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If we were to tell you that American Airlines only just began flying to Seoul, you'd probably say "what, they weren't flying there already?!"
As crazy as it seems, it's the truth. Prior to May 9, any traveler wanting to fly American to Seoul would actually only get as far as Tokyo, where there'd be a connection to a Japan Airlines flight onward to Seoul-Incheon (ICN). Furthermore, this new route means some very nice competition for airlines to Korea and some fresh service enhancements from American (like the bibimbap!).
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At Seoul's Gyeongbokgung Palace
Forget "Gangnam Style" for a moment and consider what influence the tiny country of South Korea has on the planet. Own anything by Samsung or LG? Ever tried Taekwondo or tasted Red Mango yogurt? These are all Korean contributions to the world. Finally more airlines are figuring out that Seoul is awesome enough to warrant nonstop flightslike American Airlines' nonstop from Dallas-Ft. Worth starting tomorrow (May 9).
If you're not scared off by North Korea's threatsand you shouldn't be because everything is progressing normal as pie in South Koreaand you're hopping a flight to ICN soon, then there are a few steps you can take to prepare for a trip to Seoul:
· Register with the State Department's STEP Program
STEP, or "Smart Traveler Enrollment Program," used to by the less jazzy title of "State Department Travel Registration," but its function is still the sameto make the US embassies to which you're traveling aware of your presence. Should there be a weather disaster, civil unrest, or other emergency occurrence, the embassy will have your contact information and know that you're likely in need of assistance along with other American in the country. In times of peace and sunny weather, the program occasionally sends an email with the latest travel alert news on the destination.
We actually register with STEP for any trip we take lasting over one week, or to any country with even the least bit of weirdness.
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Kickin' back in Club World between London and Tokyo
When Psy's music video "Gangnam Style" went viral at the end of the summer, our first thought was "oh man, this is going to be awesome for Seoul tourism." Seriously. We're geeks about this stuff, okay? Anyway, it's holding true as British Airways just announced a huge fare sale with the headline "Get to Gangnam in Style."
Brilliant, BA. Our cursor is already hovering over the "purchase" button. What's even better are those sale ticket prices for the 9.5-hour flights:
London-LHR to Seoul-ICN* on a Boeing 777:
In Economy (World Traveller): £377/$600 roundtrip (45% off)
In Premium Economy (World Traveller Plus): £577/$918 roundtrip (40% off)
In Business (Club World): £777/$1235 roundtrip (70% off)
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The modern airport is for so much more than simply leaving a flight. These days, they features everything from excellent eateries to spas, and even a library in Amsterdam's case. Well, the SkyTeam alliance is fully aware that their member airlines fly to some of the coolest airports in the world, and they wanted to show off a bit with a video series of famous names showing around their favorite hubs.
Granted, we've already featured the Pam Ann-takes-LHR video, but up until today's web searching, we didn't know there were more to the series. Enjoy!
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If you’ve been paying attention to the comings and goings of the A380, you’d know that Korean Air recently got their very first big birds. The carrier is already shuttling happy passengers back and forth between New York-JFK and Seoul-Incheon International Airport, and there are plans to send similar planes further and farther.
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Right now there is a giant Airbus A380 parked at New York-JFK Airport. So what, right? There are A380s at JFK all the time now...but this one is special. This A380 is big and blue and taking off for a direct flight to Seoul-Incheon International Airport at 5:20pm today. It's flight KE 82 (if you want to track it) and it's Korean Air's first Airbus A380 as well as the first A380 to make scheduled flights from the US to Asia.
It's a big deal for sure, not only for the airline and the airports, but alsohugelyfor the passengers hopping onboard today and on future flights. Korean Air's first A380 is ridiculously spacious, with unique features we've been drooling over for some time. Onboard are 12 Kosmo First Class suites and 301 Economy Class seats on the first level, with 94 lie-flat sleepers spaced six feet apart on the upper level. Ohand there's three bars on board: a hosted Celestial Bar, there are self-serve bars located in First Class and at the front of Prestige Class. Plus plus a duty-free shop.
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A shot inside Seoul's Incheon Airport
It feels as though there is always a new list of airport rankings that comes out, giving top marks to the spick-and-span airports of Asia while America's don't even merit Top 20. Well, there is another ranking list out, and it does stick to this, except that US airports do get recognized in categories like "Best Airport 15-25 million passengers," where BWI takes first place. The rankings have been released by the Airports Council International, which compiles their data on airport service annually thanks to a passenger survey of 300,000 customers from 153 airports, with criteria including "cleanliness, check-in efficiency, comfortable waiting areas and clear signage."
Here are the other big winners this year:
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There is no airport we've been to thus far that has more focus on duty-free shopping than Seoul, South Korea's Incheon International. Not only is there what seems like mile after mile of top luxury brands offering their products in mini version of their regular store, but there's even malls in the center of Seoul where you can go to purchase duty-free items and later (even weeks later) pick them up at the airport. We have a friend in Seoul whose family will even take short international flights just for the purpose of getting duty-free deals. That's dedication.
Incheon Airport has proved itself to be such a moneymakers for big brands that Louis Vuitton who just do not do airport stores, has given in and will open their first airport location here. LVMH prez Bernard Arnault personally swing through the airport earlier this year to check out the prospects, and apparently all met with his approval. Although there's no opening date set, the airport is already taking about increasing flights to China just because of the demand the LV duty-free shop will create.
We told you before about the ICN shopping and yes, even dental options. Though we aren't sure rumored to be pregnant pop temptresses can partake in the teeth whitening options. Oh well, there plenty of Kimchi to be had at Incheon, that has to be a healthy option--pregnant or not, right?
After Korea it is off to Shanghai, Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong for Aguilera and her "Back To Basics" tour. Wonder if we can get her to become a Jaunted embedded guide for Asian destinations--probably not, right?
Cameron Diaz just landed at the award winning Incheon International Airport to promote Shrek the Third.
This fairly new airport is situated on Yeongjong Island, 40 kilometers to the west of Seoul, and is, like most airports constantly expanding. If you land or have a layover at ICN you can look forward to shopping at the Shinsegae Department store, which avails lazy travelers the opportunity to procure last Kimchi gifts for those back home. Furthermore, the airport even sports a dental clinic, just in case you need a teeth whitening, or a root canal.
By 2010 there should be a reasonable public transport link from the Airport to Seoul, in the form of The Incheon International Airport Railroad. Unfortunately today, you will have to use the subway at Incheon station, public buses, or a taxi to get yourself to Seoul from the airport.