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 - Right here KE36 ATL-ICN 1/29/2017 - Right here KE607 ICN-HKG 1/30/2017 - Right here KE608 HKG-ICN 2/1/2017 - Right here DL158 ICN-DTW 2/1/2017 - You are here DL6197 DTW-YYZ 2/1/2017 - Skipping this one. Check this one out for something very similar on the same route.
It’s been a while since I updated this trip, but I wanted to get it done. Better late than never, I figure.
When last we saw each other, your intrepid flight-reporter had just arrived in the satellite terminal at ICN from whence non-Korean (the nationality, not the airline) carriers depart at ICN after a short red-eye trip up from Hong Kong. Things are pretty quiet, as it’s just a few minutes past 6:00 am.
Korean operates a lounge out at this satellite terminal, mostly for the benefit (I should imagine) of passengers of its SkyTeam partners who may be departing or transiting via this terminal, such as myself. It’s easy to find — just up an escalator near gate 115, which is just off to the side of the centre of the terminal.
Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t open until 6:30 am. So I head over to one of the lounge areas on the mezzanine level here and have a seat. This is, IMHO, one of the great features of ICN — the amount of seating and even lay-down lounges available in quiet areas of the concourse. This seating area is basically empty at this hours. The more bed-like lounges? Not so much empty.
It’s quiet down below.
I head back over to the lounge a few minutes before 6:30, just as a lounge agent is taking down the “we open at 6:30” sign, and opening the front doors, so I’m the first person into the lounge. I win a prize! (Unfortunately, that prize is just the ability to grab some pics of the lounge without disturbing my fellow lounge-goers.
This is a decent size lounge, very open and air, with lots of wood tones, white, and some KE teal as well. There are a fair number of different seating options to meet just about any preference, but they could really use more seats with power outlets — they’re very much at a premium, which is disappointing for what otherwise feels like a fairly modern lounge.
Reading materials, and a KE A380 model.
Near the back of the lounge, there’s this little TV lounge room.
More reading materials, this time with a KE 788, which I believe is something that doesn’t really exist. From what I understand, they’ve got one 788, which is not in use and is being converted to a VIP charter configuration. The rest of its soon-to-arrive 787 fleet will be of the -9 variety.
Yeah, like this one. Thanks for helping me make my point, KE.
The buffet area is fairly large, so let’s see what’s on the menu for breakfast.
First, the bar area, which is small but has a few options, and come cocktail snacks. The bubbles on offer are Pink Elephant Rosé. Interesting.
Instant noodles and hot water with which to reconstitute them.
A nice coffee machine.
Teas and soft drinks.
Beer taps and a cooler that mostly contains glasses and little cups of water.
Out on the island in the middle of the buffet, there are some salad fixings.
Fruits, veggies, yogurt, and milk.
And a few cereal options.
Over on the far side, some snack items — nacho chips and cookies.
Baked good, although I think the signs might be mixed up.
Black sesame porridge.
An egg scramble with onions.
And “sweet pumpkin croquettes,” which I find interesting, although not surprising, given the prominent role pumpkin plays in Korean cuisine.
It’s not exactly over-the-top, but I think it’s sufficient options for food for a “secondary” lounge like this, and I feel like there’s enough variety to satisfy most.
I pick myself a seat (which has access to a plug) ion a simple white desk that faces the windows. Airside views are great, with a closeup look at ground operations out here at the satellite terminal, and a full view of the main terminal in the distance. It’s a fun place to watch airport operations.
My breakfast. I thought it was all pretty good, and enjoy the pumpkin croquette and the egg scramble, in particular.
A bit later, a capuccino and a blueberry muffin. The former is very good. The latter is very generic.
WiFi is wide open, but is fast. The narrowbody below my seat has been upgraded to a Vietnam A321 by this point.
Eventually, I’m not the only person in the lounge — in fact, there’s one other passenger by the time I was done with my initial photo run. But it never gets really busy in the time I’m there, from 6:30 until about 10:20. I get some work done, edit some photos, and finish writing the HKG-ICN flight-report. I’m actually keeping up with this trip! (Okay… I *WAS* keeping up on this trip.)
I’m sure January/February isn’t exactly prime time for travel between the US and Korea, and it is Wednesday, so likely a softer day in general for business travel, but in the Delta app, it looks like this flight today is going to be light load, with 52 seats available in the main cabin, 11 in Comfort+, and whopping 32 of 48 Delta One seats unclaimed, with no apparent wait list for certificate or mileage upgrades, and that’s with less than three hours to departure. So potentially, it’s a good day to be nonrev flying this route.
With about 80 minutes to go before boarding, I decide it’s time to check out the shower facilities. I request a key, and am given a fancy keycard for the digital locks on the shower rooms. My first reaction inside: For an airline that’s all about the bright teal, and white and cream, and light wood floors, they sure went with “just this side of sensory deprivation chamber” for this shower room. Still, it’s reasonably well-appointed.
