Friday, January 13, 2012

Winter Holiday in Hokkaido in December 2011 - Section 5

Welcome to the fifth section of my blog report of my winter holiday in Hokkaido, Japan in December 2011. This will be the final section of the report. The topics that will be covered in this section will mainly be the return journey back home to Singapore from Sapporo via a brief stopover in Seoul.

Part 1 ~ The Drive Back to New Chitose Airport

After spending an enjoyable two weeks of food, snow and trains in Hokkaido, Japan, it was finally time to head back home to Singapore. On Thursday, 22 December, we woke up at around 8.30 a.m. to do some last minute packing of our baggage for the flight back to Singapore. I have some pictures before we left our hotel room.

Our itinerary for the journey back home to Singapore would be to fly with Korean Air on Flight KE 766, which would depart Sapporo's New Chitose Airport at 1.55 p.m., and then land in Seoul's Incheon International Airport at 5.10 p.m.. After that, we would have a brief layover in Seoul for 1 hour 25 minutes before our next flight back home.


After the brief layover, we would fly with Korean Air again on Flight KE 641, which would leave Incheon International Airport at 6.35 p.m.. We would finally arrive back home into Singapore Changi Airport just before midnight.

A beautiful view of the Sea of Japan, taken from my hotel room, before we left for home

Our hotel room, just before we left for our car to go back to New Chitose Airport for the flight back to Singapore

The grand entrance hall of the Grand Park Hotel Otaru just before we left for New Chitose Airport

After checking out at 10 o' clock, we began our drive back to New Chitose Airport at 10.15 a.m.. Along the way, we stopped by at a cafeteria along the expressway to have breakfast and fill up petrol at a nearby petrol station. These are some pictures I took along the way back to New Chitose Airport.

The Grand Park Hotel Otaru, just before we left the city of Otaru for New Chitose Airport

Wattsu Cafe & Light Food Shop

The interior of the supermarket along beside the expressway

The interior of the food cafeteria along the expressway

My breakfast at the cafeteria by the expressway

The interior of the food cafeteria along the Sapporo-Chitose Expressway

The car parking area outside the Wattsu Rest Station

Bypassing Minami-chitose Station

A snow-covered plateau near New Chitose Airport

Finally approaching the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport

A road that leads to the domestic flight terminal at New Chitose Airport

Part 2 ~ The Flight Between Sapporo (Chitose) and Seoul (Incheon)


After a driving time of 1 hour 15 minutes from Otaru, we finally arrived at the International Flight Terminal of New Chitose Airport at 11.30 a.m.. I helped my mum to get 3 trolleys to put our baggage, while my dad went to return the car.

I, along with my mum and brother, took the elevator up to the check-in and departure area of the International Flight Terminal in New Chitose Airport. We then proceeded to the Korean Air Prestige Class check-in counter to check in for Korean Air flights KE 766 and KE 641 to Singapore via Seoul (Incheon).

The international departure flight terminal after we arrived and before we checked in our heavy baggage

The information board showing the departure time of the international flights from CTS

The international flight check-in and departure area of New Chitose Airport

My boarding pass for the sector between Sapporo (Chitose) and Seoul (Incheon)

The Korean Air check-in counter at New Chitose Airport

After my dad met us in the international flight terminal, we collected all our carry-on baggage and went through the security checkpoint and the passport control area. We then headed to the Royal Lounge to charge our electronic devices and to have some light bites. The Royal Lounge was opened on 26 March 2010 in the International Terminal, and it caters to all passengers flying in First or Business Class on any foreign airline serving New Chitose Airport.

The airside of the international terminal at New Chitose Airport

The departure information screen showing the international flight departure timings in the international terminal airside at New Chitose Airport

The entrance to the Royal Lounge in the international terminal airside at New Chitose Airport

The interior of the Royal Lounge at New Chitose Airport

A view of the international terminal airside taken from the Royal Lounge

Airline: Korean Air
Flight No.: KE 766
From: Sapporo, New Chitose Airport (CTS / RJCC), Chitose, Hokkaido, Japan
To: Seoul, Incheon International Airport (ICN / RKSI), Seoul, South Korea
Aircraft: Airbus A330-322
Registration No.: HL7540
Class: Prestige Class (Business Class)
Seat No.: 8H
Date: Thursday, 22 December 2011

At around 1.10 p.m., knowing that boarding for Korean Air flight KE 766 bound for Seoul (Incheon) would commence in 15 minutes, I left the Royal Lounge for Gate No. 65. By the time my family met me at the gate, it was already starting to snow outside.

