Modesto2 From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 2819 posts, RR: 5 Posted (5 years 10 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 27799 times:
I've been afflicted with the travel bug for a long time, especially since I started working for the airlines. Thankfully, my schedule this month included a continuous stretch of seven days off, and I vowed to take full advantage of the time to travel again.
Unfortunately, plans fell through with a few friends to travel to Istanbul or New York, so with my eagerness to travel, I randomly messaged a friend living abroad in Seoul, Republic of Korea. She replied with much enthusiasm for me to visit for a few days - my first trip to Korea.
That was Tuesday night... I quickly booked a hostel, and the following morning, stopped by the library to grab a Lonely Planet tour book and was at LAX for a 1045 Southwest departure to SFO. The loads for SFO-ICN on UA893 for that day were wide open in United Business and also looked promising for the return on Sunday afternoon.
UA893 SFO-ICN B777
After arriving at SFO terminal 1, I transferred to the beautiful international terminal and found my flight, UA893, at gate 94. I checked in with the gate agent who eventually processed my jumpseat request and was offered a pre-board, about 50 minutes prior to departure. On board, I introduced myself to the cabin crew and flight deck crew and settled into the last row of United Business, row 15 on this 777.
View of my aircraft from the international terminal:
View of the rear United Business class cabin from seat 15A:
Business class was less than 50%, so I had the comfort of two seats to myself. We pushed from G94 on time:
Taxi and take-off were quick and uneventful, and I grew quite comfortable for the 11-1/2 hour flight to ICN. Lunch service started shortly thereafter and included...
Smoked salmon, Genoa salami and vegetable crudite with a sun-dried tomato dressing
Fresh seasonal greens
Buttermilk ranch or balsamic Dijon vinaigrette
Braised short rib of beef with red wine demi-glace
Potato pancakes and oven-roasted root vegetables
Eli's Caramel Tiramisu
The food was good, although I find CO's BusinessFirst food to be tastier and more substantial.
I took a brief nap, but stayed awake for the overwhelming majority of the flight to study my newly acquired tour book. By this point, I didn't know a thing about Seoul and tried to learn as much as possible in just a few short hours. Thankfully, I studied the book and made plenty of notes about attractions and history - I was ready for some serious sight-seeing!
The last meal was the pre-arrival meal before our descent into ICN.
Beef pastrami with baby Swiss on rye
Oven-roasted fingerling potatoes
Nice view of the moving map display:
Overall, it was a great flight. Honestly, I could never complain about a free flight Thanks to United and its extremely friendly cabin and cockpit crews on this flight for a great experience. United is always my favorite airline for international jumpseating as they always offer Business upgrades and great hospitality. Although I find its Business class product rather outdated and somewhat inferior to other products, I still enjoy a free ride anytime!
After just two days and a whirlwind tour of the fantastic city of Seoul, I reluctantly boarded my return flight. A special thanks to my friend, Young, for her great tour guide skills. Thanks to her, I was able to see much of this fantastic city (and country) in just a few hours. The highlights definitely included a tour of the DMZ between North and South Korea, as well as some fantastic food, gorgeous palaces, and amazing tea houses.
UA892 ICN-SFO B777
After a very early arrival at ICN, I waited for the crew to arrive and spoke with them to approve my jumpseat request. Barely an hour prior to departure, the agent finally processed my seat assignment, and that initiated a mad dash through passport control, security and the beautiful terminals of ICN to the gate.
Huge departures screen!
On the way, I saw a neat-looking Russian plane:
I finally arrived at the gate and snapped a couple more photos of my 777:
A gate agent escorted me aboard to check in with the cockpit crew again. Once again, the entire cockpit and cabin crew were extremely friendly and hospitable and made me so comfortable and welcome. With a modest load factor in Business, I changed to row 13 and got the window seat with an empty seat next to me.
Push back and taxi was timely, and I was able to catch this quick photo of Korean Air buildings at ICN:
I listened to channel 9 as we climbed out of ICN and entered Tokyo Control airspace. At that time, the First Officer made a PA pointing out Mt. Fuji on the right side of the plane. Needless to say, I took advantage of the 'Kodak moment' and have plenty of documentation to prove it
Meal service began and included...
Smoked salmon, Parma ham and Cheddar cheese appetizer
Lemon aioli sauce
Orange herb-roasted breast of chicken with demi-glace
Basmati rice with vegetables, green beans and red onions
The chicken was particularly moist and tasty. I settled in for the 10 hour return flight to SFO and tried to sleep as much as possible, knowing that our arrival time was estimated at 0745 - a full day ahead!
