50 Days in Asian Paradise with a 5-Star Airline: Part 1 of 3
JFK-ICN-MNL-CGY-CEB-MPH-CEB-CGY-MNL-ICN-JFK with OZ, 5J, PR and 2P.
Number of Flights: 11
Airlines Flown: Asiana Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, PAL Express
Aircrafts Flown: Airbus A319-100, Airbus A320-200, Airbus A330-300, Boeing 747-400, ATR-72,
Countries Visited: Philippines and South Korea
Photo © Josh May
Photo © Taehyun Lee - Korea Aero Photos
Photo © Jerry Pang
Photo © R.Hesse
Photo © TonyV
Photo © Juan Carlos Salamat
Part 1: JFK-ICN-MNL on OZ
Part 2: MNL-CGY-CEB-CGY on 5J, CEB-MPH-CEB on 2P, Boracay and etc.
Part 3: CGY-MNL on PR, MNL-ICN-JFK on OZ
This is my 4th trip report on a.net, I know a lot of you disliked my previous report due to lack of personal photos, I made sure that I brought my camera and took a lot of pictures. So, I hope you enjoy this report as much as I enjoyed my vacation.
This report will include the following flights: JFK-ICN-MNL-CGY-CEB-MPH-CEB-CGY-MNL-ICN-JFK on OZ, 5J, PR and 2P. I also included pics from the world famous Boracay Island, spotting at JFK, Incheon, Manila, Cebu, Lumbia and Caticlan airport and many more! All in all the vacation would last exactly 50 Days, arriving in Asia on the 5th of July and leaving on the 23rd, so that’s exactly 50 Days This is the 1st part of my long trip report, part 1 will include JFK-ICN-MNL on OZ with Incheon Int’l Airport pics.
This isn’t a normal vacation, our normal family vacation usually takes 10 days, roaming around a particular destination, staying on a hotel and etc. This vacation will also give us the opportunity to reunite with relatives and friends. Why 50 days you may ask? Well, we wanted to experience regular life back in the Philippines apart from staying at a hotel, sightseeing and shopping, like staying at my granny’s, going to the market, dinner with friends and family and other stuff. I was particularly excited about this vacation since my 3 cousins from Sweden are also going to the Philippines for summer vacation. We would also be going to Boracay and Cebu (2 popular tourist destinations in the Philippines) with my grandparents (3 of them), my 3 cousins with my aunt and uncle, me, my mom and my dad, so in total that’s 11!
2010 is the year I would finish Junior High and as usual I have to prove to my mom that I deserve a vacation based on my school performance. As the school year ended and I graduated from Junior High, all of my grades were above average and I also managed to finish Junior High with honors and a Leadership Award (I’m really bossy lol ) and hence I earned a vacation!
I was looking for airfares way before graduation, I started checking flights from New York to Manila on October 2009 and it was about $1,000+ My mom said that our airfare should be below $2,700 ($900 each for the 3 of us) I knew it was impossible to get that kind of fare during summer season, but I was optimistic. Months later, my dad decided that he won’t be coming back to New York with us in the summer, as he would be doing some business in the Philippines which can take several months, so the $2,700 budget would be a reality because we would only buy a one way fare for him. I later found out that cheapest one way fare during the summer was $900, which is a bit to expensive for a one way fare, so I had an genius plan. Since my dad had a flexible schedule, we decided that it would be better if he will depart on off-season dates, so I thoroughly checked fares on the month of May and I randomly picked a day and got $600, but my mom said find a $500 one, so I checked every date in May and voila! May 16, a $527 one way ticket on China Airlines via ANC and TPE. So, we bought the ticket for my dad. After we bought my dad’s ticket, it was time for mine and mom’s. Usually, when I look for airfare, I don’t look for the cheapest, I look for the best. (I know CI isn’t that good, but hey, my dad’s flying with ‘em not me ) So, I did my homework and I decided that me and my mom should fly on a 5-star airline, as I’ve never been on one before. After reading some comments on every 5-star airline that flies to MNL, I decided that we should fly on Asiana Airlines. So, I went on Expedia and browsed flights from JFK to MNL on OZ, at first it was about $1,300 each and I kept looking for flights and July 4 was the cheapest one, $1,136.00 each , same airline, same flight but a different date. So, the total airfare for the three of us was $2,799.00, $99 over budget
I was expecting a lot from Asiana Airlines since they just won the prestigious Airline of the Year 2009 award by Skytrax, so my expectations were very high. I have also read numerous reviews about Asiana and nearly all of them are positive. OZ's cabin crew is also know as one of the best in the world, so I was very excited to try out OZ.
