Daegu International Airport
Many people are surprised to know that Daegu has an international airport and often overlook this as part of their travel itinerary. As a dual use military airbase Daegu International Airport provides connections to Jeju, Seoul, as well as China and other seasonal routes, and can be an ideal start for weekend or holiday getaways.
The primary routes served by Daegu Airport are almost hourly Domestic flights to Jeju with a choice of Korean Air or Asiana, as well as twice daily flights to Incheon on Korean Air. International routes consist of an almost daily afternoon flight to either Beijing or Shanghai and other infrequent routes.
The airport can easily be reached by bus or taxi and offers none of the hassle or line ups of larger busier airports. It is a quiet airport terminal with one international departure gate and three domestic. There is only one flight maybe every hour to Jeju and one or two international flights per day.
|Security check to departure gates|
You can show up as late as 30 mins before your flight and board relatively quickly since there probably wont be any other passengers. If you show up the recommended 2 hours before departure you may wake up the napping security attendants and find yourself the only person at the departure gate as the rush arrives about 60-45 mins before departure.
During the winter of 2011 there was a two week promo offer of Korean Air flights to Hong Kong and the wiki site currently mentions a route to Bangkok though this may be seasonal.
I asked a Korean Air spokesman at the time about the Hong Kong route and why more permanent international routes are not offered with such a large expat population that like to travel living in Daegu and around? He claimed most people prefer to use Incheon and that Daegu is too close to Busan's Gimhae Airport.
I personally would disagree and would much rather use Daegu. However, there does need to be a much larger customer base than just me to justify such endeavors.
The Hong Kong route was again offered in the summer of 2011 in the run up to the IAAF games but strangely did not continue during the games period when most international visitors would have visited the city.
|Walkway to plane|
|Korean air flight at terminal building|
I have used the airport on two occasions when I flew to Jeju. A third time I flew to Jeju in the evening and was able to connect to a Beijing flight since the Daegu-Beijing flight is only at lunchtime when I would have been working.
Internationally I have flown twice to Beijing, once direct, once via Jeju. There is one international departure gate, even a duty free shop, and the next international flight may be several hours later. This allows for a very relaxed pressure free departure from a small airport.
|Military Copter on Tarmac|
|US Army Base|
Once on board it's important to remember Daegu Airport is a dual use military airbase and no photography is allowed. Some flights may ask you to shut all the blinds. However, it is interesting to watch the plane on the runway as you pass by all the military aircraft and hangers and see the scorch marks on the runway.
On take off and descent you can see views of familiar landmarks and the city on a clear day. However on a return from Beijing on a Chinese Airline the attendant became so hysterical and made me delete my pictures even though I was photographing Daegu Stadium and nothing of any military significance.
|Welcoming Party at Daegu Airport|
|Daegu IAAF Welcoming Party|
My return to Daegu was at the start of the IAAF games. I wasn't paying attention to the large numbers of people of European and African origin boarding a flight to Daegu. When we arrived there were large greeting crowds waving banners to welcome the IAAF participants and officials, who confused me for one of them, and tried to herd me into a waiting shuttle bus to the athletes village.
Another problem if flying back from China is an early 8am departure which means a check in time of before 7am at Beijing Airport. This involved me sleeping at the airport overnight since ground connections do not have extended hours and taxi drivers use this period to quadruple their rates for foreigners as I found. Also I found Chinese airport staff to be the most miserable and unfriendly people working in customer service.
If however you are flying Korean Air and have a connection in Incheon onward to your home country, I was able to check my bags in Daegu all the way to Toronto and did not have to worry when I arrived at Incheon for my connecting Korean Air flight. However, since doing this in 2011 Korean Air have raised their fares quite significantly so this is something I have not been able to do again.
|En Route to Busan|
|Passing Over Daegu|
The airports official website has poorly worded English but may provide more info on current international routes served
|Daegu Airport Runway|
So if travelling overseas Daegu Airport is another option that could be considered. With connections via Incheon, Beijing, Shanghai, and even Jeju, as well as occasional routes to Hong Kong or Bangkok, Daegu Airport can offer you a very relaxed hassle free convenient local option.