After a decent nap, it was breakfast time. I was so eager to eat that I mistakenly cut off the flight attendant as she was offering the meal choices and ended with the fruit (instead of the omelette). Still, it was tasty
Fresh seasonal fruit plate with creamy yogurt
We had an on-time arrival to SFO and that concluded an amazing two-day journey to Seoul. Thanks again to United for their relentless hospitality!
I snapped a last photo of my plane as I boarded BART
As always, many comments are much appreciated! I don't write as many of these reports as I should, but I'm trying to make more of an effort to write such reports after each of my international journeys.
Triple7man From Thailand, joined May 2005, 763 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (5 years 10 months 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 26290 times:
Thanks for the TR. I'm glad you had a pleasant experience on UA. What do you do for UA?
Fuji San is always beautiful when it's covered with snow. I had the opportunity to climb it 3 years ago and got 6 stitches up there.
LH4116 From Sweden, joined Aug 2007, 1715 posts, RR: 18
Reply 5, posted (5 years 10 months 20 hours ago) and read 25716 times:
You got to be a lucky guy to get a free ride in Business class!
The food looked absolutely amazing, almost up to par with some European airlines. The seats on the other hand, were a bit outdated as you said. But I assume they will replace them soon.
Aaron747 From Japan, joined Aug 2003, 8292 posts, RR: 26
Reply 6, posted (5 years 10 months 18 hours ago) and read 25550 times:
Look at the difference in freshness of the salad vegetables between the SFO origin and ICN origin. How embarassing that UA's product out of its Pacific base pales in comparison to a distant outstation. No surprise there, nothing has changed since I last used UA biz in 2005.
If you need someone to blame / throw a rock in the air / you'll hit someone guilty
Modesto2 From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 2819 posts, RR: 5
Reply 8, posted (5 years 10 months 16 hours ago) and read 25257 times:
Quoting Conrad1402 (Reply 7): How does the inflight entertainment compare to other carriers?
Unfortunately, it the entertainment system left much to be desired. The screen is relatively small with a few video channels but no AVOD or touch-screen like most other airlines use nowadays. With that said, I didn't use the PTV beyond the moving map display.
I'm eager to try UA's new C class, but apparently, it's only on the 747 and 767 fleet right now. Time to take another trip...
CityofAthens From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (5 years 10 months 15 hours ago) and read 25106 times:
Thanks for the report; I love the photos of Mt. Fuji, reminds me of my geography textbooks.
By the way, I don't speak Russian but I think that Tupolev 154 you saw @ ICN says "Vladivostok Avia" which probably means it was operating a flight from its base in Vladivostok, a port city in Russia's Far East.
United's international Business Class product doesn't look very competitive but as you said, a free flight is a free flight; some airlines would never allow their employees to ride up front so you are very lucky!
Quoting CityofAthens (Reply 9): some airlines would never allow their employees to ride up front so you are very lucky!
Most U.S. airlines have competitive travel benefits, including the ability to ride in premium cabins as a non-revenue passenger. I don't work for UA, but I fly for another airline, and our reciprocal pilot jumpseat agreements allow pilots of each airline to fly or "jumpseat" on the other airline's flights. As I mentioned, UA is particularly good about upgrading pilots on international jumpseats. Thanks United
Crjflyer35 From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 668 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (5 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 23775 times:
Great report! I wish I would have gone out and seen more of Seoul when I was stationed in Korea. When I ETS'd I flew UA892 home! I even got upgraded to Business class as well. This trip report brought back some memories! Great share.
Ok, wait for the RJ to pass, cleared to push tail south Mike, and you're cleared to spin #2 in the push.
Ryanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4757 posts, RR: 25
Reply 18, posted (5 years 9 months 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 16577 times:
Thanks for the report.
Quoting Modesto2 (Thread starter): United is always my favorite airline for international jumpseating as they always offer Business upgrades
Makes me wonder if this is one of the many the reason why most US carriers are in the financial position they are in today. These "free upgrades" happen seemingly very frequently to a point where frequent fliers almost expect it to happen. Definitely NOT the way to go to protect the integrity of a supposed "premium" product.
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
Afay1 From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 1293 posts, RR: 2
Reply 19, posted (5 years 9 months 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 16254 times:
Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 18): These "free upgrades" happen seemingly very frequently to a point where frequent fliers almost expect it to happen. Definitely NOT the way to go to protect the integrity of a supposed "premium" product.
Obviously that debate continues--I would add that since I have the ability to channel on which carrier my business travel is taken on, I mostly choose United based on the occasional upgrades vs the certainty of not getting them on some other carriers. It is mostly not "premium" due to its current ancientness on some aircraft. Plenty of other flag carriers that don't upgrade hardly run a premium operation.