Ben O’Brien flies Auckland to Seoul Incheon aboard Korean Air KE130.
Class: Economy Class.
Price: Return flights direct to Seoul start at around $1600 return, but Korean Air regularly runs specials to Asia and Europe from $1000 return.
Flight time: 11 hours and 15 minutes.
My seat: Korean’s 777-200 fleet is ageing (the one I took was 16 years old), but they have refurbished the Economy cabins to be quite comfortable. Economy is in a 3-3-3 layout and quite spacious (by comparison, Air New Zealand crams 312 seats into their B777-200ER while Korean Air only has 248). Each seat also has an on-demand entertainment screen, although the selection is limited. We also get a small amenity kit with (flimsy) slippers and a toothbrush.
How full: Just over half full.
The service: Extremely polished and professional.
Food and drink: We are served lunch after take-off and dinner before landing, with three options for each. The Korean bibimbap for lunch and chicken and potato option for dinner are both good quality for economy. We were also offered snacks throughout the flight and a snack basket is kept in the galley for the particularly peckish.
The toilets: Spotless the entire flight, quite often with the tip of the toilet paper folded over (classy)!
Luggage: 1 bag, weighing 23kg.
Airport experience: Korean Air flies into the new Terminal 2 at Incheon Airport, opened in January 2018, and it is a joy to go through. I was landside with my bags only minutes after deplaning.
Stopover hotel: Korean Air provides a free night in a layover hotel to transit passengers with overnight connections in Seoul/Incheon. I was put up in the impressive Grand Hyatt Incheon with a full buffet dinner, even on a sale fare ticket, which is extremely generous (and a quick dip in the pool is a great way to combat jetlag!).
The bottom line: Perfect for a Seoul escape, and not a bad way to go further abroad, given the free stopover hotel, particularly if the thought of two long-haul flights in Economy in a row is enough to make your eyes water.
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