[Weekender] Hidden places at Incheon Airport raise customer loyalty

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Dec 11, 2015 - 18:44
  • Updated : Dec 13, 2015 - 09:01

Jordan Reinhart, 26, and her fiance from Canada arrived at South Korea’s Incheon International Airport on Tuesday morning, exhausted and ready to head back home after spending their winter vacation in Bali.

With a nine-hour layover ahead, the couple had originally planned to step out of the airport to explore Seoul for the day, but decided against the idea because of issues concerning their credit cards.

Though initially worried about how they would spend those long hours, staying inside the airport was a “great idea,” Reinhart said after getting up from one of the free massage chairs situated in the airport’s “Relax Zone” on the fourth floor of the passenger terminal.

Throughout the day, the couple watched movies and made international phone calls using the airport’s free ultrafast Wi-Fi and recharged themselves on the reclining chairs located in the corners of the resting zone.

“It’s really awesome that Incheon Airport has all these facilities for anybody to use, I really haven’t seen these kinds of free services offered elsewhere,” said Reinhart, pointing out that in other airports, such amenities are usually available only at airline lounges to select “premium” passengers.

Incheon Airport has built its reputation for world-class services with an abundance of facilities and services allowing passengers a more enjoyable experience at the airport at no or little charge.

The following is an introduction of some of the amenities, free services and programs offered by Korea’s flagship airport.

Further details and locational guidance can be found through the award-winning Incheon Airport Guide mobile application, available for download on smartphones running on Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.

Free shower facilities are located on the fourth floor of the passenger terminal. (Incheon Airport)

Rest zone: free showers, Internet, massage chairs

Located on the fourth floor of the passenger terminal (the duty-free area) is a “Relax Zone” equipped with free Internet PCs, shower rooms, La-Z-Boy massage chairs, book-lending services, a multimedia space equipped with recliners and a playroom for children.

Visitors may be impressed with the speed of the airport’s free Wi-Fi ― available throughout the facilities ― serviced by local telecom giant KT, which boasts one of the fastest Internet services in the world.

A free internet and Wi-Fi zone on the fourth floor of the passenger terminal (Incheon Airport)

There is no need to worry about bringing or buying toiletries to the free shower rooms, as they are fully equipped with plenty of free shampoo, soap and towels. The high-end massage chairs are also free for public use.

Baggage storage is available in this area as well, for a small charge, or for free at the information counters by the boarding zones 25 and 29.

For those seeking more comfort is the Incheon Airport Transit Hotel operated by Walkerhill. A total of 96 rooms are available in two branches located in the east and west wings. Room rates range from 55,000 ($48) to 95,000 won before taxes for a 6-hour stay.

Located on the ground floor of the airport is the sauna Spa On Air for those seeking to wash up, recharge or rest after a long flight or before heading out into the city, as well as a laundry shop, pharmacy, glasses store, post office and nursery, among others.

Transit tours: Seoul City and Incheon

An attractive option for those who foresee a long layover at the airport is one of the free, guided transit tours available for different lengths throughout the day for transfer passengers. The tours are conducted in English.

Free Transit Tour info desks are located in several locations throughout the passenger terminal (Sohn Ji-young/The Korea Herald)

The longest guided tour is five hours and is available under three options ― the city tour, the culture tour and the shopping tour ― which take tourists into the city with a guide for free.

Available to those with less time at hand are one-hour tours to nearby Yonggungsa Temple and two-hour and three-hour tours to the city of Incheon. If the timetable works out, these shorter tours are a great way to get a breath of fresh air outside of the airport.

Though travelers passing through Korea require a visa to step out of the airport, a temporary one-day visa can be issued for $10 for tour participants, according to Mode Tour. Those with passports from the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan can leave the airport without charge.

One can register for the tours on the day of arrival at the airport with the Mode Tour employees waiting by the concourse gates or the “Free Korea Transit Tour” info desks located across the terminal, or book a reservation in advance by clicking the “Transit Tour” icon on the Incheon Airport website.

Cultural promotions, exhibits, programs

Incheon Airport, known for its strong dedication to Korean cultural promotion, operates diverse cultural activities, exhibits and programs inside and outside of its passenger terminal.

Tourists can try Korean handicraft at the Korean Cultural Experience Center inside the passenger terminal. (Incheon Airport)

Inside the passenger terminal and the concourse halls are three Korea Cultural Experience Centers offering free traditional crafts-making classes for foreigners. The space also sells various handmade goods, including Korea’s traditional combs, jewelry boxes, tea sets and vases.

“It’s really nice and fun, especially for the kids,” said Cassie Xie, 38, who made a traditional necklace at the center with her mother and 3-year-old daughter during her four-hour layover before her flight back to Australia on Tuesday.

The "royal parade" takes place inside Incheon Airport (Incheon Airport)

A “royal parade” featuring actors dressed in traditional garments dating back to the Joseon era takes place three times a day, every day of the year inside the airport in the duty-free street, among a number of other cultural performances and concerts.

Performances ranging from classic and traditional music to fusion arts are held every day at the main hall of the passenger terminal, with four bigger concerts taking place four times a year. 

A space featuring traditional Korean crafts located on the fourth floor of the passenger terminal (Incheon Airport)

It is also possible to get the full entertainment package without having to step out of the airport. CGV, a movie theater chain, and an ice rink are located on the ground floor of the airport in the Transportation Center.

By Sohn Ji-young (