My “travel day” started with bagels and coffee with Jonnathan and the pups at our house in Long Beach. At about 11:00, we headed to JFK. Jon parked at short-term parking and came with me to check-in. Check-in at Korean Air was a breeze. (As I noted in an earlier post, although I’m flying on a federal grant and, thus, must use a U.S. flag carrier, this rule is satisfied because the Korean Air flight is a code-share for Delta.) The person who checked me in was exceptionally nice, although she did break the bad news that, although I have my coveted aisle seat, I would have someone next to me (the seat map the other day showed an unoccupied seat).
In any event, next stop was security. Unfortunately, I don’t have pre-check (my usual sanity saver) for this flight, so I had to go through the regular security lines, but it was a quick process.
I knew that I would be flying an Airbus 380-800 on the first leg of my journey (JFK-ICN [Seoul, South Korea]), but I had no idea of the massiveness of the plane. It’s a true double-decker, unlike the 747 which has a second deck only for the front quarter or so of the fuselage.
Boarding was a breeze, and I was struck by how nice all of the Korean Air employees are. I sat in 58H, all the way in the back on the first deck. The seat was surprisingly spacious, although a bit on the firm side. A full size video display, complete with on-demand movies and TV shows, was helpful.
Takeoff was interesting. The A380-800 needs a lot of runway to get airborne. A lot. We had some chop for the first hour or so, but it was otherwise a smooth ride.
Service began immediately after takeoff with snacks and, in my case, wine. Shortly after, it was time for the first meal: dinner. We had three choices: bibimbap, chicken, or beef. I went with the chicken, and it was delicious. It came with the smallest caesar salad I’ve ever seen. More wine was consumed. I settled in to a movie on the on-demand video. Afterwards, I wrote some emails, listened to music, and relaxed.
I did notice that they keep the plane pretty toasty. There aren’t any climate controls at the seat. We’re at the mercy of whatever the pilot decides is the appropriate temperature.
Bored and following best practices to avoid DVT, I walked around a bit. I discovered that near my seat, in what would be a galley on other wide-body planes, was a duty-free shop.
The bathrooms were immaculate – the flight attendants clean them often.
About two-thirds of the way through the flight, it was time to eat again. The choices were chicken, beef, or pasta. I went with beef. It was surprisingly tasty – not rubbery, well flavored, etc. After dinner I settled in to watching the first Godfather movie, an easy way to kill 3 hours.
Unlike takeoff from JFK, landing in ICN was not smooth. There was a storm over Seoul, and we had a lot of chop while landing. I think it was the bumpiest landing I’ve experienced.
ICN is a beautiful airport. I’ll have a long layover on my return flight in a few weeks and may take advantage of the many, free excursions outside of the airport. Alternatively, I may wander the airport, which has lots of interesting exhibits, shows, and shops, including a Dunkin Donuts!. Alas, my layover was short this time (only about an hour). I had to go through security and I barely made my connection.
The flight to Phnom Penh (PNH) was about 5 hours, not including the 2 hours we spent on the tarmac because of the aforementioned storm. At this point, I was exhausted and was eager to get to Phnom Penh. (I have trouble sleeping on planes (business class is another story).) I skipped dinner, but it looked pretty good. The flight on the 737 was pretty empty.
I landed at PNH around 11:30. Since I had pre-purchased my visa, I was able to go through passport control and customs pretty quickly. I was at my hotel, the Samsara Villa, by 12:30 am.