I have just returned from a long flight and am still a bit jet lagged but will post anyway. Overall i give Korean Air a 7 out of 10.
December 26, 2000
Korean Air Flight #082
Flight Time: 6H40
Aircraft: B747-400 HL7402 "Visit Korea 2001" titles
Arrived at JFK terminal 1 which is the nicest out of all the terminals at JFK in my opinion. We arrived three hours early to find people already in line for check-in. Agents arrived two hours before the flight to start giving out boarding passes and checking luggage. I asked for seat 50A which is a window seat in an exit row with lots of legroom as i am over 6 foot tall but i found out that with 34 inches of seat pitch, i could have been seated comfortably in any row of the aircraft. The aircraft pushed back on time which was 11:30 in the morning and the flight attendants at the front of each cabin bowed to us, then the safety announcements were done on video in korean and then in english. Before boarding the flight i called my friend at JFK tower and asked if he could give us priority. We taxiied out and cut infront of about 10 planes waiting for takeoff. We took off at 11:43 on runway 31L. The takeoff roll was about 40 seconds. The flight to ANC was smooth. It took us over the Great Lakes and Canada toward ANC. Out of all the flights on this trip, this one the only one in which a menu was passed out. Here were the meal choices:
Selected French red or white wine
Selected Cocktails and Spirits
An Assortment of non-alcholic beverages
Coffee and Tea
Special Korean Dish, "Bibimbap" (had directions for eating it on the back page of the menu)
Beef Daube Nicoise
I had the Bibimbap which was rather good...lots of rice and wow the hot pepper paste really lives upto its name.
After lunch the flight attendants, who spoke little english, instructed all passengers to put their window shades down. This was not an option, it was mandatory. I didnt particularly like this aspect cause i like to see whats going on. The flight attendants at Korean Air work really hard and get little breaks. The one male attendant, i believe was an inflight supervisor was not liked by the female flight attendants. Everytime he'd make a request the other flight attendants would roll their eyes as they looked away. I couldn't understand what they were saying but i know the comments had to be negative. Anyway, we then watched a movie and then had another beverage service before landing in ANC. We landed on runway 6R at ANC. The approach and scenery was beautiful as we were allowed to open our shades about an hour before landing.
We taxiied and parked and were allowed to exit the aircraft for the one hour technical stop at ANC. We were given transit boarding passes and were allowed to wonder through the duty free shop and restaurant.
December 26, 2000
Korean Air Flight #082
Flight Time: 7H45
Aircraft: B747-400 HL7402 "Visit Korea 2001" titles
We reboarded at ANC and there was a change of crew. We pushed back and taxiied for the runway. I forget what time it was but it was still light out in ANC so it had to be around 3:00 in the afternoon or so.
This flight took us northwest of ANC, over the bearing sea and than over the Kamchatka Peninsula. About an hour out of ANC meal service started. This was the menu for dinner:
Codfish with Hot & Sour Szechuan Sauce
Chicken with Curry Sauce
Dessert-small chocolate mousse cake
I had the cod which was very good. Lots of accompanying rice and veggies. Had a side of pickles which were really good. After dinner, the window shades needed to come down again, and movies started. We saw two more movies and watch CNN and Korean news networks and some music video's. No PTV's so everyone watches the same thing. The music choices they offerered made the time go quicker. The video's were kinda boring. We continued toward Seoul heading between Russia and Japan taking a direct cut over the East Sea. Before landing we were served a snack which was a sandwich with turkey, pork, and cheese. It wasn't very good. The meat made the bread very soggy. We were allowed to put our window shades back up for the approach into Seoul. It was just getting dark in Seoul and we were to land around 5:30 Seoul time. We made an approach from the south and flew over the new airport at Inchon which is huge. Looks very nice. We landed at Seoul Kimpo a little early
and parked in a line up of Korean Air 744's. We disembarked and were bussed to the terminal and went to the gate for the HKG flight. Kimpo is rather old and boring but has lots of duty free shopping. We had an hour wait and then boarded our next flight
December 27, 2000
Korean Air Flight #605
Flight Time: 3H30
Aircraft: B747-400 HL7492
This flight i was seated in row 28A which is an exit row seat again. It was the first row of the economy section and was before the wing. We again pushed back on time and the aircraft was piloted by Captain Crawford who sounded Australian. Every Korean Air flight I was on had at least one non-Korean flight crew member. We left Seoul and this flight was filled to capacity as was our flight to Seoul. We proceeded south towards Cheju island and then a right turn direct to Shanghai. We had a meal choice of Fish or Chicken but by the time they got to us our choice was fish or fish so i chose the fish. It was very good. It was with rice, go figure, and was fried and coated in sauce that tasted like General T's chicken. For dessert we had these korean gummy candies with sweet fillings. I liked these a lot. I had never seen them before. Our flight continued and we did not have to put the window shades down...amazing. We continued to fly over China and were late getting into HKG because of all the approaching traffic. We flew over Guangzhou and Macau before flying east of HKG over the South China Sea and then back to the west for an approach into Hong Kong CLK airport. We landed about five minutes late at 10:12. We parked and proceeded very quickly through baggage claim and immigration. CLK airport..one word....AMAZING. By far the nicest airport I have ever been in. They have free internet access also.
