2014 EOY Trip Flight #4 I am back for a series of report on the 10 flights we took back in December 2014 for our end-of-year trip. It was a great trip with 4 new airlines, 5 new airports and 2 new cities. The routing was SIN-SGN-TPE-PVG-ICN, GMP-PUS-GMP, ICN-PVG-TPE-HAN-SIN. To visualize the route we took, please refer to the map at the start of the report.
While our plan was only to visit my relatives in Taipei, and spend 10 days in Korea, the routing of our flights became more complicated as we decided to give up the direct flights available, so as to go for cheaper tickets that will also allow us to fly more!
This is a list of all the other reports in this series.
2014 End-of-Year Trip to Taiwan & South Korea Click Here 09/12/14, SIN-SGN, Vietnam Airlines VN650, A321 Click Here 09/12/14, SGN-TPE, Vietnam Airlines VN570, A321 Click Here 16/12/14, TPE-PVG, China Eastern Airlines MU5008, A330-300 This Report 17/12/14, PVG-ICN, Shanghai Airlines FM827, B737-800 Coming Soon 20/12/14, GMP-PUS, Air Busan BX8811, B737-400 Coming Soon 23/12/14, PUS-GMP, Air Busan BX8816, A320 Coming Soon 26/12/14, ICN-PVG, China Eastern Airlines MU5034, A321 Coming Soon 27/12/14, PVG-TPE, China Eastern Airlines MU5005, A330-200 Coming Soon 30/12/14, TPE-HAN, Vietnam Airlines VN579, A321 Coming Soon 30/12/14, HAN-SIN, Vietnam Airlines VN661, A321
Shanghai Airlines FM827 Aircraft Registration: B-5799 Origin: Pudong International Airport, Shanghai, China (PVG) Destination: Incheon International Airport, Seoul, South Korea (ICN) Date: Wednesday, 17 December 2014 STD/STA: 1425h (UTC+08:00) to 1710h (UTC+09:00) ATD/ATA: 1427h (UTC+08:00) to 1750h (UTC+09:00) Estimated Duration: 01 hour 45 minutes Actual Duration: 02 hour 14 minutes Flight Distance: About 514 miles / 827 km
At the end of our transit in Shanghai, we left the hotel just in time to reach the airport 2 hours before our flight's departure. We didn't want to arrive too early at the airport since we had the impression that there weren't much to do there.
For the return journey back to Pudong Airport, we similarly decided to catch the Maglev train since it'd be cheaper than a taxi ride all the way.
As far as I can remember, the train frequency on the Maglev line was acceptable; we waited for about 10 minutes on the platform.
You can see from this photo that there were very few passengers using the Maglev service to get to the airport. But even if the line is making losses every year, I am certain the government will do everything to make sure it continues to run no matter what.
Since it's an airport line, luggage racks could be found in all carriages of the trains.
Here are more photos of the train cabin's interior.
I am sure you can easily see how empty the train was. It was almost as though we chartered the entire train. (Well, still not as amazing as how that lucky man who had the whole Philippine Airlines aircraft to himself from Manila to Boracay!)
I took some random footages of the Maglev train ride to the airport. You can hear the arrival announcement when the train approached the airport.
Sorry for the very poorly done video! xD I am attaching one more professionally done video on YouTube so that you can get a better idea of just how fast these Maglev trains are. (Don't forget to continue reading my report after the video!)
Frankly speaking, if you don't have many bags, the Maglev train is really a fairly convenient way to get to the airport. The only downside is that you have to get to Longyang Road station first, which probably is quite a distance away from the city centre.
Walked towards terminal 1 and tried to find our flight information, but it wasn't displayed yet, even though it was already two hours before our flight's departure time.
Here are two photos of the airport's departure hall. It wasn't very brightly lit and seemed a little dark inside, as a result. The design of the roof left a lot to be imagined as well - don't quite like it personally.
Anyway, it wasn't too hard to find the common check in area for MU and FM flights to Taiwan, Thailand, Australia, South Korea and Singapore. Passengers on the Macau flight were directed to the self check-in kiosks.
Since it was a common check in zone, the queues for economy class were naturally quite long. But fortunately, it took just a mere ten minutes or so before we reached the end of the queue and got ourselves checked-in on FM827 bound for Seoul-Incheon!
