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New Year's in Seoul, South Korea | Delta A350 Suite

New Year's in Seoul, South Korea | Delta A350 Suite

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Old Jan 8, 18, 7:12 pm
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New Year's in Seoul, South Korea | Delta A350 Suite

The second half of 2017 wasn’t nearly as eventful as the first half. I decided to take it a bit easy due to several large trips coming up in the first quarter of 2018. However, there were a few notable exceptions, with this spontaneous trip to Seoul being one of them. Throughout this report, I’ll detail my experience in the new Delta One A350 Suites, a day or so of sightseeing in the South Korean capital and a nightmarish experience in the Incheon airport.



Day 1



Delta just recently took delivery of their first batch of Airbus A350s and equipped them with the new Delta One Suites cabin. Part of picking Seoul over the likes of somewhere else like Amsterdam or Shanghai was based on the aircraft equipment.
We arrived at the Detroit airport about two hours before departure after a quick overnight at the Sheraton nearby.



Our routing to Seoul.




N501DN, Delta’s first A350 which will be taking us to Seoul.




Detroit airport.




Boarding commenced about 50 minutes prior to departure. The flight out to Seoul today had about 25 open J seats and was oversold in economy. The flight was dispatched full in all cabins.



Suite 6D.




Suite 6D.




Storage. Quite good compared to the other DL aircraft. The even numbered A/D seats have extra storage under the tray table area as well, something the even-numbered seats lack. The center seats also lack air vents as there are no overhead bins.




Seat controls. Felt a bit odd to use at first, but I got used to it. I’m skeptical that these will age very well.




Before takeoff, we made a quick visit to the cockpit. New plane smell and all.




Taxiing.




Climbing out of DTW.




Hot towel before the meal service.




The very unique A350 winglet.




Pimento Cheese Topped with Tangerine Jelly, Charcuterie and Flatbread, Butter Lettuce Salad and Porcini Mushroom Soup.




Lacquered Roast Chicken Breast.



Cheese plate and grapes for dessert.




Sunset over northern Canada.




The midflight meal was served about 6.5 hours into the flight.




Sunrise over Siberia.




I decided to take a 4-hour nap towards the end of the flight and ended up sleeping through the pre-arrival meal. Woke up about 30 minutes out.




N501DN resting at Seoul Incheon after the hop over from Detroit. We had arrived about an hour and a half late due to deicing in DTW and circling prior to landing in ICN.



We didn’t have much planned for the remainder of the day in Seoul. The first step was getting into the city. We chose to take the express train as I had previously in Seoul, which gets you to Seoul Station from Incheon in about 50 minutes with no stops. Our hotel was within walking distance to the station.




Our room at the Courtyard Marriott Seoul Namdaemun. I finally was able to put my corporate rate to use (don’t usually stay at Marriott properties). The advanced purchase rate about two weeks out was $250/night (as this was over New Year’s) and my discount got it down to $145/night, including an upgrade to the executive floor.




We headed out to the Namdaemun market just across the street for some dinner.




Some street food.




Dumplings.





Day 2



That four-hour nap on the plane the day before meant I only slept about four hours overnight. That was fine though as I had planned on getting up to shoot sunrise. Being up earlier than expected meant I could head to the further location I had planned for. I left the hotel around 5:30AM. At first, I was a little disappointed as it was supposed to snow that night, but instead, the ground was just covered in ice (yes, I almost fell, us Florida folk to deal with ice/snow often).


I stopped at this nice display on the way to City Hall Station.




Quiet New Year’s Eve morning.




The location I chose was the lookout near the Inwangsa Temple (not Inwangsan). The hike itself wasn’t bad at all, just a few steep sections. The patches of ice turned to about two inches of snow. I certainly wasn’t wearing the proper shoes, which resulted in a few slips, but hey, sometimes getting the picture you want requires a little effort.
I never actually found the temple. Signage was rather poor, Google Maps doesn’t work in Seoul for the most part and I was running out of time before sunrise. I ended up setting up on a ridge with a decent view.



