Thursday, August 8, 2013

Winter Holiday in Hokkaido in December 2010 (Enhanced Version) ~ Section 1

Welcome to the first section of my first wonderful winter vacation in Hokkaido, Japan in December 2010. This will be a revised version of the existing report, which was written in August 2012This blog report will be divided into a total of five sections. This is the first segment of the report, where there will be three main focus topics.

They will be the in-bound journey towards Sapporo (Chitose) via Seoul (Incheon) and the road journey towards the Grand Park Hotel Otaru. All of the holiday videos in this blog report can also be found on my YouTube channel. However, please note that for safety reasons, the posting of comments for any of my videos uploaded onto YouTube is strictly prohibited, as is the display of advertisements, at all times.

Part 1 ~ The Opening Sequences

After finishing my third year in secondary school, we pondered as to where to travel to for our upcoming end-of-year winter vacation in December 2010. Once I had discovered that the answer would be Hokkaido, Japan, I was very excited as I knew that this would be the first time we would ever experience wintertime in Japan.

On the morning of Monday (13 December), all of us woke up at around ten o' clock to pack up the remainder of our baggage in preparation for the trip. My parents had also informed us that they had arranged for a MaxiCab to come and fetch us to Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 at 9.30 p.m. the night before the trip. This trip would also be our very first flight on Korean Air, the flag carrier and largest airline of the Republic of Korea (South Korea).

Our main itinerary for the in-bound journey towards Sapporo from Singapore would be to fly with Korean Air on flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon), which would depart Singapore Changi Airport at 1.15 a.m., and arrive at Incheon International Airport at 8.25 a.m. the next morning. Upon arrival at Incheon International Airport, we would have a short layover of 1 hour 40 minutes before connecting to Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose), which would depart Incheon International Airport at 10.05 a.m., and arrive at New Chitose Airport at 12.35 p.m..

Once all our baggage had been laid out in the living room, our pre-arranged MaxiCab finally showed up at our doorstep at 9.30 p.m., as scheduled. The driver alighted from his cab and offered to assist my parents in loading our baggage into the boot, while my younger brother and I boarded. Soon enough, we finally departed the compound of our home by 9.40 p.m. for a road journey time of 25 minutes towards Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2.

Upon arriving at the departure hall curbside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 at 10.05 p.m., both my younger brother and I went to get few baggage trolleys while my parents unloaded our baggage from the boot of the MaxiCab. Thanking the MaxiCab driver for his services, we headed into the departures and check-in area towards the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge located in the terminal building itself.

The departures and check-in hall of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 during the late night hours

The massive departure flight information board in the departures and check-in hall of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The smaller departure flight information screens in the departures and check-in hall of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

After entering the departures and check-in hall of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2, we headed towards the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge to check in for Korean Air flights KE 644 and KE 765 bound for Seoul (Incheon) and Sapporo (Chitose) respectively. Once we arrived at the lounge at 10.30 p.m., a porter came to assist us with our baggage.

We then sat down to check in for Korean Air flights KE 644 and KE 765 bound for Seoul (Incheon) and Sapporo (Chitose). The entire check-in process for both flights took no more than 10 to 15 minutes.

Korean Air (Hangul: 대한항공; Hanja: 大韓航空) is the flag carrier and the largest airline of the Republic of Korea (South Korea). It is headquartered in Gonghang-dong, Gangseo-gu, Seoul and maintains its main hubs at Incheon International Airport and Gimpo International Airport. Its frequent flyer program is known as SKYPASS, and the airline is rated as a four-star airline by Skytrax.

The airline is one of the founding members of SkyTeam, the world's third and final airline alliance formed in 2000. Korean Air, together with Aeroméxico, Air France and Delta Air Lines, banded together to form the alliance on 22 June 2000.

The SATS Premier Check-in Lounge is a special premium check-in lounge located in Singapore Changi Airport used by certain foreign airlines serving Singapore for their First and Business Class passengers. This lounge is available in all three terminals.

In Terminal 1, certain foreign airlines such as Air China, Qantas and Turkish Airlines use this lounge for their First and Business Class passengers. In Terminal 2, certain foreign airlines like All Nippon Airways, Etihad Airways and Lufthansa utilise this lounge for their guests, who are travelling in First and Business Class.

