Day 1: Seattle to Singapore
Saying 2020 was a tough year for travel would be a massive understatement. While we are all isolating at home, now is a good time as any to look back on my past trips. My 2018 Spring Break trip across Asia with my then-girlfriend (now wife), was an incredibly fond one. It was my first time doing a multi-country trip, which would set the stage for my subsequent round-the-world itineraries. Although at the time I did not have any credit card points to fund business class seats or hotel elite status giving free suites and lounges, we still had a pretty luxurious and pleasant trip.
The trip started from my home base at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. We had arrived a bit too early and it was my girlfriend’s first time at Sea-Tac, so we explored just about every inch of the airport. As mentioned, we didn’t have any lounge access at the time, and as much as I loved airports, even that was a bit excessive for me. Eventually, we boarded our flight KE20, a Korean Air Boeing 777-300 bound for Seoul-Incheon.
At the time, I had not flown in any premium cabins, so I was genuinely impressed with the 34 inches of pitch on Korean’s economy seats. This is objectively very good in an age where long haul economy seats are typically 30-31 inches.
We soon took off for the first leg of our 2-part flight to Singapore.
The food onboard was pretty good for economy class. I had the first of many Bibimbaps, the signature dish for Korean Air.
This was accompanied by a delicious seaweed soup and a glass of red wine. The second meal was a more classic chicken and rice dish – also not bad but I have a soft spot for airplane food, regardless of class.
The flight ended up over 11 hours due to the routing we took around China, presumably to avoid North Korea. The return journey is more direct and shaves almost 2 hours off the flight time.
We landed at Seoul Incheon International Airport at around 6pm local time. Korean Air had recently moved into the brand new Terminal 2, which just opened for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Incheon already had a great reputation as one of the best airports in the world, and this new terminal continues to keep it near the top of that list.
The terminal was stunning – it felt very open with high ceilings and tons of natural lighting from the glass curtains and skylights. There were lots of greenery throughout the building, and it had a very modern, almost futuristic aesthetic.
There were two sides to the terminal that essentially mirror each other so you can access most of the amenities without needing to walk very far from your gate. We had a 6-hour layover before our red-eye flight to Singapore so there was plenty of time to explore. One unique amenity was the virtual gym. There was a basketball shooting station, a reflex challenge and this hybrid trampoline DDR game.
This was pretty fun and a nice way to stretch our legs after a long flight. We worked up quite a sweat, and conveniently they had free showers. Having a shower before and/or after a long flight makes traveling so much better. This is one of the best features of any premium lounge, so it was great to see Incheon offer this to everyone.
Speaking of lounges, there were two identical transfer lounges on both sides of the terminal – again open to everyone.
While there wasn’t any complimentary food or drink, the space was beautiful and comfortable. There was even a separate nap area overlooking the terminal.
For dinner, we had the famous Korean chicken and beer at one of the food courts.
Overall, this was a fantastic transfer at Incheon and I would highly recommend it, especially for passengers without lounge access.
Just before midnight local time, we boarded our red-eye flight, Korean Air 647, an Airbus A330-300, to Singapore.
We were both pretty tired by now so we slept for most of the 7-hour flight. We arrived around 5 am local time at Singapore Changi Airport’s stunning new terminal 4. This is without a doubt the most beautiful baggage claim I’ve seen.
Almost exactly 24 hours after taking off in Seattle, we had arrived to our first destination of Singapore and ready to begin our Spring Break.