How To Fly from The U.S. on Korean Air to Seoul in South Korea [Plane Types & Seat Options]

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Korean Air, which is the flag carrier of South Korea, offers some stellar premium cabin products on their flights to/from the U.S. Importantly, Korean Air is a SkyTeam airline that connects the United States to the Far East via Seoul.

As a result, flying on Korean Air is undoubtedly one of the best ways to fly to Asia. Their frequent flyer program is extremely useful, even though their only transfer partner is Marriott.

If flying to South Korea to experience K-Pop, amazing Korean street food, or touring the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is on your bucket list, flying on Korean Air is definitely one of the best ways to kickstart your vacation.

Here, we’ll shed light on the various Korean Air aircraft, seat maps, and routes! Let’s get started.

Seat Options by Aircraft Type

Korean Air operates a hodgepodge of different aircraft on routes to/from the United States. They are, however, very consistent with keeping the same planes on the same routes.

All in all, you can expect a total of 5 aircraft operated by Korean Air to America:

  • 747-8
  • 777-300ER (v1) with Kosmo Suites 2.0
  • 777-300ER (v2) with Kosmo Suites 2.0 and Apex Suites
  • A380-800
  • 787-9
  • A330-300

Although there are countless variations of the aircraft above, we’re going to (for the sake of brevity) refer to these 5 aircraft as 747, 777 v1, 777 v2, A380, 787, and A330, respectively.

Let’s take a look at Korean’s route and aircraft table:

RouteFlight No.AircraftCabin ClassesFrequency
Atlanta (ATL) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)KE 36747First, Business, EconomyDaily
Chicago (ORD) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)KE 38777 (v1)First, Business, EconomyDaily
Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)KE 32777 (v1)First, Business, Economy4x weekly
Honolulu (HNL) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)KE 54747First, Business, EconomyDaily
Honolulu (HNL) – Tokyo-Narita (NRT) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)KE 2A330First, Business, EconomyDaily
Las Vegas (LAS) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)KE 6777 (v1)First, Business, Economy6x weekly
Los Angeles (LAX) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)KE 12/18A380First, Business, Economy2x daily
New York City (JFK) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)KE 82/86KE 82: A380

KE 86: 747

A380: First, Business, Economy

747: First, Business, Economy

2x daily
San Francisco (SFO) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)KE 24/26/214KE 24/26: 777 (v2)

KE 214: 747

777 (v2): First, Business, Economy

747: First, Business, Economy

KE 24/26: Daily

KE 214: Irregular

Seattle (SEA) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)KE 20777 (v2)First, Business, Economy6x weekly
Washington D.C. (IAD) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)KE 94777 (v2)First, Business, EconomyDaily
Boston (BOS) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) {from April 12, 2019}KE 90787First, Business, Economy5x weekly

Korean Air currently operates flights from 10 U.S. cities, with the addition of Boston in April bringing up the count to 11. This diverse route network means you’ll have plenty of options to choose for flights to/from Korea!

Best Points to Earn to Fly Korean Air

Korean Air has some great award redemptions with their own frequent flyer program, known as SKYPASS.

However, there are a bunch of different ways to use points and miles to fly on Korean Air. For example, you can use Delta SkyMiles or Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles to book Korean Air.

Korean Air also partners with Alaska Airlines, Etihad Airways, and Emirates, so you can use Alaska Mileage Plan miles, Etihad Guest miles, and Emirates Skywards miles to book your travel on Korean Air.

Overall, we believe that the best points to earn are either Marriott or American Express Membership Rewards. These 2 currencies are transferable to most major airlines, which will dramatically help in getting enough points to fly on Korean Air.

Korean Air First Class Options

Korean Air Kosmo Suites 2.0
Korean Air’s newest first class product is Kosmo Suites 2.0. Image courtesy of Korean Air.

Korean Air actually offers first class on all of their routes to/from the U.S. Interestingly, they are one of the few airlines that offer first class in their 787 Dreamliner as well! This is great news — it means Korean Air will provide plenty of first class award availability, especially if your departure airport is flexible.

When flying first class on Korean Air, the experience in the air is phenomenal, but the ground experience disappoints most people…so just keep that in mind.