Before we bought the flights on OZ, I suggested to my mom that we should apply for Asiana Club. I explained to her the benefits and etc and she said yes. So, we applied for Asiana Club. However, months later we decided to move to United Mileage Plus since we live here in the US and we would earn more benefits compared to Asiana Club. However, unlike Asiana where they sent you a REAL card, UA only sent us a cheap looking card made of cardboard, turns out that they will send you the real card once you become a Premier member (25,000 Miles)
Months before the departure day, I contacted Asiana Airlines to request new seats since when we bought the tickets on Expedia, they randomly assigned us to 33 A and B on both sectors, plus they assigned us on the middle part of the wing of the A330 and I want to sit either on the front of the A330 or the rear. So I called Asiana Airlines and I requested new seats, they gave us 25J and K for JFK-ICN, 33A,B for ICN-MNL, 37 J,K for MNL-ICN and 33A and B for ICN-JFK. I was good with all the seats until I realized that there is a huge chance that Row 33 has missing windows! I wouldn’t want to sit on a row with missing windows for 14 hrs! So, I decided to change our seats again, I decided to use the online seat selector Asiana Airlines has on their website. However, it didn’t work for me. It said to contact your local Asiana office and etc, so I did. It took 3 calls to fix it since the agents tried to fix the problem but it wasn’t fixed at all. Finally, the REAL problem was, I typed in the wrong confirmation code. -___- Instead of the letter “I” I mistakenly thought that it was the number “1” so yeah. My bad! I decided to change the JFK-ICN and ICN-JFK flight since the first economy class section (where the engines are visible) opened up. So for JFK-ICN I got 22 J and K and for ICN to JFK igot 23 J and K, I was hoping I would see the engine blades since it’s my wish to see them in action! And I wouldn’t be disappointed.
On-line check-in/seat selector. Although I had some issues with it, it was very convenient that you can choose your own seats.
Seat map for OZ 221 (JFK-ICN) Aircraft: Boeing 747-400 Combi
JULY 4, 2010 – DEPARTURE DAY
The day had finally come! After months of waiting, it finally came! As many of you know, my family has a tradition of going to the airport REALLY early. Our flight to ICN is scheduled to depart on July 4, 2010 at 12:30 AM, we were at the airport on July 3, 2010 at 8:30 AM . My mom’s friends offered us a ride to the airport, they came to our apartment at about 8 in the evening and helped us with our baggage.
On our way to the airport
JFK's terminal 4
We live near JFK airport, it takes 10 minutes if you take the air train to JFK and about 5-10 minutes if you take the car, depending on traffic on the Van Wyck expressway . We drove pass other terminals and we finally came to Terminal 4, the International Terminal where OZ operates its daily 14hr flight to ICN. Recently, OZ introduced the B777-200ER on the JFK-ICN, luckily, our flight remained as a Boeing 747-400 and I was happy about that coz I’ve never been on the 747. I’ve been on JFK’s Terminal 4 a lot, in fact, nearly all of my flights that I took in JFK was on Terminal 4. The check-in area was VERY chaotic as many international flights were departing around that time. Air India to Mumbai, LOT to Warsaw, Virgin Atlantic to London, Qatar Airways to Doha, Singapore Airlines to FRA and SIN, El Al to Tel Aviv, Etihad to Abu Dhabi, you name it, it’s there! It was SOOOO CHAOTIC! We looked for OZ’s check in desk and proceeded. A friendly Korean OZ staff greeted us and she checked us in. We gave her our itinerary and did some typing and stuff. She tagged our baggage all the way to MNL and we were checked in. She was smiling all the time and was very friendly, she handed us our boarding passes and I immediately realized that I forgot to gave her our UA Mileage Plus number and somehow my mom was moved to 12A on the ICN-MNL flight.
