Seoul Incheon - Hong Kong
22 July 2016
I have taken this flight several times before over the years, and have noticed changes to Incheon airport every time. It is no longer sparkling new, and has gotten much busier.
The number of mainland Chinese tourists have skyrocketed, and now they even have these terminals to help process tax refunds. Although they may be intended to automate the process, each terminal has a human being sitting next to it to assist with using it.
There was a long line to get into the secured area and the security checks. Afterwards, there was even more shopping to clear out your last remaining won.
Low-cost carriers have swept through Korea. I have taken Jeju Air on a domestic flight before. They were efficient and value for money.
Incheon's biggest disappointment are its trains to the satellite terminal. 5 minute frequencies are very sparse and they are always packed. I waited for them to empty out to take this photo.
The satellite terminal is quieter, and had lots of shops as well. Some duty-free bought in the city require pick-up here to make sure you don't consume them or leave them behind in Korea.
I purchased an item at Lotte in the city centre. I was directed to this pick-up location near my gate. They scanned the receipt, and gave me another one with a call number. Within 5 minutes, I was called to a counter to pick up the item. This seemed fairly painless, except some mainland tourists didn't read the sign posted as their duty-free need to be picked up elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the seating areas were quite deserted.
With some time to go before my flight, I went plane spotting.
Not many airports use wood floors. Darker colours make the terminal look so classy.
Boarding had begun by the time I walked back to my gate. Here we go.
I settled in my window seat. The doors closed on time, but we sat for a bit and the dreaded cockpit announcement came. Due to airport congestion, we had to wait about 20 minutes to push back. Great.
Upon departure, I spotted a few interesting birds, including Air Canada's 787. I was considering whether to redeem this flight later in the year for my 1st experience on the Dreamliner.
Off we go. Although I was at the front, the wing got in the way of some decent aerials.
I bought a juice before boarding, which went well with the pack of introductory nuts.
I had lunch already on the ground, so declined the main but got the rest.
I still prefer the Airbus with the 2-X-2 configuration. I wouldn't feel claustrophobic by the window. Cathay doesn't fly the 767 - I would prefer that aircraft as well.
I particularly liked this small tray that is just big enough to place my immigration forms and mobile phone.
The weather was quite decent today and smooth. We flew past Jeju but the clouds got in the way and I couldn't spot its volcanic geology.
With Taiwan's coast in view, it wouldn't take long to start descending into Hong Kong.
We hit a few sudden bumps and the cockpit came on the PA to announce we were slightly deviating our path to avoid turbulence from the plane ahead. Today, we were flying the scenic route and my left window was perfect.
We had a long taxi to a gate close to the immigration facility.
Reliability and consistency. That's why Cathay can charge higher fares and still get a full loading.
My Seoul photos : click here