As of 1 July 2013, the following airlines use the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge for their First and Business Class passengers:

1) Air India

2) All Nippon Airways (Star Alliance carrier)

3) Asiana Airlines (Star Alliance carrier)*

4) Etihad Airways

5) Hainan Airlines

6) Korean Air (SkyTeam carrier)

7) Lao Airlines

8) Lufthansa (Star Alliance carrier)

9) Malaysia Airlines (Oneworld carrier)

10) Philippine Airlines**

11) Royal Brunei Airlines

12) SilkAir

13) Singapore Airlines (Star Alliance carrier & Flag carrier of the Republic of Singapore)

*Asiana Airlines will move its operations at Singapore Changi Airport from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3 on 30 September 2013.

**Philippine Airlines will move its operations at Singapore Changi Airport from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 on 28 October 2013.

The interior of the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

A porter helping us to unload our bags in the lounge

A beautifully decorated Christmas Tree in the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The departures and check-in hall of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2, as seen from the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge

After we had finished checking in for Korean Air flights KE 644 and KE 765 bound for Seoul (Incheon) and Sapporo (Chitose), the clock was finally showing 10.45 p.m.. We were then handed our boarding passes for both sectors. The check-in agent then reminded us that Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon) would depart at 1.15 a.m. from Gate No. E24, and that boarding would commence at 12.45 a.m., approximately half an hour prior to the scheduled departure time.

Without wasting anymore time, we thanked the check-in agents for their warm services, and headed to the passport control area. To do this, we simply used the thumbprint checkpoint, which is reserved exclusively for Singaporean citizens, and all permanent residents of the Republic of Singapore.

Soon enough, we were finally in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 by 10.50 p.m.. At the same time, we went to a nearby money exchange counter to change some of our Singapore dollars into Japanese yen. Feeling slightly peaky, we decided to head to a nearby fastfood restaurant to have a light snack and beverages.

Without wasting anymore time, we took the escalator towards the second level of the airside, and found a fastfood restaurant, by the name of Burger King. There, we just had some light snacks. I just had a simple Hershey's Sundae Pie for myself.

The airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 during the late night hours

The departure flight information screen in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 showing the various late night departures

A Korean Air Boeing 777-3B5 aircraft about to be pushed back from Gate No. E4 in preparation for her overnight journey back home to the Republic of Korea (South Korea) as Korean Air flight KE 642 bound for Seoul (Incheon)

Outside Burger King fastfood restaurant in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The logo of Burger King fastfood restaurant in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The restaurant level in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

Our late night supper items at Burger King in the airside in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

A simple Hershey's Sundae Pie for myself

Overlooking the first level of the airside in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

After having our late night light supper at Burger King, the clock was finally showing 11.10 p.m.. Since it was still early before the flight to Seoul (Incheon), we decided to head over to the SATS Premier Lounge to charge up our electronics. Without wasting anymore time, we packed up our baggage and left Burger King by 11.15 p.m.. At the same time, we did some duty-free shopping before going to the lounge.

Soon enough, we finally arrived outside the SATS Premier Lounge by 11.45 p.m.. At the lounge, we went to the main reception counter, where we showed our invitation cards to the lounge staff. Once we had our invitation cards checked, we went into the lounge to charge our electronics, having some light snacks and beverages there at the same time.

The departure flight information screen located on the upper level of the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The view of some open-air duty-free shops as seen from the upper level of the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

Several small trees planted near a small indoor pond in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The entrance to the SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

A beautifully decorated Christmas tree in the SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The main reception area in the SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The first view of the SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The interior of the seating areas of the SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The viewing mall by some cafeterias and shops in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

Several metal food woks in the food and beverage corner in the SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The food and beverage corner in the SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport

One last shot of the SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 before we left

Part 2(a) ~ The Flight to Seoul (Incheon)

Airline: Korean Air
Flight No.: KE 644
From: Singapore Changi Airport (SIN / WSSS), Singapore
To: Seoul, Incheon International Airport (ICN / RKSI), Seoul, South Korea
Aircraft: Airbus A330-323X
Registration No.: HL7586
Class: Prestige Class (Business Class)
Seat No.: 7H
Date: Tuesday, 14 December 2010

After spending approximately one hour of relaxation and refreshments in the SATS Premier Lounge, the clock was finally showing 12.15 a.m.. Knowing that boarding for Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon) would commence in half an hour's time, we packed up our baggage and left the lounge by 12.20 a.m. for Gate No. E24. The walk between the SATS Premier Lounge and Gate No. E24 took no more than just 10 minutes.

