In this review, we’ll take a look at Korean Air’s lounge in the domestic terminal of Gimpo Airport: the main hub for flights operating between Seoul and local destinations.
Welcome to the KAL Lounge.
Note: The information and pictures presented here are drawn from my own experience of using the KAL Lounge (domestic) at Gimpo Airport on 24 January 2020. Operating hours, admission criteria, lounge services and other details may change at any time without prior notice.
Airport name : Gimpo International Airport
IATA code : GMP
Country : Republic of Korea (South Korea)
Major city served : Seoul
Terminal used : Domestic Terminal
Lounge name : KAL Lounge
Operating airline : Korean Air (IATA code: KE / Abbrev.: “KAL”)
Intended users (by route type) : Domestic airline passengers
Location : GMP Domestic Terminal, 4F (access via 3F departures level), airside zone
Operating hours : 05:30-21:30, open daily; subject to adjustment depending on flight operations
Date of visit documented in report : Friday, 24 January 2020
Lounge entitlement basis : Prestige Class (Business Class) ticket for Korean Air flight KE 1331 (GMP-RSU). Detailed lounge admission criteria are available on the airline’s official website.
Related links : Official Site
The KAL Lounge is located on 4F at the Domestic Terminal of Gimpo Airport (GMP), although access is from the main departures level on 3F. Note that it’s located in the airside zone – i.e., within the restricted area after security – so you’ll need to check in and complete all pre-departure formalities before you can access the lounge.
Here’s a simplified map (posted at one of KE’s GMP domestic check-in counters) showing the way to the lounge.
After the security checkpoint at 3F (no immigration procedures here since it’s a domestic terminal), turn left towards the stairs…
…and head up the steps to the lounge entrance. There’s also a lift that can take you to 4F; just walk round to the back of the staircase.
Here’s the door! Now then, let’s talk about what’ll get us inside.
The detailed admission criteria are set out on KE’s official website. Unfortunately, because of the way their website is built, I’m unable to link directly to the lounge information page. You’ll need to navigate to the entry for the specific airport via the Worldwide Airports directory (click on “Input airport code” and type “GMP” without the quote marks, then hit the search button). Once the page for “Seoul/Gimpo (GMP)” loads, click on “Lounge Information” on the side menu and then scroll down – past the entry for the international lounge – until you reach the part that describes the domestic lounge (which is the subject of this review). Whew.
Briefly, as of this writing (and subject to change without notice), the KE Lounge is open to the following travellers:
- Prestige Class passengers
- SKYPASS Million Miler Club and Morning Calm Premium Club members (and 1 accompanying passenger)
- SkyTeam Elite Plus members (and 1 accompanying passenger), with conditions and entry requirements as stated on the website
- SKYPASS Morning Calm Club members, with conditions and entry requirements as stated on the website
Another important point: Priority Pass cardholders are no longer entitled to access this lounge. Refer to the sign set up at the entrance for details (image below).
Interiors and Seating
The KAL Lounge has a relatively compact footprint. In fact, it’s possible to enjoy a sweeping view of almost the entire facility as soon as one steps over the threshold.
There’s a good mix of seating options available. If you’d like to charge up any devices, go for one of the solo armchairs (there’s a power point fitted into each side table).
The part of the lounge that overlooks the departures hall has a somewhat different character from the main seating area, even though there’s no physical separation between the two.
I settled into one of the chairs facing the large plate-glass window. Here I enjoyed a range of benefits: a more private setting (since I was turned away from the bulk of the clientele), a spacious stretch of table space, my very own charging point…
…and a fine view of the airport’s main departures hall.
Of course, no lounge experience is complete without a visit to the buffet. (Or in this case, the snack bar.)
Let’s have a look at the spread they’ve laid on for us.
One side of the buffet counter has a set of beverage dispensers.
Swing round to the other side and you’ll find an extension of the beverage buffet. Flavoured syrups, cream, and sweeteners for your coffee, or bagged tea if you’d rather have that instead.
A little further on are the snack trays. Packaged treats and a pile of cupcakes. Based on other passengers’ accounts of their lounge visits (over the past year or so), it appears that the available selection doesn’t change much – if at all.
Underneath the counter are two small refrigerators stocked with chilled beverages. Canned drinks in one, sealed cups of water in the other.
With this fairly limited selection to work with, I did my best to put together a simple pre-flight breakfast.
Of course, I could have chosen to buy something more substantial at one of the airport’s food shops or convenience stores … but this complimentary meal suited me just fine. 🙂
KE’s official website mentions the following services as available at the KAL Lounge. I’ve listed them here as originally written, with my own comments in parentheses:
- Beverages (see above)
- Snacks (see above)
- Reading materials (I believe there’s a shelf near reception with newspapers and other printed matter)
- Television (wall-mounted screens displaying either broadcast news or airport information boards)
- Wireless internet (network name and password available at reception)
- Laptop port (if by this they mean charging points, they’re available next to many of the seats in the lounge; see above)
Korean Air’s domestic lounge at Gimpo Airport doesn’t offer much in the way of space, facilities, or catering. That said, it’s important to consider the market it was designed for. Unlike passengers on international flights, those flying domestically can cut things fairly close around here. Check-in ends 20 minutes before departure, boarding ends at the 5-minute mark (per KE policy). As such, many of the KAL Lounge’s patrons will probably linger for half an hour or less, leaving little time to enjoy such things as showers or hot meals.
With that in mind, the suite of services provided here seems more than adequate. It also helps that the space itself is beautifully designed, sporting a refined and modern look that fits rather well within the newly refurbished interiors of Seoul’s domestic hub.
Of course, I’m not above wishing for enhancements – especially around the buffet 😉 – but I wouldn’t demand any major changes. After all, even as things stand, the KAL Lounge offers everything I require as a domestic airline passenger (and then some).
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