Saturday, October 16, 2010

Notes from the Road

I thought I’d post a few observations and feelings from the road while they’re still fresh.

First, the first leg of the trip wasn’t as gruelling as I thought. We left at 1:30 in the morning, which is bad enough on its own but all things being equal it wasn’t horrible. Yes it’s long but the entire trip is made during the “night” because we flew west to east. Don’t ask me why but this seems to make it easier. It seems to help convince your internal clock that’s OK to sleep vs. if it was bright and sunny outside. The plane was full but the seat room was OK and here are my first observations of Koreans. And yes, I know my exposure is limited and one plane ride does not a full analysis make but ..........from my experience Koreans are polite, professional and VERY well presented. Why is it that we as North Americans have managed to adopt schlepping in our casual clothes as the uniform du jur’ for travel? I know it’s comfortable – and probably extremely pragmatic – but trust me, when you’re surrounded by an entire plane load of families and business people all dressed to the nines you very quickly feel like a fish out of water.

Now Korean Airlines itself – WOW!!! PLEASE Air Canada, send your senior staff to whatever school Korean Airlines sends their staff to. Very polite, VERY professional, lots of them and EXTREMELY well organized. We boarded around 1:00 and left at 1:30. It was a full plane with a three-three-three configuration and it was completely full. There was a sense of calm though, and loading was accomplished quickly and efficiently.

A half hour into the air we were served a breakfast reminiscent of plane travel in the Seventies: warm meals, real linen, small but still stainless steel utensils rather than a plastic spoon and attentive service followed by a warm towel and accompanied by free non-stop wine or beer. Korea – gotta love it!

This whole experience was continued in the Soul Airport. Rather than an airport full of overweight, poorly dressed workers wandering aimlessly throughout the concourse with nothing but a poor attitude to offer a wayward traveller the Soul Airport is staffed by a professional, well dressed and extremely efficient staff that approach their jobs with a sense of professionalism and pride – something long to lacking in North America. The airport is huge but well laid out and spotlessly clean and the whole experience is somehow a refreshing change.

As I type this I’m waiting for the next leg of our journey; the flight from Soul to Ulaanbaatar which is operated by the Mongolian national airline.......hmmm....only time will tell

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