Today I wake up at 05:30. I’ve spent my last night at the Barajas Hilton. This gives me enough time for a leisurely shower and breakfast before heading for Terminal 1 at Barajas. As I check out, the Korean Air crew of the inbound flight from Seoul are just checking in. This is somewhat surprising to me, as it means all passengers continuing to Amsterdam will have a layover here in Madrid of about three hours.
Date: 01 May 2012
Airline: Korean Air
Aircraft: Boeing B 777-200
Class: Economy Class
Seat: 43A, window
Getting to the Airport
I take the shuttle to the airport at around 06h30. It drops me off right in front of the entrance to Terminal 1. The journey only takes about five minutes at this time of day.
I sort of managed to check in for the flight last night. I say sort of because although I was able to select my seat and all that, the confirmation I receive informs me that this is my exchange voucher, which I must present at the airport to receive my boarding pass.
Korean Air’s check-in counter are opposite the entrance. I exchange my voucher for a real boarding pass, head through security and then through passport control to the Cibeles Lounge which is used by Korean Air here in Madrid.
When I arrive, the place is empty, save for one other passenger whom I suspect is in transit from Seoul to Amsterdam. The lounge is enormous and has excellent view of the apron.
And here’s my bird, resplendent in the morning light in her elegant shades of white and blue.
Boarding starts right on time. I avail myself of the priority lane and am the first one heading down the airbridge. This is so exciting! I’ve always wanted to give Korean Air a try.
Boarding is a calm and efficient affair. But alas, the powers that be will not permit an on time departure and we are informed of a delay of 40 minutes due to the bad weather in Amsterdam.
But never mind. I am on board Korean Air’s mighty 777, in the capable hands of an excellent cabin crew, which pass through the cabin offering cups of water. How very considerate.
Shortly before the 40 minutes are up, the captain is on the blower again. There will be a further delay of 40 minutes due to the weather situation in Amsterdam. For the time being there’s nothing to worry about. I originally had three hours to make the connection to Zurich. That should still be enough, even with the delay.
In the meantime, the crew come by dishing out more drinks and peanuts.
The cabin of this aircraft is in excellent condition. In Economy Class the colours of the seat cover change every few rows for a bit of variation. It’s a nice touch, but I’m not so sure I like that brown colour.
Eventually, we take off 10:55, 85 minutes behind schedule. I could have slept in. In any case, we depart form the runway point north that runs parallel to Terminal 5, which means a long taxi for us. But our captain is obviously quite eager to get going. You’d be surprised how maneuverable the B 777-200 is even when taxiing at high speeds…
As soon as the fasten seatbelt sign goes off, the cabin crew spring into action. The captain is determined to make up some of the delay and has even loaded additional fuel to this end. Subsequently, the flight time is expected to be 1 hour and 42 minutes. That is how much time the cabin crew have to serve a hot meal to a full Economy Class.
First refreshing towels are distributed.
Next comes the meal and I am delighted. The starter is cold chicken with potato salad, followed by chicken breast in a mustard sauce as the hot meal, served with noodles in a pepper and tomato sauce. Dessert is a lovely, diabolically chocolaty piece of cake with pieces of pear in it. I have a diet coke with the and finally wash it all down with a cup of coffee.
Shortly after the trays are cleared away, we already start a very gentle descent into Amsterdam. We spend one round in a hold pattern above Rotterdam before continuing to Amsterdam and eventually landing on the remote Polderbahn. By the time we arrive at the gate, we’re one hour behind schedule. I will make my connection to Zurich effortlessly.
Korean Air were good fun. I also think they dealt with the delay in a very good way. The cockpit crew made sure to keep the passengers constantly updated on developments and the cabin crew took good care of the passengers while we waited, providing drinks and snacks to keep us going until the flight got underway. The quality of the catering was very good. The entire meal service was like a trip down memory lane. After all, how many other airlines in Europe still serve such a generous hot meal in Economy Class on a flight of less than two hours?
No, in the end I did not make my connection to Zürich, the flight was cancelled. But at least I managed to talk the lady rebooking me into putting me on the flight to Basel instead. This meant was more convenient for me but also meant that I had another six hours to wait in Amsterdam. So I decided to head into town and have afternoon tea at my favourite bakery.