Korean Air Flew An Airbus A380 To Atlanta

Although Korean Air has withdrawn the Airbus A380 from commercial passenger service and has parked most of its fleet, one of the superjumbos was spotted flying from Seoul to Atlanta and back in recent days. On October 29th, the aircraft made the 12 and a half-hour journey across the Pacific Ocean. The following day, October 30th, the aircraft returned to its home at Seoul Incheon international airport.

Korean Air Airbus A380
Korean Air has a fleet of 10 Airbus A380s with an average fleet age of 8.6 years old. Photo: Getty Images

Flight details

The A380, registration HL7614, departed Seoul for Atlanta on October 30th at 01:03. Technically, it was actually supposed to depart the day before, at 23:30, but the one and a half-hour delay pushed the take-off into the next calendar day.

Crossing the international date line and flying 12.5 hours, flight KE8033 touched down at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport at 00:33. With about three hours on the ground, the aircraft then took off as KE8034 and returned to Seoul Incheon almost 16 hours later. It finally touched down at 08:16 on October 31st.

All times listed above are local.

Korean A380
The aircraft only stayed in Atlanta for about three hours before making the return journey to Incheon. Photo: FlightRadar24.com

Before this flight out to Atlanta, the A380 had been flying an Incheon-Guangzhou service on October 28th as KE865/KE866.

In fact, of the 10 A380s in Korean Air’s fleet, 9.6-year-old HL7614 is the only active superjumbo flying with the airline.

What was the aircraft doing in Atlanta?

Through some research, it looks like Korean Air is operating regular commercial passenger service to Atlanta as KE35 and KE36. However, this service uses the airline’s more efficient twinjet, the Boeing 787-9.

There’s not much information that can be found about flight KE8033 or KE8034. However, we did spot the fact that Korean Air’s cargo website lists the A380 on its weekly schedule – particularly on the days we spotted the flight. This confirms that at least one of the reasons for the flight was for cargo.

This flight, however, appears to very much be a one-off occurrence to Atlanta, as our search for additional Korean Air Cargo flights with A380 didn’t turn up anything else – at least for the month of November.

Korean Air Cargo
The A380 showed up as a flight on the airline’s cargo website. Photo: Korean Air Cargo

Without any word from the airline, it isn’t easy to know just exactly why the A380 was selected to fly to Atlanta – especially when Korean Air Cargo has other options. Simple Flying contacted Korean Air requesting more information about the flight. At the time of publication, no response was received from the carrier.

Regular service to Guangzhou

As stated above, the airline is using the A380 once again for service to Guangzhou, China. We reported recently that the flight is scheduled to operate every Wednesday as KE865 and KE866. Interestingly, however, the outbound flight to Guangzhou doesn’t show up too easily on search engines – not even on the airline’s own website. As such, we were only able to find Guangzhou-Incheon on certain days in November.

Have you flown on Korean Air’s A380 before? Please share your experience with us in the comments.

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