Korean Air has 3 main first class products on these routes, which we rank in this order:

  1. Kosmo Suites 2.0 (Enclosed Suites)
  2. Kosmo Suites (Open Suites)
  3. Sleeper (Apex Suites)

As you can probably imagine, the Kosmo Suites 2.0 are considered to be their state-of-the-art, newest, and best first class product.

The Kosmo Suites 2.0 are spacious with sliding doors for even more privacy. The planes that offer Kosmo Suites 2.0 are generally subject to change; however, the rule of thumb is that on U.S. routes, all 747s and 777s have the Kosmo Suites 2.0.

(Korean Air sometimes performs aircraft swaps, so just be aware of that when booking.)

Currently, Kosmo Suites 2.0 on the 777 offer 20.6″ in width and 83″ in pitch, while Kosmo Suites 2.0 on the 747 offer 20.1″ in width and 83″ in pitch. At first glance, you may think that a 20.6″ seat is nothing special. But when the armrests are lowered in bed mode, your true bed width will be around 24-25″.

The Kosmo Suites 2.0 cabins aboard the 777 contain 8 seats across 2 rows in a 1-2-1 configuration, as shown in the following seat map:

Korean Air 777-300ER First Class Seat Map
Korean Air 777-300ER first class seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

For the most privacy, you’ll likely want to choose seats in row 2 due to the distance from the lavatories and galley.

You’ll find these new enclosed suites with sliding doors on these 777 routes:

  • Chicago (ORD) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)
  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)
  • Las Vegas (LAS) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) on KE 24/26
  • Seattle (SEA) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)

For couples traveling together in first class, it will probably be best to fly on the Kosmo Suites 2.0 located on the 777s — the Kosmo Suites 2.0 layout on the 747s isn’t conducive to having a conversation with a companion.

You’ll see that the 747’s first class cabin is arranged in the nose of the aircraft, with 3 rows in a 1-1 arrangement as follows:

Korean Air 747 First Class Seat Map
Korean Air 747 first class seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

As you can see, it will be very difficult to have a conversation with your traveling companion if you’re situated in this configuration!

The best seats are going to be 1A and 1J since there will never be anyone walking past you. The “worst” seats will be 3A and 3J due to their proximity to the lavatories and galley.

Find Korean Air 747s with this Kosmo Suites 2.0 configuration on the following routes:

  • Atlanta (ATL) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)
  • Honolulu (HNL) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)
  • New York City (JFK) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) on KE 86
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) on KE 214

Now that we’ve finished talking about our first place winner, let’s move on to second place: Kosmo Suites on the A380.

These Kosmo Suites are essentially open suites that look like this:

Korean Air Kosmo Suites
Korean Air Kosmo Suites. Image courtesy of backpackerlee.wordpress.com.

Notice that there aren’t any doors that enclose your seat. Still, it’s got an open-air feel that can be very private while also not being suffocating. Each Kosmo Suite is really large, measuring up at 26.5″ wide, 83″ in pitch, and 79″ long in bed mode.

The A380 first class cabin consists of 12 Kosmo Suites in 3 rows, with 4 seats each in a 1-2-1 configuration:

Korean Air A380 First Class Seat Map
Korean Air A380 first class seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

Generally, you would want to avoid 1A and 1D due to the proximity to the lavatory and the foot traffic that might entail. I personally think seats 3E and 3J would be the best choice, since there shouldn’t be any foot traffic to/from the lavatories. Couples may enjoy sitting together in 3D and 3E.

You’ll find the A380 first class Kosmo Suites on these routes:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)
  • New York City (JFK) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) on KE 82

The very last Korean Air first class product is interesting: aboard the 787 and A330 in first class, you’ll be seated in Apex Suites. This is a curious choice, because it’s actually the same product in business class.

On both the 787 and A330, the first class seats consist of 1 row of 6 seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. All of these 6 seats feature direct aisle access thanks to the innovative Apex Suite design, which looks like this:

Though not cutting edge, these private suites are a great way to cross the Pacific Ocean. The Apex Suites on the 787 measure up at 20.8″ wide and 82″ in pitch, which is still a huge seat.

