American is actually launching three fresh, high-profile international routes in 2013to Düsseldorf, Germany; to Lima, Peru; and to Seoul, South Korea. Guess which is the most important? Ding ding ding! Though they all have their merits, Seoul is a big freakin' deal indeed...for technology, international business, cuisine, culture, entertainment and, last but definitely not least, shopping.
But wait. Back to the bibimbap. There was bibimbap at the gate and there was bibimbap on the plane. This was an inaugural, after all, and the pre-boarding shindig was pretty swank. A (free) full buffet of Korean favorites was available within the vicinity of the gate, and every passenger heading out on AA 27 to ICN received gifts of an American-branded messenger bag, Korean steel chopsticks, a Seoul guidebook, an American Airlines-branded cookie and a Tumi travel plug adapter.
Halfway through the flight, while we were somewhere over the Aleutian Islands and sweet dreams of bulgogi and kimchi had kicked in for half the plane, we wandered up to the galley for some friendly chat with the flight attendants. Sheryl, an FA with AA for 46 years, had been flipping through the Seoul guidebook in the gift bag until we let it slip that we're not first-timers to Seoul.
With wide eyes and that particular desperation that comes from having only 24 hours to explore a city, she immediately got down to business: "Can you tell me where to SHOP?"
Sheryl was on a mission, we'd find out, to make the most of her time in South Korea as she'd be retiring later this month. Launching the Seoul route is the exclamation point at the end of her career, and she's not going out before discovering why Seoul is known as one of the shopping capitals of the world. We wrote out a few small pages of recommendations and realized something shocking. If it was up to us, we'd kick Paris to the curb to place Seoul at the top of the list for best shopping city. Yes, it's that amazing.
Despite it being quite a historical flighta fact mentioned by our captain several timesthere was no water cannon salute at Incheon. Instead, a gaggle of American staff lined up to cheer the arriving passengers as they stepped off the 15-hour flight. Woowe made it to Seoul! Woothere's a new tail in town!
American's new daily nonstop to ICN from DFW operates on a Boeing 777-200 and tickets currently range from $1,295 in Economy to $7,400+ in First Class. There's a huge bonus AAdvantage miles promotion right now if you fly the route before August 15, 2013read up on how to score it first. If you're heading out from New York City as we were, the 6am departure from LaGuardia to DFW gets into Dallas with plenty time for an early lunch before the nonstop to Seoul.
We traveled on the Seoul inaugural as a guest of American Airlines, but all photos and opinions are completely our own..
[Photos: Cynthia Drescher/Jaunted]