Today, Korean Air flight KE 766 bound for Seoul (Incheon) would be operated using an Airbus A330-300, registered HL7540 and powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW4168 engines. HL7540 was delivered new to Korean Air on 30 November 1998 as the fifth Airbus A330-300 and the seventh Airbus A330 for the airline. Overall, the delivery makes the aircraft approximately 13.1 years old today.


Our aircraft for today, HL7540, being at Gate No. 65 before her regional hop back home to South Korea as Korean Air flight KE 766 bound for Seoul (Incheon)

A view of the domestic flight terminal from the international flight boarding area at New Chitose Airport

2 All Nippon Airways aircraft at the domestic flight terminal (1 Boeing 767-381 and 1 Boeing 747-481D)

Gate No. 65 at New Chitose Airport

Another photograph of the domestic flight terminal, taken from the international departure gate area, at CTS

After approximately 10 minutes of anticipated waiting, boarding calls  Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Seoul (Incheon) were finally made at 1.25 p.m. The First and Prestige Class passengers, as well as the SKYPASS Club members and the passengers requiring needing special assistance. As we walked along the jet bridge through Door A, we were finally on board HL7540 by 1.30 p.m., which was just in good time for a 1.55 p.m. departure.

Beside us was a China Airlines Airbus A330-300, registered B-18356, which would be heading back to Taipei as China Airlines flight CI 131 later in the afternoon. I would be seated with my brother throughout the flight.

We stowed all our carry-on baggage in the respective areas and settled in. A few minutes later, the flight stewardess served us some pre-departure drinks and distributed the food and beverage menu for tonight’s flight. I chose to have the orange juice and water. Honey roasted peanuts were given out to us. They were quite delicious. These are some pictures I took while waiting for pushback.

A China Airlines Airbus A330-302, registered B-18356, parked beside us at Gate No. 66. This aircraft would later fly back home to Taiwan at 2.25 p.m. as China Airlines flight CI 131 bound for Taipei (Taoyuan)

The Prestige Class cabin during the boarding process

The food and beverage menu for the sector between Sapporo (Chitose) and Seoul (Incheon)

A view of my seat, 8H, during boarding

My glass of orange juice and packet of honey roasted peanuts

At exactly 1.55 p.m., all the aircraft doors were closed, and we pushed back from Gate No. 65, with the safety briefing demonstration video being played on our video screens at the same time. The weather started to get really snowy, as we taxied past the domestic flight terminal to our assigned runway.

After approximately 20 minutes of taxiing to our assigned runway, the aircraft's two Pratt & Whitney PW4168 engines spooled into action,and we finally lifted off from a snowy New Chitose Airport at 2.15 p.m.. We then climbed into the snowy weather for a regional flight time over the Sea of Japan of 2 hours 45 minutes towards the capital city of the Republic of Korea.

Taxiing past the domestic flight terminal in the snow

Several All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines aircraft at the domestic flight terminal in the snow

A snowy taxiway at New Chitose Airport

Korean Air Flight 766 ~ Snowy Take-off From New Chitose Airport

Ascending into the clouds

The beautiful scenery of the sky and the clouds after take-off from New Chitose Airport

The seatbelt sign was turned off at 2.25 p.m., just 10 minutes after take-off from New Chitose Airport. I then got up and did my usual cabin shots. Shortly after that, the flight attendant came to me to take my order for lunch. I ordered the braised chicken with Japanese soy sauce served with steamed rice and mixed vegetables for my main course.

My brother just had his noodles. As he was too full to eat his chicken main course, he gave it to me to finish off. It was a nice and filling lunch. I also ordered a cup of black tea with sugar and milk to end my meal.

The rear view of the Prestige Sleeper cabin on the Korean Air Airbus A330-300 aircraft

The Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Prestige Class cabin just before the meal service commenced

A glass of orange juice and water

The first course: Fresh salad with blue cheese, apple slice and toasted pine nuts served with sesame dressing

My main course: Braised chicken with Japanese soy sauce served with steamed rice and mixed vegetables

My cup of black tea with sugar and milk

After the meal service ended, my tray was promptly collected by the flight attendant. Since there was nothing better for me to do for the remainder of the journey, I went around taking some of my usual pictures and ordered a can of coca-cola for myself. Everything seemed to be very quiet throughout the remaining sectors of the journey.