Soon enough, we were finally outside the entrance to Gate No. E24 by 12.30 a.m., which was just in good time for boarding to commence in 15 minutes' time. We were then ushered through the security checkpoint, and were finally in the passenger waiting room by 12.35 a.m..

Tonight, Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon) would be operated using an Airbus A330-300, registered HL7586 and powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW4168A engines. I knew then that HL7586 would be the very first aircraft from Korean Air we would ever ride on.

HL7586 was delivered new to Korean Air on 10 August 2000 as the tenth Airbus A330-300, and the 13th Airbus A330 for the airline. Since this was in late 2010, the delivery made the aircraft approximately 10.3 years old at the time.

Several tall trees by a small pond in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

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

The departure information screen outside Gate No. E24 showing the information for Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon)

A reflection of the security checkpoint at Gate No. E24

Our aircraft for tonight, HL7586, being serviced at Gate No. E24 in preparation for her late overnight journey back home to the Republic of Korea (South Korea) as Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon)

A closeup of HL7586 being served at Gate No. E24

After spending approximately 15 minutes of anticipated waiting in the passenger waiting room, the first boarding calls for Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon) were finally made at 12.45 a.m.. The First & Prestige Class passengers, as well the SKYPASS members and the passengers requiring special assistance were called to board the aircraft first.

With the first boarding announcements being made, we grabbed all our carry-on baggage and rolled up for the boarding process. As we walked along the jet bridge through Door A, we were finally on board HL7586 at 12.50 a.m., which was just in good time for a 1.15 a.m. departure.

At Door A, two cheery flight attendants warmly welcomed us on board for our first flight with Korean Air. They then showed towards our seats located in the Prestige Class cabin. Upon stowing all our baggage, we noticed that the First Class cabin would remain unoccupied throughout the entire flight. This would eventually result in Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon) having a relatively light passenger load late that night.

The Prestige Class seats we would be using for this relatively long overnight flight bound for Seoul were the latest Prestige Sleeper seats. These seats can recline to a maximum of 180º to allow fully lie-flat rest for passengers. Korean Air introduced these new seats on most of the airline's long-haul fleet, following the delivery of the airline's Boeing 777-300/ERs in May 2009.

As a complementary touch, the flight attendant was kind enough to allow me to pose for some pictures with my dad and younger brother in the deserted First Class cabin. Soon, the flight attendants went on with their normal pre-flight routines, such as distributing the menus and pre-departure beverages for the Prestige Class passengers. As usual, I ordered myself a glass of orange juice and a glass of water. The flight attendant was also kind enough to provide us some complementary bottles of water at our seats.

A pair of Korean Air Prestige Sleeper seats found on the airline's fleet of Airbus A330-300s during the boarding process in Singapore

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-312 aircraft resting beside us at Gate No. E26

The flight route indication map indicating that we are still boarding in Singapore

A pair of Korean Air Airbus A330-300 First Class Sleeper seats during the boarding process in Singapore

My dad and I posing for a picture in the deserted First Class cabin during the boarding process in Singapore

My younger brother and I posing for a picture in the deserted First Class cabin during the boarding process in Singapore

The 'no smoking' and 'fasten seat belt' signs illuminated during the boarding process in Singapore

Two complementary bottles of water resting on the centre armrest

My usual pre-departure glasses of water and orange juice

The cabin view of the Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin during the boarding process in Singapore, with the deserted First Class cabin being visible on the right-hand side

The cover page for the food and beverage menu for the segment between Singapore and Seoul (Incheon)

Reviewing the food and beverage menu for the segment between Singapore and Seoul (Incheon)

At exactly 1.15 a.m., all the aircraft doors were closed, and the aircraft finally pushed back from Gate No. E24, just as scheduled. The safety briefing information video was beginning to show in both Korean and English, as we began to make our taxi towards our assigned runway in preparation for departure. The total taxi time took approximately half an hour, bypassing several aircraft parked at Terminal 2 along the way.

