Trip Report: Hong Kong to Seoul Incheon, Korean Air flight KE608, economy class, September 2016
I needed to book a one way flight between Hong Kong and Moscow and opted for Korean Air. As I had had good previous experience booking in person at their office in Tsim Sha Tsui I returned there. Again the service was friendly, swift and efficient.
Just over a week before travel, I booked a single ticket in economy class. It booked into L class and accrued a total of 5,391 Skypass miles for the whole journey – for the Hong Kong to Seoul segment this was 1,295 Skypass miles. The cost was $5,183.
I arrived at Hong Kong airport two hours before the scheduled departure time of 12.45 a.m. There was no queue at the Korean Air checkin counters in aisle G and I was seen immediately. The ground agent seemed a bit unsure of what she was doing, and as it was a one way ticket she asked to see the documentation for my onward voyage from the Russian Federation.
At the airport
Korean Air consistently uses the same cluster of gates and it was the same this time – the gate was number 18. The boarding pass suggested arriving at the gate half an hour before departure. I arrived there twenty minutes before departure, to avoid waiting around, and there was a queue of only a handful of people. I soon went through and into the second of the two doors in use for boarding on the jetbridge.
The flight was operated by a Boeing 777-300. The seat was not very spacious but the screen was a god size, with a USB port. On boarding there was a blanket and pillow at each seat.
The inflight entertainment selection wasn’t outstanding but it was wide enough for a short flight such as this.
Korean Air does care a lot about service touches, and even on this fairly short flight in the economy class toilets there were toothbrush kits, and Jurlique facial spray and lotion.
The economy cabin was almost completely full, although the premium cabins looked much less busy.
We pushed back at 12.45 on the dot and after about twenty minutes of taxiing were airborne. It was a relatively smooth flight with the exception of a couple of pockets of turbulence east of Jiaxing, China.
We arrived at the gate (23) in Incheon at ten past five, quarter of an hour ahead of schedule. I had to queue for a quarter of an hour at immigration and queue briefly even at customs – as Incheon grows, especially with mainland Chinese flights, it seems not to be doing well in growing its staff levels accordingly.
The timings on this flight are horrible. Given the one hour time difference, the flight is only around three hours long. After leaving Hong Kong, between the meal service, cabin lighting and regular announcements, it is hard to imagine that anyone except a sound sleeper could have fallen asleep in economy class. The hubbub died down and lights were dimmed around an hour and a half before landing, all to be turned on again twenty minutes before landing. So in practice, as well as leaving at a late hour, and arriving early, an hour of sleep is about the maximum one would have got on this flight.
The crew was friendly and efficient. Shortly after take off they came around with packs of nuts and a tray of soft drinks, then proceeded into a meal and drink service afterwards. Overall it was hard to fault them.
I did find it odd that announcements, as well as being made in Korean and English, were made in Mandarin but not Cantonese, which one would think to be more appropriate for a flight departing from Hong Kong. These were made by a mainland Chinese member of cabin crew and at one point it was announced that the crew was China-based. I like the Korean nature of Korean Air so would prefer to have an exclusively Korean cabin crew.
Food and Drink
The meal choice was bibimbap or fish and noodles and I chose the bibimbap. This was a comprehensive meal, served with metal cutlery, and the flight attendant serving me asked if I had had bibimbap before in case I wanted it to be explained to me. The meal was tasty and the presentation though functional was still appealing.
The downside of this flight is its timings, which are horrible. But the service, food and overall comfort was excellent. Korean Air continues to be an excellent airline across classes.