Hello, and welcome to a series of flight-reports chronicling a quick trip to Hong Kong in business class with Delta and Korean.
Here’s the rundown of what’s already happened, and what comes next.
DL2551 YYZ-ATL 1/29/2017 - Here KE36 ATL-ICN 1/29/2017 - Here KE607 ICN-HKG 1/30/2017 - Here KE608 HKG-ICN 2/1/2017 - You are here DL158 ICN-DTW 2/1/2017 - Coming soon DL6197 DTW-YYZ 2/1/2017 - After the one above
After a good night’s sleep and a full workday, I took the Airport Express back out to HKG at about 7:00 in the evening — ridiculously early for this past-midnight flight, but I needed a base to get some work done as the Eastern Time workday began, and a lounge was as good a choice as any.
For once, I remembered to use the in-town check-in, although as I always travel with just carry-on (and this time especially would, as I’m hauling back a few new additions to my 1:400 collection, so I don’t want those being checked) it doesn’t make that much of a difference.
Departures were a little bit busy, but security went quickly and the lineup for passport control was also quick, so in no time, I was airside at HKG.
This is my first time traveling SkyTeam to Hong Kong, so it’s obviously my first time checking out the still relatively-new SkyTeam lounge here at HKG. It’s near “the base” of the terminal, which means it’s a bit of a hike out to some of the gates, depending on where you’ll be departing from. Since we’re on a pretty big bird tonight, I fully expect we’ll be at one of the farther gates, although gate information was not quite yet available.
The lounge is downstairs from the concourse level, but is pretty easy to find.
My boarding pass is scanned, and I’m given a warning that boarding announcements are not made, so please pay attention to what’s going on. No worries. The first thing one notices is this “living wall,” which is a nice anchor piece in terms of aesthetics.
Then there’s a fairly long hall, with the buffet and restaurant seating to the side.
And then into the lounge itself. It’s a pretty clean, modern design, with a fair number of seating options. Plugs are absolutely everywhere — each of those white side tables has a universal power plug and a couple of USB ports, and where there are no side tables, there are Hong Kong plugs in the floor.
Some seats are downright spoiled for choice. This one seat, for example, has access to eight power plugs (two in each of the tables, two on the floor together in front of the seat, and two separate outlets behind the seat on the floor), plus eight USB ports (four in each side table.) Even I couldn’t use all those plugs, I don’t think.
A couple of computers available for browsing.
Here’s a pretty unique feature — a yoga room.
And a little sectional couch down the end of the hall to the yoga room.
Restaurant seating next to the buffet.
And the buffet itself. As I approach with my camera, a lounge agent approaches and informs we that while I’m welcome to take pictures with my cellphone, I’m not welcome to take pictures with my camera. Okay then. It’s a little point-and-shoot model… it’s not like I’m getting in people’s faces with a big ol’ SLR with a giant telephoto lens. But that’s fine. So we’ll take a look at what’s available at the buffet, courtesy of my phone.
Minced beef broth with coriander.
Fried fish and chicken in onion jus.
Roast potatoes and Chinese vegetarian dish.
Egg custard buns.
On the other side of the buffet, there are some finger sandwiches.
Salads and cheese.
Jelly and egg salad tarts.
Juice and milk.
Snacks, including nuts, nacho chips, and cookies.
Desserts — sesame balls with red bean, and bread pudding.
But the “main attraction” of the buffet is probably the noodle bar, which offers a number of different freshly-prepared dishes, including Hong Kong fish ball soup, Taiwanese beef noodles, Hong Kong minced pork rice, and a vegetarian noodles dish. But it’s got quite a lineup, so I decide to skip it for this first round, and make my selections from the buffet.
There’s also a fairly well-stocked self-serve bar area, a bit back from the buffet… far enough that I was left wondering “So if I want to drink something other than apple juice, orange juice, or milk, how would I do that?”
I make my initial selections. The soup was okay, but I was a bit offset by eating ground beef of that colour. To my surprise, the chicken with onion jus was my favourite among the other dishes.
Next, I head back to try the noodle bar, requesting the Taiwanese beef noodles, which are very good. I grab some dessert at the same time, and the bread pudding is quite to my liking, but then, I’m a big bread pudding mark.
I complete dinner with a cappuccino, which is very good, and hits the spot, as my energy levels are starting to wane as we’re well into the evening.
With this lounge being downstairs from the concourse, it makes sense that it’s on the arrivals level. And in fact, the seat where I’m sitting is up against a semi-transparent glass window with an also-semi-transparent blind over it, but it’s clear that it opens onto the arrival hallways, as every now and then, dark and shadowy figures walk by on the other side. That’s as close as this lounge comes to a window, though, which would be my one big criticism of SkyTeam’s lounge here.