After a 30-minute taxi towards our assigned runway, the aircraft's two Pratt & Whitney PW4168A engines spooled into action, and we finally lifted off from Singapore Changi Airport at 1.45 a.m.. We then climbed into the pitch black night sky for a long overnight flight time of 5 hours 40 minutes over the South China Sea towards the capital city of the Republic of Korea (South Korea). This was then that we finally left the island nation of the Republic of Singapore far behind.

The safety briefing demonstration video being shown on the front wall screen, with the dangers of smoking being shown

One more look at the Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-312 aircraft parked beside us at Gate No. E26 just as we were about to push back from Gate No. E24

Taxiing past Terminal 2 as we begin to make our way towards our assigned runway for take-off

Korean Air Flight 644 ~ Take-off from Singapore Changi Airport

Climbing into the pitch black night sky over the Johor Strait

The view of the Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Prestige Sleeper & First Class Sleeper cabin view shortly after taking off from Singapore Changi Airport

The 'no smoking' and 'fasten seat belt' signs still illuminated shortly after taking off from Singapore

The seatbelt sign was turned off at around two o' clock, approximately 15 minutes after taking off from Singapore Changi Airport. Following this, most of the passengers chose to sleep since this was a red-eye flight. As the flight attendants sprung into action to begin the in-flight late night snack service, I went to pay a visit to the lavatory before settling down for the journey.

A few moments later, a flight attendant came up to my seat, and asked me what I wanted for the in-flight late night supper. Not feeling that hungry, I simply ordered a nice, warm cup of hot green tea for myself, as well as my usual glass of orange juice. Once my tea and juice were brought to me, I immediately went down to sip down my nice, hot tea. This was a rather relaxing drink as it helped me to settle down for the flight.

Upon finishing my green tea and orange juice, I went on to order a box of Godiva chocolates from the in-flight duty-free service. By the time everything was done, the cabin lights were dimmed at around 2.45 a.m. in order to allow the passengers to get some sleep. Feeling very tired already, I decided to catch some shut-eye for the next few hours.

The Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin shortly after the seatbelt sign was turned off over the Johor Strait

The mirror view of the lavatory on board

A posted placard in the lavatory that warns passengers that smoking on board is forbidden at all times

The Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin shortly before the in-flight late night snack service commenced

The deserted Korean Air Airbus A330-300 First Class sleeper cabin during cruising altitude over the Johor Strait

My usual refreshing glass orange juice

A plate of wonton dumplings, which my dad ate. He took my plate since I wasn't feeling that famished

My nice, warm cup of fresh green tea resting on my dining table

Cruising somewhere over the Johor Strait late at night

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude over the South China Sea between Vietnam and Brunei Darussalam

My Korean Air Sky Shop Duty-Free Bag, which contains my box of Godiva chocolates

Cruising through the pitch black night sky over the South China Sea

Part 2(b) ~ The Arrival into Seoul (Incheon) and Layover in Incheon International Airport

After getting approximately three hours of shut-eye, I woke up at around 6.35 a.m., in accordance with the Japan & Korea Standard Time. The seatbelt sign was still turned on, since we were experiencing turbulence somewhere over the Taiwan Strait.

Soon enough, I was greeted by the first lights of the morning sunrise over the Taiwan Strait. The view of the early morning sunrise over the Taiwan Strait was indeed very welcoming and spectacular, especially during flight.

By around seven o' clock, most of the passengers were slowly beginning to rise and shine. At the same time, the cabin lights were illuminated, in preparation for the flight attendants to commence the in-flight breakfast service.

The seatbelt sign still being illuminated shortly after I woke up since we were experiencing turbulence over the Taiwan Strait

Cruising over the Taiwan Strait shortly before dawn starts to break

The first lights of the early morning sunrise greeting me over the Taiwan Strait

The beautiful view of the early morning sunrise over the Taiwan Strait

The Korean Air Airbus A330-300 cabin view shortly after most of the passengers had woken up

After the flight attendants sprung into action to commence the in-flight breakfast service, one of them came over to my seat to take down my main meal order for breakfast. I opted to have the omelette with tomato and peppers served with grilled pork sausage, hash brown potato and grilled tomatoes. As a complement, she brought me a nice, refreshing glass of orange juice to rejuvenate myself.

Surprisingly, my brother ordered three of the same main course, while my dad ordered two. Soon enough, our main courses were delivered to us within a few moments. Once I tucked into my breakfast, my impression was a positive one. The omelette tasted surprisingly good and hot, and the sausage, along with the potatoes were perfect accompaniments.