Soft plastic slippers, as seems to be the habit in Korea. These things really skeev me out for some reason. I’m sure they’re cleaned thoroughly between users, but still. Ick.
Sink and amenities. Their decision to offer shaving cream encourages me to get my razor out of my bag, and I feel better for having a good shave.
The shower itself is good — it gets decently hot, and the water pressure is just about right. A pretty nice lounge shower experience.
Back at the same seat as before, and there’s always something to watch out the window if you’re entertained by aircraft comings and goings. And I am. At one point, a Vietnam A350 rolls by, and I add that (and maybe their 789 too) to my “list of airliners I’d really like to sample at some point.” I love the windows — it’s just too bad that basically for the whole time I’m in the lounge (or at least the whole time post-sunrise) I’m staring directly into the sun. This would be an even better place to watch from in the afternoon.
At this point, I’m surprised how refreshed I feel, having not slept very much in the preceding 26 hours or so, except for the brief nap during the last hour of my HKG-ICN flight. I’m sure once I’m on my 744 homewards bound, and get a meal into me, this too shall pass. At least I hope so. I have to sleep at some point.
With about 15 minutes to boarding, I head out of the lounge to take a little stroll around the terminal and see what I can see. Let’s start with Garuda loading up to head back to Indonesia.
A beautiful 359 from Vietnam.
And another, this one from Malaysia.
On the other side of the terminal, another Vietnam A350. Surprised to see two of them here are the same time.
Who’s that pushing back behind this SQ 777. What are you doing out here, hometown plane?
I guess there are only so many A380 gates at ICN, so perhaps this Whalebus had to use this gate with other occupied?
And finally, look who I found. They’re letting anyone fly into Incheon these days!
As I approach the gate, Lineups are already starting with three zones — the “Premium” lineup for Diamond Medallion and Delta One customers, the Sky Priority lane for other Medallions and Comfort+ pax, and the Unwashed Masses lineup, which is by far the longest. As I approach, they make an announcement for all passengers connecting from other airlines to check in at their transit desk, to the left of the main gate. So I do, and my boarding pass is checked, and marked up. A “PM” is written in, presumably for Platinum Medallion, and the gate is corrected from 121 to 122. But I probably already knew that, since I was at gate 122. The agent working the transit desk then escorts me over to the relatively short line for DM and D1 pax, where we wait a few minutes before boarding begins.
But soon enough, I’m on way down the escalator for boarding. One last shot to get a 747 nose view from the glassed-in jetways at ICN. This will be my fourth consecutive 747 segment. Sadly, I couldn’t figure out a way to get either YYZ-ATL or DTW-YYZ on a 747.
Flight: DL158 From: Seoul Incheon (ICN) To: Detroit Wayne (DTW) Date: 2/1/2017 Aircraft: Boeing 747-400 Registration: N674US Seat: 77K ATD (STD): 11:48 (11:25) ATA (STA): 9:52 (10:15)
After making my way through the downstairs D1 cabin, I head upstairs, and check into seat 77K, a starboard window seat just behind the emergency exit upstairs on the DL 744 — basically the same place as my seat on the KE 74H on the previous sector. It has has been well prepared for my arrival, it would appear.
The aircraft, which arrived into Seoul the day before, was very cold upon boarding, and would remain pretty cold (including metal surfaces on the seat edge) until after pushback, when the engines were on and things brought up to temperature pretty quickly.
The seat is covered with bedding, all flying the flag of Delta’s “partnership” with Westin on bedding, carrying the “Heavenly In-Flight” banner. There’s a very nice duvet and two pillows, a small “back support” pillow that’s perfect for behind the small of my back, and a very large, very nice main pillow. Delta does business class bedding very well, in my opinion.
The menu, an amenity kit, slippers, and “sweet and spicy” pecans all await me at my seat.
As do a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, which aren’t the best you’ll ever see, but are pretty comfortable, and good enough for me to keep my Bose set in my bag. Here, they’re hung on the reading light when I arrive.
And a look into the footwell. It looks small, but at 5’11”, I didn’t find it a problem when it came time to sleep. More on that later.
Seat controls, old-school wired IFE, and “deploy screen” button are located on the forward wall of the seat.
And the IFE screen immediately in front of that. Unfortunately, IFE is not activated during boarding, and there’s just these commercials on a loop, while boarding music plays.
All of your ports — headphone, power and USB — are in the rear outside wall of the seat, with a small open bin area above it, perhaps for stowing things like headsets and cables. But not during taxi, takeoff and landing, of course.
The Delta One slippers are well-padded and comfortable, although as with most airline slippers, run a little small for my feet.
