Jeju Air was one of the first Korean LCCs, founded in 2005 it flies to Cambodia, China, Guam, Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines, Saipan, Thailand and Vietnam with a fleet of second hand 738s. Domestically the airline flies from Jeju to Busan, Cheongju, Daegu and Gimpo.
I booked this flight via Jeju Air’s website which was easy enough to do, I had no difficulties using the English language option and my foreign card worked just fine. Seat reservations could be done for an extra 3000 won although if you check in early enough I reckon you’d be able to get the seat you want. On domestic flights the airline offers a Korean LCC standard of 15kg of checked luggage and 20kg on international flights.
Not wanting to spend vast amounts of time inside Busan’s domestic terminal, I arrived 40 minutes prior to departure and checked in at the airline’s counter. Fortunately I didn’t have to queue for long. There was a slight queue for security although this went down fairly quickly and I was airside with a good half hour to spend. Unfortunately there was no sign of a Jeju Air aircraft on the apron which led me to believe our flight would be late. I was correct and a sign was put up informing us of both a gate change and a delay to do ‘aircraft connection’, I didn’t have anywhere to be although I was a little surprised that none of the ground staff knew when the aircraft would turn up nor when we would start boarding.
The sign that awaited me
From – Busan Gimhae, RKPK
To – Jeju International, RKPC
Airline – Jeju Air
Flight – 7C
A/C – Boeing 737-8BK
Reg – HL8261
Dep Time (Sched/Act) – 14:25/15:15
Arr Time (Sched/Act) – 15:20/15:58
I checked FR24 on my phone to discover there was no sign of the inbound aircraft, although as I later discovered, our aircraft cannot be seen on flight tracking websites. Eventually, the distinctive orange and white jet came floating down to Busan’s runway 32L. At 14:50 boarding began, today we’d be boarding via a set of stairs atop of a vintage Ford.
Today’s aircraft would be HL8261, a 737 that stared its career in Australia in August 2002, flying as Blue Moon for Virgin Blue and subsequently for Virgin Australia post 2011. The aircraft entered service for Jeju Air in September 2012 and has been pictured across East Asia.
As per usual I was given a friendly greeting when I boarded and made my way to seat 8A. I have to say despite being clean and well organised; the aircraft’s interior did appear to be a little worn. Jeju Air fabric covered the seats (unlike on my previous Jeju Air flight where the fabric may have looked to have dated back to the aircraft’s Air Sahara days!) however there were signs of the past owner such as the dark blue plastic armrests with audio controls and the large plastic space on each seat which looked as if it once held a PTV. The legroom seemed to be a fairly cramped LCC standard amount, nothing special.
Looking out at our Jeju bound neighbour
After a very apologetic welcome from the crew we were off and after a short taxi to runway 36R we headed skywards, departing 50 minutes behind schedule. We made a sharp turn southwards after takeoff however at this point we entered the clouds so nothing could be seen of the mountains beneath us.
During the later stages of the climb, the crew began their round of drinks. Unlike on Air Busan and Jin Air we were able to choose what beverage we had, I opted for an orange juice. When we reached our cruising altitude the captain performed a speech in Korean and English and shortly afterwards we began our decent.
Today’s orange juice
A short extract from the drinks menu, available on international flights.
Today we’d be landing on runway 07, sitting on the left hand side meant that I couldn’t really see much of the island until the later stages of the approach, although I was able to get good views once established on the approach.
We came back to earth gently and made a smooth touchdown at 15:58, 38 minutes behind schedule. After a taxi which involved holding for an aircraft to vacate our gate, we pulled up to gate 2. The jetway was connected in what seemed like no time at all, being near the front I departed the aircraft quickly and walked straight through to arrivals.
In terms of onboard service, I have no complaints. It was identical to the service I have received on any domestic flight in Korea. Where Jeju Air lacks behind is comfort, the seats do seemed to be a bit squished together which although not a problem on today’s short flight I’d imagine on some of the airline’s longer flights to SE
Asia or Guam things could get rather uncomfortable. On both this flight and my other one with Jeju Air the aircraft showed some signs of its age with some wear and tear visible. That said, for the price of the flight I can’t really complain. Would I be willing to fly with them again? Yes, of course. But perhaps only on a flight less than two hours i.e. a domestic one or one to Japan or nearby areas of China. That said, if they offered cheap tickets to SE
Asia, Guam or HK
, I would probably book these. Overall, despite the delay, not a bad flight Jeju Air. Thank you.
Somewhere between Korea and the UK.