Unfortunately, my brother was too full to finish his third dish, as with my dad, who was also too full to finish his second dish. As such, they both gave me their remaining courses to polish off, allowing me to have a huge breakfast. To round off, I can safely say that this was one of the best in-flight breakfasts I have ever had.

Once our breakfast trays were cleared away, I went off to the lavatory again before doing anything else. The first sights of daylight greeted me as we cruised over the South China Sea between Taiwan and Korea. For the rest of the entire journey after the breakfast service, I was simply left to my own stuff to keep me company.

A nice, refreshing glass of orange juice to commence the breakfast service

The beautiful early morning sunrise over the East China Sea

My main course: Omelette with tomato and peppers served with grilled pork sausage, hash brown potato and grilled tomato

The sun shining brightly over the East China Sea

The Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin during cruising altitude over the East China Sea

A view of my seat, 7H, during cruising altitude over the East China Sea

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

The view of the bright morning sky over the East China Sea

The Korean Air Airbus A330-300 cabin view during cruising altitude over the East China Sea

The name plate of HL7586 near the lavatories

The deserted Korean Air Airbus A330-300 First Class Sleeper cabin during cruising altitude over the East China Sea

The overhead seat panel numbers on Korean Air's fleet of Airbus A330-300s

Cruising over the East China Sea while getting closer into South Korean airspace

In accordance with the Japan & Korea Local Time, the seatbelt sign was illuminated at 8.15 a.m., 10 minutes prior to descent into Incheon International Airport. Knowing that we were about to arrive in Seoul very soon, we stowed away our belongings and buckled up in preparation for the landing in Incheon International Airport. After a relatively long overnight flight time of 5 hours 40 minutes over the South China Sea from the Republic of Singapore, we finally touched down in Incheon International Airport at 8.25 a.m., right on schedule.

Incheon International Airport is the main international airport serving the Seoul metropolitan area in South Korea. It is the largest and busiest airport operating in the country, and the eighth-busiest airport in the entire continent of Asia. The airport serves as the main hub for South Korea's two major and largest airlines, Asiana Airlines and Korean Air.

The airport was opened for business on 29 March 2001, in order to relieve overcrowding at the older Gimpo International Airport, and to take over most of the international flights in and out of Seoul. Gimpo International Airport now caters mainly to domestic flights, as well as a small number of international flights to China, Japan and Taiwan.

Flying over sparse mountainous settlements as we commence our descent into Incheon International Airport

Cruising over some industrial islands of South Korea

Flying over the Incheon Bridge that links between Incheon International Airport with downtown Seoul

Korean Air Flight 644 ~ Landing in Incheon International Airport

Taxiing along the tarmac of Incheon International Airport shortly after we had landed

Taxiing past several aircraft parked at Terminal A as we make our way towards the Main Terminal

A Malaysia Airlines Airbus A330-322 aircraft being serviced at Terminal A in preparation for her morning journey back home to the Federation of Malaysia as Malaysia Airlines flight MH 067 bound for Kuala Lumpur

A Thai Airways International Boeing 777-2D7 aircraft parked at Terminal A before being serviced for her late morning journey back home to the Kingdom of Thailand as Thai Airways International flight TG 659 bound for Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi)

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A330-343X aircraft being serviced at Terminal A in preparation for her morning journey back home to the Republic of Singapore as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 603 bound for Singapore

Docking beside a Korean Air Airbus A330-223 aircraft. registered HL8212, at the Main Terminal

After taxiing along the tarmac for approximately 10 minutes, we finally docked on to our arrival gate, Gate No. 24, at 8.35 a.m. at the Main Terminal. Once the seatbelt sign was turned off, we immediately unbuckled and took all of our belongings, ensuring that nothing had been left behind on board.

As we exited the aircraft, the flight attendants thanked us for our journey with Korean Air, and wished us a pleasant, onward journey towards Hokkaido, Japan. Like the previously-written blog reports, every airline I fly with will be graded for each sector. They are mainly split up into five sections, each carrying 20 points, and totalling up to 100 points. An airline will need to attain at least a 'D' grade in order to pass.