The small bin by the outside armrest on this seat contains a bottle of Evian.
Outside my window, there’s nobody next door, and a TG A330 a couple of gates over.
And then there’s the menu, which starts with the Korean meal set.
And then the Western meal.
Desserts and pre-arrival meal.
And wine list.
The amenity kit, deconstructed. About what one would expect. I love that Delta includes a pen. Bonus for the fact that it’s a good pen. And it’s a nice touch having the “re-use me” reminder on the paper band wrapped around it.
Meanwhile, a check in the Delta app reveals that J has gone from 32 seats available to 16 seats available in the last hour, with all but one of those new seat assignments coming from the Standby list rather than the Upgrade list. Looks like it’s a good day to be a nonrev on this route, indeed. In fact, the woman sitting across from me in 77A is clearly a nonrev and appears to be a well-known character or minor Delta celebrity, as all the flight attendants and even the flight crew pop by to say hi during boarding.
Around this time, one of the flight attendants does a pre-departure beverages run, but somehow misses me.
Meal orders are taken on the ground, with the same flight attendant who did the drinks run going back and forth, I’m not sure if she was taking orders by status, by fare class, or what… but she was not taking the shortest-possible route, that’s for sure. She checks in with me fairly early, confirming that I’ve pre-ordered the Korean meal. Having seat what the Korean meal is, I’m of mixed emotions on it — on the one hand, I’m kind of interested to see how Delta’s interpretation of bibimbap compares to that on KE or OZ. On the other hand, it would appear that according to airlines, Koreans eat nothing but bibimbap, ever.
Eventually, I flag down the other flight attendant working the upper deck, and ask for a glass of champagne. She seems genuinely shocked and profusely apologetic that I was missed the first time, and comes back with a tray full of PDB options.
A couple of minutes later, she returns, and hands me another glass, repeating that she’s sorry I was missed the first time, and saying she’d just have to throw these out if nobody was taking them, so I might as well enjoy.
She then sets up immediately in front of me with the belt buckle, oxygen mask, lifejacket and other safety demo gear. “Video’s not working,” she says to me, before quickly clarifying “For the safety video, I mean. You’ll be able to watch all the movies you’d like in-flight.” Well, that’s good.
Shortly after they get done the manual safety demo, the safety video plays on the IFE screen anyways. So we were well-briefed for this flight.
As we push back, Alitalia has pulled in beside us.
Taxiing out past the end of the satellite terminal.
And getting lined up for departure.
Coming at the runway from the other direction, an OZ Cargo 767. It’s surprising to see a 763 without winglets in this day and age, although I guess the remaining mainline AC 763s haven’t yet been updated with winglets, either.
A powerful 744 roll, and we’re off!
Once we’re off the ground, the IFE kicks in. It’s the same interface as on just about every Delta aircraft.
The movie selection is less than impressive, and Delta does a poor job of categorizing films to make it easier to find what you want — all new releases are lumped in together regardless of language, for example. Eventually, I choose Denial, a nice light film about fighting Holocaust deniers, to start my flight.
A look out the window at the rugged terrain of Korea as we approach cruising altitude.
Service quickly begins with hot — and I mean HOT — towel service.
The too-small-for-the-table tablecloth is then set, drinks offered from the cart, and the Settling In starter presented. I ask for a glass of ice water, and a Woodford with just a little bit of ice.
The starter salmon bundle is quite tasty, especially paired with the ginger sauce. It’s a nice light bite.
When I’m done that, the salad and soup are presented. I’m surprised to be offered the soup, as it’s not really “included” in the Korean meal according to the menu, but hey, I’ll take it. A bread basket run is also provided, and drinks are refilled, including both of us having a go at one mini-bottle of Woodford that just doesn’t want to be opened. Eventually, another one is selected and it’s much more co-operative.
The carrot and celery soup, poured from a Thermos, is quite good.
The salad is not entirely my speed, mostly because I’m not a big fan of beets, but I give them credit for at least presenting a fresh and interesting salad.
The bread is not great, even a little on the stale side.
When I’m done, my table is quickly cleared, and my main course provided.
The bibmbap setup.
Seaweed soup, which is quite nice — and I suppose that’s why the Korean meal isn’t “supposed” to get the carrot and celery soup.
And, of course, rice.
Missing are the Korean side dishes, and most importantly, the gochujang and sesame oil. I point out these are missing, and they’re quickly brought to me. The pickles are about as expected, the dried shrimp and almonds pretty good, and they aren’t kidding about the “hot and spicy” burdock. It is, indeed, quite a hit of heat, but also quite good.
The bimbap, mixed up and appropriately sesame oiled and gochujanged. I thought the Delta interpretation of the bibimbap was about on part with KE and OZ in business class, perhaps even a little bit better. I quite enjoyed it. Although I was surprised not to be presented chop sticks. But that’s probably for the best anyway.