This was my first journey to HKG so i had a lot to see and 8 days to do it in. HKG is definitely worth seeing. I visited CLK for spotting the one day and will upload pics when i get them back. I went to Macau the one day and covered HK island, Kowloon, and then New Territories thoroughly. If you havent been to HK, go there. I just wish i would've been able to go there when Kai Tak was still in operation...oh well.
January 4, 2001
Korean Air Flight #604
Flight Time: 2H45
Aircraft: B747-400 Combi HL7480
This day i took the Airport Express train from HK station to CLK. It only takes 23 minutes to get to the airport. I got to the airport early as I wanted to spend some more time exploring CLK airport. I saw lots of CX airliners. No special paint schemes to tell yous about though. Just the normal tails of Asiana, Korean, China Eastern, Qantas, Thai, SQ, and CX, BA, and many more.
This was my first flight on a combi aircraft. They loaded cargo on via the side door. We boared and departed on time. I originally had an exit row seat but found out that the window in that seat had been plugged. The doors were closed and the flight attendant said we could move around since the flight was not full. I moved to a window seat in the back of the economy section. I counted 33 people in the entire economy section of this airplane. Hopefully the large amount of cargo on this aircraft made the flight profitable for KE as the pax load didnt compensate.
Our airplane was parked next to BA 744 G-BNLR still wearing the HK Rendezvous tail. We pushed and had a long taxi. A LH 744 departed infront of us and we soon took off and flew directly over HK harbor where we had a good view of the convention center and HK island. Very exciting. We flew north over China and a meal was served. It was between beef of chicken...ah no fish. I chose the chicken. It tasted like traditional chinese food you'd get in America. I had accompanying rice and mixed veggies. Dessert was fruit. Beverages and green tea were served. Music videos and CNN world news was shown. We proceeded direct to Cheju and landed at Kimpo on time. It was still light out so i got some good photos of the approach into Kimpo. Again, there was huge lineup of KE aircraft. Mainly 744's but also A300s, A330, and B738's. We parked next to a SQ A340 and were bussed to the terminal where I had an hour to wait for the flight to JFK.
January 4, 2001
Korean Air Flight #085
Flight Time: 12H40
Aircraft: B747-400 HL7488
We boarded and pushed back on time. We left Seoul at 6:30 in the evening. Our captain on this flight was an American. He had a deep Texas accent which was funny as he didn't quite fit the picture of a Korean Air pilot. Our takeoff roll was extremely long. I wasn't counting but the amount of pax and fuel we had onboard made it seen like a minute or so. We rotated and flew directly east towards Japan. We flew over Tokyo which is really cool at night...it looks massive. After Tokyo the meal was served. It was another fish or beef choice. As i hate red meat i went with the fish. It was in a sweet sauce and had accompanying rice...surprise. A side salad with raw fish on it was served in addition. The dessert was an apple tart with caramel on top of it and a swiss chocolate candy bar. After the meal and passing Japan our great circle route started. We headed northest and window shades needed to be put down. It was already at night so why they needed to go down i have no clue. Movies were shown...Toy Story 2 and Bedazzled. After both movies the map showed that were had passed directly over ANC and were starting a southeasterly route toward JFK. Two drink services were done and on numerous occassions the crew circulated throughout the cabin with orange juice, passion fruit juice, coke, ginger ale, or water. This crew was not as attentive as the other crews. They still literally ran to you if you rang the call button but you could tell they were not particularly happy when you asked for something. Despite having the crew rest bunk, the flight attendants took their breaks at their assigned seats that they sat in for takeoff. I was in an exit row again...seat 50K. The flight attendant seat faced me and she would sit down about 5 minutes or so every hour. The one hour she sat down and i saw her nodding off to sleep. I felt really sorry for them as working a 13 hour shift has got to be really bad. I stayed awake for the entire flight as i cant sleep on airplanes. The same crew worked the flight, there were no change of crews for rest periods. Two hours out from JFK, breakfast was served...odd...as it was 5:30 at night when we landed at JFK. It consisted of an omelette or fried rice. I chose the omelette. It was good but not as good as Delta's. That probably doesn't say much for Korean Air's omelettes. It was okay though. Strawberry yogurt was served also. Window shades were allowed to come up and the sun was starting to set as we approached JFK. We flew over Newark and then approached JFK from the south before turning onto the 31R final approach course. We landed 25 minutes early as our arrival time was supposed to be 5:55PM. It took 20 minutes to taxi to our gate as it was congested at the terminal area with an Air France 777 pushing back and a Delta 767 heading out also. We parked next to the Austrian Star Alliance A332 and a Virgin 744. We disembarked and waited 45 minutes for our bags. Immigration was very quick as most everyone coming off the flights were visitors and not American citizens.
This concludes my trip report. Korean Air is very good. The flights were smooth, ontime, and the service was lightyears ahead of American based carriers. I would recommend them. Their safety record may not be spectacular but they are fixing this by employing western pilots. Next time though I would like to give CX a try although they depart at 9:30 at night from New York as opposed to Korean Airs morning departure. The CX flight would get me to HK in the morning where as the KE flight got me there at night so i could go right to the hotel to sleep. The flight attendants at Korean Air are generally very nice. They are beautiful also. I really enjoyed this trip and will definitely head to HK again as soon as i can. If you have any questions please ask and i will answer. Has anyone ever thought of picking a spotting destination each year and meeting...sorta like an airliners.net event? If so, I nominate HK as the first location...i would definitely be there. Thanks for reading.