The setup.




There’s something to be said about watching a city of millions wake up.




The sunrise from Inwangsa Temple (or somewhere near it).




I returned to the hotel to meet up with my friend. We quickly threw together a plan for the day and headed out. We had both been to Seoul before so we tried looking for things we hadn’t seen before or places we’d like to return to.
The first stop was supposed to be a temple but the subway station for it was closed and we didn’t feel like walking. Instead, we walked around the Olympic Park.



“The Thumb” by Cesar Baldaccini in the Olympic Park.




Lotte World Tower, which opened in April of 2017.




World Peace Gate.




The Olympic flame.




An underground subway mall, much like Tokyo and Taipei.




We picked a restaurant in Myeongdong, so we headed there as it was around 12:30PM now.




I guess we found where all the people were.




Korean Kalguksu and Mandu for lunch at Myeongdong Kyoja.




Small snacks.




Lots of Christmas trees set up around the city still.




Never seen lobster as street food before.




Myeongdong.




Street food.




We ended up walking back to the hotel (accidentally) before heading up to the other items on our list.


Last edited by ChiefNWA; Jan 8, 18 at 7:27 pm
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Old Jan 8, 18, 7:17 pm
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The next thing on the list was a short self-guided walking tour of the Bukchon Hanok Village. The neighborhood is made up of traditional style Korean houses.



Bukchon Hanok Village.




Bukchon Hanok Village.




Bukchon Hanok Village.




Bukchon Hanok Village.




Bukchon Hanok Village.




Shsssssss.




Neither of us, oddly enough, had ever actually gone into Gyeongbukgung. That didn’t change was apparently we missed the last entry by a few minutes. Oh well, next time I suppose.





US Embassy.




We sat in a Starbucks with some hot chocolate for about a half hour to warm up. The temperature was hovering around 22F and the wind had started picking up.
Once the sun set, we went out to Gwanghwamun Square as that was one of the areas I had planned to shoot during blue hour. It was cold, but I think I got a good shot or two.



Gwanghwamun Square.




Gwanghwamun Square.




Statue of King Sejong in Gwanghwamun Square.




We walked from the square back to Myeongdong for dinner. There were quite a bit of New Year’s festivities going on, accompanied by long lines.




New Year’s/Christmas decorations.




We came across what we believe to have been a conservative political rally? There was an image of the ousted Korean leader along with a ton of US/Korean flag waving. And karaoke of course.




We went to Baekjeong Myeongdong for some Korean BBQ for dinner. A tad expensive (though less than some other places we looked at) but very tasty.




We got two different cuts of beef.






Happy New Year!




We decided not to go out for fireworks that evening. The main displays were a bit of a hike from the hotel and it was going down to 10F. We got back to the hotel and called it a night as we’d been up now for quite a while.





Day 3





The return flight from Seoul to Detroit was looking quite good with about 15 open J seats and single digit availability in economy. Not too bad. The flight was scheduled to depart at 11:15AM.


We went up to the lounge for breakfast and sunrise.




This is where it all hit the fan. The first mistake was walking a bit out of the way when getting back to Seoul Station. When we arrived a few days before it was dark, so walking back wasn’t quite as easy as following familiar items. That cost us about 10 minutes. Then, admittedly, we got lost in Seoul Station. I’ve been to a lot of train stations, bus stations, etc all over the world but never had I felt that the signage was there merely for decoration like I felt in Seoul. The signs for the airport express kept taking us in circles. By the time we finally got to where we needed to be, the express train we needed had already left, leaving us 30 minutes until the next one. We decided to get on the all stop train instead in hopes of still making it to the airport, but to no avail. Standbys started getting cleared about 20 minutes before we arrived at Incheon and we missed the check-in cutoff by 15 minutes.

