Korean Air is the national airline of South Korea, as well as the largest airline in the country, and is one of the founding members of the SkyTeam alliance, the 2nd largest alliance after Star Alliance. Since 2006, Aeroflot is also a member of SkyTeam.
Check in began 3 hours before departure at stands 42-47
and went quickly:
At the customs check, a friendly employee asked whether I was carrying any cash, to which I jokingly replied that, while I did have some, it wouldn't be enough to make her happy. "How do you know how much money I would need to be happy?" she rejoined with a smile. "I don't know," I said, "but I know that I wish I had more..." I couldn't think of anything more clever to say.
Before the security checkpoint:
Gate 22 (across from the restrooms and the arcade):
On the way to the gate:
The plane has docked:
Boarding was delayed until 7:45 PM.
Service in Russia never ceases to amaze me: news of the delay and an apology were first announced in English, then Korean. After a while, almost as an afterthought, they also decided to announce that the plane was delayed in Russian. No apology, though. Sadly, this kind of lack of respect for their fellow countrymen is not unusual in Russia.
Looks like somebody was trying to find out the cause for the delay. I think you can tell just from the body language of the airline staff what kind of response they got.
The lovely Korean flight staff. They were kept waiting, too.
At last, boarding time:
Passengers piling through the gate:
A view back on the line:
And a last quick shot of the plane:
The flight was conducted aboard a Boeing 777-200, which had three cabin classes:
Business, or "prestige", class:
And economy class, arranged in the standard 3-3-3 configuration:
The plane didn't look new, but was pretty well kempt.
On top of each seat there was a set of accessories: a small pillow, a bottle of water, earphones and a bag with disposable slippers, a toothbrush and toothpaste.
The back of each seat was equipped with a personal entertainment system, which featured video and audio content, games, a map of the flight, etc. There was also a USB port and a clothes hook.
The choice of entertainment in Russian wasn't very large, but this was the case with all languages besides Korean and English. I ended up watching Madagascar 3.
The pocket of each seat contained the usual: safety procedures, stickers for conveying your wishes to flight attendants while you're asleep, an airsickness bag, a flight magazine, a magazine to supplement the in-flight entertainment system "Beyond", and a duty-free catalog.
After going over the safety procedures, the plane was ready for takeoff.
Takeoff was smooth, and happened very suddenly, before I was expecting it. I'm used to planes taxiing onto the runway and pausing momentarily before accelerating and taking off. Or, if the pilot is experienced, taxiing onto the runway and accelerating without pausing. This time, the plane taxied away from the gate, maneuvered onto the runway and took off, all at the same, seemingly unhurried pace. I'm no expert on aircraft, but I was sure that we weren't going fast enough to actually get off the ground. An excellent job by the pilots.
The seatbelt light wasn't on for very long, either.
Immediately afterwards, the flight attendants cheerfully distributed wet wipes to all the passengers, then handed out honey-roasted nuts, and pineapple juice.
Dinner was served shortly.
The flight attendants offered us a choice between bibimbap (a traditional Korean dish consisting of rice with diced vegetables, meat, and egg with hot sauce, with a side dish of soup), chicken, and beef. Even though I had eaten at the airport, I was still really hungry, and since I'd eaten bibimbap before and didn't find it as filling as I would've liked, I settled on the beef.
A Korean dish on a Korean flight would have been the proper way to do it, of course, but I figured I would have plenty of opportunities to try Korean cooking where I was going. Here's my meal:
We were offered both red and white wine. The utensils were metal, except, for some reason, the forks, and the wine glass was made of real glass.
Our flight map:
The bathroom was standard, and not as clean as I would've liked. This, considering that a flight attendant had given it a quick clean literally right before I went in.
An hour before landing, passengers received hot wet towels, juice and water (these were also offered periodically throughout the night). The breakfast silverware included a metal fork.
Breakfast consisted of an omelet, ham, potato patties, yogurt, two sweet buns, and some fruit.
A view of the plane's wing:
The weather in Seoul was warm (compared to Moscow) and rainy, with low and thick cloud cover. Descent was slow while we navigated through the clouds.
Before landing, they announced the number of our gate and of our baggage claim, and for those making a connection, their next flight's gate and time of departure. This information also became available on the Beyond entertainment system, under the "Information" tab.
As I have mentioned, it was raining in Seoul.
This sign was over the entrance to the terminal. Welcome to Korea:
Incheon International Airport in Seoul is one of the largest in the world, but pretty well organized and convenient for passengers, including those on connecting flights.
Directions are straightforward and easy to read, and are written in both English and Korean.
The walls were covered with photos highlighting some of the attractions of South Korea:
A view of the airfield:
Quarantine area and immigration services:
Baggage claim information:
On the way to claiming my baggage:
Baggage claim 3 made no mention of our flight, though our baggage had already been unloaded and was making its way around the conveyor belt. I guess the Frankfurt and Dubai flights had arrived more recently and pushed ours off the announcement board.
The arrivals area:
Some more views of the airport:
All in all, I liked the airline and would recommend it to others. However, it does seem that Korean Air works to a different and lower standard when it comes to their domestic flights.
The Seoul-Jeju flight, which left from Gimpo International Airport, the second largest airport in South Korea, seemed more like a flight with RyanAir or Thomas Cook than a flight with a full-service national flag carrier.
The well kempt but aging interior of the Boeing 737-900:
Refreshments were offered only once (though the flight was little over an hour long):
But the flight attendants were cheerful and attentive as before:
And I loved the airport itself:
At the time of this trip, the airport was having an exhibition dedicated to the 2012 Chrysanthemum festival, as a result of which the place was overflowing with flowers and colorful compositions:
These last two things definitely softened my last unfavorable impression of Korean Air. Well done.
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