Korean Air Inflight Duty Free Shopping

lf15c3350Korean Air Duty Free Sky ShopKorean Air is the undisputed king of the inflight duty-free world. The flag carrier’s SkyShop notched up enormous sales of nearly $200m in 2012. Yet it’s not just the size of Korean Air’s duty-free bank balance that’s impressive. The airline is an innovator too, opening the world’s first flying duty-free shop in 2011.

The onboard shops are to be found onboard three of Korean Air’s new 10-strong fleet of A380 superjumbo aircraft, which fly from the capital Seoul to Bangkok, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, New York and Paris. The shops are located in the rear part of the A380’s lower deck in front of the stairs leading to the upper deck. There’s only enough space for the stores to showcase a few best-selling beauty and liquor items.

The order in which passengers are invited to browse the store depends on how much you’ve paid for your ticket. First-class passengers are naturally first up, followed by Business Class customers, and then finally everyone else. If you do decide to buy, cabin crew will take your order and then deliver it to your seat.
Let’s talk money. Korean Air accepts five different currencies for cash payments onboard: Korean won, US dollars, Japanese Yen, the Euro and the Chinese Yuan. The airline also accepts travellers’ cheques and credit card purchases of up to $1,500 ($975).

Eager Internet shoppers will be happy to learn Korean Air does offer an online pre-order service, which can be accessed at http://www.cyberskyshop.com/ENGLISH/index.aspx. Passengers have to make their orders at least 48 hours before your flight leaves Korea. Alternatively, you can order over the phone. Call 080-656-4545 if you are inside Korea, or 08000-6564545 for international orders.

Note that if you spend a minimum online of $500 (£422), you will receive a discount coupon worth 30,000 Korean Won (£17.50). You can redeem the coupon on your next purchase as long as you spend 50,000 Korean won (£29) or more. Passengers can also gain SKYPASS, the airline’s frequent flyer reward programme, by pre-ordering online and accumulating SKYPOINTS. A thousand SKYPOINTS can be transferred into 500 SKYPASS miles (or be used to receive free gift items).

Back onboard we find that cosmetics is easily the top-selling category for Korean Air. Skin brightening products such as Guerlain’s Blanc de Perle Brightening Foundation ($59/£39) are big business in this part of the world. Anna Sui, Lancôme, SK-II, Alex Cosmetic, Kiehl’s and Biotherm are some of the other brands stocked. We particularly like the travel exclusive Benefit First Class Glosses. It’s a colourful gift pack of four lip glosses priced at $33 (£21.50), and would make a great gift for a teenage daughter or young female relative.
Among the fragrances offered onboard is Lolita Lempicka’s delightfully feminine L’eau en Blanc: a fruity fragrance with a bouquet of white violets, raspberries and musk, housed in a delicate pink, decorated bottle ($55/£35). At the other end of the perfume spectrum comes Bulgari’s latest men’s fragrance: Bulgari Man Eau de Toilette ($55/£35). This macho scent exudes woody, oriental notes, and is presented in a strikingly minimalist, clear bottle.

Liquor is Korean Air’s second best-selling product category after cosmetics. Koreans love their Scotch whisky and the airline’s selection includes super-deluxe blends such as Royal Salute 21yo ($112/£73) and Ballantine’s 30yo ($331/£215). Our favourite, however, is the beautifully balanced Balvenie Triple Cask, which is matured in bourbon, refill bourbon and sherry casks. Tasting of toffee, vanilla and mellow spice, it’s a real malt whisky lover’s treat ($104/£67).

Not many airlines sell genuine Apple products. Korean Air is the exception to the rule. It sells a retina display fifth generation, 32GB iPod touch (wi-fi) for $363 (£263), and a new 16GB iPad Mini for $382 (£248). The rest of the airline’s electronics selection is a little disappointing, however. We do like the trendy pair of Bang & Oulfsen headphones ($145/£94), however.

Pearl jewellery is very popular in Asia and Korean Air stocks a particularly good range. The stunning Mikimoto black pearl necklace, for instance, is a very stylish piece incorporating a 0.08-carat diamond ($2,050/£1,333), which would be perfect to wear for a formal occasion. In contrast, the attractive and much cheaper $200 (£130) Mikimoto pearl earrings are simple enough to be worn more casually.
Korean souvenirs and gifts are thin on the ground. However, at least Korean Red Ginseng, famed for its health-giving properties, is sold onboard in capsule form. Two bottles containing 100 capsules each are priced at $35 (£23). After a long, tiring flight, ginseng might just be the thing to put a bit of spring into your step.

Pros
Online pre-order
Excellent range of cosmetics and jewellery
Apple iPads and iPods available onboard

Cons
Not enough Korean gifts and souvenirs
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