The seat map looks like this:

Korean Air 787 First Class Seat Map
Korean Air 787 first class seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

The best seat would probably be 1A, as it is a true window seat and is furthest away from the lavatories and galleys. If you’re traveling with a partner, you’ll want to select seats 1A and 1B for maximum comfort and privacy.

Find this 787 first class cabin here:

  • Boston (BOS) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) from April 12, 2019

Finally, the same Apex Suites are on the A330, which is operated on a 1-stop flight to Seoul-Incheon (ICN) via Tokyo-Narita (NRT). The first class seats on this A330 happen to be the newest offering available, at 20.6″ wide and 83″ in pitch.

The 6 flat bed seats are arranged identically to those on the 787:

Korean Air A330 First Class Seat Map
Korean Air A330 first class seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

In this case, the lavatories are actually located on the left-hand side of the cabin, so the best seat on the A330 is going to be 1H, followed by 1G.

Find this first class cabin aboard the A330 on this route:

  • Honolulu (HNL) – Tokyo-Narita (NRT) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) 

Bottom Line: Overall, the best Korean Air first class seats are known as Kosmo Suites 2.0. You’ll find those on the 777s and 747s. The runner-up seats are the “regular” Kosmo Suites on the A380, which are not enclosed like the Kosmo Suites 2.0. Finally, the Apex Suites are utilized on the 787 and A330. 

Korean Air Business Class Options

korean air business class
Image courtesy of KoreanAir.com.

Now let’s talk about business class, which Koren Air refers to as “Prestige.” As you will find out, the Apex Suites are the best business offering by Korean Air.

Specifically, our first place winner is the A330’s Apex Suites. These seats are 20.6″ wide and anywhere from 78″-80″ in pitch. The 18 business class seats are arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration across 3 rows as shown:

Korean Air A330 business class seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

As you can see, there are lavatories and business class galleys located at the back of the cabin, so you’ll want to stay away from the rear as much as you can. The best seats would be 7A or 7H for maximum privacy. For couples, choose a seat pair that includes a window seat such as 7A and 7B, or 7H and 7G.

The A330 wins as our best business class product from Korean Air because these Apex Suites are the largest of the different “Prestige” offerings.

You’ll find the A330 business class cabin as shown on this sole route to/from the United States:

  • Honolulu (HNL) – Tokyo-Narita (NRT) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)

Our runner-up is the 787 Apex Suite, which is slightly wider and shorter than the A330 Apex Suites. Specifically, these business class seats are 20.8″ in width (0.2 inches wider) and 75″ in pitch (3-5″ shorter).

But the seating configuration is similar to the A330:

Korean Air 787 Business Class Seat Map
Korean Air 787 business class seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

Since the lavatories (not visible) and galleys are at the back of the cabin, the best seats are going to be 7A or 7J.

You’ll find this 787 business class layout on this U.S. route:

  • Boston (BOS) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) from April 12, 2019

Next, the 777 has 2 versions, which we need to discuss. There was no difference in first class, but the difference in business class is quite stark.

Some 777s have Apex Suites, while other 777s have ordinary lie-flat seats in a 2-3-2 configuration. Because Apex Suites are much more private and feature a preferable seat map, you’ll want to select the Apex Suites when possible.

The 777 Apex Suites are 20.6″ wide and 75″ in pitch, and there are 42 business class seats spread out across 7 rows in a 2-2-2 configuration as shown below:

Korean Air 777-300ER Business Class Seat Map v2
Korean Air 777 business class Seat Map v2. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

As a traveler, I would probably pick seats 14A or 14J at the back of the cabin to avoid the lavatories and galleys. Seats in row 7 are by themselves, but they’re also close to the lavatories, so you trade extra privacy for possible disturbances.

Here’s the important part to remember: 777s that have Apex Suites are in a 2-2-2 configuration (we’ll discuss the others below…in last place). At the moment, routes with this seat map are:

  • Seattle (SEA) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)

This is all subject to change, however, with operational challenges, inclement weather, maintenance requirements, etc.

The final Apex Suite offering is on the 747 — these are the narrowest of all Apex Suites used by Korean Air, measuring 20.1″ wide and 75″ in pitch.

