Tag Archives: asiana

Thailand 2014: Asiana Airlines First Class Suites Seoul Incheon to New York (ICN to JFK)

Introduction
Cathay Pacific Lounge San Francisco
Cathay Pacific First Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge The Pier Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong to Bangkok
Millennium Hilton Bangkok
Cooking with Poo
Overnight Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Le Meridien Chiang Mai
Patara Elephant Farm
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai to Ko Samui
Conrad Koh Samui
Bangkok Airways Koh Samui to Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Check-in and Lounge Bangkok
EVA Air Evergreen Lounge Bangkok
Louis’ Tavern First Class CIP Lounge Bangkok
Singapore SilverKris Lounge Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Bangkok to Hong Kong
Singapore Airlines Lounge Hong Kong
Thai Airways Lounge Hong Kong
Asiana Business Class Hong Kong to Seoul
Asiana Airlines First Class Lounge Seoul
Asiana Airlines First Class Suites Seoul to New York
United Airlines Business Class PS Service New York to San Francisco


OZ 222
Seoul (ICN) to New York (JFK)
Depart: 10:00am
Arrive: 11:00am
Duration: 14 hours
Aircraft: Boeing 777
Seat: 2K

I received an escort from the first class lounge to the plane. It was a slightly odd experience, since the escort first tried speaking to me in Korean, and then she handed me a booklet of ten one dollar bills, which she didn’t really explain. I guess you can get paid $10 if you fly Asiana first class!

I specifically chose to fly from ICN to JFK to experience Asiana’s new(ish by now) first class suites. First impressions upon walking into the first class cabin were that it’s a little crowded because of the high walls of the suites, and the cabin only has 8 seats. While suites are great when you’re sitting in them, I think I slightly prefer the feel of more open first class cabins like Lufthansa’s.

My seat, 2K

My seat, 2K

Upon actually seeing my suite, the first thing I noticed was the in-flight entertainment screen. It’s freaking enormous. Like so big that your mom would get mad at you for sitting so close to the screen.  It’s by far the largest screen I’ve seen of any airline.

Screen and ottoman/storage

Screen and ottoman/storage

This screen is massive (passport there for comparison purposes)

This screen is massive (passport there for comparison purposes)

Seat controls

Seat controls

Outlets

Outlets

Here’s a quick pro tip: watch your head if you’re in a window seat. There aren’t any overhead bins above the window seats, but the ceiling is low, but I hit my head a couple of times, and I’m not a particularly tall guy.

View of the first class cabin

View of the first class cabin

Middle seats with partially raised divider

Middle seats with partially raised divider

The seat itself was okay. I wasn’t a huge fan of the padding of the seat, and I thought that the seat looked and felt a bit cheap for a first class cabin. It was perfectly comfortable, though, and I loved the easy access to the windows (as opposed to the first class suites of ANA, for example).

Before everyone was finished boarding, I also had a chance to snap a couple of pictures of business class, which looked comfortable enough with fully flat seats.

Business class seat

Business class seat

Business class middle seats

Business class middle seats

Business class foot cubby

Business class foot cubby

I’ve read in other trip reports that people have had trouble with English proficiency on Asiana, but I had no problems communicating or understanding the flight attendants. Their English was great, and service was incredibly gracious and considerate. It wasn’t fawning like Singapore, and I wasn’t addressed by name, but I couldn’t really find fault in any part of the service.

I was offered menus for the flight, but I had preordered a Korean meal (the Korean Royal cuisine of bibimbap and braised beef short rib in sweet pumpkin). I of course asked to have the caviar service added to my meal.

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The first appetizer was not my favorite. I like yam and lotus, but this was just a little bland and odd.

Stewed yam and lotus

Steamed yam and lotus

Pol Cuvee champagne

Pol Roger Cuvee champagne

I loved the caviar service. They provided a separate caviar spoon, as well as blinis AND toast. What else could you possibly want?

Caviar service

Caviar service

The mung bean noodles suffered the same problem as the first appetizer, in that it was just somewhat plain.

Mung bean jelly

Mung bean jelly mixed with vegetables and beef

The red bean soup was interesting. I usually associated red bean soup with dessert, so it was interesting to get a more savory take on it.

Porridge with red bean

Porridge with red bean

And for the main, bibimbap and beef in pumpkin. I love bibimbap, but it’s a little interesting to me how Asiana serves it in first class since it’s a pretty cheap meal in Korea. Not complaining, though, since it was great (if only they could get the hot stone pots on the planes as well…). The beef in pumpkin was also great.

