01. Introduction: One…I mean…two final rides on the United Airlines 747
02. United Airlines 737-800 economy class San Diego to San Francisco
03. United Airlines 747-400 upper deck Polaris business class San Francisco to San Francisco
04. United Airlines 747-400 upper deck Polaris business class San Francisco to Seoul
05. Asiana business class lounge, ICN
06. Asiana Airlines A330-300 business class Seoul to Hong Kong
07. Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel and Towers
08. The Bridge – Cathay Pacific business class lounge, HKG
09. American Airlines 777-300/ER business class Hong Kong to Los Angeles
10. American Airlines ERJ-175 first class Los Angeles to San Diego
All in all, I still felt pretty good when I went to bed just after arriving from San Francisco the night before. Of course I was dead tired from all the delays, but I think I was just so happy to have a convenient place to stay (paid for by United) that it overpowered the massive amount of jet lag that was starting to creep up on me without even realizing it. I even woke up feeling halfway OK, but by the time I left the lounge and was walking down to the gate to catch this flight to Hong Kong, reality came on hard and I felt the jet lag hit me from every direction like a ton of bricks. It came out of nowhere, and it was a stark and sobering reminder that I wasn’t as young as I used to be. International travel definitely gets harder as you get older!
Seoul, South Korea (ICN) – Hong Kong (HKG)
Saturday, October 21, 2017
Duration: 3 hours 26 minutes
Seat: 4A (business class)
I still had about 45 minutes to wait once I reached the gate area, which for an AvGeek like me, isn’t such a bad thing. I spent some time meandering the terminal a bit and was enjoying the moment of being in one of my all-time favorite airports. I love ICN, mostly due to the fact that nearly every flight in and out of this place is of the international variety – something which is completely opposite of what I see back home at SAN. Despite the crippling feeling of jet lag, I was very content to sit and watch this amazing airport at work. I also saw two Asiana 747-400’s parked at the terminal in the distance, reminding me of what I missed out on the night before. It’s too bad that I didn’t get a ride in one of those things, but at least I was on my way to Hong Kong this morning.
The business class queue formed about five minutes before boarding was set to begin, and while I was waiting I ran into one of the guys that was on my flight last night from San Francisco. It turns out that he was given a voucher to the same hotel that I stayed at, and we laughed about how overbooked it was and how lucky we were to get a room at all. It’s always weird running into “familiar” people like this while traveling, because it’s awkward having a conversation with a complete stranger who is also the only person you know within a 2,000 mile radius. It’s also a bit awkward having an intelligent conversation with somebody while I’m trying to get pics for a trip report…
I was one of the first passengers on board this morning, which gave me plenty of opportunity to take pics of the somewhat outdated Asiana A330-300 business class product. It’s not bad by any means, and I found it to be perfectly acceptable for shorter regional routes such as this one from soul to Hong Kong. I’m not so sure I would be happy with it on a flight from, say, San Francisco to Seoul however – it’s simply not competitive for a market such as that.
The flight attendants came around quickly offering water and orange juice during the boarding process, followed shortly thereafter by Hong Kong entry forms. Despite this very attentive service right from the beginning, the overall mood here in the business class cabin was calm and easy, which was absolutely perfect for my jetlagged brain.
I thought for sure it was going to be a light load this morning, as there didn’t seem to be a mad rush of people boarding the aircraft. But slowly, one by one, the business class cabin filled up and every was seat occupied by the time they closed the boarding door.
Pushback and taxi happened right on time, and I was starting to feel pretty good thanks in large part to the beautiful sunny skies over Seoul this morning. It was really beautiful out there, if not a little bit cold. That didn’t matter to me though, as I was comfortably seated here in the warm business class cabin of this Asiana A330. If I had to complain about anything, it would be the fact that our entire taxi out to the runway was facing into the sun, so there was little to no opportunity for decent pics of all the interesting aircraft rolling about here at ICN.
Take off and climb out was also directly into the sun, so I lowered my window shade in defeat as soon as we took off. I knew I was seated on the wrong side of the aircraft to get decent pics anyway, but it still hurt a little bit that I wasn’t able to get a single decent pic of the entire take off sequence. These are the struggles of trip reporting, folks.
Luckily for me (and you the reader), this is Asiana business class, so pics of the view outside don’t matter that much anyway. It’s what’s on the inside that counts, and I’d like to take this opportunity to show you a bit more of what that amazing Asiana hospitality is like.
Brunch menus and hot towels were distributed 10 minutes after take off, with the flight attendants returning shortly after that to take our meal orders.
This brunch, as it was with every meal that I’ve ever had on a Korean airline, was phenomenal. And I’m not just talking about the food either – I’m talking about the entire process, starting with the menu distribution. Asiana flight attendants are perhaps the best in the sky when it comes to customer service, and I literally felt like a king at every interaction. They are polite, cheerful, and courteous. Most of all, it’s easy to feel the effort they put into making sure that each passenger has the best flight experience possible (without coming off as being fake). Thank God I wasn’t flying an American or European airline after this one today, because I quite like savoring the feeling of an incredible flight experience which then lingers with me for days. It’s rare that I ever get that feeling flying anywhere else in the world.
Despite their best efforts to serve me coffee and after-brunch sweets, I reluctantly declined the kind offer from the flight attendants. I’m not a coffee drinker, and I don’t much like sweets, but I’ve got to admit that I felt kind of bad saying “thanks but no thanks.” I was quite satisfied with the meal anyway, and I certainly didn’t feel like I needed anything more.
I spent the rest of the flight getting reacquainted with the Guns N’ Roses collection on my iPhone, which happened entirely by chance – this wasn’t something I was planning on at all. I just so happened to be scrolling through the large list of songs in my Apple Music account, and I came across a GNR track that I hadn’t heard in years. 30 seconds into it, I was reminded in a very big way of how amazing the original version of that band was. I really mean it – those guys were truly musical geniuses, and I was having quite a good time jamming out to a mix of songs from Use Your Illusion I and II all the way into Hong Kong.
Thankfully the sun had followed us all the way down, and we had some pretty nice views of the overall region on our way in. I’ve never arrived into Hong Kong during the daytime before, so this was kind of a treat for me. Except for the fact that I was still facing directly into the sun the entire way and I wasn’t able to get a single Instagram-worthy pic of the approach.
I wasn’t much in the mood for trip reporting by the end of this flight, so the lack of decent arrival pics didn’t deter me – much. The only thing that I really cared about was the fact that I had finally arrived in Hong Kong after a very long and eventful journey from San Diego. It was time to put the camera down, hop in a taxi, and head into the city. It felt so good to be back in Hong Kong again!