Man, what a year to try and plan travel. Back in December I booked a solo trip that would give me approximately 3 days in Seoul, the capital of South Korea. Part of the reason I chose the flights (and destination) I did was the opportunity to fly a long-haul on the upper deck of a Boeing 747-8, the most recent iteration of the Queen of the Skies. I’ve long wanted to fly the aircraft, especially on the upper deck. Korean Airlines is among the carriers who fly the 747-8, and their business class product is nice.
When Reality Hits You In The Face
I booked this trip in December 2019. The specific itinerary even had me flying all the way across the U.S. in order to fly aboard this specific aircraft, as Korean was only operating 777s out of SFO at the time. Little did I know that the travel world would fall apart three months later. For a while I held out hope things would return to some semblance of normal, but given that it’s now July, I don’t see much changing before early September.
Given that South Korea has imposed a 14-day mandatory quarantine on arrival, heading there for just a few days is likely an impossibility. My guess is that nothing will change in the next two months, especially considering the transmission and infection rate here in the U.S. Americans have very few countries that will allow them entrance at the moment. I can hold out hope that it will be possible to fly with a negative COVID-19 test, but I don’t want to bank on this change. South Korea has very low rates of virus transmission compared to other countries. I’m guessing they will do everything in their power to keep things this way.
As of a week ago, my return segment (booked in Premium Select) is subject to a schedule change. This should let me get my money back. I’ll argue with Delta to see if I can get my miles back for the Korean Airlines 747-8 business class outbound. Super bummed to have to cancel this, but I don’t see another option.
Can I Trade Korean for Lufthansa?
I will admit I am batting around the idea of re-booking a completely new trip over the same time-frame to a destination that is open. Right now, this is looking like either Turkey or one of the countries in the Balkans. I’d pick just one, and plan to visit for no more than 3-4 full days. Lufthansa is still operating their Boeing 747-8 aircraft, and there are flights to Frankfurt out of Los Angeles. The business class product isn’t as nice, but hey, it’s still a chance.
But now I’m really reaching. I’m not against a whirlwind European city tour, but I feel that I’d miss so much in the Balkan countries with a short trip. I have friends who spent some time in Kosovo, and areas looked absolutely amazing. Istanbul is about the option that makes the most sense, but I’d want to understand how “open” everything is. Right now I’m leaning toward no.
It’s been a huge bummer to cancel all international plans since March, and I am so over the past several months. We have a couple domestic trips to look forward to, but nothing else on international agenda until January. The itch to go is strong.
I’m not here to debate whether or not I should be traveling during coronavirus. We have two domestic trips planned, plus two work trips penciled in as well, all within the next month and a half. Travel is rebounding, and heading abroad is pretty much equally as safe as traveling around our own country. At least that’s how I see it.
Governments have made their decisions as to whether people may cross their borders and what restrictions they will face. All I can do is plan within those bounds. If places are open, fantastic. If not, they’ll just have to wait. It’s a bummer to have to cancel my trip to Seoul. Until next time, upper deck! I’ll fly you one of these days.