In-depth exploration of Seoul airport

Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
Trip End Dec 31, 2011

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Flag of Korea Dem Peoples Rep  ,
Saturday, January 12, 2008

I would have liked to spend more time on the ground in Seoul, the capital of Korea. But as things turned out, I was only in Korea for a few hours, and all of that time was spent at the airport.
Not only was our plane from HK late in departing, we also spent a good 3/4 hr circling around the airport, locked in a holding pattern. Our plane on the flight monitor describing imperfect circles as we spiraled down into the land of late arrivals, only a few thousand metres above the ground and less than 15 km from the airport. After circling and banking and preparing for landing, we suddenly touched down without warning on the tarmac, then spend a long time waiting til we could find a vacant gate to disembark.
The main thing I noticed about the airport was that it had been snowing. White rectangles of snow lay all around. The flight monitor said it was 1 C outside.
We got off the plane, and into a long queue of late-arriving passengers, all with connecting flights to other places. More checks of tickets, passports, pockets, then we head to the terminal proper.
It is shiny and new. Sleek, expensive. The kind of place you shop at if your credit card has no limit. The kind of place where you keep the bag the shop gave you for your purchases and use for another year to imply that you shop there regularly, and that you've got some boutique designer goods in your bag - not your regular shopping of bread and milk and catfood.
Incheon airport is all about moving and waiting. We take the travelator to get to the gate. We wait. There is no announcement, even though it is past the boarding time. We queue, even though there is no call to board. A man checks his pockets and can't find his ticket. A 2 year old has a screaming fit. Yet another person goes up to the counter to see if the plane is boarding yet. No, soon. Time for shopping.
The airport is a shopping mall but instead of a carpark, we have 747s.

In 2006 the airport won a coveted Golden Pillow award for being a good place to sleep - for free. Some connecting flights also put up passengers in nice hotels at the airport. Here's what some said about Incheon:
"I'll be taking the family to stay at there airport for our next holidays." (jc)
"Lots of space to sleep but everyone seems to know about it probably thanks to this site. These people came prepared with blankets and pillows." (CL)
"Incheon is definitely the most restful and stress-free airport I have ever visited." (Roger Talus)

What you can look forward to:

* good sleep may be had upstairs away from the traffic
* internet cafe closes at 10PM
* massages
* showers
* long couches in the transit area
* transit tours are available
* lockers

That's plenty of fine reasons why you should visit.
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