As mentioned in the past, I decided to try something different when flying to Japan this time. Flights to Japan are much more expensive now than when my wife and I were first married. This is because:
- We have more family members. :)
- We now fly during the summer months which is expensive, but that’s when there is no school in the US. It’s much cheaper to fly to Japan during the Winter or Spring from what I can see.
So, to save money, I took an indirect flight from Seattle, via Korea to Japan using Korean Air. My wife flew with the kids directly via ANA, but since I was coming later, I decided to try and save some money, and try something different. I saved about $500 which is a lot, but it also took 5 hours longer to get there. Years ago, we flew using United Airlines, which was OK, but then ANA opened a new route from Seattle to Tokyo, and we love to fly ANA. ANA is truly a great airline. If we fly directly, it takes 10 hours to Japan, but 8 hours back because the plane is flying with the currents.
Flying with Korean Air was great too though. I flew economy-class, but as I boarded the plane, I was surprised to see a bottle of water waiting for me on my seat:
This is apparently water from the famous Jeju Island. That was a nice surprise. I also got a small bag containing slippers, a toothbrush and toothpaste.
Since my feet are 31cm, the slippers were too small, but the toothbrush and toothpaste were appreciated.
The dinner I had was a Korean dish known as Bibimbap (비빔밥), which is a kind of mixed bowl of rice, vegetables and beef:
It even came with a small tube of gochujang, which is the famous Korean red paste used in many dishes. The bibimbap was actually quite good and even came with a Korean soup called miyeokguk (미역국) which I mentioned here previously. Definitely one of the better meals I’ve had on an airplane.1 Also, I’m not the only Westerner who feels this way. After the meal, I had some hyeonmi nokcha (현미녹차, 玄米綠茶):
Korean nok cha (녹차, 綠茶) is just green tea Korean green tea2. Specifically though, this was hyeonmi nokcha (현미녹차, 玄米綠茶) which is the same as Japanese genmaicha, which is green-tea mixed with roasted brown-rice. I’ve actually never had any kind of nokcha before though, because the Korean restaurants I go to usually have different teas. Anyhow nokcha was very light and tasty. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Since we have an H-Mart near Seattle, I found a similar brand and am drinking it as I write this.
The flight to Japan, via Korea, was very comfortable because I had an empty seat next to me, so I could stretch more and even sleep a little bit. The flight back was very crowded and I sat next to another big fellow (this happens to me a lot…bad karma?) so I wasn’t able to sleep, and I slept near the emergency exit, which let me stretch my legs, but the seat was more narrow than usual. That was my fault though because I checked-in late. Korean Air has a nice “web checkin” feature on their website which lets you pick your seat, but I didn’t have a reliable computer in Japan, so I couldn’t use it. I used it from Seattle to Japan though and it worked well for me.
Also, the flight staff on Korean Air were great. The attendants all spoke Korean, English and Japanese. They’re English was pretty good (minimal accent, good communication) and from what I could tell they spoke good Japanese too. I was kind of impressed.
Anyhow, it was finally nice to get to Incheon Airport in Korea after 11 hours, but that’s a story for another day. :)
Suffice to say, Korean Air was great. It was comparable to ANA (another great airline), but I also saved some money, yet still had a great flight experience. I don’t know if I want to do an indirect flight again in the future, but if I do fly to Korea3 (or indirectly to Japan), I will definitely fly Korean Air again.
1 Air France also had very good meals, though the service was either really good, or really rude and awful. ANA has great food too, but more Japanese-style of course. I liked their soba. :)
2 I’m pretty sure that nokcha is a cognate to Japanese ryokucha (緑茶). They’re basically both green tea.
3 My wife and I talked about visiting Korea in the future, but after my experiences, she wants to visit even more. :)