Another crisp clear start to the day with the wind from a different direction and not quite as strong. First order of business is to retrieve all the bits that have been scattered around the room. There is no real urgency as we don't have to check out until noon and our flight is not until 20:20.
Walked around the neighbourhood around the hotel and bought some pastries for breakfast. Check-out is 12:00 and we sat around the hotel room and caught up on the latest TV News. The temperature was still in low single digits and after our experience in Beijing, where the airport terminal was decidedly cold, we dressed appropriately. All secured and checked we decided to head for the airport about 10:00. We were at the bus stop for a bare 5 minutes when our 'shuttle' arrived.
We arrived at the airport and settled in for a very long wait. We spent the time exploring this enormous structure starting with the 12 check-in isles each with about 25 airline desks on the level-2 Departures hall. There are four floors, with the Departures and Arrivals occupying the two main public levels. We found specialist Korean Restaurants, coffee shops and the international fast food players interleaved with branches of a local department store. The Western end of the building is dominated by Korea Airlines while the Eastern end was occupied by Asiana, a member of the Star Alliance.
When last we travelled by air, we sat about for hours too, waiting for the check-in desk to open for our flight. I looked in vain for an indicator board to show when the desk for our flight was due to open. I approached a representative of Asiana and asked her the question, she was surprised and assured me we could check-in our baggage at any time. Hillbilly Australian !!
Back to where Jenny was guarding the luggage and we lined up to check in. The lady spoke perfect English and in no time had allocated seats and relieved of our main bags we approached the Immigration and Security check. Immigration was easy and quick. The security check was exhaustive and thorough and consumed a lot of time. I suspect that the number of 'trainee' people may have contributed to the detailed check and we were mere training aids.
Through to the 'clean' side of the terminal and another view of this awesome structure. We made our way to Gate 40 and given that we were more than six hours early it was no surprise that we had the choice of seats. The seats were the most comfortable we have encountered and was maintained in a spotless condition by a variety of cleaning staff. The shopping options were somewhat limited at the gate, but we had no difficulty spending the last of our Korean currency.
With about two hours to go for boarding the numbers in the gate suddenly swelled as about 100 mainly young Korean women arrived. It looked like a 'tour group' rather than a panic evacuation from a war threatened country. Jenny was looking a bit more relaxed but still not convinced that there was nothing to worry about.
The cabin staff arrived and the girls looked as if they were all peas out of the one pod. Each of them immaculately groomed and looking exactly like their promotional images. Very impressive and fills one with confidence that this outfit pays attention to detail. The boarding process was unusual, with an Australian civilian randomly checking passports, then at the start of the air-bridge there was another check of our carry-on baggage. Thankfully it was quite cursory and comprised of them unzipping some zippers and peaking inside.
The aircraft, a 777, was impressively large and we were initially lulled into a impression that there would be plenty of 'spare' seats. No way !!, they just kept on coming and stuffing luggage into the overhead lockers. This presents a problem for these largely 'short' people. It also demonstrated why the cabin crew were all at least a head taller than their average fellow countrymen. When it looked as if the loading had filled all the seats, the fun started. Couples and 'close' friends where were separated by the random seat allocation started negotiation for seat changes. In a short time I had three different women occupy the seat next to me.
With no more than a slight delay we were airborne and settled in for the ten hour flight. The service aboard was excellent with a choice of Asian or Western meals. Our Western meal centred on a perfectly cooked fillet steak. The selection of potato wedges in the dish was a bit strange as they were understandably limp and a bit soggy.
Attempts to sleep were generally unsuccessful and I'll take up the tale in tomorrow's update.
Internet connection may not be possible and I'll post this when I can.
Meanwhile, if you'd like to see my recent images you could try the following link. Recent Images on 365
Cheers ... Tony