Trip Report: A Wandering Seoul
This trip report will consist of comprehensive reviews of the flights, lounges, and hotels that I visited during a quick family trip to Seoul, including a roundtrip booked on Korean Air business class.
Needing to be in Seoul with my family, I immediately had a look at Korean Air and Asiana’s business class prices on the route, since I know that Korean Air and Asiana consistently offer low prices on regional flights (the same can’t be said about their longhaul flights, though). I was able to pull up fares of HK$5,200 roundtrip on both airlines, which I don’t consider to be astronomical for intra-Asian business class (Cathay Pacific charges thrice as much). I would also be able to earn Korean Air SkyPass miles had I flown Korean Air, and Singapore KrisFlyer miles had I flown Asiana. I had also flown Korean Air many times before, but I’ve never flown Asiana.
One deciding factor made the choice very easy for me. Korean Air was flying some of their new aircraft with Apex Suites between Hong Kong and Seoul, which we’d be able to book ourselves onto on the outbound flight, despite not being able to on the return flight. Meanwhile, Asiana was flying A330s and 747s between the two cities, both of which feature angled flat seats that wouldn’t make as exciting of a review.
Korean Air Boeing 747-8 Business Class
We booked the following flights on Korean Air:
27/7 Korean Air 614 Hong Kong to Seoul dep. 14:05 arr. 18:45
1/8 Korean Air 607 Seoul to Hong Kong dep. 19:45 arr. 22:30
Korean Air actually operated a 777 with Apex Suites on the day of our outbound at 12:15 PM, which would’ve given us some extra time to settle down before dinner in Seoul. However, we decided against that. The first reason was that the 2:05 PM flight was operated by a 747-8, which I thought would feature a better hard product if anything (due to the storage bins on the upper deck). However, I also thought that the 777 was much more prone to an equipment swap, and I really wanted the chance to review the Apex Suite business class seat configuration (the 12:15 PM frequency actually ended up being operated with Apex Suites as scheduled, though it went out much fuller than our flight did). Due to the high capacity of the 747-8, the only feasible aircraft in Korean Air’s fleet that they could swap our flight to was the 747-400, which the airline now only has two of.
Korean Air operates a ridiculous amount of flights with their Apex Suite from Seoul Incheon to Hong Kong, though their latest flight to do so was at around 1 PM. The 7:45 PM flight was far better suited for our travel schedule, so for that I thought one review of the Apex Suite would suffice – and it’s also been a couple of years since I last flew Korean Air’s old longhaul business class product, which still flies between Seoul and a few European/U.S. destinations.
Korean Air Boeing 777 Business Class
Additionally, since the last time I flew them Korean Air switched to Incheon’s brand new Terminal 2. I thought it would be quite cool to check that out.
Incheon’s New Terminal 2
A day before our outbound flight Korean Air opened up their six first class seats in the nose of the 747-8 for business class passengers to select, as no one had booked seats in the cabin. We were able to select first class seats on the outbound, which I’ll talk about in the review, of course.
Korean Air Boeing 747-8 First Class
Booking The Hotels
The hotel booking for this trip was also relatively easy. I had my eye on the Park Hyatt Seoul, which I’ve wanted to stay in for years. The Park Hyatt was offering a room rate of HK$3,800 including taxes for a Park Suite, and after emailing the hotel they were willing to arrange a suite for all four of us. That’s substantially cheaper than two rooms at most hotels, so I’m happy with the rate that we got, especially for a “destination” hotel.
Park Hyatt Seoul Park Suite Twin Bedroom
This trip was easy to book, and we were also able to earn SkyPass miles and points with Hyatt’s loyalty programme. With the first class seat we scored to Seoul I learned exactly how rewarding this industry can be when you’re knowledgeable and stay on top of your travels. I knew off the top of my head what Korean Air offered on the 747-8 and booked the product specifically to avoid an equipment swap, so we could have a better inflight experience (at no marginal cost compared to if we had taken the 777, even though that ended up flying out on our departure day with Apex Suites as well). I also checked ExpertFlyer like mad and acted respectful, flexible, but knowledgeable to the airline personnel.
All these resources are so important to maximising travel, and best of all they’re free – my ExpertFlyer Basic account’s free, trip reports out there are free (including my own), calling a call center costs no more than your phone bill, my “seat change” to first class was free (and it didn’t cost anything to try to do the same on the return), choosing flights comes at no marginal cost, etc.. That’s the beauty of the industry – there’s so many flexible moving parts to each flight and it’s up to us to know about them and manipulate them to ensure that everyone we’re traveling with has the best experience.
The only thing that absolutely wasn’t free were the flights. Once again, my parents paid for this family trip, and I owe my gratitude to them. It’s worth stressing again, despite sounding like a broken record, that my goal in life is to be able to bring my parents as regularly on leisure trips like these as they bring me, for pennies on the dollar.
Read more from this trip:
Stay tuned! Which installment are you looking forward to most?