First time on Shanghai Airlines. First time to Seoul! I was definitely quite excited!
Went straight to the immigration queues upon receiving our boarding passes. Let's hope that the queues for security and immigration don't take too long as well - never a fan of queueing! You would say, oh come on, no one will call themselves "a fan of queueing", but come to Asia and you will know this isn't true. Haha!
Like I said, this was a "dark" terminal…
Alright, and then we are done with all the departure formalities! Good efficiency here, and let's hope it will be the same 10 days later as we will be going through all these again.
Anyway, the design of the boarding pass was slightly different as compared to the one we received at Taipei the day before.
In Shanghai, your boarding pass will be torn twice (left and right sides) before you actually board the aircraft.
One more hour to departure.
The airside area was relatively small and there weren't much that interest us. Also, the boarding gate indicated on our boarding pass was changed to 26 after we cleared immigration. Was still wondering if Gate 215 was a remote stand actually. Oh well, no chance to get a good photo of my aircraft today.
Since we were in Economy flying on a SkyTeam airline, we had no lounge access and could only sit and wait for boarding to commence.
Thankfully, wifi was available but I can't quite remember how good the speed was. (Sorry… That's the problem of writing a report so many months after the trip - I still have lots to catch up and I will try my best to get them all up on FR soon!)
Here's our aircraft which will bring us to Seoul! I'll come back to it in a while. Meanwhile, I searched for more angles to do some spotting but this was the best I could get. And I gave up after a while.
Twenty minutes later, at about 2.06pm, boarding commenced.
Boarding was conducted based on row numbers. I guessed that we will be the first to board after the elite members since we were seated in the back rows - and I was right.
Now, a bit more about the aircraft operating FM827. This B737-800 was really new at that time, just about 1 year 5 months old. And it bears the registration B-5799. It's also fitted with the Boeing sky interior which you will see later.
Here's the second boarding pass check and after that, both sides of our boarding passes were torn off.
One last shot to prove that this really isn't a spotter friendly airport. (Sigh)
We found our seats and got seated quickly. These purple seats were quite comfortable and the seat pitch was okay too.
FM827 pushed back at about 2.27pm and began its taxi to the runway 4 minutes later. We taxied for 30 minutes before finally reaching the threshold of the runway.
Before we get going with the flight, let's take a quick look at the cabin of this Shanghai Airlines B737-800 aircraft.
Sadly, this aircraft didn't feature personal TV screens but it was not really surprising since I've read many other reports featuring flights on Chinese airlines operated by narrow body aircrafts.
Entertainment was available on the overhead screens at least, but no earpieces were distributed on this flight.
The legroom seemed to be marginally better than some other airlines operating B737-800 (think: Malaysia Airlines - you can see my MH B738 report here).
A sneak peek of the Boeing sky interior. In this photo, boarding was still going on and it actually took quite a while to be completed on this flight.
The seat back features our beautifully-designed-commercial-advertisements, of course! (You know what, I'm fluent in Mandarin since I was born, but I don't quite get what this advertisement is about… Investments? Maybe?)
We had a huge tray table, which was good - better than that on LCCs, definitely. But later on during the meal service, it was proven we don't really need such a big table on this flight.
On the headrest, the words mean literally, "Shanghai Airlines welcomes you", i.e. Welcome Onboard!
On the overhead panels, there were the air vents, reading lights and call buttons.
One more look at the relatively comfortable seats before we move on with the flight proper. Our comfort level improved further on this flight when the boarding process completed with the window seat next to us remaining to be empty!
30 minutes after taxiing, we were finally on our way. I guess this was already considered an on-time performance for the airline(?)
After we were airborne, I naturally moved to the window seat and then started taking photographs of the beautiful blue sky outside.
While I fly at least twice every month, I am actually quite unfamiliar with the window seats since I usually prefer the aisle seats when traveling alone.
That probably explains why I always feel a little excited when I sit by the window, even until today.
For this flight, it was made even better because we had three seats to ourselves.
I couldn't find online what exactly was the seat pitch for economy seats on this aircraft, but it certainly felt better than the usual 31" on many other airlines' B738s.
The previously-mentioned Boeing sky interior was switched on.
And then we continued to enjoy the best scenery outside!
