As there is no in-town check-in for Jin Air, the LCC subsidiary of Korean Air, I arrived at the airport at 1100 for flight LJ114, scheduled for departure at 1320. Six check-in counters were open in aisle D, so the long queue moved quite quickly. I was expecting a priority check-in counter for Jini Plus customers, but there did not appear to be one… until I was almost at the front of the queue, when the signage was suddenly put up. I was checked in efficiently but told the flight was delayed by around half an hour.
There is no lounge access with this ticket; our departure gate – 206 – is part of HKIA’s pleasant new Midfield Concourse requiring a slightly longer shuttle train ride. Boarding began at 1350 and I went through the Jini Plus priority channel at 1400. Entering the front cabin of the aircraft I was astonished to see it empty, and no one else boarded before the plane left the gate at 1408.
I was in seat 1A – unsurprisingly. The Jini Plus seats are configured in the same fashion as economy – 3-4-3 – except for the bulkhead front row, which is 2-4-2. There are 48 Jini Plus seats, but they are identical to the normal economy seats and are differentiated only by an extra 15cm of legroom. This gives them premium economy levels of seat pitch. (Also part of the Jini Plus package is priority baggage handling and an amenity kit containing the usual toothbrush, eye mask, etc.)
The seat itself was comfortable, curved with side bolsters that made it feel a little like a sports car seat hugging you in position. The recline was limited, but for short-haul flights this is not really an issue. There is no IFE – this is, after all, an LCC. However, you can pay for the Jini Play service – which offers a small but adequate selection of films, TV shows and games – on your own device (US$10), or pay an extra US$10 for a high-quality Samsung tablet. A charging point is below the seat, but there is only one per two or three seats in each row.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE
There are three rows of economy seats behind the Jini Plus seating, with the lavatories and galley behind them, so the bulkhead row where I was sitting, or one of the other forward rows, would probably be best.
It was strange to be the only person in the cabin – I asked my flight attendant and she said it is normally busy, but less so midweek, and this was pure chance. The plane took off at 1425 and the captain announced that we would make up some time and arrive in Seoul at 1820, 25 minutes late.
Soon after take-off I was given the Jini Play tablet with a charger, then served a cup of water and a snack bag containing a banana, a muffin and a refreshment towel. I worked on my laptop – the armrest table was stable enough – and then watched a movie until we began our descent (though the screen was crystal clear, the earphones provided tinny sound quality – use your own headset).
We began our descent at 1745, touched down at 1810 and were at the gate at 1825, 30 minutes late. Another half-hour took me to – and through – immigration (there was quite a queue for foreign passport holders), where a choice of cab, bus or train gets you to central Seoul in roughly 60-90 minutes.
For a no-frills low-cost carrier, this was one of my best experiences – though I was lucky that the flight was so empty. If, like me, the extra legroom makes a substantial difference to your in-flight comfort, then this is well worth considering as an alternative to economy seating on a major carrier.
- DEPARTURE TIME 1320
- JOURNEY TIME 3 hours 35 minutes
- CONFIGURATION 3-4-3
- SEAT PITCH 37in/94cm
- SEAT WIDTH 18.5in/47cm
- SEAT RECLINE 4in/10cm
- PRICE Internet rates for a midweek Jini Plus return flight from Hong Kong to Seoul in July start from US$377 including taxes and surcharges.
- CONTACT jinair.com