”Excuse me, I forgot to give you our United Mileage Plus number and my mom is on a different row on Incheon to Manila from me”
“It says on the system that you are an Asiana Club member”
“I decided to move United Mileage Plus”
“Okay, the won’t be a problem.”
“Oh yeah, can you change our seats on Incheon to Manila so me and my mom could sit together?”
“Sure. Let me have your boarding passes.”
“Is Row 12A and B still available?”
“I’m sorry, it’s not. I can give 18J and K”
“Okay. I’m good with that.”
(although I’m not since I know that seat would be near the wing but I didn’t want to hassle her )
After a few minutes, she handed us our new boarding passes with our new seats (again ) with a smile on her face even after the hassle I’ve brought her :P She wished us a pleasant flight.
OZ's check-in counter, there were A LOT of people, but the the line at the OZ check in was relatively short. (Most of the people pictured here were lining up for the baggage drop off)
Asiana Airlines Check-In Counter
Economy Class check in
My baggage with OZ luggage tag
After a wonderful experience with OZ’s friendly check-in staff, the horror began. There was a long line of people on the baggage drop off area! It was very unorganized and a group of passengers (I’m assuming LO passengers cut through the line without knowing they did, since it was just unorganized) that created a havoc with other passengers, people started getting pissed, then an ever friendly and smiling (NOT!) JFK staff started yelling at passengers “ONE LINE!, ONE LINE!” Nothing new from a JFK staff, typical New Yorker. Nearly an hour later, finally, we’ve successfully dropped off our baggage. After our horrific experience, we went to the Duty Free area and grabbed something to eat. At around 10:30, we decided to go to the gate. There was a long line on the security checkpoint, however, it was a moving line and I’ve had good experiences with security staffs in JFK in the past. 5 minutes later, we finished security screening and we were headed for the gate. Our gate was B26, the usual gate for OZ 221/222. We were among the first ones to arrive at the gate. I decided to roam around and do some aircraft spotting before boarding. There was an EY A345, LY 744, RJ A342, LO 763, VA A320, DL 757 and others.
The long line to the baggage drop off area
Duty Free area, once again it was very crowded, luckily we found some seats and ate dinner
After eating, we proceeded to the security checkpoint. The line was long, but it was moving fast. 5 Minutes later, we were on our way to our gate, B26.
On our way to Gate B26
The gate area
Our flight information
Asiana AIrlines Boeing 747-400/Combi, HL7421, our ride to Incheon on this 14hr flight
I decided to walk around the terminal and took pictures of random flights
Etihad Airways, Airbus A340-500, EY 100 bound for AUH
EY 100 with an EK 77W behind it waiting fot her departure to DXB
El Al 744 to TLV
Caribbean Airlines 738, i think this one was going to Port of Spain
Royal Jordanian A342 to AMM
Our flight being loaded with food
Long list of flights
Boarding was scheduled to begin at 11:57 PM, interesting, usually boarding begins either 30 or 45 minutes before departure and not 33. Several minutes before boarding, the OZ cabin and flight crew arrived. There was an entire troop of flight attendants! Boarding began exactly on-time, the agent that checked us in announced the boarding procedure in Korean then in English. Our seats, 22J and K was located in “Zone A” so I was assuming since we were in “Zone A” that we would be one of the first ones to board, turns out that we were actually one of the last passengers to board the aircraft (since we were seated in the very first section of Y) Although there were a lot of passengers, boarding was very organized. In less than 20 minutes, everyone was onboard the aircraft for the 14 hour trek to Seoul-Incheon.