Sunday, June 10, 2012

[Travel] Day 24: From Seoul to Paris, With a Stop in the World's Ugliest Airport

Rough night. Maybe a few hours sleep. Definitely not what I'd want before 24 hours of travel, but you live with what you get. Breakfast in the Regency Club was quite nice and the croweds had thinned. Either that or there weren't a lot of kids up at 6:30 eating breakfast.

Can you guess what the most important thing on this plate is?

It was the bacon.

I'm still thinking about bacon. Maybe you'll get some non-bacon captions later?
I took the shuttle over the airport and got off at the complete wrong place. It was still the departures hall but it felt like a quarter of a mile from where I wanted to check in. On the way I got to see the landside terminal. Very nice!

Fine. No more bacon. When I saw this store I thought "hey now, I'm gonna have the real thing soon enough".
As I walked up to the first class check in counter, the woman asked me if was flying business class. What, I don't look first class to you? I smiled and reiterated first class. I was very, very happy when they were able to check my bags straight through to Paris despite my onward flight from Frankfurt being on Lufthansa and being on an entirely separate ticket, paid for with good old cash. My bag was just under LH's coach baggage requirements but I suspect if it had come through tagged F from OZ they would have just looked the other way. I won't get quite so lucky flying from LGW to FRA in a few weeks, I suspect.

Check in took about two minutes and then there was an escort to the private security entrance for the crew and F passengers (possibly business as well?). Couldn't beat that. Five minutes later and I was being pointed towards the Asiana First Class Lounge.

Wow. I wish my photos weren't so awful because I absolutely loved the look of this lounge. It perfectly captured how I wish my house looked. Lots of rich browns, The piano was a nice touch, though I did not play it. I nibbled a bit despite not being hungry. I was wary of eating too much because I'd heard that Asiana first class flights had copious amounts of food. I did get to try some semi-frozen passion fruit which was delicious. I caught up on some reading and made a few phone calls. I'm not big on waiting in the lounge for them to call me (too antsy) unless there's the promise of a Merc ride, so I made my way over to the gate.

So many rich browns

I wanted to go up and play this thing. Granted, I can't actually play piano, but for that brief moment in time it felt like I could.

Very nice shower rooms

This was the first time I'd ever tried passion fruit. I will be trying passion fruit many, many more times.

I would like these shelves in my library. First, I would like a library actually. Then I'd like these shelves in them.

Mmm, bacon. What? Coke Light makes me think of bacon now. Plus bacon would go great with strawberry ice cream.

I thought the TV room was a nice touch even if I used it as my own personal office because the lounge was so empty.

This is an incredibly weird bathroom arrangement. Do you know what is number one on the list of things I don't want to see when washing my hands? Well, it's probably a dog that has bees in its mouth and when it barks it shoots bees at me. But number two on the list is some dude using a urinal. 

The last time I would taste the sweat of Pocari on this trip. I am now one with Pocari. 

Seoul is just a gorgeous airport

There was a separate boarding section for Business, First and Star Alliance Gold. I stood there, probably sixth in line, with my FC boarding pass out. A very nice woman came up to me and said "Mr. Fuerstman, come this way". I could not have felt more awkward walking past everyone but I wasn't going to say no. Turns out that the first class load that day was, um, me. And just me. An entire FC cabin to myself? Bet you I still won't be able to sleep!

Why hello there, you beautiful thing you
The gate agent could tell, I think, how incredibly excited I was about flying First. She offered to take my photo in front of the plane. Yes please!

I know which door I'm going in 
After boarding, I met my flight attendant for the next 12 hours. She was, far and away, the best flight attendant I've ever seen. Part of that might be because I was the only one in the cabin. But if I had been working in that situation I might have seen it as an opportunity to have a nice, relaxing day at work. She ended up checking up on me every 20-30 minutes I was awake and anticipated needs that I didn't even know I had. I could not have been more impressed. This was easily the flight of my life.

After boarding I was offered pajamas. I don't have a photo of them because they were massive on me and made me look like a light brown elephant. But they were definitely stylish in an Asiana sort of way.
Amenity kit
The flight attendant offered me a pre-flight beverage, suggesting champagne. Ah, but I am not the extremely awkward, fish-out-of-water guy I was on my first flight (I'm only slightly extremely awkward) and so I asked for what I really wanted: icewine. You saw that coming right?

My first warm nuts of the trip. Hoo boy am I going to look back in a few years and regret that caption.

I hope you can see how syrupy this icewine was. It was like drinking sugar. As you might guess, I finished the bottle.