After the aircraft levelled off, the FAs distributed three documents to each passenger: ⁃ Arrival Form ⁃ Customs Declaration Form ⁃ Health Declaration Form
And then the meal service began!
Usually when I fly, I always look forward to the meals regardless of what airline I'm travelling with. While it may not always be nice, I'm always still glad that at least there's still food to satisfy my hunger.
In this instance, I was still looking forward to the meal but at the same time told myself not to have too high an expectation for the meals served out of Shanghai on Shanghai Airlines.
Well - at least there's food, right? This fact alone beats many other "full-service" airlines out there in the market today.
Before the FAs reach our row, more window views for now!
One thing I realised on this trip was that many Chinese and Korean airlines display aircraft registrations on the wing. Not sure if there's any specific reasons to this, but it definitely helps us in identifying our aircraft better. (:
Alright, our turn soon!
Here's the box of food we received.
The design you see here is a photo taken at The Bund, the famous waterfront area in central Shanghai.
And there's some interesting "Aviation Information" printed on the inside of the box. ⁃ What is air traffic control? ⁃ When there's no rain visible, why can the flight still be delayed due to "bad weather"? ⁃ Why require passengers to wait for such long durations in the aircrafts? ⁃ What are flight delay insurances?
These are definitely questions that passengers frequently ask FAs when their flights within China gets grounded and delayed indefinitely. We have heard a lot of times that FAs tend to distribute these meal boxes on the ground if the aircraft was to be delayed for long durations.
That probably explains why we are seeing these questions on the meal box!
And now, the food. The sandwich was bad, and the rest of the foods were edible but just not good.
Plastic utensils and wet tissues.
At this point, we were already in Korean airspace, overflying Jeju Island.
And then we have the announcement from the flight deck by the captain - which appears to be quite rare on Chinese airlines, isn't it? Most of the time the cabin service manager will be the one making the announcements on behalf of the pilots.
Visited the lavatory and was quite surprised to see a bar soap provided instead of the usual liquid hand soap. I will never touch that bar soap.
The cabin view. This flight was just about 60% full - quite a light load on this very popular route. I am guessing many people may not be aware that Shanghai Airlines operate on this route as well.
Weather in Korea seemed much less cloudy; at this point I was hoping to see some snow covered landscape later.
A Chinese variety show was being broadcasted on the overhead screens and I observed many passengers watching it attentively even without earpiece.
I wasn't too interested in the IFE so I just continued looking around the aircraft. The last time I flew on a B738, I was curious about what this thing on the ceiling was and posed that question in my blog. Turns out these are life rafts for use during an emergency landing on water.
Snow! It definitely looked really cold in Korea. Both of us are Singaporeans and even though I am a half-Taiwanese, we have not yet seen snow before in our lives. HAHA, you see, that's the thing about staying near the equator. When many of you crave the "comfortable, warm and sunny weather" in Southeast Asia, we just can't wait to get out to somewhere cold!
Now we are left with the last thing to review - the seat pocket contents, which weren't very exciting but still worth a look I guess!
First up, the in flight magazine which had a beautifully drawn cover page.
The contents, however, weren't too interesting and I simply just flipped to the airline's network map. The map however was a little weird - it was strictly speaking not a map since the background was all blank.
We can roughly picture the shape of China since this is supposedly the domestic network "map".
There were two different duty free shopping catalogues.
This. Is the safety information card. Okay, I have no comments about it.
There were two more sets of publications in the seat pocket. One was apparently a China Eastern newsletter, and the other was a publication by the China aviation authority.
On this flight, the mood lightings were only switched on for a short while, thereafter, the typical white lights took over and remained switched on for the rest of the flight.
This view outside of the window was really making us very excited for our next ten days in Korea!
The sun was setting and that was just making everything look even nicer.
Here’s our approach route into Incheon Airport.
And here we were in Incheon Airport. There was quite a delay in our arrival time that day, presumably due to the long taxi duration back in Shanghai, since we actually pushed back on time. We eventually touched down in Incheon only at about 5.39pm - that was almost 30 minutes after the schedule arrival time.
After another 10 minutes, we reached our gate at 5.50pm.
We did not make any plans for our first night in Seoul, so we just took our time to disembark. While waiting for everyone to get off the aircraft, I took more photos and I thought that the sky that day was really gorgeous!
