Korean Airlines economy product is one of the best ways to travel from Washington to Incheon. Pros: Larger seats and aisles to move through, friendly staff and assortment of entertainment. Cons: Pricey compared to other emerging airlines, long layover on the return, always full.
Manila International Airport (formerly known as Ninoy Aquino International Airport, NAIA) is the main international gateway for the Philippines and serves about 36 million travelers annually. Manila International is divided into 4 different terminals: Terminals 1 & 3 – International Airlines; Terminal 2 – Domestic flights & Philippine Airlines; Terminal 4 – Local Carriers like AirAsia, TigerAir and Skyjet Airlines. Terminal 1 has 16 gates and serves Emirates Airlines, Etihad Airlines, Korean and Asiana Airlines.
If you do not know, checking in Manila is not an easy task and I would recommend that all passengers make sure to arrive at least 3 hours prior to departure. Terminal 1 is the oldest of the 4 terminals and has gone through a well needed renovation to enhance operations.
When checking in, expect long wait times before obtaining your ticket and proceeding to immigration. Note: Immigration is also a bit slow and the average wait time is about 20 minutes. Make sure to have all your paperwork ready when you step up to the Immigration Officer.
Once you pass the final security check point, you can proceed to your gate.
AT THE GATE
Unlike most international terminals, Terminal 1 in Manila does not offer travelers many options for food and shopping. I found the public areas very dull and not as welcoming and would like to see more in the future. If you want to grab something to eat before your flight, make sure to buy something before you enter the Terminal, as I found two options for food but both were limited to small pastries and snacks.
When you arrive at the gate, there was an airline staff member which will check each passenger as an additional security measure. Although you are free to leave the gate area, you will always need to carry your ticket and passport to re-enter.
When you board your aircraft, you will be greeted by the friendliest flight attendants who always seem to have a calming smile. The flight staff are very friendly and even offer to assist you with your carry-on luggage. From Manila, Korean Airlines uses the Boeing 777-300 aircraft which has 6 flat bed seats in First Class, 35 lie flat Business/ Prestige Class, and 297 standard economy class seats for a total of 338 total passengers.
As you head towards the Economy Class cabin, you will immediately notice the large aisles that allow passengers to move freely through the airplane.
Passengers with disabilities or the elderly will also truly appreciate the ample space between the rows. Even standing a whopping 5’10, I was able to stretch out my legs and not have to worry about having my knees touch the back of the seat in front of me. Definitely a plus! Korean Airlines also boats some of the widest seats in Economy Class with 18 inches across and a seat pitch of 33-34 degrees (recline).
As you can see, Korean Airlines has 10 inch screens to keep you entertained while on your flight. There is also a convenient USB charging outlet for easy access for your personal electronics and tablets.
Each passenger also receives a Korean Blanket, headphones and slippers. The Korean Airline blankets are the BEST. You are not suppose to take them and is strictly prohibited, however they are very comfy and warm (I have three).
I absolutely love Korean food however I was not impressed with the food. During each meal service, passengers can choose from a traditional Korean dish or an American style meal. I tried the Bibimbap which was very tasty and filling and also came with kimchi and fruits. Each meal also comes with red plum wine.
This is the American dish, which was also good – Beef Bourguignon.
There is a major difference between U.S. based airlines and its competitors in Asia when it comes to service. Flight attendants are some of the most polite and friendliest people I have ever met and are always willing to help when asked upon. The staff onboard are very attentive and even anticipate your needs when they see you are even a little bit uncomfortable. I was even surprised at the immediate response time when I pressed the call button (20 seconds).
Every staff member speaks English well and are very helpful in accommodating your needs. I do have to mention that the service is wonderful however can seem very robotic at times, but nonetheless enjoyable.
I am a big fan of Korean Airlines and hope they continue to maintain the of level of standard that most people expect when traveling with them. From the beginning at check-in to the in-flight service, you definitely feel that each staff member loves their job is genuinely pleasant and sincere. The food was good and tasty, however would have loved more snacks to fight off the hunger during the long haul between Incheon and Washington, D.C. Korean Airlines will need to continue to innovate in competition to the Gulf carriers and Chinese carriers which have consistently expanded their operations in Manila.