The New Satellite Terminal at Incheon Airport

By greenteapanda

August 5, 2008

Category: Travel


As of very recently, all the foreign airlines flying in and out of Incheon Airport were moved to a new satellite terminal with some more gates.  Even if it is a flight codesharing with Korean Air or Asiana, it gets put into the new terminal. I don’t really see the need right now, especially as travel seems to be slowing. Nonetheless, I am not the one to make the decision.
After clearning immigration, there are new maroon signs indicating the way to the new terminal:

Once you get to the designated place, you have to take several long escalators down to the basement, where there is a train. Headway is roughly every five minutes. Given there are no stairs and no walkway for people in place of the train, this means an extra 15 minutes or so of delay to arrive at the designated gate.

Upon arrival at the new terminal, there is a picture showing off the newer terminal in the background:

The architecture of the new terminal is almost exactly the same as the original terminal. The seats are now all dark brown/black with a leather covering, but the shape is the same. I would have liked to see something wildly different, such as the case at JFK in New York or Barajas in Madrid. The shopping is about the same as in the main terminal. Go all the way to one end, and you will find a Dunkin’ Donuts. I suppose it is just as well – there doesn’t seem to be any good way to get back to the original terminal once you take the train.

Unfortunately, the air filtering in the new terminal is not particularly good. It already reeks of smoke, even though the main terminal does not have that problem.

There are two separate free Internet cafes offering free wireless. They also have several laptops set up for people without. The Sony laptop I tried was hijacked. Each cafe also had one Apple Macbook, though those were in use when I passed by. Attempting to go to ended up with me going to a completely different site. I suppose it was not unexpected – none of the computers were current with security updates. A speed site indicated a download speed of 20Mbps, but in actuality it was slower than a dial-up modem. Xero Browser could not connect, indicating the people that set up the cafe want to force people to use an insecure, virus-infected connection to the web.

I’d recommend getting any network browsing done before going to the airport. While you are there, you have an excellent view of all the planes docking at the original terminal:

I couldn’t help but compare Incheon Airport to Guangzhou’s Baiyun airport, since that was my destination. Baiyun seemed to have a cleaner design, but also had something very important for me: fruit shops. Incheon Airport has several western fast food restaurants and a Korean cafeteria in the basement. Not exactly the best food for a flight. Guangzhou has several Chinese restaurants, some western fast food, and the aforementioned fruit shops.

I did not see durian in the shops. They offered to buy one for me for 40RMB. Not a bad deal, considering a bunch of bananas was going for 22RMB at the time. The durian was obviously not being marked up much. Only problem was that I didn’t want to scarf down an entire durian before my onward flight to Haikou. Unlike other fruits, durians are not allowed onto the airplanes at Baiyun airport.

When I came back to Korea, I saw what I thought I wouldn’t see, a flight leaving for Taipei. Workers were also replacing carpet in the terminal, even though the original carpet did not seem to be in bad shape. The current Baiyun airport only opened four years ago, and already services about the same number of passengers as Incheon Airport does outside of Seoul.

Coming back to Incheon Airport, I noticed that planes did not have to travel as far from the end of the runway to reach the satellite terminal. The immigration lines for foreigners were also right next to the train exit in the main terminal. The baggage took a longer time to get to the carousel. The view coming into Incheon was more interesting than going into Baiyun airport.


2 Responses to “The New Satellite Terminal at Incheon Airport”

  1. Fruit shops in airports doesn\’t seem to be a good idea.. People can accidently take it on the plane, especially older people who doesn\’t know much about international flights..

  2. The only problem with fruit is if you actually bring it into another country. If the fruit is already in your stomach or you throw it into the courtesy bin at your destination, it makes no big difference.
    Some international destinations don\’t care if you bring fruit or not – North Korea is just one example of those (and they do have flights to Pyongyang from Guangzhou). Within China, you can bring most types of fruit on domestic flights. Given the number of domestic gates vs. international gates in Guangzhou, I\’d guess the majority of their traffic is not international.

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