Date: October 22, 2017
Flight No.: KE1233
Route: Seoul Gimpo to Jeju International
Airline: Korean Air
Type: Boeing 747-400
The day of this flight, I was supposed to take new Jinbei Jet’s inaugural flight. But, because of a change of plans forced by a typhoon, I ended up flying on Korean Air’s 747 from Seoul to Jeju instead.
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Check-in and a Quick Lunch at Lotte Mall Gimpo
I spent the morning at Incheon airport (more on that in a separate article) with a fellow Korean spotter before we both headed to Gimpo.
Once there, I quickly got my boarding pass at one of Korean Air’s “Sky Priority” desks. And, while I had many “receipt-like” boarding passes in the past, this one was by far the longest one.
With the boarding pass in my hand, we headed to a mall adjacent to the airport where we had a quick lunch.
Seoul Gimpo – Jeju: The Busiest Air Route in the World
I left the latter lounge at 1PM and headed through the security check. It was fairly quick, as I was through within five minutes. And, that included getting my bag “swiped” and tested for explosives.
Before continuing, I want to mention that Seoul Gimpo – Jeju is the busiest air route in the world in terms of the number of passengers carried.
Being operated by all of the major Korean airlines – including Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, Jeju Air, Air Busan, T’Way Airlines, Eastar Jet, and Jin Air – it is also among the top 3 busiest routes in terms of the number of flights.
While most of the flights on the Seoul – Jeju route are operated by narrow bodies, there are also some wide body frequencies including the 747 flight I took.
Airside, I headed directly towards gate 4 where my flight was departing from. As I was walking towards the gate, an announcement was made that boarding would be delayed from 1:20PM to 1:30PM.
When I got to the gate, flight KE1231 bound for Jeju was boarding at the adjacent gate 5. At the same time, a queue started to form around gate 4 for my flight – KE1233 – departing just five minutes after KE1231.
Outside, the Queen of the Skies was already waiting for its next domestic hop.
Boarding the Korean Air 747-400 and Departing Bound for Jeju
Boarding started at 1:31PM, and being a Sky Team Elite Plus member, I was one of the first passengers to head down the jetway.
Onboard, I took a quick look into the nose section which featured 12 first class seats.
Then, I headed to my seat 28K which was just a couple of steps away since it was a seat in the very first row of the economy class cabin which was right behind the first class cabin. Being a bulkhead seat, the legroom was more than generous – although at the cost of not being able to raise the armrest.
After dropping off my bag, I also peeked into the next economy class cabin. Interestingly, it featured differently colored seats than the one that I was seated in.
Around 1:50PM, one of the cabin crew members came by to take the screens of people seated in bulkhead seats out of the armrest in preparation for the safety video screening.
Just a couple of minutes later at 1:57PM – seven minutes behind schedule – the push back started. Around the same time, the cabin crew came to stow the screen. While doing so, she also welcomed me onboard and thanked me for flying with Korean Air.
Shortly, the aircraft’s four Pratt & Whitney engines were fired up, and we taxied towards our departure runway, crossing runway 14L/32R along the way.
We took off from runway 32L at 2:09PM. And, almost immediately after lifting off, we commenced a left turn – both to avoid North Korea and to head to Jeju which is an island to the south of Korean mainland.
Korean Air Domestic In-Flight Service
The seatbelt signs were switched off just four minutes after take off, at 2:13PM. At the time, we were flying by Incheon airport.
With Incheon airport photographed, I left my seat to look around the cabin a bit. And, of course, also to take a couple of photos through the window on “L2” door which is perhaps the best window for wing shots on the 747.
When I returned to my seat, the drink service was in progress – and as usual, I went with a cup of orange juice.
Around the same time, the cockpit crew made an announcement. But, it was incomprehensible – the only part of it I could understand was that we were flying at 26,000 feet at the time.
Once the cups were cleared, I took a quick look at the contents of the seat pocket.
By the time I put all the printed materials back into the seat pocket, we were flying by Gunsan airport, making our way south.
Landing at Jeju International Airport
We started our descend just as we were reaching the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula. And by the time we reached the western side of Jeju Island, we were down to about 4,000 feet.
Then, a sharp left turn after which we flew above the island for a while followed.
Finally, we landed on Jeju airport’s runway 07 at 3:03PM.
Another five minutes later, at 3:08PM, we arrived at our remote parking spot.
Luckily, the weather was good – and so I could enjoy seeing the 747 up close from the outside before getting on the bus into the terminal.
I wasn’t able to get on the first bus, and so I had to wait a bit. But, I didn’t mind that at all given that I was standing beneath a 747!
As I was traveling with hand luggage only, once I got off the bus, it was just a short walk to the airport’s bus stop from where I took a bus into Jeju City where my hotel for the night was located.