There are 48 business class seats in total on the Korean Air 747, and they’re spread out on the upper and lower decks as follows:

Korean Air 747 Business Class Seat Map Upper Deck
Korean Air 747 business class seat map upper deck. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.
Korean Air 747 Business Class Seat Map Lower Deck
Korean Air 747 business class seat map lower deck. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

When flying on the 747, you absolutely need to pick seats on the upper deck. Specifically, choose window seats on the upper deck; they have a huge storage compartment on the side! The best seats would likely be 20A or 20J.

You’ll find the 747 with this business class layout on Korean Air’s routes as follows:

  • San Francisco (SFO) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) on KE 214
  • Honolulu (HNL) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)
  • Atlanta (ATL) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)
  • New York City (JFK) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) on KE 86

This exhausts our Apex Suites options, which are the best business class seats on Korean Air.

If you can’t fly a route that has the Apex Suites, your next best option is known as the Prestige Sleeper aboard the A380.

Korean Air A380 Business Class
Korean Air A380 business class. Image courtesy of airliners.net.

These seats each measure 21.6″ wide and 74″ in pitch. There are an astonishing 94 fully lie-flat seats in a 2-2-2 configuration, but not all of them feature direct aisle access.

Your seat map looks like this:

Korean Air A380 Business Class Seat Map
Korean Air A380 business class seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

The seats in row 20 will be the best, as there’s tons of extra room due to the exit row. Furthermore, it’s far away from the lavatories and galleys. Row 7 is the last ideal, since it’s close to the lavatories and galleys in front.

You’ll find the A380’s Prestige Sleeper seats on these routes:

  • New York City (JFK) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) on KE 82
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)

Our very last option is on the old 777s, which don’t feature the Apex Suites. These Prestige Sleeper seats are 20.6″ wide and 74″ in pitch. There are 56 lie-flat seats arranged across 8 rows in a 2-3-2 configuration:

Korean Air 777-300ER Business Class Seat Map
Korean Air 777-300ER business class seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

Only B, D, F, and H seats have direct aisle access in this seating configuration, and your best seats will be in row 15, which has the most privacy and is furthest back in the business class cabin.

You’ll find these 777 seats on the following routes:

  • Chicago (ORD) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)
  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)
  • Las Vegas (LAS) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)

Korean Air Premium Economy Options

Unfortunately, Korean Air does not currently offer premium economy seats on any U.S. routes.

Korean Air Economy Options

Korean Air 747 Economy
Korean Air 747 economy. Image courtesy of knaviation.net.

Finally, let’s talk coach. While Korean Air has a bunch of different first and business class products, their economy seats are all pretty much the same.

All the seats are 18″ wide and 33″-34″ in pitch. This is actually a great situation to be in if you’re flying in economy — these seats are quite large.

Our Korean Air economy class ranking is as follows:

  1. A380
  2. 787
  3. 747
  4. 777
  5. A330

First, the A380 wins out because of the number of preferential seats available and the experience of flying on the A380 itself.

This aircraft is ridiculously quiet, which significantly enhances your inflight experience. The A380 economy cabin consists of 301 seats spread out in a 3-4-3 configuration as follows:

Korean Air A380 Economy Class Seat Map
Korean Air A380 economy class seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

The best seats will be 47D, 30D-J, 52B/C, and 52H/J. Overall, if you plan far enough in advance, there should be multiple great seats to choose from.

You’ll be able to fly Korean Air’s A380 on these routes:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)
  • New York City (JFK) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) on KE 82

The next best economy seat is on the 787, which features state-of-the-art construction and engineering. You’ll have one of the most comfortable rides in the sky on the 787, and there are plenty of preferential seats to choose from.

This aircraft’s 247 economy seats are arranged in a 3-3-3 configuration:

Korean Air 787 Economy Class Seat Map
Korean Air 787 economy class seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

The best seats will be 45C/G, 44B/H, 29A-C, and 29G-J. There’s lots of extra legroom available in all of these options, which will make your flight much more comfortable.

