Woke up Tuesday morning with a rather bad hangover but managed to drag myself in the shower and ultimately into a cab to Beijing airport. Traffic was not too bad for a change and I arrived in Terminal 2 within 30 minutes. Did some last minute emails (no Internet in the DPRK!) and drank some Isotonic drinks which made me feel a lot better.
Terminal 2 is nothing special and get's a lot of flights to obscure places, including 2 Air Koryo flights to FNJ (Air China flies to FNJ from Terminal 2 by the way)
At 11 am I made my way past security and on towards Air Koryo's checkin. They actually have a seperate J ceckin and I had my boarding card and lounge pass within 60 seconds. Funny think is that Korean Air operates checkin desks for their flight to Seoul in the very next row of desks!
Checkin desk (used for J PAX)
Went past imigration and visited the lounge. Air Koryo uses the Air China lounge which is again used by Korean Air!
After a quick coffee our flight was called and I cought my first glimpse of my rise to the Hermit Kingdom - Air koryo's very recent aquisition and flagship, the TU204
Boarded quickly and settled into my comfy J seat. There are three rows in a 2-2 configuration, I was in row 2 and next to a quite friendly danish businessman. We had some good conversation about his frequent trips to Pyongyang.
Unfortunately photos are not allowed inside Air Koryo planes so all shots are "sneaked", the danish businessman acted as my "wingman" and kept an eye on the FAs. There had been cases of travellers made to delete all of their pictures so I was extra careful.
Air Koryo J class snaps, rather stylish and nice. I have no idea why they score only 1 star on Skytrax, I thought they were rather adequate for a 2 hour flight and probably offered more comfort than some US airlines.
Pushback and departure:
Despite the flight being only 120 minutes we got a full meal, condisting of cold cuts and curry. Not bad at all! drinks were served also with a choice of water, soft drink and beer.
Meal was followed by coffee. Note there was no milk, as everywhere in North Korea. Only powdered cream.
IFA consisted of a patriotic North Korean film:
Thanks were paid to the Great Leader when we entered DPRK airspace and shortly after we touched down in FNJ. Surely this airport has one of the longest taxies anywhere in the world.
The TU204 at homebase in FNJ
Arrivals is pretty new, the old Soviet style terminal has been bulldozed to the ground. We were in within 30 minutes and they had our mobile phones
Busy day in FNJ!
Terminal from the outside:
The old tower was still there but the old terminal was gone:
JS222 had also arrived:
Into town and first stop Arch of Triumph:
Buildings around the Arch and Kim Il Sung stadium:
People were training for the upcoming torch parade on Kim Il Sung square
Pyongyang at night
The next morning we got up at 05:30 as we were about to catch our first Air Koryo domestic flight!
Pyongyang at 6am can be very eerie!
Part 3 will focus on the three domestic flight from Pyongyang to Samjiyon, Samjiyon to Chongjin and Chongjin back to Pyongyang. All on an Air Koryo AN24! I hope you enjoyed my report!
ozzietukker From Netherlands, joined May 2007, 59 posts, RR: 0 Reply 2, posted (1 year 3 months 1 week 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 13290 times:
Nice report so far.
I am fascinated for any trips taken into the unknown what is North Korea still today.
I really want to take myself such a trip, but probably get myself in a lot of trouble, but would like to experience if it is so bad as the western media are saying as I do think there are a lot of great things about the country.
theobcman From UK - England, joined Nov 2010, 128 posts, RR: 0 Reply 5, posted (1 year 3 months 1 week 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 12935 times:
Really nice report. I think the pictures of Pyongyang are fascinating. Just a couple of things - Is milk is not available in DPRK at all ? Right ? Also when you say they took your mobile phones at the airport, then what happens ? Do they keep them until your return flight ?
Not really, if anything else most Asians are lactose intolerant so there is not much of a demand for milk to begin with. Second dairy is very resource intensive to make, something the DPRK does not have a lot of.
gabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 2802 posts, RR: 13 Reply 9, posted (1 year 3 months 1 week 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 12206 times:
Interesting report. Funny seeing pictures of Pyongyang all dark, compared to Seoul so close to the south!
Quoting gialloboy (Thread starter): Despite the flight being only 120 minutes we got a full meal, condisting of cold cuts and curry. Not bad at all! drinks were served also with a choice of water, soft drink and beer.
I like how they just pile everything on top of each other!
Knightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1536 posts, RR: 18 Reply 10, posted (1 year 3 months 1 week 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 11455 times:
Thanks for this really interesting report. For me this is the first trip report on Air Koryo Business Class. In a way it's probably good that you got the newish and modernish Tupolev from a safety perspective, although the TU-154 would have been more retro.
It's kind of strange how they just pile up the plates with grub to impress the foreigners entering the country when half the population is suffering from malnutrition.
Looking forward to your next post on the domestic flights.
TupolevTu154 From UK - England, joined Aug 2004, 2159 posts, RR: 30 Reply 16, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 6799 times:
Quoting ozzietukker (Reply 2): I really want to take myself such a trip, but probably get myself in a lot of trouble, but would like to experience if it is so bad as the western media are saying as I do think there are a lot of great things about the country.
I just got back from North Korea last week too, from an aviation tour of the country. They were extremely lenient with photographs on my trip!
Quoting theobcman (Reply 5): Also when you say they took your mobile phones at the airport, then what happens ? Do they keep them until your return flight ?
You put them into a bag, they put them in a small room in the airport and you get them back just before your flight out the country.
Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 10): n a way it's probably good that you got the newish and modernish Tupolev from a safety perspective
Air Koryo's aircraft are incredibly well maintained. They're all as good as new inside and out and the care and attention they give these aircraft in between each turnaround is admirable.
Quoting infinit (Reply 11): That's hard to imagine. I'd have pictured an endless cat fight between the staff at both desks!
North Korea likes to act very hurt that the country is split into two, and there's propaganda everywhere promoting the "reunification" of the country. As far as I could see, it's only really the two govermnents that have issues with eachother.