Korean Air: An Experience Other Airlines and Companies Should Study and Replicate

Never have I experienced the level of care, consideration, thoughtfulness, attention to detail, and efficacy from an airlines until meeting the amazing Korean Air team. You can tell from the moment you step up to the counter to check in your bags, that they are here to serve you.

Korean Air is celebrating their 45th year of service, and I wonder if for 45 years they have been providing this level of service for passengers, and how did they get their start? That of course requires me to do some research (which I haven’t done as of yet, because I’m too busy enjoying this cappuccino that the attendant just brought me!).

Now let me share a disclaimer. My husband and I are both medallion members with two super awesome airlines, and with our travel records (his definitely, definitely more extensive than mine) there are added perks when you travel with these airlines and partnering airlines. There are various upgrades and accommodations that you receive as a medallion member (or even just First-class passenger) that you don’t receive as a non-member (or Coach-class ticketed passenger), but I have to say, that even when I observed the treatment and accommodations of Coach and non-Medallion members flying with Korean Air, they still had a great experience throughout their travel.

VIP Treatment
Medallion members and First-Class ticket holders get a VIP treatment that makes you feel as though this is your private jet and your personal staff serving you.

Arrival at the Istanbul, Turkey ticket counter was met with smiles and greetings. They immediately synced our medallion status with our tickets so that it showed across the board on all of Korean Air’s computers. They then offered to plastic wrap our bags for free (a service that many people prefer when traveling around the world as it helps to protect it from bumps and bruises, as well as sticky fingers that may want to snatch an item or two from your precious cargo).

To and From Gates: Personal Guides to Escort You
The staff offers to have a personal guide to escort you to your medallion club lounge, direct you to any airport shops or restaurants that you might be interested in visiting (even escorting you there if needed) and then they escort you from the lounge (or store) to the departure gate. Yes, they come inside of the lounge and personally assist you with getting to the gate. There’s not just the traditional announcement from the lounge’s front desk (that you hope you don’t miss hearing) that indicates boarding times of flights.

With Korean Air they personally collect you and make sure that you get to your gate on time (personally handing your boarding pass and passport to the gate agent, and waiting until you board the plane). But it didn’t end there. Korean Air also has a feature that offers this same service when you arrive at each of your destinations (including connecting flights). All of this is optional, and honestly I don’t know why anyone would pass on this.

So when we arrived in South Korea we were greeted at the plane doors by a young man carrying a computer-printed sign with our name. This young man then escorted us through the security check points, answered questions about South Korea’s history, growth, culture, customs, and people (not to say that that will always be an experience that will be shared—but this was ours, and most likely because we asked the questions). Then our private escort guided us through the airport to the lounge and then returned in time to escort us through to the gate, graciously hand us off to the gate agent, and send us on our way with wishes for safe travel.

Flight Crew Experience
On board of every Korean Air plane, and now I’ve been on two, so of course I would boldly say “every”, right?!? the flight crew takes your experience up about ten or more notches. From being greeted by each crew member (even pilots), to receiving fresh and very comfortable pajamas and slippers aka “house shoes” (which normally the slippers are the only thing you receive in Business and First Class along with your toiletry bag), Bose noise-canceling headphones (Delta also offers these on select flights), an awesome toiletry bag with tons of goodies–Delta airlines also has a super awesome Tumi toiletry bag that I love collecting, and I believe it’s Air France that carries some scrumptious toiletries both in their bags and restrooms.

Speaking of restrooms…even Korean Air’s on board restrooms are spacious, comfy, and filled with travel essentials (and some pleasant potpourri that make being in that space more than tolerable). I assumed that the same accommodations are made in the Coach section of the plane. I couldn’t imagine their level of care dropping significantly, so I checked it out…wowsers, not only were they favorable, they were twice the size of the First and Business Class cabins. Why? Because Korean Air uses common sense, there are more Coach passengers than Business and First Class (and also more families traveling with small children in Coach), so you build out their restrooms with this in mind.

Class, consideration, and dignity. Just awesomeness!

