In Auckland I attended the wedding of a very old friend of mine. Obviously the whole thing was very romantic and it certainly helped matters along that in the end both parties clearly enunciated an enthusiastic and excited ‘I do’. And now it is time for me to start my long journey home to cold and dreary Switzerland.
GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
Journey time: The distance from Devonport to Auckland airport is approximately 22km. On an early Sunday morning the journey will take roughly forty minutes to complete. There is not much traffic on the road at this time of day, but there does not seem to be a main road that leads you from the city to the airport. As a result, you end up having to take the smaller roads.
Location: Departures and arrivals are both located on the ground floor level at Auckland airport.
Counters: There are six counters open for check-in this morning. One for First Class passengers, one for Prestige class passengers, one for Morning Calm Programme members and the remaining three for Economy Class passengers.
In Seoul I shall be stopping over for one night, there is no same day connection to Frankfurt, what with the flight from Auckland only arriving in Seoul around 18h00. Even so, the check-in agent issues both my boarding passes and asks me if I would prefer her to check my suitcase through to Frankfurt or if I shall be need it before in Seoul. She also hands me an invitation to the lounge.
Departures is one floor up from check-in. The escalators are at the back of the check-in hall. Before you go through passport control, you will need to complete an embarkation card.
The one thing I really never understand in New Zealand in why it always takes so long to clear emigration. I mean, you would think they would not be too bothered about who is leaving the country. In any case, the queue is pretty long and it takes me twenty minutes to reach the front of the queue. Well, at least security does not take long.
Location: Immediately behind security there is a huge duty free shop. As you exit the shop, do sharp right turn and follow the signs marked ‘Airline Lounges’. All airline lounges are one floor up from the general departure lounge.
Type of Lounge: Korean Air uses the Air New Zealand lounge.
Facilities: Toilets and showers in the lounge, workstations, and extensive buffet with hot and cold dishes.
Really charming. I arrive at the reception of the Air New Zealand lounge and the lounge dragon has evidently decided to ignore me by not acknowledging my existence. I am standing in front of her while she persistently concentrates on scribbling something tremendously important on a piece of paper. Probably her shopping list. She does not look up once. Eventually another attendant comes along and beams a loud ‘Kia Ora’ at me. Not that her colleague notices or even cares…
The lounge looks, I am sorry to have to say this, like a right shit hole. First of all, the place is crawling with people frantically trying to get a cup of coffee and something to eat before their flight. There are nearly no more places left to sit and all the tables are piled up with dirty dishes and stacks of half-finished meals.
But apart from that, the place just looks shabby. Most of the chairs and seats look worn and are stained from god knows what. The toilets do not looks so fresh any more either and the used paper towels are spilling over and lying on the ground. Not that anybody seems to care around here.
It should also be noted that boarding announcements are made in the lounge. So just in case you thought you might encounter an oasis or tranquility in the lounge. Think again.
Priority Boarding: Boarding for the flight starts at 09h25, thirty minutes before departure. Passengers seated in the Business and First Class cabins are invited to board at their leisure. There is a separate queue for SkyPriority passengers.
There is a trolley with newspapers for passengers to help themselves as they board the aircraft, although in Business Class the crew will come round to every seat offering papers and magazines.
CABIN & SEAT
Configuration: 2 x 3 x 2 on the lower deck and 2 x 2 on the upper deck.
Seat: 17C, aisle seat on the upper deck.
Pitch: 60 inches, which is 10 inches less than on the B777-300.
Width: 21.6 inches.
Facilities: Reading lamp, USB port, power outlet.
Audio and Video: Audio and video on demand. The selection of films and music is quite limited through.
Korean Air operates the Boeing B 747-400 in three different configurations with either 45 or 61 seats in Business Class. In all three configurations there are six rows with four abreast on the upper deck, which is really the only place to sit when you are flying on the Boeing 747.
The seat on this aircraft is slightly different to the one on the A330-200 and the B777-300. It looks older. Even so, I think I like it better because there is a lot more storage space. On the downside however, this is an angled lie-flat seat.
Earphones, a blanket and pillow and slippers have already been placed at every seat before boarding. A vanity kit and the menu are distributed after take off.
Once more the crew are very friendly and willing to interact, even with the Western passengers. There is a woman sitting in the row in front of me who is travelling with a little boy. The crew go out of their way to make sure the mother has everything she needs and do baby talk with the boy, who is obviously enjoying all the attention.
With this being a morning departure, the service on this flight is in reverse order to the previous two I took with Korean Air. The first service is just the snack, with the full meal being served before arrival later on in the day.
Welcome drink on the ground: There is a choice of Guava juice, orange juice and still water. The welcome drinks are served with sweet, coated peanuts.
Hot towel before the meal: Scented hot towel.
- Pork and shrimp Wonton soup with noodles and pak choi.
- Chilli sauce.
- Pickled onion.
- Pickled cucumber.
- Selection of fruit.
- Coffee or tea.
With the Western dishes yoghurt and bread are also served, but these are not part of the Asian meal.
After the meal, the crew hand out immigration cards and customs forms for South Korea, a bottle of water and fresh water spray to keep you hydrated. And then the lights go out.
Hot towel before the meal: Scented hot towels.
- Roasted bell pepper roll with cream cheese and a balsamic reduction, served with pre-meal drink.
- Tomato and mozzarella with Italian dressing.
- Green pea soup, offered only with the Western dish.
- Beef tenderloin with wholegrain mustard sauce, roasted potatoes, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms and onion rings.
- Cheese: Camembert, Cheddar and blue cheese.
- Frangipane tart.
- Selection from the bread basket.
The second service already begins four hours out of Incheon and by the time the meal is over, we still have more than two hours to go. So the crew switch the lights off again to allow passengers to continue napping. It is not a big thing really, But I think I would have preferred for the service to start a little later.
Incheon is very busy when we arrive, which is probably why we end up pulling onto a stand at the satellite terminal. Gates numbered 1 through 50 are in the main terminal complex, while the gates in the hundreds are in the satellite.
From the satellite there is an automated shuttle to take passengers across to the arrivals concourse. The journey takes approximately two minutes. I am slightly apprehensive as I alight from the train, there are people everywhere and there is a long queue for the escalators. Fortunately, it turns out that most of the passengers are not heading for Seoul but are only changing planes in Incheon. Subsequently, the queues for immigration are not at all that long. By the time I reach the carousel, my suitcase is already expecting me.
Once I am through customs, I head for exit 14 to catch the shuttle to The Nest Hotel.