Bibimbap and beef short rib stewed in pumpkin

Bibimbap and beef short rib stewed in pumpkin

I also enjoyed the fruit plate and dessert. The fruit was ripe and sweet, and the desserts were small and interesting.

Dessert and fresh fruit

Dessert and fresh fruit

Overall, I thought it was a good meal service. Nothing mind-blowing, but the mains were solid and the caviar service was great.

I really liked the in-flight entertainment system, as I found it super responsive and the movie previews to be very helpful. The selection could have been slightly better (it’s not Singapore or Cathay or Emirates), but I appreciated that there weren’t any ads before movies. The IFE didn’t get started until once we were up in the air, though.

Eventually, I asked a flight attendant to make my bed. I went to change into my pajamas, but there’s only one bathroom for first class, so I had to wait a bit. The pajamas themselves looked very, very Asian, and they weren’t that soft.

Fully made bed

Fully made bed

When I got back to my seat with my bed waiting, I was a little surprised (obvi, what’s coming next is major first world problems). For one, there isn’t much bedding. There’s essentially a very thin blanket on top of the seat, and the duvet that they use is EXTREMELY staticky. Like I was afraid to use it because I was getting shocked so hard whenever I touched anything else. And moving around under the duvet made tons of crackling noise because of all of the static. I’m not sure if it was just me (I’ve been known to be a good conductor of static electricity), but it was actually slightly unpleasant. The pillows were also insubstantial.

The other part that was confusing was that the flight attendant didn’t make my bed completely flat. I’m not sure if it was intentional, or if she just got lazy partway through and stopped pushing the button. Either way, it took me a little while to figure out that I could make the bed go actually flat, and that I could move the armrest go down to make more room. On the plus side, the cabin wasn’t overheated.

Suite doors

Suite doors

Starry ceiling

Starry ceiling

Partway through the flight, I decided to further stuff my face, so I ordered some ramen and fruit. I really think all carriers should offer ramen in flight because it’s SO delicious and so easy to make. I also appreciated the pickled radish and kimchi served as an accompaniment. Yummers.

Mid-flight snack of ramen

Mid-flight snack of ramen

And fruit

And fruit

They turned on the cabin lights about 2 hours out of New York. The breakfast setting was meticulously placed, and the orange juice tasted fresh. The beginning fruit plate was honestly the best fruit I’ve had on any airline. It was extremely simple, but it was ripe, or perhaps they just doused everything in simple syrup. I also really enjoyed the pastries on offer, particularly the banana bread with actual chunks of banana in it.

Breakfast fruit

Breakfast fruit

Cereal and yogurt

Cereal and yogurt

I probably should have gone for the Korean breakfast option, but the Spanish omelet was fine but not great. I was confused by the large leaves of spinach served as a garnish on the plate.

Omelet with spinach

Spanish omelet

More fruit and tea

More fruit and tea because the fruit was so good

The flight attendants went around 35 minutes prior to landing to collect headphones, but the IFE was still working so you could watch with your own headphones. When we landed, we deplaned from door 2, which is located behind the mini business cabin directly behind first class, which meant that other people weren’t held for first class to deplane first. The horrors.

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Asiana 777 at JFK

Overall, I enjoyed this flight. The service was good and gracious, and the food was quite good. My only criticism is really with the bedding, as you’d think that Asiana would spend some more money on more ample bedding given how much they’ve invested in the rest of the hard product.

Thailand 2014: Asiana Airlines First Class Lounge Seoul Incheon (ICN)

Introduction
Cathay Pacific Lounge San Francisco
Cathay Pacific First Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge The Pier Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong to Bangkok
Millennium Hilton Bangkok
Cooking with Poo
Overnight Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Le Meridien Chiang Mai
Patara Elephant Farm
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai to Ko Samui
Conrad Koh Samui
Bangkok Airways Koh Samui to Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Check-in and Lounge Bangkok
EVA Air Evergreen Lounge Bangkok
Louis’ Tavern First Class CIP Lounge Bangkok
Singapore SilverKris Lounge Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Bangkok to Hong Kong
Singapore Airlines Lounge Hong Kong
Thai Airways Lounge Hong Kong
Asiana Business Class Hong Kong to Seoul
Asiana Airlines First Class Lounge Seoul
Asiana Airlines First Class Suites Seoul to New York
United Airlines Business Class PS Service New York to San Francisco


Given that my fake red-eye from Hong Kong on Asiana landed before 5am, the airport was empty when I arrived.

