Luckily, EPIK and other private employers will provide some kind of flight reimbursement or “entrance allowance”. Upon arriving to Korea, if you submit your original boarding pass (yes, the actual hard copy) to your designated office of education, EPIK will reimburse your flight up to 1,300,000 KRW ($1,200 USD).
BOOKING YOUR FLIGHT
Honestly, my situation was a little unique, because I hit multiple road blocks with my application. Because of some minor set backs, I ended up having to waitlist for the mid-school year intake. It got down to the wire and I had almost given up hope, but I managed to get a placement on Jeju (which was my first choice) on the very last day of placement offers. Here’s the thing–the later you receive your placement, the more you’ll have to scramble. You cannot apply for a visa at your local consulate until you receive the official employment offer. As soon as you receive your placement confirmation in the mail, book your flight! If I remember correctly, I purchased it only a week before the flight and I paid around $770 for a one-way economy ticket to Incheon International Airport (ICN) with a connection from Gimpo International (GMP) to Jeju International (CJU).
KOREAN AIR PROS
I flew with Korean Air Lines and I’m so glad I did. Although I flew economy, it was a fairly comfortable 13-hour flight. Here are the reasons why I flew Korean Air Lines:
- If you’ve ever had airplane food, you know it can be awful! Korean Air serves better food than most other air lines. The bibimbap was pretty good and it comes with seaweed soup. The food and hot green tea definitely helped to sooth my stomach.
- The seats are fairly comfortable and there is plenty of leg room
- Every passenger gets their own personal movie screen with free movies
- Every passenger seat has a USB charge port so you can charge your devices
- If there are horrific delays, they are very apologetic and do provide some kind of food voucher or air line credit
- The flight attendants are attentive and friendly
- EPIK would fully reimburse the $770, so why not ride comfortably?
KOREAN AIR CONS
The worst thing about my flight experience was transferring from an international flight to a domestic flight. When you arrive in Korea and transfer to another Korean domestic flight, there is NO AUTOMATIC TRANSFER. You will need to claim your baggage and check it in again for your next flight. Domestic Baggage allowance and overweight fees DO NOT APPLY if you are connecting from an International Flight. However, if you have a connecting itinerary to Busan with a Korean Air transit domestic flight, then your baggage will automatically be transferred.
If you are not Korean or your Korean is limited, I highly recommend that you give yourself at least a 4-hour transfer window. I had a 2-hour transfer window and I missed my connecting flight because my departure at LAX was delayed by a half hour and I was interrogated by customs for another half hour. By the time I made it to baggage claim, I only had about 30 minutes until my next flight and I was lost. I couldn’t find the train (which is the faster route to Gimpo), so I had to take a 40-minute bus ride from Incheon to Gimpo. Luckily, since my first flight was delayed, they changed my ticket at Gimpo Airport so I could board the next flight. I honestly couldn’t have figured it out without the help of an English-speaking flight attendant headed the same way as me.
KOREAN AIR BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE
The most up-to-date baggage policy can be found directly on their website:
Flying to/from America
Flying to/from Europe, Middle East, Africa, Oceania
If your flight has a transfer where you’ll need to transfer you baggage manually, I highly recommend packing only 1 large check-in luggage and 1 large carry-on bag. I had 2 check-ins and 1 large carry-on. It was so ridiculous trying to transfer my baggages. I actually fell down an escalator at one point with my baggage. Don’t do it. Pack lightly. You can have things shipped to you later. Yes, it’s expensive, but missing your connecting flight is not worth the trouble.