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
on UA893 for that day were wide open in United Business and also looked promising for the return on Sunday afternoon.
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.
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.