to departure, after check-in at airport and no notification. I ended up middle seat and my husband had the aisle. Full so couldn’t re-assign. They should have at least let us know before boarding so I could have cxld and rebooked (on mileage so would have stayed one night or two). Hard and soft product is just too inconsistent and equipment is behind the times. Converting my remaining sky pass to Marriott points and bailing.

  11. Lee Guest

    Sure, KAL can install them a year after announcing them. But, LH can't do so eight years after announcing them.

  12. Mike O. Guest

    I'm guessing the 772ERs and 773 (non-ERs) will start being retired in the not too distant future?

    1. Nick Guest

      Not sure about the B772s but I'm sure that B773s won't stay that long in the KAL fleet. Their average age is 24.4 years as of now. But I do hope they at least retire B772s as well or re-configure them, KAL's B772s still have the angled seats and they deploy them on medium or even long haul flights.

    2. Brianair Guest

      Korean Air is kind of a corrupt airline. Not surprised they don’t have any urgency in retiring their 772 or 744 fleet.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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ZEPHYR Guest

The A380 is leaving in 3yrs time.

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Joshua H. Guest

They need to do something about the Economy class on the A380's update them to the apex suites. You can't have this new wide body business class product out on 787's and 777's and then the A380 still stuck with the no direct isle access for everyone crap.

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Jerry Guest

Still waaaaay behind SQ.EY.EK and many others..The menu hasnt changed for ages and the meals are a rushed service with cabin crew wishing to clear up ASAP. Inflight entertainment awful with very poor choice for non Koreans. Incheon Business lounge is a bun fight and again same old boring food. Try asking for wine and its as if your asking a huge favour. Cabin is very clean..girls are very polite However as above Koreans dont normally travel with other carriers so they have nothing to compare it with.They would be enlightend if they did. By the way ive been travelling Business class for 20 years so i can speak with knowledge. SQ still the best by miles

0
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