Fly the 787 on this route:

  • Boston (BOS) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) from April 12, 2019

Our next winner is the Korean Air 747, which arranges its 314 economy seats in a 3-4-3 configuration as shown here:

Korean Air 747 Economy Class Seat Map
Korean Air 747 economy class seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

The best seats in economy on the 747 are 50A/K, 49B/C, 49H/J, 28A-C, and row 38. However, row 38 and 28 are close to the lavatories/galleys, which can impact your inflight experience.

  • San Francisco (SFO) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) on KE 214
  • New York City (JFK) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) on KE 86
  • Honolulu (HNL) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)
  • Atlanta (ATL) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)

Our next spot goes to the 777. There are 227 seats in the economy seat map, which is laid out in a 3-3-3 configuration:

Korean Air 777-300ER Economy Class Seat Map
Korean Air 777 economy class seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

The best seats are in row 28, which is situated at the exit row and has a lot of extra legroom.

You’ll be able to find this 777 economy cabin operated on these routes:

  • Seattle (SEA) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)
  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) on KE 24/26
  • Chicago (ORD) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)
  • Las Vegas (LAS) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)

The very last economy class seat we’ll be talking about is on the A330, which is only offered on one route. It has 248 economy seats, which is surprisingly a lot for this aircraft.

These seats are arranged in a 2-4-2 configuration as follows:

Korean Air A330 Economy Class Seat Map
Korean Air A330 economy class seat map. Image courtesy of seatguru.com.

Interestingly, the middle seats in rows 58-60 are only 2 abreast. But all the side seats are in pairs as well, so you have many good options here for traveling with a companion.

You may choose to sit in rows 28, 29, 46, or 47 due to the extra legroom available, though the closeness to the lavatories and galleys is a consideration to keep in mind.

The A330 flies on 1 route operated by Korean Air to/from the United States:

  • Honolulu (HNL) – Tokyo-Narita (NRT) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)

Final Thoughts

We made it through Korean Air’s conglomeration of different aircraft and seats! As you definitely know by now, the first and business class seats used by Korean Air are not consistent at all.

Whether you are looking for Kosmo Suites 2.0 in first class or Apex Suites in business class, this guide provides a one-stop shop for all of Korean Air’s routes, cabin classes, and aircraft.

As a reminder, beware of aircraft swaps, especially at the last minute, as these can change your inflight experience for better or worse. Happy traveling!


Featured Image: Courtesy of Shutterstock.com

FAQ

What's the best way to book Korean Air first class?

Korean Air does not offer first class bookings using partner airline miles. As a result, your only option is using Korean Air SKYPASS miles. One-way first class in the off season will cost 80,000 Korean Air miles.

Korean Air SKYPASS is transfer partners with Marriott.

For more information on booking Korean Air first class, check out our step-by-step guide!

What's the best way to book Korean Air business class?

Korean Air offers the most award availability on their own flights by a long shot. Still, if you’re very flexible and you don’t want to use Marriott points transferred to Korean Air SKYPASS, you have several options.

Korean Air charges 62,500 miles one-way during off-season!

Delta charges 95,000 SkyMiles to book a one-way ticket in business class on Korean Air. Air France/KLM Flying Blue charges approximately 100,000-115,000 Flying Blue miles for the same ticket.

You can also look into using Alaska miles, which charges 105,000 miles for round-trip business class (one-way is not allowed).

For more information, check out our in-depth guide on the best ways to book Korean Air business class.

What are the best ways to book Korean Air premium economy class?

Korean Air doesn’t offer premium economy on any of their flights, so there won’t be an applicable redemption you can make.

What's the best way to book Korean Air economy class?

Alaska Airlines charges 70,000 miles round-trip. Delta charges 80,000 miles round-trip. Air France also charges 80,000 miles round-trip. Oddly, Korean Air charges 105,000 miles round-trip.

Stephen Au

About Stephen Au

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Stephen has been privileged to enjoy many premium cabin products and 5-star hotels, thanks to his love for travel hacking. A petroleum engineer by trade, Stephen caught the travel bug in college when he traveled to Asia several times. Within 2 years, Stephen has earned millions of points and miles, enjoyed several business class cabins, and stayed in luxury hotel suites in 14 countries.

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