WiFi is fast and secured with a password, although that password is for obvious reasons posted throughout the lounge. Corporate shot time!
After puttering for a while, I decide I’m still a bit hungry, so I return to the noodle bar, this time for the Hong Kong minced pork rice. Not bad, although surprisingly, not very hot.
Still with a little bit of time to kill, I ask if it’s possible to take a shower. Of course it is — the lounge crowd is really thinning out at this hour, so I didn’t suspect it would be a problem. My boarding pass is taken, and I’m shown to one of the shower rooms — they seem to have three or four.
It’s a pretty small shower suite, but the space is well used. The shower itself is very large, taking up easily half of the available square footage. The rest of the setup is kinda basic, but it gets the job done.
The shower was quite pleasant, although it was hard to find a temperature setting that straddled that razor-thin line between ice cold and hot enough to remove skin. Once it was co-operating on that front, I thought it was a good airport lounge shower experience.
My boarding pass back after the shower, the FIDS is showing that we’ll be departing from gate 36, which is out at the end of the long axis of the Y shape of the main pier at T1 in Hong Kong. I believe that’s the same gate into which we arrived on my inbound flight from Seoul. Flightradar24 suggests the inbound 747-8 was about 25 minutes late getting into Hong Kong, but no delay has been posted for my flight as of yet, so I’ll plan to hit the gate “on time.”
All in all, I was fairly impressed with the SkyTeam lounge at HKG. It’s large, well-appointed, with a good number of food and drink selections, pleasant in aesthetics and design, and all the chairs I tried were quite comfortable. It was fairly quiet when I was in there, even when it was relatively busy. One advantage of this location versus the more common HKG lounge location of the mezzanine level is there’s no crowd noise from the concourse. The lounge was definitely more busy early in my stay than when I left after midnight, but wasn’t packed at any point in my stay.
About fifteen minutes before the scheduled boarding time, I make my way upstairs and onto the concourse, and start making my way down the terminal towards Gate 36, where my chariot awaits. The terminal is still decked in Chinese New Year decorations.
As is the gate from which we’ll be departing.
And look, there’s a plane!
Lineups have already started to form, and the signage says boarding will start soon, so I join the short Sky Priority line that stretches to the left from this shot. Boarding pass and ID are inspected, and about ten minutes behind schedule, they start to let us aboard.
Flight: KE608 From: Hong Kong (HKG) To: Seoul Incheon (ICN) Date: 2/1/2017 Aircraft: Boeing 747-8i Registration: HL7637 Seat: 18J ATD (STD): 01:28 (00:55) ATA (STA): 05:13 (05:20)
Upon boarding, I instantly recognize the purser from last night’s flight down to Hong Kong, which makes sense, as this is likely a 24-hour-layover kind of route. Boarding through 1L, I make my way back through the main deck business class cabin, and then head upstairs to my seat.
For this flight, I’m in 18J, the starboard window seat in the third row of the upper deck, the one immediately behind the emergency exits, and the mirror twin to my seat for my ATL-ICN flight.
The seat pair. As noted before, the Apex is quite ingenious in how it allows for 2-2 and 2-2-2 configurations where the window seats get aisle access by way of a little alleyway in front of the seat next to it.
The seat is pre-loaded with a pillow and blanket — both are fine, although not exactly up to snuff with the bigger pillows and more plush duvets you’ll see on some other longhaul business class services.
Along with the more intimate feel, in my opinion, one of the big reasons to go with upper deck versus main deck is the presence of these nice big bins along the window side on the upper deck. I quickly stow my laptop and other accessories I may want in flight, and there’s plenty of room to spare.
Not much exciting going on out my window.
A power outlet is very obviously located in the side wall between seats.
With seat controls behind that.
And a modern touchscreen IFE remote below that.
There’s also a narrow storage bin between the seat and the console wall, in which slippers have been placed.
In the front of the bin, one will find the headset connector and a USB charging port.
The IFE screen is a decent size, and I appreciate that the IFE system is fully activated at the gate, allowing me to get started.
Movies have been updated — I presume for February availability. This is pretty impressive, as February is less than an hour old at this point, and this plane clearly left ICN when it was still January.
My first selection, a movie I’d actually been wanting to see. I find it a good little suspense/thriller.
The menu for this flight — and for the ICN-HKG flight the preceded it — is located in the literature storage area above the IFE screen. Unlike my two other KE flights so far, this was not collected immediately after orders were taken. Perhaps it’s less pressing to get them back when the menus will be taken off the plane after this flight anyways, since presumably this aircraft will be off to a longhaul destination in the morning.
