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Vacations are good for the ‘Seoul’

Picture1

The brand new Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea

As they say, getting there is half the fun. That certainly applied to one Airport Authority employee who had a lot of fun while enroute to the Philippines for vacation. Sajid, who works in our Quieter Home Program, gave us a little insight — and some great pictures — on how a layover can be a pleasant surprise. I sat down with him to talk about his experience.

Sjohnna: Where was your layover while traveling to the Philippines?

Picture3

Airport Authority employee Sajid at South Korea's cool new airport.

Sjohnna: Really? Some layovers at international hub airports can be long, boring and generally confusing. What did you find there that was so different?

  • Sajid: Even though Incheon is the main hub for large Asian carriers Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, it didn’t feel crowded or cramped. The main terminal is tall and very spacious, and the many moving sidewalks get you to your gate quickly. The front of the terminal, with its unique curves, actually looks like the front of a spaceship. It was most definitely worthy of a few “Kodak” moments.

Sjohnna: Okay, but tell me something unique you found there that you might not find at other airports.

  • Sajid: One of the biggest surprises you will find is in one of the concourses. There is a café/lounge with about 25 laptops on tables, surrounded by comfy sofas. Travelers can sit and use these computers and access the Internet for 30 minutes free of charge. That is a huge plus — especially if you are not carrying Korean currency around. The adjacent café serves juices, coffee, teas and pastries. It’s a great way to pass the time while waiting for your next flight.

Sjohnna: Were the way-finding and gate signage clear and easy to read?

  • Sajid: Yes, the signage was as clear and large in English as it was in Korean. All the gate signs are large enough in the concourse area so you can see the gate numbers from a distance.

Picture2

Dunkin Donuts, Korean-style.

Sjohnna: Were you surprised by anything that you didn’t expect to see?

  • Sajid: As I was walking through the concourse I was pleasantly surprised to see a large Dunkin’ Donuts, which seemed to be popular with the travelers there. It was surprising to see a familiar brand, so common in America, thriving at this airport.

Sjohnna: Did your layover in Incheon feel like three hours?

Sjohnna: Is there anything you saw there that you would like to see at our airport?

  • Sajid: Yes, I think the designated play area for kids in the terminal would be a nice addition for any of our terminals, since many families with children come here for vacation.sjohnna

Sjohnna: Nice to know! So was your flight and travel through Seoul as enjoyable as your actual vacation in the Philippines?

  • Sajid: Yes, absolutely! I was actually dreading my layover in Seoul after a 12-hour flight across the Pacific, but I was pleasantly surprised by my experience. I highly recommend connecting through there if you are going to Korea and beyond.
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5 Responses

  1. Hi Sjohnna,

    I definitely agree with Sajid. Incheon is the best airport ever. Whenever I go home to the Philippines to visit I make sure that my airline is either Korean or Asiana, since they have the best food and they layover at Incheon, I’ve been there 6 times and every time it gets better.
    The airport is like no other I’ve seen en route to the Philippines. Everyting is organized and there is no way you will get bored. The seats in the airport are even comfortable and wide enough for you to lay down and sleep (especially if you have kids, oh boy, do you need this). The restrooms are one of a kind, this is the first thing I look at in an airport to rate it as the best. The toilet seat cover automatically senses the user andwill put a toilet seat cover (like the paper covers we use before doing what we need to do)so you don’t have to worry about sanitation and it flushes it the same way.
    There are also lounges for smoking people and this is good because I don’t want my kids to inhale cigarette fumes. It is a first class airport with first class service and people. It’s the best, I recommend it to anyone who wants a good and relaxing ambience after hours and hours of sitting in a crowded plane.

  2. Hi,
    I am flying to the Philippines later this month and have a 3 hour layover at the Incheon airport. I’m happy to see you both were impressed with it. Are you aware of any sights worth seeing near the airport if we wanted to go out into Seoul quickly before our next flight? Or is the airport away from any tourist attractions? Thanks!

  3. Katie, I just spoke with Sajid and he provided me the following info:
    The airport is located on a man-made island (Incheon) and unfortunately is pretty far away from any attractions (Downtown Seoul is about an hour drive, with no traffic, from the airport). However, if you fly Asiana Airlines and ever get a 6 hour or more layover at Incheon Int’l they provide a choice of either putting you in a hotel or a free bus tour of Seoul which I took and highly recommend (they even feed you for free at a Korean BBQ restaurant). As far as I know Asiana is the only airline that provides this perk.

    My opinion is three hours for layover won’t give you enough time to see Seoul and return to catch your connecting flight.

    I just read on http://www.incheontourism.com that people can hang out for free at the Hyatt Hotel which is near the airport. I guess there are some shops within walking distance of the airport.

    I hope that helps!
    Sjohnna

  4. We have an upcoming 12 hour layover in April. I’m curious as to what the itinerary is for the free Asiana layover city tour is or whether or not we would get more out of doing it on our own. Do you know the duration of the tour and the sites seen?

  5. Hi,

    Although, we always opted for the 3-4 hours layover to Incheon, I heard from a relative that on a 12 hour layover you have a choice between a tour of Seoul that includes a tour guide with bus pick ups which takes you around Seoul for some sight seeing, lunch and souvineer shopping, service back to Incheon OR, if you prefer:
    A hotel stay near Incheon with a buffet lunch and prompt service back to Incheon.

    The tour takes you to sites like the presidential palace, tomb of the kings, buddhist temples and lunch at a restaurant (which they say is good and I would think it would be since their Airline food is good then their freshly made food is probably better).

    I hope this would help give you a heads up on what to expect but it would be better if you ask Asian representatives about the tour and I’m sure they will give you a better picture…

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