The Prestige Class cabin after the meal service ended

ANA - All Nippon Airways Boeing 747-481D ANA Official Precision Models Scale 1:500 (NH 50034)

Singapore Airlines Boeing 747-412 Herpa Wings Scale 1:500 (500852) - Exclusive for Singapore Airlines in-flight sales item in the past

My can and glass of coca-cola

Flying over a blanket of clouds

Flying over the Sea of Japan

The seatbelt sign was illuminated at 4.50 p.m., 10 minutes in preparation for descent into Incheon International Airport. Knowing that we were about to arrive in Seoul very soon, we packed up all our carry-on baggage and stowed them away in preparation for the landing. After a flight time of 2 hours 45 minutes over the Sea of Japan from the city of Sapporo in the winter resort island of Hokkaido, we finally touched down in Incheon International Airport at 5 o' clock, 10 minutes ahead of schedule.

Getting closer to Incheon International Airport

The Incheon Grand Bridge linking Incheon International Airport to mainland Seoul

Korean Air Flight 766 ~ Landing in Incheon International Airport

2 Korean Air aircraft on the tarmac (1 Boeing 747-4B5 and 1 Boeing 737-8B5)

An Emirates Airbus A380 from Dubai about to park beside a United Airlines Boeing 747-422

Korean Air's first Airbus A380 aircraft, HL7611, on the tarmac

A Turkish Airlines Airbus A340-313X and a Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-312/ER

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-312/ER, registered 9V-SWN, resting at Gate No. 123 at Incheon International Airport after arriving from Singapore as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 016. She would later continue her long transpacific flight to the United States as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 016 bound for San Francisco in about half an hour's time

After 10 minutes of taxiing on the airport tarmac, we finally docked onto Gate No. 11 at 5.10 p.m.. In a few moments, the seatbelt sign was turned off. We then got up and took all our carry-on baggage before disembarking the plane. It was smooth and eventless flight between Sapporo and Seoul, and faults could hardly be found. As soon as we were at the exit door, all the flight attendants bade us farewell and wished us a pleasant flight back home.



The grading system for each airline and sector are as follows:

A+: 85% or above (Airline has an excellent rating and performance)
A: 75% ~ 84% (Airline has a good rating and performance)
B: 60% ~ 74% (Airline has a good rating and performance)
C: 50% ~ 59% (Airline has an adequate rating and performance)
D: 40% ~ 49% (Airline has a fair rating and performance)
E: 20% ~ 39% (Airline has a poor rating and performance)
U: Below 20% (Airline has not met the requirement for the minimum grade)

Korean Air Flight 766 Score Report



Seat: 19 / 20
Food: 15 / 20
Service: 16 / 20
Aircraft cleanliness: 17 / 20
Legroom space: 19 / 20
Total: 86 / 100

Overall, Korean Air scored 86% on this sector between Sapporo (Chitose) and Seoul (Incheon). This literally means that they deserve an 'A+' grade. It was another good flight with Korean Air.


Part 3 ~ The Flight Back Home to Singapore

After disembarking from Korean Air flight KE 766 from Sapporo (Chitose), we headed to the transit security checkpoint before our connecting flight back to Singapore, scheduled to depart at 6.35 p.m. later that evening. We had approximately 1 hour 30 minutes of layover at Incheon International Airport.

The passageway leading to the arrival areas and the transit security checkpoint at Incheon International Airport

The passenger transit area in the airside of Incheon International Airport

The departure information signboard at Incheon International Airport

Airline: Korean Air
Flight No.: KE 641
From: Seoul, Incheon International Airport (ICN / RKSI), Seoul, South Korea
To: Singapore Changi Airport (SIN / WSSS), Singapore
Aircraft: Boeing 777-3B5
Registration No.: HL7532
Class: Prestige Class (Business Class)
Seat No.: 8J
Date: Thursday, 22 December 2011

After purchasing some snacks from a convenience store on the airside, we went to Gate No. 14 for Korean Air flight KE 641 bound for Singapore. At the waiting area of Gate No. 14, there were lots of passengers, whom were either local Singaporean residents or foreigners heading to Singapore.

Tonight, Korean Air flight KE 641 bound for Singapore would be operated using a Boeing 777-300, registered HL7532 and powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW4098 engines. HL7532 was delivered new to Korean Air on 12 August 1999, as the first Boeing 777-300 and the fourth Boeing 777 for the airline. Overall, the delivery makes the aircraft approximately 12.4 years old today.

