Off to Korea I Go: A Flight Adventure

Sunday morning Vicky drove home and my parents drove me to the airport around 6AM, because my flight left at 7:15.  There is only one nonstop flight out of SFO a day to Korea, so I had to catch the earlier connecting flight.  Otherwise, I would have stayed at home as long as I could.  I sort of wish there was a later flight to Korea, but the only choice is 11AM… Both the day before and the day of I was feeling pretty nostalgic because I knew this was the last time I would be here for another 6 months, so I was trying to make time go by slower… It doesn’t work.

Which is interesting, because have you ever tried to make time speed up?  Like you’re bored or something or your day sucks at work and you just want time to pass so you can do something else.  Guess what?  Time always goes slower.  But when you want time to slow down, it speeds up.  My advice is to always do the opposite- if you want time to go fast, try and make it go fast and it will go slow.  And vice versa.

Anyway, Fresno Airport has a sequoia tree exhibit in their terminal.  Weird.

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So on to the story.  Why does a flight even matter?  Why am I even blogging about it?

Back in February or so I applied for an United credit card.  I’m not big on having a bunch of credit cards, but they allow you to earn miles on dollars you spend and you get free checked bags.  I didn’t check any bags, but it’s the thought that counts right?  You also get 30k miles free after you spend a certain amount of money, plus they have no foreign transaction fees… You can see where I’m going with this.

I used the free miles I got to upgrade my flight to business.  I have always wondered what it is like and if it’s really worth it, so what’s a better way to try it out than as an upgrade?  Consequently my connecting flight was upgraded as well, even though first class on a 32 minute flight is kind of a waste.  Especially on a United Express flight.  It’s the Canadair CRJ plane.  Not too shabby.

I wanted paper tickets so I went to the counter via the premier line and asked for printed tickets.  Super nice guy, but he couldn’t understand why I would fly to Korea.  It’s an airport.  People go places.  Why is that a question.  Super nice guy though.

I went through security and got molested by those body scanner things.  I grabbed my valuables and then waited by the gate.  Got on the plane, sat down, and ordered a water.  Preflight drinks and I got water.  It was 7AM, way, way too early…

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Seats were surprisingly comfortable!  Lots of legroom as well.  Of the 6 seats in first only 3 were filled.

Fresno is home to an air wing so those are parked out there.  Pretty cool to see.  And then it was a very short flight to SFO.  It’s like you take off, get to altitude, then start your decent.  But, it’s either fly or drive, and driving is around 3 hours.  Plus the people driving you have a 3 hour drive back.  It isn’t really worth it to drive in my opinion… Other than it’s significantly cheaper to drive.  Rambling aside, we landed early and had to wait on the tarmac for 15-20 minutes.  That tends to be my luck.

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Changing planes was extremely easy compared to flying into the country.  You literally walk to your next departure gate.  You don’t have to go through security a second time.  Now THAT was awesome.  Since I had a premier ticket I was able to get into the international United lounge ‘fo free.  Otherwise it’s $50.  I don’t suggest wasting your $50 on getting in if you don’t have a pass or ticket that gets you in, unless you can drink more than $50 in alcohol, eat $50 worth of cereal, or an electrical outlet is worth $50 to you.  You do get to watch planes take off, so that’s a bonus.

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I didn’t take any pictures of the lounge itself, but here’s a photo from the internet.

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There’s a whole other section that has a bar, but I didn’t go in there because, well at this point it was only 9:30 in the morning, on a Sunday.  Too early.

All flights to ICN on United are on these bad boys.

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Sorry for the terrible photo, SFO has those dot things on their windows to help with heat exchange.  It makes your photos suck though.  So now it’s time to board!  I got on and promptly had to put my things in a bin downstairs because there is limited room upstairs.  So that means if you need anything you have to go back downstairs to get it, and when everyone is trying to leave the plane you have to somehow get around them to get your things.  That was difficult upon leaving.

I’d say that if you have the same opportunity, sit upstairs.  It is worlds better than downstairs because it’s smaller, quieter, and frankly there’s more space.

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United has 180 degree lie flat seats, which is more or less the only reason to upgrade.  You’ll see why.  Their screen is pretty big and they have a “decent” selection of things to watch, so I will say that it is a nice convenience.

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So you actually get a choice of what to eat in business.  They also have you choose two different things, a first choice and second choice, because they run out of certain items.  Which they certainly do.

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As far as service, it was a mixed bag.  There was an older gentleman who helped me for the majority of the flight and was very, very kind and attentive.  I was very happy with how he was treating everyone.  This other lady, however, was extremely annoying.  The only real interaction I had with her was regarding the food so that was only for a part of the time.

She came around and took everyone’s orders and first says your name to make sure it’s you.  She horribly mispronounced my last name, and when I corrected her she said she didn’t have my name on the list.  So I spelled it and pronounced it, and she again mispronounced my name and when I again corrected her, she said I wasn’t on her list… So I said my name is spelled ___ and pronounced ____ and she said “Ooooh yeah you are here.  That’s such a weird pronunciation.”

It’s really not a weird pronunciation… so that was awkward.

The poor couple in front of me had an even harder time, because she got confused with her list and thought that they were some other people, and she was telling the guy his wife couldn’t be served because she wasn’t on the list?  It was really strange… Then she raised her voice and told him to not get mad at her, she was only doing her job.  Really bizarre.  The older gentleman came over and took care of it but it was a really weird exchange.  She ended up giving my food to the guy next to me and vice versa, and we had to switch… Honest mistake I guess.

We taxi’d late (typical) and took off late (typical) and guess what?  Landed late.  Typical.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

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So the main part of the “experience” is the meal.  They make a big deal out of it.  Appetizer, main course, dessert.  I got a mimosa.

The appetizer was a normal salad but the jumbo shrimp were actually really really good.  I got fish for my main course and regretted it, it wasn’t that great.  The dessert was awesome though, they come by with their cart and you can put whatever you want on your ice cream.  I got fudge and a cherry.  😀

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Here’s a shot of the screen in action.

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Not long after it’s lights out, and it’s lights out for the next 10 hours.

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In case you’re wondering, I was watching that “Gravity” movie.  It was ok.  It wasn’t George Clooney’s best performance, that’s for sure.

Lights out is nice because you can sleep, but if you take off at 11AM… you really aren’t that tired… Plus they leave you alone for almost 8 hours straight.  What if I’m thirsty?

Quick tip, don’t drink much liquids because then you have to pee about a million times during the flight and your chinese businessman seat mate won’t move his legs for you so you get to feel a 50 year old male’s legs while you brush past him.  3 times, that happened…

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Lack of wifi for most of the trip was kind of a bummer.

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The entertainment system was easy to navigate, and you could even track your progress on the map.  Pretty cool feature, United!

Breakfast was asian noodles.  Well either that or eggs, and I don’t trust plane eggs…

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Landing at Incheon!

It was unsurprisingly smoggy in Korea.  We landed and quickly taxied to our gate, and deplaned.  As I said before my bags were downstairs so I had to push past some folks to get my bags.  All in all, it was a good flight.

Would I do it again?  That depends.  I think that flying business is fun and worth it for the experience, but I would never, ever pay for it.  The premium that it commands is NOT worth it.  If you can upgrade, do it!  Never pay full price for it.  It’s not worth it.

The worst part of the whole trip was the 2 hour bus ride home.  On one of these things.

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I ended up being pretty jetlagged.  I didn’t have any going to the states, but I’m having a terrible time sleeping normally now that I’m back.

I have a few food posts coming up, so stay tuned for those!  Meanwhile, I’m back!

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