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
Seoul (ICN) to New York (JFK)
Duration: 14 hours
Aircraft: Boeing 777
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The first appetizer was not my favorite. I like yam and lotus, but this was just a little bland and odd.
I loved the caviar service. They provided a separate caviar spoon, as well as blinis AND toast. What else could you possibly want?
The mung bean noodles suffered the same problem as the first appetizer, in that it was just somewhat plain.
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.
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.
I also enjoyed the fruit plate and dessert. The fruit was ripe and sweet, and the desserts were small and interesting.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.