Empty ICN

Empty ICN

It also meant that the lounges weren’t open. The Asiana Airlines first class lounge doesn’t open until 6am, but I even had to wait for the business class lounge to open since my flight arrived a smidge early.

:(

🙁

I thus spent about an hour in the business class lounge waiting for the first class lounge to open (here’s a prior review of the business class lounge, albeit in the remote terminal).

A380!

A380 model! This was more exciting when I took this trip 6 months ago since their A380 hadn’t yet been delivered.

6am soon rolled around and I made my way to the first class lounge where I rightfully belonged.  The lounge is tastefully decorated with a library theme. It’s large and open with private TV cubicles, loungers, and massage chairs. Maybe I just felt cold because I was sleep deprived from the fake red-eye that I took, but I thought the lounge was pretty chilly while I was there.

Good-sized lounge

Good-sized lounge

Seating

Seating

Massage chair

Massage chair

Private-ish lounging area

Private-ish lounging area

Since I was going to get on a long flight to JFK, I took a shower in this lounge. They have three giant shower rooms with Japanese-style toilets, which I love, and they had some of the best toiletries I’ve seen in an airport lounge with things like actual shaving cream and a razor that I would actually use at home.

Shower room

Shower room

Pretty good amenities on offer

Pretty good amenities on offer

The food options in the lounge weren’t super appealing to me, but that’s maybe because the breakfast foods on offer were things like Yorkshire pudding, abalone porridge, and sad-looking dim sum. I think I actually preferred the slightly simpler options available in the business class lounge.

Booze

Booze

Hot food

Hot food

More food

More food

More food

More food

Ice cream

Ice cream

There were a number of things that I had trouble identifying. In particular, I had a hard time understanding what all of the beverage options were since everything was in Korean. Yes, I was in Korea, but the lounge attendants that I asked also didn’t speak very good English. So I ended up just getting some cereal and some Johnny Walker Blue (I was definitely inspired by secret breakfast ice cream from Humphry Slocombe).

Breakfast of champions

Breakfast of champions

While I understand why people don’t rave about this lounge like some other first class flagship lounges, the Asiana first class lounge at Seoul is tasteful and definitely feels premium to me. The nice amenities in the shower room are one example of something that seems pretty obvious but is often lacking in other premium lounge experiences. I also received an escort from the lounge to the aircraft, which is always a nice touch.

Thailand 2014: Asiana Business Class Hong Kong to Seoul Incheon (HKG to ICN)

Introduction
Cathay Pacific Lounge San Francisco
Cathay Pacific First Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge The Pier Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong to Bangkok
Millennium Hilton Bangkok
Cooking with Poo
Overnight Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Le Meridien Chiang Mai
Patara Elephant Farm
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai to Ko Samui
Conrad Koh Samui
Bangkok Airways Koh Samui to Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Check-in and Lounge Bangkok
EVA Air Evergreen Lounge Bangkok
Louis’ Tavern First Class CIP Lounge Bangkok
Singapore SilverKris Lounge Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Bangkok to Hong Kong
Singapore Airlines Lounge Hong Kong
Thai Airways Lounge Hong Kong
Asiana Business Class Hong Kong to Seoul
Asiana Airlines First Class Lounge Seoul
Asiana Airlines First Class Suites Seoul to New York
United Airlines Business Class PS Service New York to San Francisco


OZ 746
Hong Kong (HKG) to Seoul Incheon (ICN)
Depart: 12:30am
Arrive: 4:50am
Duration: 3h 20m
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200ER
Seat: 2K -> 1G

Sometimes I do things that I know are bad for me. Like book fake red eyes. This flight is honestly not very much fun (although if you were to take it now you might get Asiana’s A380) since it departs after midnight, which is after the Thai and Singapore lounge close, and it arrives around 5am, which is before the Asiana lounges even open, and it’s only about 3 hours in the air. Heck, the Asiana first class lounge doesn’t even open until 6am.

When I originally booked this itinerary, this flight was scheduled to be operated by a Boeing 747, and even though it was sold as two classes of service, I was able to pre-select a seat in the first class section of the plane, which would have featured fully flat seats. As it turned out, the flight ended up being operated by a Boeing 777-200ER with angled-flat seats in business class. Oh yay (not).

Not a Boeing 747 :(

Not a Boeing 747 🙁

The business class seat is typical for regional flights within Asia, which is to say angled flat. The business class cabin wasn’t very crowded, so I ended up moving to a group of empty seats.

