Korean Air will begin non-stop service between Houston (IAH) and Incheon (ICN) starting on May 02, 2014. This is fantastic news because this directly competes with United and Air China for nearly all of the 1-stops to Asia and adds the only non-stop flight to Seoul out of Houston.
Competition is good, especially in this case. Service on Korean Air is generally recognized as one of the best airlines in the industry and has consistently earned 4 out of 5 stars on the Skytrax airline rankings. On a dollar-vs-dollar comparison, you get better routing and better service for nearly the same price. Let’s take a look at a real world example:
Before: If you were looking for a 1-stop flight to some place like Chiang Mai, Thailand you only had one way to get there from Houston, which was the Air China / United partnered flight that routes through Beijing (PEK) with a painful 13 hour, 35 minute stopover.
Now: You can get there via a single carrier with only 3 hours and 50 minutes spent at Incheon (ICN).
While we’re on the subject of Incheon, I’m going to say it’s probably one of the best airports to take a stop-over in. They offer free shower facilities with towel and toiletries and if you’ve got enough time in transit, they offer free tours. The tours are open to anyone with a ticket showing that they will transit out of Incheon within 24-hours, so it’s not exclusive to Korean Air, but they do an excellent job explaining all of the cool amenities that Incheon offers so I’m going to link to them [here].
Another benefit of this new route is that you can earn miles on Delta when you fly on Korean Air (and vice versa) as they are both members of the SkyTeam Alliance. Note: Only Base Miles accrue and some discount fare codes don’t earn miles so make sure to take a look at the accrual charts for Delta [link] and for Korean Air [link] to make sure you’re getting the mile credit (or not).
Here’s the route map for Korean Air, I expect this extra competition to lower prices across the board for flights to Asia. I’m very interested in seeing how this effects flights to Tokyo and Bangkok which are some of my favorite destinations in the region.
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