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Trip Report: Korean Air First Class ICN --> LAX

Flying business class International is exceptional already but flying first class on an Asian airline – is just WOW! Now I did my homework before booking Ross and my ticket home from Male, Maldives (MLE) to Los Angeles, CA (LAX). There were 3 options for me to get out of Male and into LAX without breaking up my ticket (i.e., booking on two separate airlines). The options were Korean Airlines (connecting in Seoul with a brief 45 minute initial stopover in Colombo to refuel), Qatar Airlines (connecting in Doha), and Emirates (connecting in Dubai).

Since Male is the antipode from Los Angeles (antipode is a great word – it means the exact opposite side of the earth), all 3 options were viable and pretty much took the same amount of time. When I looked up my reward redemptions, however, Qatar and Emirates, as expected, were much higher as no saver award types were available.

I was able to book us in first class for 105,000 miles and $85.00 in taxes and fees per ticket. Now, business class wasn’t much cheaper, about 20,000 miles less per person. But since this was an international flight, I really wanted to try first class.

We departed from Male on flight KE 474 operated by a 6 year old A330-200. First class consisted of 6 seats in a 2-2-2 configuration with half of them empty. They didn’t serve any welcome alcoholic drinks as it was Ramadan and we were in a Muslim country. However, once airborne, I had a glass of Perrier Jouet Rose which was delicious (and retails for about $300 a bottle). This initial flight is a bit awkward as you have to make a quick 45 minute layover in Colombo, Sri Lanka which is only 45 minutes from Male. So you basically take off and then land and have to deplane. We were served a very mediocre “snack” which consisted of a very sad looking sandwich which I passed on. Also, I asked three separate flight attendance if I had to go and get my checked luggage and re-check in at Colombo and they all said “yes” without really understanding my question – PS you do NOT have to go and get your checked luggage…it stays on the plane. But you do have to deplane with all your belongings.

A quick 45 minutes in the lounge and we were ready to board the same A330-200 bound for Seoul, South Korea. Once on board, it was much more like first class with the service, the food, and the drinks! I guess the flight attendants know that Colombo is a really quick flight so they don’t really do much for you.

There isn’t much to say about the flight to Seoul except that the first class pajamas and the lay flat bed were really comfortable (but less comfortable than the Kosmo Suites we got on our flight to LA. It was about 7 hours to Seoul and I slept most of the way (Ross was awake watching Real Housewives).

We landed in Seoul with a 6 hour layover (not fun at all but that’s the way it works). What was fun was we at least got access to the first class lounge. Seoul is an amazing airport – something I hope we can aspire to here in the US – and we ended up with a private room in the lounge which we quickly took a long nap in. We awoke, showered, and was ready to board our A380-800 to LA.

NOW THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT! There were a handful of Kosmo Suites in first class but we were the only two sitting there so we literally had the entire first class to ourselves which felt like we were flying on our own private A380. The service, the food, the drinks, everything was exceptional. We got the same pajamas and the lie flat beds were very comfortable with all the bedding and pillows you got. I like it really cold when I sleep so since we were the only ones in first class, the flight attendant lowered the A/C to ensure we were comfortable. I think I slept for a solid 5 or 6 hours out of the 10 hour flight.

I would 100% fly Korean Air again and I hear their Kosmo Suites 2.0 are even better than their predecessor!


Flight: 105,000 miles and $85.00 in taxes and fees per ticket

Points: Transferred 210,000 miles from my Chase Ultimate Rewards account (instant transfer)

Paid: $170 using my Chase Sapphire Reserve card and getting 3 points/$1 spent

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