Business class seats

Business class seats

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Seat back

Seat back

Kinda looks like it's falling apart a little

Kinda looks at little worn down

Seat controls

Seat controls

Angled flat

Angled flat

Not very flat

Not very flat

This is going to be a really boring flight review because all I pretty much slept from wheels up to wheels down. The limited service that I did encounter was quite good, and the flight attendants addressed me by name at every interaction, and I never heard them chatting away as is so common on US carriers even though I saw their mouths moving. The landing at ICN was also one of the softest I’ve ever had.

Anyway, I don’t recommend these fake red eyes, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I took this flight mostly so I could get to ICN in time to take Asiana’s flight to JFK in their first class suites product, so I promise that that review will be more interesting than this one.

Quick Thoughts on Thai and Asiana First Class

I’m at JFK now after flying both Thai and Asiana First Class for the first times. Both flights were quite good, and I figured I’d share some quick thoughts since a full trip report will be a long time coming.

Thai First Class:
Definitely exceeded all of my expectations. I was lucky enough to get a refurbished first class cabin on a 747 for the short hop from BKK to HKG, which features essentially the same product that Thai has on their A380s. The seats are new and spacious and the cabin looks much better than their older first class product. What was so great about the flight was a wonderful flight attendant who was warm, friendly, attentive, and doting in a way that just makes first class so special. The crew in general was much older than is common amongst Asian airlines, but the service was incredible. I’m looking forward to my flight in Thai First on the A380 later this year!

Asiana First Class:
I’ve never been handed cash by an airline, but the escort from the lounge literally handed me a booklet of money. It was a booklet of ten $1 bills, and I’m still slightly confused as to what it was for since the website that’s listed on the booklet to find out more information doesn’t work.

I specifically flew ICN to JFK to get the new Suites First Class product, and the suites are definitely spacious and private. The most noticeable feature is the massive in-flight entertainment screen. The screen is just about the width of the suite, and it’s by far the largest screen I’ve ever seen in a plane. It’s so big that your mom would probably tell you not to sit so close to the screen when you’re just sitting in your suite.

The service was attentive and friendly. Not particularly warm, but I can’t really fault the service in any way. I had pre-ordered a Korean meal, and the food was pretty darn delicious. If you like Korean food, I definitely recommend pre-ordering a Korean meal out of Seoul. The caviar service also had a separate caviar spoon, which I appreciated.

My nitpicks with Asiana are with the bedding. For the bedding, the mattress is pretty insubstantial, the blanket was extremely staticky (like I was afraid to use it and touch things in my suite after getting shocked several times), and the pillows are tiny. It’s a little surprising to me that so much about Asiana is great but they’ve skimped on bedding in first class. Of course, this didn’t substantially detract from my experience as I was still able to sleep soundly, except for the constantly being shocked part.

Overall, I feel like people don’t talk about Thai or Asiana as much as carriers like Sinagpore and Cathay, but I had great flight experiences on both, and I’d highly recommend both. It also helps that both carriers release much more premium cabin space to partners than airlines like Singapore and ANA.

Asiana Airlines Quadra Smartium Routes

UPDATE (1/4/2014): Here is an updated link to Asiana’s routes with Quadra Smartium service. Right now, the following routes have Quadra Smartium seats:

  • New York (OZ 222/221)
  • San Francisco (OZ 212/211)
  • Los Angeles (OZ 204/203)
  • London (OZ 522/521)
  • Osaka (OZ 112/111)
  • Ho Chi Minh (OZ 735/736 4 times per week)

Asiana Airlines is well-known for having a great soft product, but the hard product on business class is not so great (i.e. not lie flat) unless you’re flying the new Quadra Smartium product.

Lie-flat beds in Quadra Smartium

com_info_infl_busi_6

Older 167-degree bed-type seats

What are the routes that fly this product? The best place to check for this information is the Asiana website. They list different routes by aircraft configuration, so you can see if the route you want is generally serviced by Quadra Smartium seats.

