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Monday 16 June 2014

Celebrating my 60th airline with Korean Air and the Boeing 747-400


For my 60th airline, I didn't take long to decide which airline I want that to be. As I wanted to fly on some domestic flights in Korea, I wanted to make this a special flight. My 30th airline is KLM and the Boeing 777-300ER, the 40th airline is Kenya Airways and the Boeing 777-200ER and lastly, my 50th airline is Royal Brunei and the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. This means my 60th airline has to be an airline which operates a Boeing aircraft, preferably a wide-body. I decided on Korean Air and the Boeing 747-400! Korean Air only flies the 747-400 on Gimpo to Jeju domestic route which is only 50 minutes of flying and of course some international routes. That also means it would be my shortest 747 flight! Looking at the schedule of flights between GMP and CJU, you will be amazed by the number of flights flown by Korean Air, Asiana, Air Busan, Jin Air, Jeju Air, T'way and Eastar Jet! There are around 100 overflights combined together per day, this has to be one of the most popular routes in the world! Not to mention how many 747-400s Korean Air deployed on this route, amazing really. I have decided on GMP- CJU and then returned on CJU-GMP with T'way another new airline for me. Later on, I would add another GMP-CJU-GMP sector, thanks to Air Busan's ridiculous low fare from GMP-CJU and then return with Eastar Jet's 737-700 (2nd time for me) a day before my Korean/T'way flight and yes, 2 separate days on 4 different carriers on the same route, that's crazy, right? I am so glad to have done that.

Korean Air's website

Booking with Korean Carriers are not so straight forward. If you are after the discounted price, you have to register with the airlines to take advantage of them. Some of the airlines require you to use Internet Explorer to make your payment. As for Korean Air, this applies and you have to download a program which is used to make your payment. Troublesome it is, but I had to do it anyway. I paid around S$95 for the discounted price and the original price was about $20 more. There is the mobile version for it, but I had difficulty accessing to that so I just did my booking on the website on my pc. Not much problem with that, but there are other airlines such as Eastar Jet and Air Busan don't require such complications to make your booking, I really wonder why.

The one in red is the seat I chose, not too far from the back. Later on, it turned out that the Y class was only 30% full! 

On the day itself

Going to Gimpo domestic terminal was easy since the previous day I was there to catch Air Busan's A321. From my guesthouse, I walked to Seoul Station and catch the Arex train to Gimpo Airport station. Very convenient and then walked to the domestic terminal, the journey took around 50 minutes. Once over there, I was quite early, but managed to check in early and did some plane spotting at the airside, there is no problem with that. From what I heard from my friends, there were no photography signs on the windows, but this time, there wasn't any and in fact, no one stopped from taking photos so snap as much as you want, as far as for a foreign plane spotter in concern, the domestic stuff is quite interesting! 

 The famous Seoul Station

The interior of the Arex train. If you are going to Seoul Incheon Airport, you have a choice of either this or the express train. The express train is faster by only 10 minutes and costs more than this train so I would rather take this train. 

    Photos of Gimpo Domestic terminal

This was where I checked-in, Korean's check-in counter is the biggest of all!

Jin Air - an airline I wanted to fly very much, but the website only offers the Korean language for its domestic routes, this meant that when I fly back to Seoul next time, I would have to book my flight at the airport instead. 

Always have a thing or two for orange colour and I feel the airline's livery is one of my favourites!

I was here yesterday.

Departure hall! 

The lounges are at the land side, on the departure hall level. 

Supermarket receipt! You get the proper boarding pass if you fly on the international routes. 

Did some plane spotting along the way, do enjoy the photos! Photography is allowed especially for plane spotting at the air side. The 'No-photography' sticker had been removed. 

For plane spotting action, the best place to go is the airside, the best time to photograph is in the morning as the light is behind you, the evening would be backlit. 

Korean Air's Boeing 747-400

Korean Air's Boeing 737-900

I flew on this aircraft a year later, you can check out my trip report over here.

Easter Jet Boeing 737-700

You can check out my trip report with this airline, over here.

T'way Boeing 737-800 taxiing into the gate. 

You can check out this airline's trip report over here.

Korean Air Boeing 737-800

Asiana Airbus A320 

Air Busan's Airbus A321 and this aircraft, HL8213 flew me from Gimpo to Jeju the day before. 

You can check out the trip report over here.

Jeju Air's Boeing 737-800

You can check out the trip report over here.

Korean Air's Boeing 747-400 taxiing to the runway

Korean Air's Boeing 737-800 in Skyteam livery

T'Way Boeing 737-800 pushing back 

        Look at how many flights heading to Jeju at this time? 

My ride, HL7493! 

What a beauty isn't she? 

Flying on my 60th airline, Korean Air!

