Incheon’s Terminal 2 gets ready for takeoff
While the land side is nearly complete, the air side, accessible after immigration, is still in need of a lot of work. The construction of duty free shops and business class lounges is ongoing, and there is little indication that these units will be ready in time for the official opening date on Jan. 18.
“The airport is ready for general operations like check-in and flight departure, but we are still working on amenities and duty free shop operators haven’t finished construction yet as well,” said Moon Yun-seok, a director from Korean Air heading a task force team for Terminal 2. “But all construction is on track with the proposed schedule and most of the construction will be rounded off by the end of this month.”
Four airlines from the international airline alliance dubbed the SkyTeam - Korean Air, Delta, Air France and KLM - will call the new terminal home, with Korean Air accounting for about 90 percent of the business there.
“Korean Air alone is expected to handle 17 million travelers a year at the new terminal, which has the capacity to handle 18 million passengers,” said Woo Kee-hong, executive vice president of Korean Air, at a press briefing held Tuesday at the airport.
When the terminal officially opens in time for the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, Incheon Airport will have been upgraded into a high-tech and convenient hub for international air transport, Korean Air said in a statement.
There are 62 automated check-in kiosks installed to speed up the check-in process. This is less than the 92 in Terminal 1, but considering the terminal is larger in capacity and handles 54 million passengers annually, there are 1.7 kiosks per million passengers. In the new terminal, there are 3.4 kiosks per million travelers.
There are also 34 self bag-drop counters in terminal 2, while Terminal 1 only has 14.
According to Moon, it would normally take 3 minutes and 30 seconds to sort out documents and check in luggage, even with no line.
Digital screens will be installed throughout the terminal where passengers can scan their boarding pass to receive personalized directions to their gate and boarding time. A Bluetooth-powered service can also provide passengers with the same information on smartphones as they enter the terminal.
To further cut journey times, the airport is designed to be closer to public transport like subways and buses as well.
The so-called second Transportation Center located in front of the terminal connects public transport with the airport. On the express subway line to the airport, for instance, passengers can simply stay on the subway for four to six minutes after Terminal 1 to reach the new stop. The distance from the subway station to the terminal is about 59 meters (194 feet) in Terminal 2, compared to 223 meters in Terminal 1.
All the bus stops in the transport center will be located indoors, keeping passengers safe from rain and snow.
Apart from the facilities offered by the airport, Korean Air is also working to improve its service in the new terminal, introducing special check-in counters and lounges for business and first-class passengers as well as the elderly and disabled.
At Gate A, the airline has built a premium check-in counter reserved only for business-class customers so they can receive a special level of service. For first-class customers there is a lounge next to the gate where they can sit in comfort while checking-in. The airline was hoping to offer a fast-track boarding service for business and first-class customers, but it said the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport hasn’t given the plan the green light.
Elderly and disabled passengers can take advantage of a priority check-in counter to make the process less physically taxing. There is also a lounge where they can rest and get some small snacks.
BY KIM JEE-HEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]