After that’s done, cheese and dessert are presented together. I take the cheese, and also ask for a sundae with “the works.” The cheese course is very good, but then I really like both pepper jack and red Leicester.
The sundae is just as expected, quite delicious.
All in all, a pretty satisfying meal, and great service from the two flight attendants working the upper deck.
After dinner, it’s time for a quick trip to the lav. There are two upstairs behind the flight deck but in front of the cabin, and neither are anything special, given the tight space available upstairs.
With my movie over, I decide it’s time to get comfortable and see if I can’t get some sleep — if I can pull it off, it’s just about perfectly times, as we’re about 10 hours from Detroit, and it’s late evening Eastern time.
Put down into bed mode, I find the seat quite comfortable. It’s definitely not as wide as the Apex seat on the KE 74H, but I have no trouble getting comfortable sleeping positions on my back, stomach, or either side.
I wake up briefly about six hours later, as we’re over eastern Alaska or northern BC. I take a drink of water from my water bottle to try to relieve the inevitable “sleeping on a plane” dry mouth, and decide to see if I can get a bit more sleep while I’m at it.
Turns out I can, and I take up just over two hours of Detroit, as we’re entering US airspace from the north. A very good sleep experience. I love Delta’s Delta One bedding, both the duvet, and especially the nice big soft pillow.
I look for a movie that will fill the remaining time, and after flipping through a few items which “have been edited for content,” ultimately select Mr. Church. It’s weird seeing Eddie Murphy in a serious dramatic role, but I think he’s pretty good at it.
WiFi is available on this flight, and I buy a cheap one-hour pass to get some e-mail done, check in with home, and be ready for the day on Eastern time. It’s pretty easy to connect, and the speed is acceptable, for in-flight WiFi. Oh look, Corporate shot time!
Just under 90 minutes out of Detroit, the lights start to come up, and clearly it’s mealtime. and that’s good, because I’m getting hungry. Service starts with another very hot hot towel.
The table is then set, and drinks offered. I’m in a breakfast mood, so I opt for orange juice and a black coffee.
Breakfast is then presented on one tray. I choose to have the “Amish egg bake casserole.”
I really like the main, and find it a nice change from the typical in-flight omelet. It’s cheesy and tasty, although a bit on the salty side for me. The tomato sauce included looks like ketchup, but is decidedly more savoury. The sausages are okay, but a little hot dog-like for me. And notice the token broccoli. It’s a healthy meal, y’all!
The included fruit is a small dish, but I can’t complain at the selection of grapes, pineapple and kiwi, all of which I love.
The croissant is nothing special, but better than the bun offered with dinner.
By the time the movie is over, we’re about 20 minutes from Detroit, and clearly getting close.
It looks cold outside.
Service ends with a Lindt chocolate being offered, and with headphones and remaining cups, tablecloths, etc. being collected.
Look… it’s our shadow!
And hello, Detroit! We set down and it’s a long roll to slow us down, with the engines kicking up a lot of snow.
Taxiing towards the McNamara terminal.
We arrive at our gate, but have to wait for some time as they prepare the jetways for us. During this time, there are at least three “We’re are still on an active taxiway. SIT DOWN!” announcements from the flight attendants, of increasing urgency and frustration.
But soon enough, we pull in, and this trip comes to an end next to our little sibling, an A330.
We’re given very friendly goodbyes by the upstairs flight attendants as we make our way downstairs and into the masses getting off the plane. Fortunately, it’s a short walk to customs, and with Global Entry, I’m through in no problem. There’s not much of a line for transit security, but since PreCheck isn’t offered at transit security (and since my KE-issued boarding pass makes no mention of Pre), I go through the full U.S. security experience, including Nude-o-vision for the first time in quite some time.
Oh well, at least the lineup wasn’t long.
Once through security, it’s a long escalator up to the McNamara Terminal concourse itself.
But then I’m here, on the concourse, and ready to find a lounge to chill for the three hours or so before my final flight of this trip, the short jaunt back home to Toronto, which I’ll be skipping the report on. It went about as one would expect a 214-mile flight to go.
Delta Air Lines
Korean Air Prestige Class Lounge - Terminal 1
Seoul - ICN
Detroit - DTW
In final analysis, I enjoyed this trip, which may well be my last time on a DL 747, seeing as how they’re being retired later this year as the new A350s come on-line. The service was good. While mistakes or oversights were made, they were quickly corrected, and our two flight attendants were warm, friendly, and full of personality. I thought the catering was quite good. And the sleep was phenomenal, thanks in part to good bedding from Delta, and in part to significant sleep deprivation on my part.
Thanks for joining me for this flight, and I hope to see you on my next adventure.
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