I had a little scare while packing my bag to prepare before boarding the aircraft. I realised then my Ipad was missing! Panic struck me and it only took a while to realised that I forgot to collect it at the security check. Immediately, I went back to the security screening centre and to my relief, a security officer had my Ipad. He got me to sign a paper and off I went to my aircraft. So be careful with your belongings, make sure you check first before you do anything else! 

When I reached the boarding gate, boarding had already begun and I made my way down the aero-bridge and soon entered the 'Queen of the sky'! The Korean crew made me very welcome at once. As I looked no different from the locals, they greeted me in the native language and I just nodded and smiled at them in excitement! With permission from the crew, I went around snapping away while we waited for departure! The whole section of the rear was almost empty then the crew told me Y class was only around 30% full and feel free to photograph whatever I want, just as long as the crew's faces were not in it, no problem! 

My route: GMP-CJU

My 60th airline
Airline: Korean Air
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Registration: HL7493
Flight: KE1221
Route: GMP-CJU
Date: 21st May 2014
Delivered on 22nd March 1995
Line number: 1057 
Seat: 49K 
Gate of departure: 3 
Departure time: 1215 
Flight Duration: 1 hour 
Arrival time: 1315
Actual arrival: 1317
Load: 30% in Y class
FL: 260 
Departure runway: 32R 
Arrival runway: 25 

Aircraft was pushed back quickly and we taxied for about 5 minutes before turning to the runway 32R for a quick take off.

Cabin shots of Y class! 

Thanks to the lovely crew for helping me take this photo! 

Seat pitch is not too bad.

You can see how empty this flight is! Most of the blue seats in the front cabin were filled up.

I was so busy chatting with the crew after the flight that I forgot to ask for permission to view the business class and first class. 

Only managed to take a photo of these Business Class seats.

What's at my seat? 

Thank you for flying with Korean Air! 

Inside the seat pocket:

Photos of the toilet 

A couple of postcards were given by the crew. 

A big thank you to the crew for helping me sign the card and for the postcards especially to one particular crew: Kim (Hope to see you onboard soon!) 

Only drink service on this short sector, I had a coke. 

The flight itself was uneventful, it was just an hour of flying. Since the load was very low, the job for the cabin crew was easy. I was given the green light to roam around and take as many photos as I could. (Thank you, Kim and the crew) You sometimes wonder since the load is so low, why not use a smaller aircraft?  Guess it could either be cargo, the airline could still make money if there are lots of cargo or it could be a packed flight on the return, who knows? 

Before I knew it, the aircraft started its descent and landed at Jeju almost on time. I wouldn't mind at all if the aircraft circled around in the air for a while longer! 

Aircraft is being loaded

Taxiing from the gate to the runway took only 5 minutes

I will come back for you, Asiana! Need to fly on your Boeing 767 especially!

Almost there now!

Lovely day for flying, isn't it?

You can see how much stretch this window has!

At this point, the speed brake was deployed to slow the aircraft. 

The weather was fine all the way, just a bit of bump during taking off and on approach. 

We have touched down!! 

Once again, Mr Charles, Welcome to Jeju! 

With that, I bid farewell to the Kim and her crew and also the Boeing 747-400! 

HL7493 at Juju! Goodbye 747, see you next time! 

It goes into my book also for being the fastest flight, I should have booked my return flight on the Jumbo Jet to further enjoy the feeling of flying the "Queen of the Sky", but still my 60th airline flight was a great experience. Enjoyed both the aircraft and the in-flight service. This has to be one of my most memorable flights! One that I will not forget for a very long time. 

My rating:

Website: 6/10 
On-ground crew: 8/10 (GMP)
Gimpo Airport experience: 7/10 
In-flight service: 9/10 
Cabin interior: 10/10
Seat comfort: 7/10
IFE: (Not in use)
Cleanliness: 10/10
Drink: 7/10 (Points for the crew offering refills) 
Punctuality: 10/10 
Aircraft condition: 10/10 

Overall rating: 83/100


I highly recommend anyone to fly the Korean Air's Boeing 747-400 on this domestic route, if you are not able to fly them on international routes, this would be another option for you. My first impression of this airline is impressive. Korean Air has improved by leaps and bounds and I have no worry about the safety record. The cabin crew, both senior and junior were very nice and hospitable even for a short flight like this. I will definitely try this airline on a longer sector and would then write a review on the airline again. For now, I am glad that to have chosen this as my 60th airline. Flying on Korean domestic flights once can expect a complimentary drink even on a Low-Cost Carrier. Photography at Jeju, Gimpo and onboard the carriers are allowed so enjoy yourselves! 



  1. Boeing 747-400s are being phased out. I think the reason why Korean Air is flying them on the short route to Jeju is because Boeing 747-400s use a lot of fuel, which is also why airlines are getting rid of them.

    1. Hi Alex,

      KE's Boeing 747-400 will still be around until 2017, and besides there are cargoes that need to be transported from GMP to CJU and vice versa. Operating this aircraft on longer sectors is more profitable if not for the possible cargo reason.