Our boarding gate for our flight back home to Singapore

Our aircraft for tonight, HL7532, parked at Gate No. 14

A closer view of HL7532

The waiting area at Gate No. 14

A Korean Air Airbus A330-223, registered HL7539

At exactly 6.05 p.m., the first boarding calls for Korean Air flight KE 641 bound for Singapore were finally made. The First and Business Class passengers, as well as the SKYPASS Club members and passengers requiring special assistance we called to board the aircraft first. With the first boarding calls made, we grabbed our carry-on baggage and rolled up for the boarding process. As we walked along the jet bridge towards Door A, we were all on board HL7532 by 6.10 p.m., which was just in good timing for a 6.35 p.m. departure. We stowed all our carry-on baggage in the respective areas and settled in.

However, there was a small problem with our seating allocation. My dad and I were seated in 10H and 10J, whereas my mum and brother sat in seats 8E and 8F. My mum didn't like the idea of my dad and I sitting far away from her and my brother. So a flight attendant offered to re-seat us in seats 8D and 8J respectively. She apologised to us for any inconvenience caused. We then settled in for the flight back to Singapore. I have some pictures while waiting for pushback.

A Korean Air Airbus A330-323X, registered HL7709, beside us at Gate No. 16

The Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Class cabin during boarding at Incheon International Airport

A clearer view of HL7709 parked at Gate No. 16

After all the passengers for Korean Air flight KE 641 bound for Singapore were on board, all the aircraft doors were closed, and we finally pushed back from Gate No. 14 at 6.35 p.m. the aircraft finally pushed back from Gate No. 14 at 6.35 p.m.. With the safety briefing demonstration video shown on our video screens, we started to taxi to our assigned runway for take-off, passing by several aircraft along the way.

After 30 minutes of taxiing to the runway, the two powerful Pratt & Whitney PW4098 engines spooled into action, and we finally lifted off from Incheon International Airport at 7.05 p.m.. We then climbed into the pitch black night sky for a flight time of 5 hours 50 minutes to the Republic of Singapore.

Taxiing past the Airline of the Year 2011: A Qatar Airways Airbus A330-200 aircraft, resting at Gate No. 111 before heading back home to the State of Qatar as Qatar Airways flight QR 883 bound for Doha slightly after midnight

A Turkish Airlines Airbus A340-313X, registered TC-JIH, resting at Gate No. 111 at Incheon International Airport, before flying back home to Turkey later tonight as Turkish Airlines flight TK 091 bound for Istanbul

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-312/ER, registered 9V-SWR, resting at Gate No. 113 at Incheon International Airport Concourse A after arriving on a transpacific flight from the United States as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 015 from San Francisco. She would later continue her journey back home as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 015 bound for Singapore

A Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 resting at Gate No. 115 at Incheon International Airport, which would later fly back home to Hong Kong as Cathay Pacific flight CX 419

Korean Air Flight 641 ~ Take-off from Incheon International Airport

The seat belt sign was turned off at 7.15 p.m., just 10 minutes after taking off from Incheon International Airport. I then went around to take my usual cabin shots and see what was on the food and beverage menu for tonight's flight back to Singapore from Seoul.

The Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Class cabin view from my seat just after the seat belt sign was turned off

My seat, 8J, during the flight back to Singapore

The food and beverage menu for the sector between Seoul (Incheon) and Singapore

A closer look into the food and beverage menu

A few moments later, a flight attendant came to me and asked me what I wanted for my main course for dinner. I ordered the grilled beef tenderloin steak with shallot sauce served with black ink pasta and vegetables. She asked me how I wanted the steak to be cooked, of which, I asked her to cook it at medium. While waiting, I took more pictures.

The Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Class cabin just before the meal service commenced

Watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on my laptop computer

The first course: Roasted eggplant with chicken

My glass of orange juice and a glass and can of coca-cola

The Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Class cabin during the meal service

The second course: Parma ham with melon and baby salad

The third course: Pumpkin cream soup

After a few moments of waiting, my grilled beef tenderloin steak arrived at my dining table. The steak looked very delicious. When I tried a piece of the steak, it was extremely tasty and tender, as it was cooked to my expectations. The shallot sauce, black ink pasta and the vegetables, were nice complements to the steak, and they all tasted very good. It was one of the best beef dishes I've ever had on an airplane while flying in the air.

My main course: Grilled beef tenderloin steak with shallot sauce served with black ink pasta and vegetables

Halfway through my main course

My meal tray after finishing my main course

My meal tray was promptly cleared and the flight stewardess asked me what I wanted for dessert. I then ordered a tub of Häagen-Dazs chocolate ice-cream, which was delivered to me straight away. The ice-cream was a nice touch to bring this wonderful dinner to an end.

The Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Class cabin after the passengers finished their main courses

My tub of Häagen-Dazs chocolate ice-cream for dessert

A photograph of me in my seat while having my dessert

The Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Class cabin during the dessert service

The Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Class cabin dimmed after the meal service ended

A view of my seat, 8J, during the flight back to SIN

Some of the posted signs in the lavatory

The rear view of the dimmed Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Class cabin

The Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Class cabin dimmed from my seat

Just after the meal service, I ordered myself a cup of black tea with sugar and milk. We were flying past the Philippines and Vietnam when I was having my cup to tea.

The flight route map showing that we are flying past the Philippines and Vietnam

My cup of black tea with sugar and milk

In accordance with the Singapore Local Time, the seatbelt sign was illuminated at 11.30 p.m., 25 minutes in preparation for descent into Singapore Changi Airport. Knowing that we were about to arrive back home in Singapore very soon, we packed up all our carry-on baggage and buckled up in preparation for the landing.

After a flight time of 5 hours 50 minutes over the South China Sea from the South Korean capital city of Seoul, we finally touched down in Singapore Changi Airport at 11.55 p.m., five minutes ahead of schedule.

The Prestige Class cabin just after the seat belt sign was turned on in preparation for landing

Flying over the South China Sea while getting closer to Singapore

Korean Air Flight 641 ~ Arrival into Singapore Changi Airport

A Qatar Airways Boeing 777 aircraft on the tarmac, which would later head back to Doha as flight QR 639

A Thai Airways International Boeing 777 aircraft, which arrived from Bangkok as flight TG 401 a few hours earlier

An Emirates Boeing 777 aircraft which would later head back to Dubai tonight

After 10 minutes of taxiing on the tarmac, we finally docked onto Gate No. E24 beside a Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A330-200 aircraft at 12.05 a.m.. The seat belt sign was turned off, and we took all of our carry-on baggage with us, before disembarking the aircraft. As we exited the aircraft, the flight attendants bade us farewell and wished us a pleasant journey home.

Korean Air Flight 641 Score Report

Seat: 19 / 20
Food: 20 / 20
Service: 19 / 20
Aircraft cleanliness: 18 / 20
Legroom space: 19 / 20
Total: 95 / 100

In total, Korean Air scored 95% on this sector, which means they are exceptional and deserve an 'A+', the highest airline grade I can give. It was another good flight with them between Seoul (Incheon) and Singapore, and it was again difficult to fault them on this sector. The flight attendants bade farewell to us after we disembarked. We then went to Belt No. 31 of the baggage claiming area to claim all our check-in baggage after clearing immigration.

The travelator and passageway leading to the immigration and arrival area

Getting closer to the immigration and arrival areas

The arrival information board located in the Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 airside

The immigration area in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The baggage claiming area in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The baggage belt information in the baggage claiming area in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The arrival area in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

After claiming all our check-in baggage, we went to a MaxiCab counter in the arrival area to arrange for a MaxiCab back home. We were then on our way back home by 12.35 a.m., with the journey time from the Singapore Changi Airport taking about 25 minutes.

By one o' clock, we were finally back in the familiar surroundings of our house. A wonderful Christmas package awaited me when were in the house. I opened it, and the glories of my best Christmas present was revealed:


1) Singapore Airlines Boeing 747-412 Herpa Scale 1:500 (500852) ~ New Generatio
n

Singapore Airlines Boeing 747-412 Herpa Scale 1:500 (500852) ~ New Generation

I was more than grateful to receive this special Singapore Airlines Boeing 747-400 Herpa Wings aircraft model in the new generation. It has taken me a long time to search for such a rare aircraft model like this and because of this, it has become the most precious and valuable Herpa Wings airplane model in my collection. My mum purchased this for me on eBay on the day before our flight to Sapporo, of which, I thanked her for her help.


In summary, this was indeed a truly enjoyable winter holiday in Hokkaido, Japan, but always, there is no place like home. There are some more parts in Japan, which I would like to visit. The part I would like to visit the most is Kyushu in Southern Japan, most notably Fukuoka. I shall gladly come to Hokkaido again for the winter holidays when I get the chance to do so.

Thank you for taking this time to read my very first blog reports about my enjoyable winter holiday in Hokkaido, Japan in December 2011. May the year 2012 be a happy and prosperous year for all!