I had to get back to the states mid-June of 2013, so I looked for a best possible route that would enable me to stopover in Kenya and also be cost effective. I had some friends in Nairobi currently doing humanitarian works that I wanted to visit, plus it would be my first time ever being in Africa. I decided to use mileage from Korean Air to book ICN-NBO route and book separately through Emirates from NBO to JFK through DXB. This itinerary would mark my first time in Africa so I was a little worried about my personal safety to be honest, but it turned out to be a fairly safe trip overall. Korean Air flight KE 959, tonight's flight, would be departing from Seoul/Incheon Airport at local time 9:20PM, arriving into Nairobi/Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at local time 5:30AM. My friend who was currently living in the area came to pick me up from the airport when I arrived.
*As of mid-2014, this flight has been discontinued indefinitely by Korean Air. I suspect that poor load factor contributed to the airline's decision to pull out from the route. If you read through this trip report, you can see that my flight was not even 50% full.
Since it was late in the evening, there weren't really a lot of people in the Seoul/Incheon Airport. This picture was taken on the Asiana Airlines side of the main terminal, because the passport control/security check points C and D (on Korean Air side) were closed at the time.
I was headed straight toward Gate 24 where my Nairobi-bound flight would be departing from.
Here is the A330-200 that would take me to Nairobi. This plane just came in from Changsha, China.
As soon as got to the gate they were readying for boarding process to begin.
Most of the passengers were tourists from Korea/Japan/China going to Kenya or other African countries.
The business class section of the Korean Air A330-200.
Believe it or not, I was one of the last ones to board the plane. A lot of empty seats around here!
My seat was located at one of the last rows of this plane.
Absolutely no one was seated here. I basically had the whole section of the plane to myself!
My seat 51H, on the window side.
The aircraft main entry door was just closed. Still no one. It definitely felt weird.
See ya later Korea!
14 hour 30 min flight to Nairobi. I think this flight was one of the longest route with A330-200 before being discontinued.
The flight tonight would be crossing over Chinese airspace for first third of the flight.
During the safety information demonstration.
Flight attendants eventually offered seats in the back section of the plane to the economy class passengers in the front.
Taxiing toward runway 33R.
After taking off toward north, the plane immediately turned toward west.
Peanuts and tissues were distributed. The flight attendant told me to take as much peanuts as I please, so I ended up taking five.
And the dinner service was started (and ended quickly).
The choices were beef stew and Korean style seafood Bibimbap. I chose the beef dish.
The beef was cooked well, but my favorite was the potato slices and the creamy sauce that came with them. The dessert was a carrot cake, and the salad contained mixed vegetables with ham slices.
At that time we were crossing over Beijing airspace.
The plane followed a typical route that followed the pattern of Korea-Beijing flights.
Kenya Immigration forms were distributed shortly after the first meal services.
The cabin lights started to dim down and the interior eventually become dark.
Perhaps in the countryside near Beijing?
The mood lighting of this plane reminded me of Boeing Sky Interior.
I was hungry again after an hour, so I asked the flight attendant if she had any extra food to offer. She kindly replied if I wanted beef, the seafood or both. I decided to go for the Korean style seafood, a common Korean dish called Nakji Bokeum (????), which contained octopus.
She had to heat up the rice, so after 10 minutes, my Nakji Bokeum meal arrived.
This would be my first time having this dish aboard Korean Air. Normally the airline would serve Bibimbap, but sometimes the menu get changed around according to seasons.
The way to eat this dish is to pour all the rice and red seafood sauce onto the big bowl and mix 'em all up.
Not a huge fan of an octopus dish, but this meal was actually pretty good! The sauce made up for it.
The last scene of 'Django Unchained', with a badass ending.
Around this time the plane was nearing middle of China.
After sleeping for one or two hours, I woke up to a severe turbulence. We were just crossing over the Himalayas.
Judging by the route map we were halfway there to Kenya.
The turbulence was one of the most severe I've felt. It felt like the clouds were shoving/pushing the plane up and down 100 ft. Pictures and words don't do justice.
There were lightening thunders everywhere.
After passing through the clouds, the turbulence finally ended. The plane lowered altitude and raised the speed.
And after taking another nap, I woke up again when the plane was about 2-3 hours from entering Kenyan airspace.
We were flying over Yemen.
The cabin mood lighting brightened in time for the second meal service.
2 hours and 18 minutes to landing.
Hot towels are always provided before the second meal service on Korean Air's long haul flights.
Thanks to the USB charger power outlet, I was able to charge my iphone.
Korean style rice porridge 'juk' and omelettes were offered. I chose the latter.
The egg omelette were presented with potato hash browns and breakfast sausage, which was laid on top of baked beans. Fruits, yogurt, and croissants were also served along the main dish.
The baked beans under the sausage.
After the breakfast services, I walked around the aircraft to stretch a little.
Cabin lights dimmed in preparation for arrival.
Landing into the airport from the north would have enabled me to see parts of Nairobi but the plane instead flew a bit south of the city and approached Jomo Kenyatta Airport from the south.
KE A330 skycam showing NBO runway lights.
Flight attendants were making final rounds of check before being seated for landing.
And Nairobi/Jomo Kenyatta Airport runway was clearly visible.
We landed a bit ahead of schedule at 4:55AM local time. The weather outside was chilly.
We taxied to the main terminal after landing.
Kenya Airways' B737
The plane arrived into Jomo Kenyatta Airport's Gate 9.
It took no more than 5 minutes for everyone to disembark the aircraft.
Given the fact that the plane was so empty, I could've definitely snuck into one of the business class seats.
First step on the African soil.
There were some duty free shops with Korean writings on them.
This is the Kenya Airport Terminal concourse from the inside.
Following the signs can take you to the immigration customs.
And you can take this passageway toward the immigration customs building (which was badly damaged due to fire on August 2013, couple months after I was there).
Passageway to Immigrations. This walkway reminds me of New York/JFK Airport Terminal 5 building.
Immigration Customs Area
There weren't really anybody here since it was early in the morning. A Korean Air agent was there to guide each passengers.
I paid 20USD cash and received On-Arrival Visa here.
Baggage claim area was downstairs after passing through customs.
Baggage claim area, where taxi drivers were offering me to drive to Nairobi city.
I went outside right after getting my bags, politely ignoring offers from the taxi drivers.
I found my friend waiting for me outside.
Overall, it was an unique experience. I have never before ridden a wide-body aircraft long-haul flight that was basically empty. But the flight was nonetheless smooth and relaxing and I was excited to explore a new country for a couple days before heading back to the US.
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