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We flew by Korean Air from London Heathrow to Auckland, New Zealand and back last October / November as at the time they were offering the cheapest tickets for this route(!) We changed planes at stopovers in Seoul Incheon aiport between flights for a approx 4 hours going, and an overnight stay on the way back.
I was favourably impressed with this carrier. The plane to Seoul (London - Seoul going, and Seoul - London returning) was....one of the larger kinds of aircraft, and it had those individual TV screens for each person on the back of the seat in front. You could select from a range of recently released films on DVD, there were also family classics / 'oldies' and a couple of kids' choices on offer, which was great, given that it was such a long flight - this really made the time pass more quickly. The onward flight to and from NZ wasn't on such a big plane, and you had the standard communal film screen at the front of the plane showing just a few recent-DVD-released films - some made in Korea, which is fair enough (though the subtitles were nigh impossible to see given the plane's set up and their location on the screen).
I'm afraid the airline food did become a bit of a problem. You got breakfast, lunch and dinner at intervals throughout the flight, and there were usually two options - a western-style meal and a Korean choice. The Korean choice - I think at every meal - was invariably a dish called Bimbimbap. With slight variations in the type of pickled vegetable, it was always the same. Don't get me wrong - personally I enjoy Korean food, and when I lived in a place where there were Korean restaurants locally I quite often visited them, and regularly ordered Bimbimbap. On the plane this consists of a bowl of glutinous (sushi-style) rice served with various pickled or stir fried vegetables, possibly egg, sweetish braised / stir-fried tender beef or other meat, which you mix all together with soy and hot Korean chilli sauce. You also get a bowl of instant seaweed soup to wash it down - delicately flavoured, but rather nice.
The Korean Air Bimbimbap was certainly above average for airline food. But from reading other reviews, I can see why it wouldn't be to everyone's taste if you're not keen on this type of dish - that said, initially I thought it was pretty good. But having it served so often - and on one of the return flights, they ran out of the alternative option, so all there was available, meal after meal after meal, was bleedin' Bimbimbap, and eating that when there was nothing else on offer soon became something of a trial. (This has really stuck in my mind as a defining feature of our holiday and despite having liked Bimbimbap before, I simply can't face the stuff any more, not even now, more than six months later.) So the take-home message here is, you should take lots of alternative food options with you if you're flying any distance with these guys, and definitely if you have fussy kids. I think ours barely ate anything for the entire plane trip. (Though of course, if you're going to New Zealand, you have to eat any fresh fruit, meat or dairy products - e.g. cheese and ham sandwiches - before you get to the airport so be prepared to ditch anything you've brought too much of before the end of the flight.)
Other good points were the helpfulness of the airline attendants during the flights - also the little gifts (a 'cudddly' plane quivering keyring) they gave to young kids were a nice touch (with four flights we have a load of them all the same now, of course!) It was a pity that they asked passengers to keep the windows shut throughout the flight, even during the daylight legs, because I quite like - in fact one of my favourite parts of flying is - looking down at the landscapes below when I'm on a plane - but this just seems to be a policy of this airline. The loos were kept nice and clean (somehow) during the flight, which was also a great added bonus. The legroom and comfortableness of the seats after 14 odd hours sititing still wasn't great - but much the same as on other airlines I think.
We did have a problem on our return leg, which should've incorporated an overnight stay in an airport hotel in Seoul as part of the ticket. Our travel agent (Travelbag, who've now refunded the airport transit hotel room that we had to pay on the spot) loused this up and didn't make the booking, but the Korean air staff at Auckland airport were absoultely no use whatsoever when we were trying to determine whether our room had actually been reserved / booked ahead of time ("you'll just have to turn up and see what they say when you get there"). They also refused to ring ahead to Seoul to check on our behalf, and said they didn't know and couldn't tell us if there were available airport hotels nearby, which made for a pretty worrying first leg of the trip, especially as we were travelling with a three year old, and were due to arrive in Seoul pretty late in the evening. Admittedly, not booking the hotel was our travel agent's mistake, but with a few clicks on the internet the Auckland staff from Korean Air could have helped us find out about hotels in Seoul in about two minutes flat - even to confirm there were a few choices fairly near the airport would've been a great help - but just wouldn't do it, even though they could see quite clearly exactly how upset and distressed we were at the situation (blimey, but they were a useless bunch of stony-faced gits). I see from other reviews that unhelpful / austere staff is a previously-registered complaint for this airline; I'm afraid that this one experience with them in Auckland also bore this out.
Overall however, now knowing a few of the obvious pitfalls to look out for, I'd certainly consider flying with these guys again.