So… our backup was the 6:35PM to Atlanta. We chose not to head back into the city as we had luggage with us (so we’d have to pay to store it), it was cold, and to be honest, we were a bit irritated. We weren’t going to receive a gate pass/seat assignment at the check in counter until 5:30PM, so we figured we’d head into the terminal to sit in a Priority Pass lounge, get some food into us and charge everything up. So, we booked some refundable flights out of Seoul, cleared security and immigrations and sat in one of the lounges for a few hours.



New Year’s decorations in Incheon.




Ohhhhh, was that a mistake. We visited the transit desk to check in for the Delta flight and were declined as we weren’t actually transiting. They told us to go back to the pre-security check in counter. Ok, how do we get down to arrivals/immigrations? “You can’t.” After talking to several other people, it was determined that personnel from the airline operating the flight you’re no longer taking needs to escort you. It took that airline several hours to get someone to us. After signing several forms, visiting the tax refund desk for some reason, sitting in an immigrations office and going backward through security, we finally made it back to the Delta check in counter. Learned that lesson the hard way.

Seats were given to us with ease for the flight to Atlanta. Due to the stage length and equipment, it’s not uncommon for this flight to take some sort of weight penalty.


The route back home today.




The Delta 777-200ER taking us to Atlanta.




Delta One seat. The 777s will be receiving the Suites from the A350 by the end of the year.




Slow Cooked Pork, Mixed Green Salad and Creamy Chestnut Soup.




Grilled Beef Tenderloin.




Mid-flight Cheeseburger.




Over the Rockies.




Citron Teriyaki Chicken.




Sunset arrival in Atlanta after 14 hours.




Delta 717 landing with quite the moon in the background (not exactly the greatest quality).



Overall, this was a fantastic quick trip to Seoul. We learned some lessons for next time but it’s something funny to look back and think about how complicated of a process it was. Atlanta to Seoul will be operated by an A350 come March with a departure time of midnight from Atlanta, meaning Seoul will be somewhere I could potentially do a day trip to in the future, so expect that sometime in 2018. Otherwise, 2018 is already panning out to be a very busy year. In January and February, I’m expecting two 3-day weekend trips to Europe (not sure where yet), a week in Tokyo and the Philippines and a week in India (plus a day in Hong Kong). Nigeria appears to be scheduled for July as well.

Endnote - Why is posting a TR here so difficult now? Everything I typed in Word pasted over differently, pictures disappeared when I edited, etc. Man, was it a pain to post this.
lb8001, Aventine and gpy like this.

Last edited by ChiefNWA; Jan 8, 18 at 7:33 pm
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Old Jan 8, 18, 8:05 pm
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Great Trip report, and really really great photos! Thank you for sharing
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Old Jan 9, 18, 6:09 am
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Nice photos. You did indeed spot a rally supporting Park Geun-Hye, daughter of the former dictator. Her supporters tend to be older supporters of her father, who was the military dictator, and do like to wave the US flags and pro Trump slogans as well.

I visited a lot of those places when I visited Seoul last year.
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Old Jan 9, 18, 6:54 am
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Yeah, I feel you with the stupid Airport express signage. It's like they just stick them anywhere without thought or reason for travelers. Thanks for the wonderful photos and write up of Seoul!
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Old Jan 9, 18, 7:21 am
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Wonderful photography, that shot of the A350 upon arrival in Seoul is exceptionally good – thanks for posting!
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Old Jan 9, 18, 12:17 pm
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Great photos.

Sounds like a nightmare at the airport....great advice.
DL A350 hard product looks pretty good.

