Trip Preview: A 28-Hour Hardcore Non-Stop Review Trip to South Korea

After a couple of family trips to Europe, it was time for a quick aviation-filled trip to South Korea. Booking the flights one at a time, the trip somehow turned into a hardcore, 28+ hours long non-stop review frenzy with minimal sleep that was as tiring as it was enjoyable.

Continue reading to learn more including what articles related to this trip you can expect to see here over the next few weeks. At the end of the article, I will also add a timeline of the trip.

Delta Sky Club Haneda
Visiting Delta’s only Sky Club outside the US was the seed of this trip.

All This To… Visit Delta’s Tokyo Haneda Lounge.

The trip was born out of a simple idea – both my friend Hirofumi (who unfortunately could not join the trip in the end) and I wanted to check out Delta’s relatively new lounge at Haneda before my SkyTeam Elite Plus status expiration. The easiest way to do so was flying with Korean Air – a SkyTeam member – to Seoul.

We both decided to book the first flight of the trip using 7,500 Delta miles and about $30 in taxes and fees. With there being no availability on flights in the evening, we had to settle for Korean Air’s middle-of-the-night (or early morning?) flight departing Tokyo Haneda at 2:00AM bound for Seoul Incheon.

The flight was scheduled to be operated by a 737-900 at the time we booked it but was later changed to a 737-8, becoming my first 737 MAX flight.

Korean Air 737-8
Korean Air 737 MAX 8 or, as marketers prefer to call it these days, 737-8.

One “issue” with the flight was that the Delta Sky Club at Haneda closes at 8:30PM. That meant checking in online and getting to the airport just before 7PM – i.e. whole seven hours before departure.

After visiting the Delta lounge, I also had more than enough time to check four other lounges:

  • JAL Sakura Lounge and JAL Sakura Lounge Sky View (eligible passengers traveling on the 2AM Korean Air flight are invited to these lounges as the Delta Sky Club is not open that late)
  • TIAT Lounge (this is the terminal’s contract lounge used by some airlines and accessible with Priority Pass)
  • SKY Lounge (this is the terminal’s credit card lounge and also accessible by paying at the front desk)
JAL Sakura Lounge Haneda
One of the two JAL Sakura Lounges I visited before flying to Seoul.

Getting Home from Seoul

While he ended up having to cancel the trip, Hirofumi was originally scheduled to fly back just a couple of hours after getting to Seoul (that’s a lot of flying to visit a lounge at one’s home airport!). I, on the other hand, was considering doing some plane spotting at Incheon Airport and so was looking at evening flights back to Tokyo.

At first, I waitlisted myself for ANA’s Seoul Gimpo – Tokyo Haneda evening flight but ultimately I spent 7,500 Delta miles (including some Marriott Bonvoy points converted to them) and about $20 in taxes and fees to book another Korean Air flight.

Specifically, I booked the airline’s evening flight from Seoul Incheon to Tokyo Narita operated by an A321neo.

Korean Air A321neo
Korean Air’s A321neo cabin was considerably better equipped than its 737-8 counterpart.

I was thinking of visiting a couple of different lounges before departure (both SkyTeam and Priority Pass) but instead, I spent time at Gimpo Airport with a friend and only briefly stopped by Lounge L, a Priority Pass lounge on the way to my departure gate, to grab a quick bite to eat.

Which brings me to…

Lounge L Seoul Incheon
I briefly stopped at Lounge L before boarding my flight back to Tokyo.

A Quick Roundtrip to Jeju to Try Some (Old But) New Aircraft

As the trip was getting closer, I kept checking the weather forecast. With gloomy weather seemingly awaiting me, I dropped the plane spotting plan and decided to do something else.

Asiana Airlines is the world’s last operator of the original, non-ER 767-300. It has one active airframe that flies exclusively on the very short but world’s busiest Seoul Gimpo – Jeju route. I checked the schedules and it seemed possible to do a quick roundtrip even accounting for transfers between Incheon and Gimpo so I went for it.

Asiana 767-300
Avgeek-wise, flying on the non-ER 767-300 was the highlight of the trip.

Not having flown on the Airbus A220 either, I tried to put together a pair of flights that would get me both on the 767-300, as well as on Korean Air’s A220-300 which operates some of the airline’s flights on the route.

After a bit of playing around with Google Flights and the two airlines’ websites, I was able to find a combination that worked and booked:

  • Korean Air A220-300 flight from Seoul Gimpo to Jeju for about $45
  • Asiana Airlines 767-300 flight from Jeju to Seoul Gimpo for about $35

For just $80 or so, I was able to add what was likely my last (unless I go do the Seoul – Jeju flight again soon) 767-300 non-ER flight and my first A220 flight to the trip. The latter also meant I’d have a chance to try Korean Air’s three newest narrowbody types – the A220-300, 737-8, and A321neo – side-by-side.

