Day 14: 24 hours

It should be illegal for Mickey Mouse to call you at 4:50am with such  a happy disposition to say it’s time to get up and at-em because we’ve got amazing things to see and do.

If anything, it should be Grumpy calling us. LOL

FVVX3342So we got up at 4:50am to finish packing and showering, for a 5:30am pick up by taxi to take us to the airport for what was supposed to be an 8:05am flight on Air India.

Funny thing is, checking Air India’s website, it showed that AI310 does not fly on September 9th, flying between HKG and ICN.  Checking Hong Kong Airport’s website, it shows it was flying at 10:30am.  Interestingly, Flight Aware’s website shows it arriving at HKG but not flying on to ICN.

Hong Kong’s airport reminds me of a British Airport, a massive and better version of Stanstead, in particular with the way the check-in gates and security are arranged.

The airport continues the Hong Kong experience with high-end shopping everywhere and certainly better choices in the actual Duty Free shops found at Incheon.

I had said to Scott that I didn’t want to spend hours upon hours at Incheon waiting around.  Hong Kong is definitely a nicer airport with the views, and open concept, and simply better lounges.  And I got my wish with our Air India flight being late.

This also gave Scott and I the chance to try a few lounges:

  • Singapore Silverkris was our first stop. I’ve always wanted to visit this lounge, and they nearly stopped us from entering given we were probably flying Air India, but having my Air Canada status card helped.  It’s a nice lounge with some great food options!
  • United – We reluctantly stopped here because Air India were unable to print our Air Canada boarding passes which we had not printed previously and mobile boarding passes were not available for our flight.  After some fun trying to get everything printed, we got our boarding passes printed.
  • Thai Royal Orchid was our last stop.  I think this was our favourite lounge for a few reasons.  Mainly it’s open concept, and the furniture was brightly colourful, a very nice change from the whites, greys  and browns.  They also have a gaming area with an XBox 360, and two Wiis.

One thing that’s clear, all of the lounges at Hong Kong are run by Plaza Premium and they pretty much serve the same foods at breakfast with the exception of things like ice cream, i.e. Hangen Danz at Singapore, Nestle at Thai.

The Air India flight was surprisingly good.  The food was amazing, probably the best scrambled eggs I’ve ever had on a plane, and presentation was better than some flights I’ve had on Air Canada.

We actually got an amenity kit of slippers and socks, which was nice and not expected.  The menus were leather bound and included western and vegetarian indian options.

I do have to say, the Air India Executive Class seats were awesome.  Very comfortable, and way more comfortable than the air mattresses on Air Canada these days, which don’t help my lower back.  Kudos to Air India!

Service-wise, Air India were alright.  As Scott said to me, the difference between Asiana and Air India was stark.  As I said to Scott, you don’t fly Air India for the service, but because they’re cheap.  After the initial service, you won’t see staff offering water on a  regular basis during the flight, but there were other things that Air India staff were great about.

Would I fly Air India again?  I would consider it, but I would not go out of my way to specifically choose them.  I knew what to expect, and I know what to expect from them.  I was pleasantly surprised.  On the other hand, I do question how well maintained their jets are.

With that, we arrived at Incheon, checked in at the Business Class lounge and picked up a few gifts for family at home.

I think I have figured out what drives me nuts about Incheon as an airport.

  • When we were in Japan, we get accustomed to organized chaos.  It works beautifully, people stand on the left of an elevator and walk on the right.  Line ups work efficiently.
  • When you switch from the culture in Japan to a busy airport like Incheon with the melange of cultures that go through that airport, you get people cutting each other off and you have chaos chaos rather than the organized chaos we go used to.
  • On top of that I realized that Incheon in the main terminal with all of the shops doesn’t have many windows that look outside, with natural light coming in.  We realized that in the satellite terminal there is more natural light and also slightly better shopping if that’s you’re thing.

Despite all the talk of shopping, we actually did more window shopping rather than actual shopping.  I like looking at stores because you see different facets of a culture, especially in food halls and grocery stores.  As evidenced in Hong Kong and even to a degree in Japan, you do see the evidence of globalization in that you see the same crap in the same shops everywhere.

We boarded our flight to Vancouver from the satellite terminal.  For the flight from Seoul, Air Canada offers a Korean meal of Galbijjim which is tasty!  I also recommend Air Canada’s World film selection having watched a film from Hong Kong and Chile.

CATSA failed us at Vancouver.  When connecting you have to go through security (I am used to this as I go through this checkpoint all the time).  The problem is, Scott was selected for a second inspection after being selected to go through the millimetre wave scanner.  Of course, if you’re sweaty, and it was very warm at YVR, that detector won’t work.  There were no men available to do the private search.  As a result of CATSA’s ineptness, we ended up missing our flight to Toronto by five minutes.

Thankfully there was another flight in 30 minutes.

We got home to Toronto at 9:30pm.  29 hours after getting up in Hong Kong.

What an amazing journey, and I’m very fortunate to have had the air miles and hotel points to be able to make this holiday happen. Definitely a trip of a lifetime for Scott and me.

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