Currently (as of June 26, 2013), these routes have Quadra Smartium Seats:

  • Chicago OZ 236/235 (all flights)
  • Narita OZ 104/103 (1x per week); OZ 108/107 (2x per week)
  • Ho Chi Minh OZ 735/736 (3x per week)
  • San Francisco OZ 214/213 (all flights)
  • Los Angeles OZ 204/203 (all flights)
  • London OZ 522/521 (all flights)
  • Osaka OZ 112/111 (all flights)
  • Beijing OZ 333/334 (2x per week)
  • Bangkok OZ 741/742 (1x per week)
  • Taipei OZ 711/712 (3x per week)

It’s important to note that, like all airlines, Asiana has been known to swap aircraft on routes, so you might not get Quadra Smartium even though you’re flying out of SFO, but you have a good chance of getting the new product. Another caveat is that this schedule is only valid until July 22, 2013, at which point New York JFK will have the new first class suites and Quadra Smartium business class 7 days a week.

Around the World in 100 Hours: Asiana Airlines Business Class Lounge Seoul

Introduction
United Club San Francisco, International Terminal
United Business Class San Francisco to Seoul
Asiana Airlines Business Class Lounge Seoul
Korean Air Lounge and Singapore SilverKris Lounge Seoul
Singapore Business Class Seoul to Singapore
Ambassador Transit Lounge Singapore
Singapore SilverKris Lounge Singapore
Changi Airport Free Singapore Tour
Singapore Business Class Singapore to Colombo
Transiting Colombo
Lotus and Araliya Lounges Colombo
Qatar Airways Business Class Colombo to Doha
Qatar Airways First Class Premium Terminal Doha
Qatar Airways First Class Doha to Dubai
Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai
Emirates First Class Dubai to London Heathrow
British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow
British Airways Galleries First Lounge and Club World Lounge London Heathrow
British Airways First Class London Heathrow to San Francisco


After spending the night in Seoul, I made my way early in the morning back to the Incheon airport. The airport express starts running at 5:30am, even on the weekends, and I was surprised by the number of people (well, mostly young adults) walking around at 5:00am on a Sunday morning. I guess they were still out from the night before.

Still plenty of people awake at 5am

Still plenty of people awake at 5am

At check-in, the agent directed me to use the Singapore SilverKris Lounge as I was flying on Singapore, but my first stop at the airport was the Asiana Airlines Business Class Lounge in Concourse A. Since Incheon is Asiana’s hub, I was expecting a lot from their lounge.

I asked for a shower as I walked in, and the front desk agent escorted me to one of the shower rooms. The room was clean and well-stocked with amenities, the water pressure was good, and the temperature got as high as I wanted.

Amenities in the shower rooms

Amenities in the shower rooms

Shower room

Shower room

Across from the shower rooms, there were a couple of private nap rooms with massage chairs. Could be a good place to get a few hours of sleep if you have a long layover.

Quiet room with massage chair

Quiet room with massage chair

After showering, I wanted to grab a bite to eat. Even though they were still setting up food, I found plenty of options that were very tasty. Much better than the meager food options at the United Club in SFO.

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The lounge was not at all crowded when I was there (I think I was the second person to arrive that morning), but that’s because my flight was relatively early in the morning. It looked like there was plenty of seating, but I don’t know how crowded the lounge gets later in the day.

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Business center with computers

Business center with computers

Overall, I thought it was a great lounge, and the best of the three lounges that I visited while in Seoul. It makes me excited to try the First Class Lounge next year!

This lounge (in Concourse A) is also part of the Priority Pass network, so it’s a great option if you have a Priority Pass membership. It’s important to note, though, that you’re not supposed to be able to get back to the main terminal once you’re at the concourse, so I don’t know how practical it is to use unless you’re departing out of the concourse.

Asiana Airlines Blackout Dates for Awards

If you’re looking to redeem for first class travel using United or US Airways miles, Asiana is a good place to look, especially if you’re looking far enough in advance. It’s got a great first class product, and they consistently release 2 first class seats on several of their routes to/from the US right when schedules open up.

However, they also have blackout dates for peak season, which means you can’t redeem your partner miles for Asiana awards on those dates. Here’s the relevant information on blackout dates for 2013 and 2014:

  • Segments departing the US: 5/11/2013 to 6/30/2013 and 12/7/2013 to 12/22/2013; 5/16/2014 to 7/6/2014 and 12/6/2014 to 12/23/2014
  • Any other international segments: 7/25/2013 to 8/26/2013; 9/17/2013 to 9/22/2013; 12/24/2013 to 1/12/2014; 1/24/2014 to 2/2/2014; 7/24/2014 to 8/25/2014; 9/5/2014 to 9/9/2014; and 12/24/2014 to 12/31/2014

Unfortunately, a lot of these dates are when many of us want to travel (e.g. around the winter holidays or during the summer), but if you can be a little flexible in your travel schedule, Asiana can be a great use of your miles.