So back to the pajamas…after you have slipped on your pajamas (in the restroom of course) you return to an attendant who is waiting by your seat to offer you comfy bedding that they will place over your fully-reclined seat that converts to a bed, and then they give you a fluffy blanket and pillow. I must add that Delta also has an amazing blanket and pillow for International flights. I wanted to ask for one of each to take home. But Korean Air is the first airline experience that I’ve had with full bedding for added comfort.

The Food
Oh my goodness…so I’ve already ruined my detox from my trip a few weeks ago to France, so I was rarely thinking of my food consumption when I returned to Paris several days ago, and then while in Turkey for a few days, and definitely not while aboard these fabulous planes. I just don’t have that level of willpower to say “no” to local cuisine. Besides I convince myself that their food is more organic. Yeah, like I said, I have no willpower. So anyway, from dinner to breakfast, each and every meal I had on Korean Air was absolutely scrumptious. Whether you chose Korean dishes or Western dishes (I sampled both), you will be amazed (unless you have a bland and barely exposed palate). I had the Bibimbap (and other Korean delicacies) and a glass of Gewürztraminer 2012 (that I enjoyed with my fruits and cheeses) on my flight from Turkey to South Korea.

On my flight from South Korea to Los Angeles I had the Jedong Beef, foie gras (which I normally pass up but sampled this go around), a huge salad (that I barely put a dint in) and a partial glass of Chateau Lascombes 2006 (from the village of Margaux in Bordeaux). I’m not a red wine lover or even a wine connoisseur, so this was a big girl step that wasn’t that bad. I could actually smell and taste the fruits. I think being 30,000 feet in the air may help with your senses. Maybe.

Breakfast heading to South Korea I chose an omelette, Danish, fruit and cheese, and orange juice. There was no way I could eat the yogurt or cereals offered. One reason, because I knew I couldn’t eat that much food, and the second reason is because I was trying to show that I had some willpower in limiting my amount of dairy, empty carbs, and sugar. So both flights I elected to skip that portion of what seemed like a six-course meal. Two hours before arriving in Los Angeles, my breakfast choice was scrambled eggs, cherry tomatoes (garnished with sliced red onions and tangerines), a slice of bacon, two delicious cups of cappuccino (one of which I’m sipping as I type this), and a cinnamon Danish.

Both flights I’ve been absolutely stuffed to capacity. So on this leg to Los Angeles I’ve chosen to skip the fruit and cheese because I have no more room in this belly that I’m trying desperately to get back in tip-top shape! Matter of fact as I sit here typing I feel like an ever-expanding balloon. Who could possibly eat all of this food and not pass out? Jeesh!

Arrival in Los Angeles: See you Later Korean Air!

Landing in Los Angeles was just like landing in South Korea, individual salutations by each crew member including the co-pilot, and then a group thank you and bow to the entire plane of passengers. Korean Air shows from the beginning to the end of your journey that they value you as a customer and guest with their airlines, and they value their careers and roles not just with the airlines but in the world.

Korean Air as Servant Leaders
You can tell when people are servant leaders and when people simply take a job that requires service of others. Korean Air truly has a staff, a team, a family of individuals that value excellent service and express that through their daily interaction with guests as well as amongst themselves. I will definitely travel with Korean Air again, and this time I will remember to take the complimentary pajamas and slippers with me. I naively left those comfy threads behind.

I strongly recommend that if you ever get the chance to fly with Korean Air that you seize the moment and then share your experience so that others can benefit from your viewpoint. People are quick to post negative comments about negative experiences, so let’s pour on the love when we receive an awesomely rewarding experience!

~Natasha

Copyright 2014. Natasha Foreman Bryant. All Rights Reserved.

2 Comments

  1. Awesome!! Thank you so much for sharing your experience on Korean Air. Ron & I can’t wait to take a flight on it anywhere. LOL We have admired the flight attendants professionalism and their fabulous uniforms while traveling Internationally for a long time.

    Happy Belated Birthday also!!!! See you soon. Love you. Sandy

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