She distributed the menu and took my order. I'd been warned about how quickly they take them back and so I snapped some photos and actually had to refer to it while eating to see what I was consuming. Just a massive meal.

Extremely tasty appetizer

This is the third intricate place setting I've had on a plane. Makes me feel rather ashamed that I usually eat dinner sitting on the couch.
One of the few airlines that still serves caviar:

I don't even like caviar and yet I liked this. Plus the bone china spoon - phenomenal attention to detail.

Quite delicious tuna appetizer

This salad was very tasty:
Ah! Green stuff! Get it away from me! I kid, I kid. Those mushrooms were some of the best I've ever had.

This was the only loser of the bunch. Some weird take on chicken soup.
Finally the main course. What can I say? The meat was so good that I didn't even use the sauce, feeling it would take away from the flavor.

Absolutely fantastic. I didn't need a knife. Didn't even need a fork really. Just fell apart and then into my mouth.

How many courses are we up to? On a plane?!

Fine. Twist my arm on dessert.

I believe I drank six of these on the flight
After eating I reclined for an hour or two and did some reading. The FA had made up one of the other seats for me as a bed and had dimmed the cabin lights. This was it. If I was ever going to sleep on a plane, it would certainly be when I was alone in a fairly spacious room laying in a bed. Bets anyone?

I gave it the old college try. At one point I realized the blanket wasn't really big enough for me and, before I could even move to say anything, the FA had covered me with a second one. Absolutely charming. I still didn't get any sleep. Hah, we all saw that coming. After about an hour I gave up and went back to my more comfortable reclining seat.

Maybe an hour or two later the FA came by with some chocolates and a Diet Coke. Lovely!

Shortly after eating them I decided to open the shades and let the light in. If I was going to be up for the 12 hours, and if there was no one else there to bother with sunlight, I might as well stop trying to fool my body. I got a lot of reading done over that time. I also rediscovered scores of mp3s I hadn't listened to in years.

About two hours out of Frankfurt it was time for lunch, which started with fresh squeezed OJ:
Fresh squeezed

Lunch was thankfully not as huge, but still delicious:

I could have eaten six of these. That gel-like substance was divine.

Long flight with no sleep
Shortly before landing I switched back into my clothes. The attendant gave me a choice of one of two Asiana first class departing presents. I selected the small duffle bag, which proved helpful almost immediately in Paris when I decided to go grocery shopping.

I also asked the FA, despite my already knowing the answer was no, if I'd have any lounge access during my layover in Frankfurt. My onward flight was in coach on Lufthansa but she said she'd ask. After landing I was met by an Asiana agent with a boarding pass for my onward flight. She started escorting me to a lounge and then said "and of course you have your Star Alliance Gold card". Well no, if I'd been a Star Alliance Gold member I would have known what lounge to go to. Once she realized I didn't have status she apologized profusely but said there was no arrivals lounge. Quite alright with me! I purchased some internet and sat down in the completely hideous Frankfurt airport for my layover.

I can fly for a hundred more years and I will never have a flight as wonderful as that flight on Asiana. Thank you, Asiana Airlines - I look forward to flying you again soon!

A bit before boarding I wandered the airport on a failed duty free quest. Here are some photos:

It's not just at EPCOT! It exists!

In Ben's honor

This is more what I'm used to. Do you like my massive headphones?
The flight from Frankfurt to Paris went very quickly - heck they somehow managed to pass out snacks and drinks even though we were airborn for less than 60 minutes. I was just about able to speak coherently on landing as I was coming up to the 24-hour point since I'd last slept. All I wanted was to get to the Hilton at the airport as quickly as possible. I deplaned, got my luggage, got on the airport train and was at the hotel in less than 25 minutes. Success!

Sun finally sets on my 30+ hours of Monday

What lovely room. I couldn't care less; need sleep.

Doesn't matter what Hilton you're at, anywhere in the world, apparently these are the amenities you get?

I collapsed in the bed and knew no more until the next morning.


  1. Wow, nice flight Gooner ! I can't believe you had the entire cabin to yourself. I gained 5lbs just looking at the pictures of the food.

    Just curious, how come you couldn't add the short FRA-CDG flight to your StarAlliance redemption?


  2. Originally I was out of segments under the redemption rules. In retrospects I could have after they made the flight change in February, but it didn't work out too badly. Live and learn!

  3. If FRA is live a charmed life ;)

  4. Not going to deny that. Though having seen the rest of FRA on a subsequent visit, it has a lot of nice areas. I just wasn't in one of them!