Korean Air A220
It was nice to fly on the A220 for the first time.

Before departing Gimpo, I spent a couple of hours getting some work done at the airport’s KAL Lounge which has been refurbished since my last visit (and thankfully is now airside rather than landside).

Before departing Jeju, I briefly visited both the Asiana Airlines Lounge and KAL Lounge (which participates in Priority Pass).

KAL Lounge Gimpo
The refurbished KAL Lounge at Seoul Gimpo Airport.

Lastly, after arriving at Gimpo (and before making my way to Incheon to catch my return flight), I had lunch with a friend (make sure to check out his YouTube channel) who was also kind enough to take me to an excellent aviation museum within walking distance of the airport.

National Aviation Museum of Korea
The stunning, jet engine-shaped National Aviation Museum of Korea building.

All Aviation, (Almost) No Sleep: The 28+ Hours Long Timeline

What started as a trip with the simple goal of reviewing the Delta lounge at Haneda Airport turned into the following non-stop aviation-filled 28+ hours lasting from 5:20PM on the day of my departure until 11:00PM the day after:

    • Part 1: Tokyo to Seoul
      • 5:20PM Got out of the house
      • 5:25PM Got on the train to Haneda
      • 6:35PM Arrived at Haneda Airport Terminal 3 and went through security and immigration
      • 7:00PM Got into Delta Sky Club
      • 8:20PM Left Delta Sky Club to do some plane spotting in the terminal
      • 9:05PM Went to TIAT Lounge but there was a queue so headed to JAL Sakura Lounge Sky View instead
      • 11:10PM Left JAL Sakura Lounge Sky View and headed to the TIAT Lounge
      • 11:25PM Left TIAT Lounge and entered SKY Lounge located next door
      • 11:30PM Left SKY Lounge and headed to JAL Sakura Lounge
      • Midnight
      • 1:05AM Left JAL Sakura Lounge and headed to gate 148
      • 1:30AM Boarded Korean Air flight 720 to Seoul Incheon
      • 2:50AM Had dinner/mid-night meal/breakfast onboard
      • 4:45AM Landed at Incheon Airport and went through immigration and customs
    • Part 2: Seoul to Jeju and back
      • 5:20AM Got onboard the AREX train to Seoul Gimpo Airport
      • 6:10AM Got off the train at Gimpo Airport, went through security, and did some plane spotting
      • 7:15AM Got into KAL Lounge and worked on an article
      • 9:50AM Left the lounge and headed to gate 7
      • 10:10AM Boarded Korean Air flight 1067 to Jeju
      • 10:55AM Had a cup of Coca-Cola onboard
      • 11:35AM Landed at Jeju Airport
      • 12:00PM Got into Asiana Lounge to try to photograph the arrival of the Asiana 767-300
      • 12:10PM Left Asiana Lounge and headed to KAL Lounge
      • 12:20PM Left KAL Lounge and went through security
      • 12:35PM Boarded Asiana Airlines flight 8940 to Seoul Gimpo
      • 1:35PM Had a cup of orange juice onboard
      • 2:00PM Landed at Gimpo Airport
    • Part 3: Avgeeking in Seoul
      • 2:30PM Met up with a friend for a lunch
      • 3:20PM Went to an aviation museum near the airport
    • Part 4: Seoul to Tokyo
      • 4:20PM Got onboard the AREX train to Seoul Incheon Airport
      • 5:10PM Got off the train at Incheon Airport, went through security and immigration
      • 5:40PM Got into Lounge L
      • 6:00PM Left Lounge L and headed to gate 238
      • 6:10PM Boarded Korean Air flight 705 to Tokyo Narita
      • 7:40PM Had dinner onboard
      • 9:00PM Landed at Narita Airport, took a photo of a ZIPAIR 787, and went through immigration and customs
      • 9:30PM Got onboard the Keisei Skyliner train
      • 11:00PM Got home


With a baby daughter at home, I do two types of trips these days: trips that I try to make as action-packed and as short as possible and longer trips during which my mother-in-law kindly comes to Tokyo to help my wife with taking care of our daughter for the time I am away.

This trip was very much an example of the former. While I was certainly tired when I got home, I was also excited to have visited the Delta Sky Club which was on my “wishlist” for a long time, to have flown on a couple of aircraft types I hadn’t flown on before, to have flown on the 767-300, and more.

2 thoughts on “Trip Preview: A 28-Hour Hardcore Non-Stop Review Trip to South Korea”

  1. It was very nice to see you in Seoul, Keishi-san. I can’t believe you did it for 28 hours. What an epic journey! Your passion is really amazing! Hope to see you again in the near future. Regards Jangsu from Seoul

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