Thanks for sharing
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Old Jan 9, 18, 1:23 pm
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Great pics especially the ones up the snowy mountain of sunrise!
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Old Jan 9, 18, 3:01 pm
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Nice to see a review of the new A350 D1 suites. I'm looking forward to my trip in that cabin next month.
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Old Jan 9, 18, 5:40 pm
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Great report Seoul is on our list. Your question is the same as mine, It's not as easy to post a report as it once was... Not too sure who's idea it was to make the changes.
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Old Jan 10, 18, 8:27 am
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Great photos and great trip report! I was curious to see some good comparison between the new and old One seats. Thanks for enduring the posting process for us!
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Old Jan 10, 18, 8:58 am
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Looks like a great short trip to Seoul. Love the insights into the standby travel too.
Met a couple of Emirates employees on a recent trip, and was interesting to hear how they travel every other weekend. Apparently staff travel brings in $300m in extra revenue per annum for EK, not a bad deal I guess.
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Old Jan 12, 18, 7:04 am
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Originally Posted by Madone59 View Post
Great Trip report, and really really great photos! Thank you for sharing
Thanks!

Originally Posted by AlwaysonBA663 View Post
Nice photos. You did indeed spot a rally supporting Park Geun-Hye, daughter of the former dictator. Her supporters tend to be older supporters of her father, who was the military dictator, and do like to wave the US flags and pro Trump slogans as well.

I visited a lot of those places when I visited Seoul last year.
I was going to say everyone there appeared to be older but didn't want to start a fight lol.

Originally Posted by Aventine View Post
Yeah, I feel you with the stupid Airport express signage. It's like they just stick them anywhere without thought or reason for travelers. Thanks for the wonderful photos and write up of Seoul!
Thanks, and ya, the signage is horrendous. At least I know for next time...

Originally Posted by daftboy View Post
Wonderful photography, that shot of the A350 upon arrival in Seoul is exceptionally good – thanks for posting!
Thank you

Originally Posted by Billiken View Post
Great photos.

Sounds like a nightmare at the airport....great advice.
DL A350 hard product looks pretty good.

Thanks for sharing
The hard product was indeed very good, arguably the best J product on a US carrier. The cirrus AA 77W seat is nice, but honestly not that much different to the standard reverse herringbone.

Originally Posted by nequine View Post
Great pics especially the ones up the snowy mountain of sunrise!
Thanks!

Originally Posted by krazykanuck View Post
Nice to see a review of the new A350 D1 suites. I'm looking forward to my trip in that cabin next month.
Enjoy and have fun!

Originally Posted by FlightNurse View Post
Great report Seoul is on our list. Your question is the same as mine, It's not as easy to post a report as it once was... Not too sure who's idea it was to make the changes.
I don't know why it had to be changed. My previous reports I just formatted everything word and copied it over. When I did that it inputted like 8 spaces between every line, some other strange formatting issues then when I went back to edit one of the pictures, all of the other ones disappeared. It was certainly a frustrating task.

Originally Posted by 248N8 View Post
Great photos and great trip report! I was curious to see some good comparison between the new and old One seats. Thanks for enduring the posting process for us!
Thanks! The seats are definitely in a league of their own for Delta. The 330 seats are nice, but no where near the same as the 350 now.

Originally Posted by DanielW View Post
Looks like a great short trip to Seoul. Love the insights into the standby travel too.
Met a couple of Emirates employees on a recent trip, and was interesting to hear how they travel every other weekend. Apparently staff travel brings in $300m in extra revenue per annum for EK, not a bad deal I guess.
I don't know if DL generates the same revenue or not since all staff travel except for buddies and non-dependents are free (minus international taxes). I have heard that EK staff doesn't get J or F which is rather unfortunate (if it's true).
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Old Jan 20, 18, 10:34 pm
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Originally Posted by ChiefNWA View Post
Endnote - Why is posting a TR here so difficult now? Everything I typed in Word pasted over differently, pictures disappeared when I edited, etc. Man, was it a pain to post this.
Is it the same issue as this?

Problems Posting My TR
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Old Jan 20, 18, 10:37 pm
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Originally Posted by ChiefNWA View Post
I don't know if DL generates the same revenue or not since all staff travel except for buddies and non-dependents are free (minus international taxes). I have heard that EK staff doesn't get J or F which is rather unfortunate (if it's true).
I think they pay 10% of the base fare. Pretty sure they can standby for business too. My friend who works for EY flies business (on standby) all the time anyway.
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