Nana and I made it back to Seoul last night, at which point we promptly collapsed from exhaustion. The trip in a nutshell . . .
The Good: This was our shortest transpacific trip yet. Two legs (Pittsburgh-San Francisco, San Francisco-Seoul), a big flight of only ten hours, no pesky little connection at the end. As an added bonus, we actually left the airport (with all our luggage, somehow) around 6 PM, in plenty of time to catch the airport shuttle. All in all, it'd be hard to ask for more.
The Bad: We found out in San Francisco that we couldn't earn miles on our flight to Seoul. Of course, none of this was advertised in any of the fare or booking information. Watch out for this from Asiana Airlines. The number of miles involved meant it would have been worth it for use to pay a little more per ticket to be eligible for miles. This is the first time it's ever happened to us, so as you might imagine, we were quite unpleasantly surprised.
The Ugly: First, a tip for folks making an international connection through San Francisco: schedule at least a two-hour layover, possibly more, if you want good odds of making your second flight. There's no way to switch terminals at San Francisco without going back through security, which is annoying enough. Add to that the fact that check-in desks at your point of departure can no longer print boarding passes for international connections and you've got some pretty long waits. Even though our flight from Pittsburgh arrived four minutes early, we had to run about 1km to the international terminal, wait 20-25 minutes in the check-in line, produce baggage claim tickets for our luggage (which had been checked through from Pittsburgh), run to the security checkpoint, wait wait wait, then run to the gate. We made it with about 5-10 minutes to spare. And we wouldn't have, if Nana hadn't done some quick thinking in Pittsburgh: when we got new boarding passes at the gate for seats closer to the front of the plane, we turned in our old passes, which had the baggage claim tickets on the back. She actually left the jetway to get the old stubs from the gate attendant. If she hadn't, who knows where our luggage could be.
Second, I was in the country for all of 30 minutes before my first serious ajumma attack--though this time it came from a twenty-something woman just a bit too eager to get through international arrivals. We were right at the doors too the arrivals hall when, coming up from behind me, she ran over my foot with her baggage cart. Seriously: she hit me so hard my left foot was lodged under the front wheels of her cart. The rest of me, however, was not, and I fell sprawling to the floor in front of a good eight dozen onlookers. To her credit, the young woman did stop to apologize--give her ten years, though, and even that formality will be out the window. For a while there the foot looked pretty bad--a bit swollen, a bit discolored--but I'm happy to report it's doing better this morning. No real harm done, except to my hopes for a warm welcome back to Seoul!