To my surprise, when I order the beef, I’m asked how I’d like my steak cooked. Let’s see if you can pull off medium. I’m impressed that they ask, though. Usually, the default answer for how you’d like your beef on a plane is “however our ovens reheat it, and you’ll be happy with it.”
Headphones are distributed. They don’t look great, but I found the KE noise-cancelling headphones very comfortable, and sounded good. I felt no need to fish my Bose out of my bag. For those terminating in Korea, arrival cards were also handed out at this point.
The offered slippers are decent, although a little small for my feet.
Pre-departure beverage service was next. I take both a water and a glass of champagne. A small bag of peanuts was also offered, but I didn’t feel the need.
Boarding is pretty quick, but the load for this flight is heavier up top than anything I saw in either of my previous KE 74H flights. We were a little over 50 per cent full on the upper deck.
We pushed back just a few minutes behind schedule. No good look at the terminal, but a decent look at the new livery on the Dragonair… errr… Cathay Dragon A330 behind us.
As well as narrowbodies from Philippines and (old school) Dragonair.
More narrowbodies as we taxi.
Taxiing past the new satellite terminal.
Our cargo-bearing twin from CX.
And an older member of the CX fleet.
Finally, a Hong Kong Air A330 parked out near where we’re waiting for the runway to be clear.
There’s clearly a bit of a lineup, as we wait there for about ten minutes, but then we’re off and into the air.
Once they’re released from their seats, the flight attendants spring into action. Hot towel service is the first order of business.
Table cloths are then set, and an FA comes around with a tray of water and juice. I thought I was grabbing orange juice, but it’s actually pineapple juice. I’m okay with this.
The meal tray is then brought around, and soup is offered to those of us having the Western or Chinese entrée.
The potato leek soup is very enjoyable, although the serving a bit small, much like everything about this meal. That said, it is after 1:00 am Hong Kong Time.
The FA returns with the bread basket, and I take a couple of pieces of a very nice garlic baguette.
Almost as soon as I’m done the soup, the main course is offered. I really enjoyed this main. The veggies were cooked perfectly, the potatoes delicious and cheesy, and the steak quite tasty with a simple but enjoyable sauce on it.
And sure enough, it seems to be roughly medium. It was nice and tender. I had a glass of a California merlot with it, and it was quite enjoyable as well. When the FA spots me setting up this shot, she stops by to make sure the steak is done to my liking — I wonder if she feared I was taking a picture of an overdone steak in order to file a complaint?
My dinner dishes are quickly cleared, and a simple dessert of fruit offered. It’s quite fresh.
And finally, from the coffee and tea service, I take a green tea.
When dinner is done, there’s still about 20 minutes left in my movie, and just over 90 minutes left in the flight. Wow, it’s going very quickly. I’m a bit tired, but I don’t feel like I’d drop right off to sleep, so I decide I’m not going to sleep on this flight, unless maybe I doze a bit. I’ll probably pay for this during my layover in ICN, but it makes sense at the time.
A quick visit to the lav, located just behind the flight deck. They’re pretty standard.
Back at my seat, and with my movie over, we’re about an hour and ten minutes out of Seoul.
It’s not enough time to watch another movie, so I find a documentary that seems both interesting and about the appropriate duration for the remainder of this flight.
The lights are soon turned all the way off. With the privacy screen up, this seat feels very private indeed. I watch my documentary for a bit in an almost-full recline, and sure enough, I doze a little bit, coming up to full awareness just as the overhead lights in the emergency exit area is coming up. Moments later, one of the flight attendants appears with a tray of juices, and at that exact moment, the pilots come on the PA to let us know we’re on our approach and will land soon.
I take this as my cue to unplug things and stow them, and generally get ready for arrival.
Yep, sure looks like we’re almost there.
Korea stretches out below us.
And soon enough, we’re very close indeed.
And then we’re there.
The taxi is fairly short, and we come to a rest at Gate 12 of the main terminal.
Once again, these jetways provide a great opportunity to get a picture of the nose of the plane as you disembark.
Look what’s right across the hall from where we arrive!
Transfer security is pretty quick at this early hour, and within a few minutes of arriving, I’m back airside at a not-as-busy-as-it-is-sometimes ICN.
I’ll be departing from the satellite concourse, as my next flight is with Delta, a decidedly non-Korean airline, so I make my way out to the train that takes pax out to that facility. And that’s where we’ll pick up things for the next flight.
Thanks for joining me on this flight — I hope to see you on the return to North America, up next.
Hong Kong - HKG
Seoul - ICN
I was surprised at how quick this flight went. The catering was very good, I thought. Apparently I should have been choosing the Western menu on Korean for previous flights. The crew was pleasant and friendly, and got things done quickly to allow as much sleep as was possible on this short jaunt. All in all, a fine short-range red-eye on KE.
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