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 644 Score Report


Seat: 19 / 20

Food: 19 / 20
Service: 16 / 20
Aircraft cleanliness: 18 / 20
Legroom space: 20 / 20
Total: 92 / 100

In total, Korean Air scored 92% for the first sector between Singapore and Seoul (Incheon). This is indeed a remarkable achievement for an airline I first fly with, and this was indeed a pleasant flight, especially when it is our first time flying with Korean Air.

After disembarking from Korean Air flight KE 644 from Singapore, we walked along the passageway, stopping at a nearby public restroom to clean our teeth. Knowing that it was already 8.40 a.m., we knew that we had exactly 1 hour 25 minutes before our continuing flight bound for Sapporo (Chitose).

Without wasting anymore time, we immediately proceeded towards the nearest transit security checkpoint for a relatively rapid security check, eventually reaching the airside by nine o' clock. I also went to check which gate Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose) would depart from.

According to the massive departure flight information board, Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose) would depart at 10.05 a.m. from Gate No. 21. With that, we walked slowly through the busy airside of Incheon International Airport. Many parts of the airport were filled with Christmas decorations in preparation for the Christmas holiday season.

One final look at HL7586 before we headed off towards the transit security checkpoint

Walking through the passageway leading towards the immigrations and transit security checkpoint areas

The overhead signs leading towards the immigrations and transit security checkpoint areas

The massice departure flight information board in the Main Terminal of Incheon International Airport

The main transit hall in the Main Terminal of Incheon International Airport decorated with Christmas decorations

A lineup of duty-free shops in the airside of the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport

Part 3 ~ The Flight to Sapporo (Chitose)

Airline: Korean Air
Flight No.: KE 765
From: Seoul, Incheon International Airport (ICN / RKSI), Seoul, South Korea
To: Sapporo, New Chitose Airport (CTS / RJCC), Chitose, Hokkaido, Japan
Aircraft: Airbus A330-323X
Registration No.: HL7584
Class: Prestige Class (Business Class)
Seat No.: 8A
Date: Tuesday, 14 December 2010

After walking through the airside in the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport, the clock was finally showing 9.05 a.m.. Knowing that boarding for Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose) would commence in 35 minutes' time, we grabbed all of our belongings and proceeded over to Gate No. 21. The walk to Gate No. 21 took no more than 10 minutes.

Soon enough, we finally arrived at the waiting area at Gate No. 21 at 9.15 a.m., which was just in time for boarding to commence in 25 minutes' time. Most of the passengers heading to Sapporo were tourists heading to Hokkaido for skiing activities during their winter breaks. We also purchased some duty-free items from a nearby duty-free shop.

Today, Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose) would be operated using an Airbus A330-300, registered HL7584 and powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW4168A engines. HL7584 was delivered new to Korean Air on 31 May 2000, as the eighth Airbus A330-300 and 11th Airbus A330 for the airline. The overall delivery made the aircraft approximately 10.5 years old at that time.

The sign boards leading to the various boarding gates in the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport

Walking along the passageway leading to Gates No. 12 to 24

The departure information screen above the entrance to Gate No. 21 showing the information for Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose)

The entrance towards Gate No. 21 in the Main Terminal

Our aircraft for today, HL7584, being prepared at Gate No. 21 for her regional morning journey towards Hokkaido, Japan as Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose)

The passenger waiting area at Gate No. 21

A nearby duty-free shop selling liquor and tobacco near Gate No. 21

The waiting areas at the far end of Gates No. 12 to 24 packed with waiting passengers

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A330-343X aircraft being pushed back from Terminal A in preparation for her morning journey back home to the Republic of Singapore as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 603 bound for Singapore

HL7586, the aircraft that took us from the Republic of Singapore as Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon) earlier

A Korean Air Boeing 777-2B5/ER, registered HL7752 and decorated in the special "New Horizons of Korea" livery, being towed away from the Main Terminal

A Korean Air Boeing 777-3B5/ER, registered HL7784, taxiing past the Main Terminal as seen from Gate No. 21

After spending approximately 25 minutes of anticipated waiting at the passenger waiting area, the first boarding calls for Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose) were finally made at 9.40 a.m.. The First & Prestige Class passengers, along with the SKYPASS members and the passengers requiring special assistance were called to board the aircraft first.