We were the last few to get off the aircraft, but we still had to “hold” on the aisles for quite a while due to this lady’s ignorance. She was blocking at least 8-10 people but that probably was none of her business.
Off our aircraft and the first plane I saw was this beauty! When will I get a chance to fly on Korean Air…? It’s one of the airlines that I really want to try out but just cannot find the chance to do so.
And this was this iconic screen in Incheon Airport, where they display the flags of South Korea and the country which the flight originated from - in this case, China.
I had a very good first impression of Incheon Airport. Everywhere was brightly lit (unlike Shanghai’s PVG) and there were lots of space to accommodate all the passengers arriving in Seoul. (This is especially important given that many people travel around in the world via ICN on either OZ or KE.)
After walking pass the health declaration counters, we still needed to get on to the shuttle train back to the main terminal. It was a quick ride taking about 3-5 minutes.
And this is a photo of us arriving at the main terminal. There were two Korean Air FAs in this picture.
Queue for passport controls were quite long and it took quite a while for us to get through.
Our bags appeared in about 5 more minutes and then off we went into the arrival hall.
The arrival FIDS were showing many flights arriving at ICN that evening. Really an extremely busy airport - the arrival hall alone was huge.
We decided to take the limousine bus direct to our hotel.
And Route 6015 was the bus we took. All bus routes were clearly presented on such signs in at least 3 different languages - Korean, English and Chinese.
Seats were assigned when we bought the tickets so every passenger will be guaranteed a seat on the very comfortable bus - you will see some photos of the airport bus soon.
Anyway our destination was in the heart of Seoul at Euljiro-4-Ga (일지로4가).
A day before, we began our journey a few days ago from Singapore, and then to Taipei, Shanghai and finally Seoul. Coincidentally, the temperature in these cities also got from Singapore’s hot tropical climate, all the way to Korea’s sub-zero temperatures (in Celsius). It felt refreshing and super cool since this was the coldest both of us have every experienced. But at that moment, all that we wanted was to dash onboard the bus…
I must say that both airports in Seoul - Gimpo and Incheon, are really very well-connected to the city and all the other parts of the country. There are just so many modes of transportation you can choose to get to and fro the airports. In the recent years, you can even catch a high speed train directly from Incheon Airport.
This was the bus route clearly displayed in the bus.
As the number of cars on the road increased, we knew we were nearing the city. The bus ride was quite comfortable but a little bumpy.
Here are just a few more photos of the bus. Towards the end of the journey, every other passenger got off and we were a little worried about missing our stop. Thankfully, announcements were made in many languages upon reaching each stop.
3 hours after touching down at Incheon Airport, we finally checked in to our nice and warm hotel!
It was almost 9pm in Korea and we were super hungry. Immediately after dumping our bags in the room, we walked out to the streets for a good meal - and we weren’t disappointed!
Sweet and sour chicken.
Jja Jang Myeon - a noodle dish with black soybean paste. It was extremely tasty and filling!
That’s it for now! We had a great time in Seoul and were scheduled to fly to Busan in 4 days; I will come back with that report soon!
If not for the fact that FM codeshares with MU (since MU owns FM), I don't think I would have thought of booking a flight on FM. While my previous flight with MU exceeded my expectation, this flight on FM from Shanghai to Seoul kind of met my expectations. I have done quite a bit of research prior to this trip and knew that we need not expect amazing food for a flight departing from Shanghai, and also that delays are just as normal as any other thing at the airport. For this particular FM flight, the seats were comfortable - and having an empty seat was a perk definitely. The crew did their job professionally but did not appear after the meal service was completed. There was a meal, and TV programmes were shown on the overhead screens (though no earpieces were provided). We departed on time, but arrived 40 minutes late - the crew didn't explain anything about it though.
The departure experience from Pudong Airport was pleasant. Everything went by smoothly and without any hiccups. Like I've mentioned in the report, the Maglev line is a good way to get to the airport, but you will have to transfer at Longyang Road Station - the only other station on the Maglev Airport Line.
I am not exceptionally amazed by Incheon Airport, but it was clean, bright, and really huge. The terminal is nicely designed and I liked the wooden flooring at the immigration area. Definitely wouldn't mind transiting in ICN in the future!
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