Being a young adventurer I decided I would backpack around Australia my budget being the big decider in who I flew with...Korean Airlines many people laughed..It cost me approximately 600 pounds for a return flight to Sydney ( they also fly to Brisbane)My flight was approximately 24 hours with a 5 hour stop in Seoul. Customer Service was pretty good, we went through check in swiftly and boarding the plane wasn't a problem. Once on board though some staff had difficulty understanding me and I them. The aircraft itself was clean but was a little old, the seats looked shabby and the blankets were thin and there were no pillows. The aircraft Korean Air uses are B747-400, B747-300, B747-200, B747 SP, B777-200, A330-300, A330-200, MD 11, A300-600, A300B mine was a B747-300. The seat itself was ok, I was allocated a window seat but it didnt recline that much so sleep was a little difficult. There are several other varities of seat available depending on price my seat was an economy seat and was according to the specifications 17.2 inches wide, recline to 27 degrees, and provide 33 to 34 inches of seat pitch. The temperature in the cabin was stifling, and made me feel a little unwell which on a long haul flight is not what you need The customer service was relatively good although the food was awful.."a traditional" korean dish was on offer or chicken noodles...neither of which were appealing and I didn't fancy the dehydrated seaweed soup either. I wasn't offered any alcholol but soft drinks were available... The actual flight was pretty bad due to turbulence and so I wanted to sleep but unfortunately the staff kept waking me up which I found annoying but when I wanted a drink the wasn't one to be found. The inflight entertainment was not that great, the was the usual family film and then some appaling Korean version of Top of The Pops. The music wasn't much better pumping techno, k
orean hits, and some other music I wasn't sure if it was actually music or aliens from another planet trying to communicate with us. The landing was good and no problems with my baggage. Also while in Australia I found it easy to change my flight and the staff even called me to confirm my schedule all at no extra charge. All in all I think you probably get what you pay for on Korean Airlines, it is geared towards the Korean traveller definately, I am not sure if I would travel with them again, it depends on the price!
I flew Korean air with my two children in December 2000 to Sydney. It was the only flight available at the time and the cheapest (I guess that must tell me something. The plane was comfortable, with I thought a little more leg room than on a British Airways flight we had been on to LA. The cabin staff were friendly and came to your assistance when called, even if they were a little solom faced. My bigest grumble would be the food, which was uneatable, especially as I was travelling with two teenagers, with traditional English stomaches, it was a good job we had taken extra food supplies to keep us going. We only had a two hour connection wait at Korea on our outward flight which soon passed, but our return journey we had to wait 6 hours for a connecting flight - which was sheer hell. The food in the airport was only Korean, and they would only accept Korean or USA currency (which considering we had travelled from Australia was a pain). We had to sit for six hours in a sticky airport with no drink or food to keep us going. My tip here if you are travelling Korean air and not used to the food - take plenty to eat! A good book to read - as the Movie screen may not be viewable - and they were not very brilliant films anyway. I will certainly pay extra and go BA next time.
It may nt sound the most likely choice, but Korean Airways is an excellent way to get cheaply to Japan, Australia and New Zealand, provided you don't mind changing planes in Seoul. Where is the best place to buy tickets on Korean Air? This is my best advice based upon 10 years experience of selling discounted airline tickets - but if you think you already know everything, and just want to find out the cheapest place to buy it for this airline, then skip to the last paragraph! Lets face it, all airlines can get you from A to B, sometimes you have to change at C, sometimes you have to hang around at C, but if price is your main concern, read on .... First, as an ex-travel agent, let me explain how the system works. Nearly all airlines belong to a cartel known as IATA, which amongst other duties, helps to regulate the official prices between each pair of worldwide destinations. My first piece of advice is, never phone the airline for the official fare, except as a last resort - their staff are trained to extract the highest fare they can get away with, and they are never going to tell you that one of their competitors has a better deal, or that you can save money going the next or previous day. Furthermore, they can only sell at the officially agreed price. Luckily for us consumers, and unluckily for the airlines, they cannot sell all their seats at the official price, especially if a much better, more direct airline has the same price. For example, if the official fare to, say, Bangkok is £600 from airline A (non-stop in 12 hours) and the same price from airline B (19 hours with a 7 hour wait changing planes in Karachi airport) then it is obvious which will sell out first. In order to generate market share, less popular airlines will unofficially discount their fares through wholesalers known as "consolidators" - these can sometimes save you more than half of the official far
e. These consolidators appoint specialised agents, and sometimes you can even save more money if the consolidator will deal with you direct. You may be surprised to learn that, depending on the length of the journey, the consolidator is only charging you £10 - £40 more than the "factory" price given to them by the airline. Contrary to popular misconception, it is not risky to deal with these so called "bucket shops" - If they let you down, they can be heavily fined or even jailed - everything is covered by the government ATOL scheme, so it is a lot safer than, for example, paying for a three-piece suite in advance to a High Street furniture chain. To summarise, these are my recommendations: Contact the airline for their best official price, on 0207 495 0077 Call the consolidator on 0800 980 1954 (Skylord - ATOL 3550) You have got to book very early for the peak dates - but if they are full, don't despair, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) as I know another firm who have almost always got seats - they won't be so cheap, but they will still be a lot lower than the alternatives if it is a busy period.