With the first boarding announcements being made, we got hold of our belongings and rolled up for the boarding process. As we walked along the front jet bridge, we were finally on board HL7584 by 9.45 a.m., which was just in good time for a 10.05 a.m. departure. At the front door, two flight attendants warmly welcomed us on board, and showed us the direction to our seats in the Prestige Class cabin.

Once we had found our respective seats, we stowed away all of our belongings and settled down for departure. The flight attendants did their usual pre-flight routines of distributing the pre-departure beverages, food and beverage menus and newspapers to the Prestige Class passengers. As always, I had my usual glasses of orange juice and water. Given that the First Class cabin would remain unoccupied throughout the journey, Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose) would have a relatively light load that morning.

A typical pair of Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Prestige Sleeper seats located in the bulkhead middle row

The deserted Korean Air Airbus A330-300 First Class sleeper cabin during the boarding process in Incheon International Airport

A view of my seat, 8A, during the boarding process in Incheon International Airport

The 'no smoking' and 'fasten seat belt signs' illuminated during the boarding process in Incheon International Airport

The view of the Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat during the boarding process in Incheon International Airport

The front view of the Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin during the boarding process in Incheon International Airport

My usual glasses of water and orange juice on my centre armrest

The cover page for the food and beverage menu for the segment between Seoul (Incheon) and Sapporo (Chitose)

The information brochure on how to make Bibimbap on board Korean Air, which normally comes in the food and beverage menus

Reviewing the food and beverage menu for the segment between Seoul (Incheon) and Sapporo (Chitose)

The in-flight entertainment screen showing a welcome message to travellers

The view of the Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat shortly before the doors were closed for departure

At exactly 10.05 a.m., all the aircraft doors were closed, and the aircraft finally pushed back from Gate No. 21. The safety briefing information video was then shown on all our front seat video screens, as the aircraft began to makes its way towards our assigned runway for take-off, with the taxi taking approximately 25 minutes. We then taxied past several aircraft parked at both terminals at Incheon International Airport along the way.

After a relatively long 25 minutes of taxiing towards our assigned runway, the two Pratt & Whitney PW4168A engines spooled into action, and we finally lifted off from Incheon International Airport at 10.30 a.m.. We then climbed into the bright late morning sky for a regional flight time of two hours over the Sea of Japan towards the prefectural capital city of the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

The safety briefing information video detailing the hazards and consequences of smoking on board

A Malaysia Airlines Airbus A330-322 aircraft receiving her last-minute preparations at Terminal A in preparation for her morning journey back home to the Federation of Malaysia as Malaysia Airlines flight MH 067 bound for Kuala Lumpur

The tarmac view of Incheon International Airport as the aircraft makes its way towards the runway for take-off

Korean Air Flight 765 ~ Take-off from Incheon International Airport

Cruising over the Yellow Sea shortly after taking off from Incheon International Airport

The view of the Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat shortly after taking off from Incheon International Airport

Cruising over some mountainous island settlements of South Korea

The seatbelt sign was turned off at 10.40 a.m., approximately 10 minutes after taking off from Incheon International Airport. I then got up to visit the lavatory before settling down for the journey. At the same time, the flight attendants sprung into action to commence the in-flight brunch service.

A few moments later, a flight attendant came up to my seat to take down my meal orders for the light brunch service. Feeling rather full from the huge breakfast I had on the previous segment between Singapore and Seoul (Incheon), I simply requested for a nice, warm cup of hot green tea for myself.

Soon enough, my green tea was finally delivered to my table, which I managed to sip down within a few minutes. The tea helped me to keep warm for the flight, and for the journey towards our onward destination in Hokkaido. Once my cup was cleared away, I was simply left to my own devices for the entire journey over the Sea of Japan.

New Chitose Airport is an airport located between the suburban cities of Chitose and Tomakomai serving Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. It is the largest and busiest airport in Hokkaido, and serves as the main gateway for both local and foreign tourists coming into Hokkaido. The airport mainly caters to domestic flights, but also handles some international flights to China, Hong Kong, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and the United States.

On 26 March 2010, a new international passenger flight terminal was opened to cater to more foreign tourist arrivals into Hokkaido, and to allow New Chitose Airport to expand its international flight operations slightly. Prior to this, there was a sterile area in the north area of the main domestic terminal that catered to international flights.

Part 4 ~ The Road Journey to the Grand Park Hotel Otaru

After disembarking from Korean Air flight KE 765 from Seoul (Incheon),

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