For my nearly 7,000 mile trip from Washington D.C. to Seoul, South Korea, I had to endure three legs in my flight path.
The first leg was from Dulles International Airport outside Washington D.C. to Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. For this flight I took Air Canada and it was just a 1:45 flight.
The aircraft was a Bombardier CRJ 200. It's the smallest commercial aircraft you can fly before switching to a propeller aircraft. The rows consist of two-by-two seats. The windows were also comparatively small.
When flying on a Bombardier CRJ 200, think small. Small aircraft, small seats, small bathroom (it does have a bathroom...thank god). Make sure your carryon's are also small. The bins above your head aren't roomy enough for large carry on items.
Air Canada does allow two carry on items per person. I had to check one of my carry on bags at the gate (at no cost to me) as my hiking backpack was too large for the flight. The bag personnel will be looking for bulky items that can be checked and they give you a "receipt" and tie a tag with the corresponding number around your bag.
For this particular flight I was seated in 11F. It was on the same side of the aircraft as the bathroom (which is in the back). On the bathroom side of the aircraft (seats D and F) there are only 12 rows. I would recommend not being seated in row 12 if you have the option as it is the row in-front of the bathroom. Rows 12 and 13 are next to the bathroom on the A and C seating side of this aircraft. Avoid those as well if the proximity to the bathroom might bother you.
Upon your arrival your bag can be picked up after just stepping off the aircraft.
These smaller aircraft are only used for short haul flights. I also conclude that this particular route isn't a highly traveled route or else Air Canada would be utilizing a larger aircraft.
We got drinks on this flight (I ordered more water) but that's it. Food was available but it was packaged food and you had to pay for it. Don't expect much service on these shorter flights on smaller aircraft.
When arriving in Montreal, even though I was connecting to another flight in the airport, I was required to go through customs. EVERYONE must do this. Canadian customs are done electronically at Boarder Customs kiosks. There are no paper forms to fill out! It was very simple.
Just be prepared for the long walk down the hallway to the Boarder Customers if you have heavy carry on bags.
The customs agent asked me about what I was doing and where I was going. He also inquired about how many bags I had so be prepared to answer those questions truthfully. They check your boarding pass and your passport as well as take the slip that is given to you from the electronic customs machines.
My layover in Montreal was just over three hours. I spent the time blogging and eating at a burger joint. Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport is a very modern and clean place (at least the terminal I was in).
The longest leg of my travels was from Montreal to Tokyo (Narita International). The 12:30 flight was aboard this new 787-800. A truly wonderful aircraft.
Air Canada Flight 5 from Montreal to Tokyo was slightly delayed due to loading food and beverages aboard the aircraft for the 6,681 mile journey. Usually not much to mention but I was slightly baffled by the delay because the aircraft had been at the gate since last night. You'd think they'd have it ready to go if it was sitting at the gate for so long, right?
The first thing I noticed while boarding and getting settled into brutally long flight was how truly spacious the cabins on the 787-800 dream liners are. So much so the overhead bins provide a great deal of space to put your larger carry on bags.
Another huge positive is the in-flight entertainment system (Please note: not all airlines use the same systems and have the same movies and gadgets). For most of the flight I caught up on three movies I wanted to see. I found the movie selection to be quite good and up to date.
In-between movies I utilized the detailed flight tracking maps. The inflight tracking system is top notch and has a pretty overwhelming amount of settings to fill your preferences in how you want to watch your flight progress.
Beyond movies and the flight progress maps you can play games, listen to music (the music selection was pretty weak), and watch TV shows.
Something noticeable thing about this particular aircraft was the seats were pretty uncomfortable. It honestly felt like sitting on a slab on plastic. The recline in the seats, however, were better than most aircraft I have been on. At least when it comes to domestic travel.
The new ambient lighting in the cabin makes for a relaxing experience and if you're lucky enough to get a window seat, the window dimming technology is pretty cool (no more old sliding shades!).
My experience with my particular seat was fantastic. I was seated in 29A (a window seat) and there was a younger Chinese woman seated in 29C. We were blessed to have 29B open for the entirety of the flight. To give myself leg room I even put my backpack under the 29B seat.
29 A, B, and C are all close to the middle lavatory. Row 29 is a row in-front of it. Seats A, B, and C are off to the left. As with the Bombardier CRJ 200, I recommend not picking row 30 A,B, and C as those seats are right next to the lavatory. ESPECIALLY 30 C.
I found my row to be a real bonus in its proximity to the lavatory. I utilized it a few times during the flight to relieve myself and at one point take my contacts off as they were drying and to try to sleep. There were no issues with noise and smell. I don't want to act like I know what 29C was like regarding the bathroom but 29A was very convenient.
Upon landing at Narita International Airport, I had a Korean Airlines employee pick me up outside my gate and run across the terminal with me to get me to my connecting flight to Seoul on time (1:30 layover but was down to 50 minutes after my flight from Montreal was late). I couldn't have possibly picked two flights further away from each other.
Unlike in Montreal, there was no customs to go through when transferring flights in Tokyo.
I made it. The employee being able to book it across a large terminal in a long skirt and heels was very impressive.
My flight from Tokyo to Seoul ran late because of traffic on the tarmac. I took a lot of enjoyment watching the jumbo commercial jets that taxi'd by us (I had another window seat 😊).
The Korean Airlines Airbus A330-300 for Korean Air Flight 2 was honestly a really shitty plane. It seemed to be pretty old. The entertainment systems was aged as well.
Truthfully I didn't care how crumby a plane it was as the flight was only 2:15 and I slept for most of it. I can't imagine flying over seven hours in that particular plane from Honolulu to Narita (KA Flight 2 also has a Honolulu to Narita route).
My recommendation if you plan to travel from Honolulu to Tokyo in the future is to avoid KA Flight 2. Make sure you take an airlines that has either a newer Airbus A330-300 or a different airline.
That's not a shot at Korean Airlines' service though. Their flight attendants were lovely and spoke three languages with relative ease (English, Japanese and Korean).
Upon landing at Incheon International Airport, the customs process was a breeze. I filled out my Korean entry card before we even took off. When I got to the customs agent she didn't even say a word to me. Just processed the cards and took my fingerprints of both index fingers. I'd imagine that not everyone's experience would be the same.
Now I'm writing this while sitting outside an Emart24 in Unseo Dong, Incheon, Republic of Korea as a light morning mist is falling and Incheon residents are passing by going about their daily lives. Almost everyone I have looked up at as stared at me. It's mildly intriguing to finally be the, "exotic" one.