Last month I was glad to have the opportunity to fly on The Queen of the Skies before her wings are clipped by the U.S. carriers later this year. I flew upstairs in business class on Delta 158 from Seoul Incheon (ICN) to Detroit (DTW). Upstairs in Delta One on the 747 is only way to fly!! My initial seat assignment was 11A downstairs, but through close monitoring of seats on the Delta app, I snagged a ride upstairs instead in seat 74K.
To me, Seoul Incheon is one of the best airports in the world if not the best. On this trip, I stayed at the Grand Hyatt Incheon adjacent to the airport. I’ve also stayed at the nearby Best Western Premier, and both have easy access to the airport, which makes either a must when staying over the evening before your flight. Both offer regular shuttles for the 10-minute ride to the airport.
TravelSkills reader Jeff submitted this Reader Report- He bought a fully refundable $4,800 economy class roundtrip for his ATL-SEA-ICN-DTW-ATL trip and used global certificates to upgrade. Here he reports on the leg from Seoul to Detroit. Since Jeff took this trip, Delta has launched new nonstops between Seoul and Atlanta using a Boeing 777.
Finding your carrier is a little tricky with the poor signage in ICN’s main terminal but just ask and you will be directed promptly. I checked in at the SkyPriority line and was immediately attended to, then headed to security. I’m in the Korean Smart Entry Service (SES) program (like Global Entry). It used to be good but now is overcrowded as they have not increased the machines available for processing. Saying that, if you travel to Korea often it may be worth it especially if you arrive in ICN when all of the flights from China arrive also and immigration lines can be swamped.
Security screening can be a bit of a mosh pit, but not always. Warning- wear cool clothing. The concept of air conditioning is different than in U.S. You will sweat everywhere at the airport, especially in the security line. Rarely do they weigh the bags now but if it looks overstuffed they have people just before you enter security kinda watching out.
I cleared security in about 15 minutes. I carry all kinds of things cables, small tools, meters but the thing that freaks them out are my keys every time. Go figure.
I had a pass to the Korean Air Prestige lounge, and there are two to choose from at ICN. I think the lounge in the main terminal is the best one (less crowded, more comfortable, but still a little warm by my standards), but I went to the one in the international terminal because I was a little short on time. There is a train from the main concourse to the international carriers concourse (gates 100+).
I loved the walk to the departure gate, looking out at the elegance of aviation through huge windows.
I boarded the plane and climbed the stairway to the upper deck. I found the overhead bins a little small so if you have an overstuffed bag they won’t fit but there is ample closet space at the back.
On this flight is seemed like it took the flight attendants forever to start the preflight refreshments. Had to actually go back to the galley for a second glass of champagne.
Pushback was right on time.
As we departed, I peeked out my right side window and watched the engines as the captain scrolled the turbo fans up. Four engines given full thrust, release brakes, and rumble down the 10,000-foot runway. 60 seconds later we are in the sky looking forward to 12 more hours.
The captain immediately makes a hard right turn (due east) which isn’t typical but I’m sure it’s to navigate well south out the DMZ.
The view was wonderful. Incheon (the city) then Seoul, past the mountainous country side and then to the beach lined coast.
I love the upper deck with the view and solitude. It harkens me back to travel when I was a kid (not that we ever flew in first but we did fly). It never feels crowded up here. Even in business class on other planes I always feel cramped and jostled. Not so when riding in the bubble! Travel seems elegant again. Pardon, but the 4th glass of champagne has made me nostalgic. They actually just gave me the bottle to save time and to stop me from ringing the call button I think.
The meal came about 20 minutes later. I selected the beef as I have been in Korea for 14 days and was desirous of the bovine. The asparagus soup was very good and hot. The salad which was quite tasty with a good mix of leafy greens, pistachio nuts and citrus. I added the vinaigrette dressing which I really enjoy on Delta. The smoked duck was pleasant but the vegetable wrap had a sweet taste to it which threw me off. Not bad but not how I wanted to end the appetizers course.
Meal arrived. I’m not sure if it was me or what but I could not eat it at all. Took one bite and stopped. It may have been my pallet with the Korean food all week but everything on the plate tasted odd.
Had another glass of champagne just in case. Odd thing was the FA’s didn’t even ask me why I ate so little. Well no sense in worrying as the desert cart was rolling out. The selections were vanilla ice cream, chocolate cake and fruit/cheese. I had the chocolate cake and fruit/cheese. I always find the ice cream rock hard. These tasted absolutely fine! No offer of wine or port…so I rang the call button and got a nice 10-year-old Port.
Sleep eludes me even on long flights. Half way through the flight flight attendants served a grilled chicken sandwich with Gouda cheese, grilled onions and mushrooms on rye. Quite good. We departed The Land of Morning Calm and flew over The Land of the Rising Sun. The Queen continued to reach her full stride in full trim. Sadly, my hopes of seeing Mount Fuji were not realized on the route. I settled back to the thrum of the Pratt & Whitney power plants moving us through the stratosphere. Soon after crossing Japan we were in a 100 mph tailwind jetting the USA on the greatest aircraft ever produced.
On our way to Detroit, I looked down at Alaska, The Yukon Territory, Alberta, Manitoba with our entry in the the lower 48 at Minnesota. Breakfast is Served! Quiche with chicken sausage. As a note, if God had intended chickens to be used for sausage He would not have created the pig. But the sausage was good.
We arrived on a cloudy day in Motor City. Landing was perfect. Touch down almost undetectable on this graceful bird. We made our long slow taxi to gate 36. The two dings, and I rose from my seat, bags in hand, then walked out and looked back at one of the most beautiful sights in aviation: the elegant curves of a Boeing 747. I’ll miss that!
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