flying seoul-o: haneda to gimpo


After a night of pod living in Tokyo’s Haneda airport and a few skipped heartbeats [Did I just do the Yen math wrong and withdrawal US$1000 from my checking account? Did I remember that there are two major airports in Tokyo? Did I reset my clock to local time correctly or did my flight leave an hour ago?], my traveler’s ADD calmed and I was at the airport ready to check into my flight to Seoul, South Korea’s Gimpo International Airport.

The Japanese are as far from New Yorkers as possible. The airport was calm, organized, and orderly and the people queued politely. They all knew the security procedures well and were well prepared when ready to be x-rayed. No one seemed agitated and, like the pod hotel the night before, people were dead silent. Even the people [to my surprise] who were drinking beer at 8:00am [no they were not German or Belgian] were quiet, polite and respectful.

This would be my first time flying Korean Air, a SkyTeam partner with Delta, KLM and Air France. When I approached the check-in counter a young Korean girl named [undecipherable Korean symbols] greeted me with a warm smile and began processing my economy class ticket. When I asked if it was possible to get a window seat [the light is better near the window for self-portraits] I smiled coyly raising one eyebrow. As she thumbed through my passport, she replied sounding like a Korean Marilyn Monroe, “I’ll see what I can do for you.”

A quick phone call later and she issued me a window seat and a huge smile. I thanked her and proceeded through security to the gate. What I didn’t know at the time is that she had really done me a solid. As I boarded the 747-400, the flight attendant motioned for me to go to the upper deck to take my seat. That is when it hit me; I had been given an upper deck business class seat. What a treat after having flown thirteen hours the day before in economy class. I can’t complain though – my international ticket had been free courtesy of the frequent flyer gods.

When I do pay for a ticket I am rarely inclined to pay for a business or first class seat. For me it is a matter of maintaining the economic wherewithal to take many trips a year, and as I have yet to hit the lottery, I look at a business class ticket as two or three potential economy class tickets. Of course it doesn’t hurt that I am just taller than the tallest Hobbit which makes for a more comfortable economy class experience.

The Korean Air flight was lovely, and from my window I was able to see some incredible views of Japanese mountain ranges while having a [quasi] latte. Flying Seoul-o ain’t so bad. To the wonderful staff of Korean Air, I’d like to say [thank you very much in undecipherable Korean symbols].