Air Koryo Business Class Review
Flight JS152 Beijing to Pyongyang
Recently, I went to North Korea to attend their first air show at Wonsan, the Wonsan Air Festival.
There are only two airlines fly to North Korea at the moment; Air China and Air Koryo.
Air Koryo operate majority of flights into and out of North Korea from Beijing, Shanyang, Shanghai and Vladivostok and seasonal flights to SE Asia and Kuwait.
The natural gateway to the DPRK, also known as "The Hermit Kingdom" is from China. Most traveler would start their journey from Beijing.
I am going to review my business class flight with Air Koryo to see whether their Skytrax 1 star rating really stands?
The 1 star definition from Skytrax website: "The 1-Star Airline rating represents a poor quality of Product delivered across the assessment sectors, combining with low and/or inconsistent standards of front-line Staff Service for the Onboard and home-base Airport."
Currently, they are the only 1 star airline on Skytrax. I want to review their flight to see are they really the worst airline in the world?
Air Koryo use Terminal 2 at Beijing Capital. Check in open about 3 hours before flight.
The process is smooth and orderly.
There are separate Business Class and Economy Class check-in counters.
Business Class Lounge
Air Koryo Business Class customers are invited to use Air China Lounge in Terminal 2.
Most airlines operate out of Terminal 2 also use this common lounge (so as Korean Air which depart at the same time as Air Koryo!)
The lounge is spacious but in need of refurbishment. There are plenty of food and beverage on offer.
Chinese dishes with Rice or pasta.
Chinese steam dim sum (mainly buns)
At 11:30am, 30 minutes to our scheduled departure time, I arrived at our gate with our group members lined up and eagerly await to board.
Flight Number JS152
Beijing to Pyongyang
Tupolev 204-100 series, Reg: P-633
Anyoung hashimnikka (Korean word of Hello with respected tone)
Air Koryo flight attendant stand at door 1L to welcome every guest onboard.
There are 3 rows of Business Class in a 2-2 configuration on this Tu-204-100
I am sitting at 3C, the last row aisle seat on the right side.
The legroom is estimated more than 40" seat pitch, more than most US and European short haul flights.
The seats are very comfortable with leather cover and a silk pillow.
Flight attendant came around with towel service, welcome drink (water)
A quick peek of the full economy cabin.
Due to the usual traffic congestion at Beijing Capital International Airport, our takeoff time was delayed by 30 minutes. At 12:45pm, we finally airborne from Rwy 36R and heading towards NE direction towards Shanyang and Pyongyang.
In-flight service started after we reach cruising altitude, which is about 8,000m above sea level.
Flight attendant took off their blue jacket and came around with fresh table linen.
(Air Koryo have a uniform change since 2014 with the advice from their great leader Kim Jong-Un, they've done away with the red jacket)
A round of drinks was served with peanuts.
I tried out the Korean Grape Soda, which taste really sweet.
Then, a multi-course lunch is served on this 1.5 hours flight!
Korean wraps with vegetable and meat.
Fried prawn and boiled salmon
When I thought that was the lunch, the flight attendant brought out another tray. It is Kimbap! (Korean Sushi)
Note how neatly it was arranged!
Flight attendant came around with beer bottle to top up our glasses.
The Korean grape soda I was drinking.
Air Koryo coffee/tea cup.
In-flight entertainment include several fold down screen (like on the B737 and A320).
It was playing Korean Armed Force band singing with instrument playing.
Before we start our descend, the flight attendant passed the aisle for duty free sales.
None of the usual Western brand of perfume/liquor/cigarette is on the trolley. It is full of North Korean goods! (famous for handicraft and Ginseng)
Approaching Pyongyang Sunan Airport which is 50 km away from the city.
Another round of hot towel service was passed before landing.
With a smooth landing, I was even allowed to see the cockpit of Tu-204 after landing!
My flight with Air Koryo in Business Class was a great one. They're punctual, professional, polite and speak good english. For the 1.5 hours flight from Beijing, their offering put most US and European airlines to shame!
While they're certainly quite different to the mainstream airlines service offering. I'd say keep an open mind will get you a long enjoyable experience with them!
I won't make the judgement whether Air Koryo is 1 star or not. I will leave my pictures to show and you to judge it.
What do you think, I'd love to hear about your opinion!