Review of Asiana Airlines flight Nagoya Seoul in Business

Airline Asiana Airlines
Flight OZ 121
Class Business
Seat 3A
Aircraft Airbus A321
Flight time 02:05
Take-off 23 Dec 15, 11:35
Arrival at 23 Dec 15, 13:40
OZ 106 reviews
NGO85
By SILVER 3918
Published on 30th December 2015
Background:

It is a pleasure to introduce my latest series and my 50th FR. There were two goals with this trip. First, to get to San Francisco in order to spend Christmas with my family. Second, to secure Platinum status with AA (OW Sapphire).

Knowing the destination and the required dates of travel, I set out to explore different routing options that would enable me to both reach SFO and lock up my AA Platinum status before December 31. Prior to this trip, I had 47,700 EQPs earned this year with AA so short only 2,300 EQPs. The bigger problem is that those ~48k EQPs were earned primarily with CX and JL and I had only flown one flight this year on AA metal. In order to qualify for any AA status, you are required to have completed at least 4 flights on AA metal. So I need to engineer in 3 flights on AA into this routing.

The obvious solution to this scenario would be to fly AA to SFO. The most basic routing would be NGO-NRT-LAX-SFO-LAX-NRT-NGO mixing AA and JL. This would require me to fly AA on a NRT-LAX TPAC with that terrible B772 cabin again (http://flight-report.com/en/report-12253.html), no thanks. More elaborate routings such as NGO-NRT-SAN-LAX-SFO-LAX-NRT-NGO were considered enabling me to perform both TPACs on JL metal and three domestic hops on AA, but this seemed boring and NRT-SAN is operated on a JL B787 with angle lie-flat seats (http://flight-report.com/en/report-12421.html). Again, no thanks. So we keep looking.

LAX is an attractive destination since it has a wealth of connections to Asia and can generate a triangular domestic route with PHX/SFO using AA. So the new strategy was to scrap AA/JL routings to LAX and focus on an AA domestic routing that could get me 2,300 EQPs in 3 flights. Simple: LAX-SFO-PHX-LAX in P fare class would net 1360 miles or 2,720 EQPs using AA’s promo for double points. That would get me just past the 50k finish line and complete the required flights on AA metal. $420 was a little pricey for this simple domestic routing, but that is the price of loyalty and would open up my options to reaching LAX. So we start with this:

LAX-SFO [AA, First]
SFO-PHX [AA, First]
PHX-LAX [AA, First]

Looking for various concoctions of routings from NGO to LAX, a couple interesting things stood out. CA, CZ, KE, and OZ have really cheap fares, $1800-2200 in J. Last year, I flew KE to HNL and CA to IAH so I wanted to try something different. CZ sounded cool, but an overnight stopover in Guangzhou was not attractive and I don’t really want ST miles. OZ is a carrier I haven’t flown in a long time (and never long-haul), and an overnight stopover in Seoul sounds more attractive since I have never been into the city before. Furthermore, OZ gives me the chance to mix and match flights and try lots of different products.

The routing to LAX is going to be very direct knowing that I’ll be bringing two heavy suitcases and NGO is the easiest airport to get to. We’ll go with the obvious NGO-ICN-LAX routing that will get me into LAX at 08:40 on the earlier OZ flight. We now get the following routing:

NGO-ICN [OZ, Business]
ICN-LAX [OZ, Business]
LAX-SFO [AA, First]
SFO-PHX [AA, First]
PHX-LAX [AA, First]

Returning from LAX, I anticipate staying two days (one night) in Seoul. There are two flights per day LAX-ICN, I chose the redeye that leaves LAX at 00:30 and arrives into ICN at 06:50. This is a risky flight since it is operated by a B772, but OZ guarantees that all flights ICN-LAX are with Business Smartium cabins unless an emergency aircraft swap is required. It’s a risk, but I’ll roll the dice. So we now have:

NGO-ICN [OZ, Business]
ICN-LAX [OZ, Business]
LAX-SFO [AA, First]
SFO-PHX [AA, First]
PHX-LAX [AA, First]
LAX-ICN [OZ, Business]

The final piece of the puzzle was a stumbling block. ICN-NGO is twice daily, but the afternoon flight was already full in J so I was looking at an 08:50 flight. Not so enticing and would completely kill my second day in Seoul and any lounge time at ICN. ICN-HND is only operated at night, not going to work. ICN-KIX has an afternoon flight operated by a B772 in a 3-cabin configuration (regional flights are only sold J and Y, so the F cabin is available to J). We’ll grab that one. The hassle of getting home from KIX is worth the extra 6 hours in Seoul. The complete routing was purchased for $2490 on two different tickets. It’s always dangerous to tether non-alliance tickets, but I built in 6-hour gaps at LAX to ensure smooth transitions and plenty of spotting time. Not the cheapest way to get NGO-SFO in premium cabins, but I was limited by the need to complete my AA Platinum status while avoiding angle lie-flat seats. This brings us to the following routing:

Part 1 – NGO-ICN [OZ 121, Airbus A321, Business] – You are here
Part 2 – ICN-LAX [OZ 202, Airbus A380-800, Business Smartium] – http://flight-report.com/en/report-12897.html
Part 3 – LAX-SFO [AA 209, Boeing B737-800, First] – http://flight-report.com/en/report-13024.html
Part 4 – SFO-PHX [AA 477, Airbus A321, First] – http://flight-report.com/en/report-13075.html
Part 5 – PHX-LAX [AA 509, Airbus A319, First] – Coming soon
Part 6 – LAX-ICN [OZ 203, Boeing B777-200ER, Business Smartium] – Coming soon
Part 7 – ICN-KIX [OZ 114, Boeing B777-200ER, Business (First)] – Coming soon

This report will cover the flight from Nagoya to Seoul-Incheon. This route is only operated by the Korean carriers (KE, OZ, and 7C). Apparently, NH used to have a NGO-ICN flight back in the day, but agreed to pull off the route and let OZ handle all *A passengers. KE operates 3 flights per day and OZ operates 2 flights per day, with KE seeing the much larger market share (KE sends a blend of B737s, A330s, and B777s whereas OZ only sends A321s). 7C has a daily flight using a B738. Last year, I flew NGO-ICN on KE (http://flight-report.com/en/report-9715.html) so I’ll compare the OZ offering on this route.


Pre-flight:

OZ, like KE, has an absolutely horrendous website. For a country containing a high-tech city like Seoul it’s shocking how bad the IT is with these carriers. As the memo at the top of their website states, you cannot buy tickets online using a Mac.

photo 1

I was able to buy the tickets on a PC, and then handle everything efficiently online through my reservation. I also want to mention that when I called the OZ First/Business service line in Tokyo, I was thoroughly satisfied with the customer service I received in changing my ticket and reassigning seats. For this flight, the cabin was already pretty full, but I was able to snag the last available window seat. The OZ A321s have 3 rows of 2-2 seating for J.

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On the day of departure, I took the Meitetsu ?Sky train to ?????? (NGO) for ¥1170 (~30 min) in order to arrive at the airport in time for the OZ counters to open at 9:15. OZ’s website stated that counters at NGO open 2h 20m prior to departure.

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I quickly buy some omiyage for my family and head over to the OZ counters. There is a line already forming. The OZ agents arrive, they give a bow, and then open their counters right on time. OZ staffs their own counters; it’s not done by NH agents. I’m helped by a Korean agent. She asked me a very interesting question: “do you have any domestic flights in the US?” I have never heard this question before and I answered I did have a flight on AA and explained that they were on separate tickets. She asked me for my AA reservation, she typed into the system for a bit and said that she checked me in for my LAX-SFO flight and tagged my bag all the way to SFO. I was shocked that OZ would even touch an OW connecting flight and was able to issue me a boarding pass for my AA flight on OZ cardstock (this is a collector’s item!). I thanked her for her help and she handed me my 3 boarding passes, explained the transfer procedure at Incheon since I have a 1-hour connection, and showed me the baggage tag saying to just drop off the bag in LAX after customs. Very good customer service again by OZ to tether the two tickets together that were even in different alliances.

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I take a stroll through the shops up stairs, which are all decked out in a holiday theme for the “Funky Spunky Xmas,” whatever that means.



Also on my tour of NGO, I noticed that there will be some new carriers arriving soon. TPE-NGO service will be further increased by the arrivals of ZV and IT.

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I head outside on the observation deck to do some spotting. Not great weather today, cold and grey.

KE B772 taking off for ICN.

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NH B737 departing for HKG.

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DL B752 leaving the gate as an Air Do B737 with winglets arrives.

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DL B752 taking off for GUM.

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NH B735 taking off for KGS.

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UA B738 arriving from GUM.

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JL B738 taking off for TPE.

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CI A333 leaving for TPE.

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CX A333 leaving for HKG.

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PR A333 leaving for MNL.

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This was a really unusual sighting: a Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) DHC8-300 leaving.

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NH DHC8-400 in “ECO Friendly Airline” green special livery arriving from KMI.

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Close-up of the Air Do B737 with winglets, I really like the little polar bear holding the chocolate bar that they have on the inside of their winglets, ?????

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Just as I was heading inside to go to through security, I caught something big on the horizon. The Boeing DreamLifter arriving from Seattle. Talk about an awkward looking plane, it looks almost like an insect with all those little landing gear hanging from the bottom.

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Back inside, I head towards the security and immigration lines on the international side of the airport. The FIDS showing my flight (4th from bottom) as on-time departing from Gate 16.

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NGO’s security and immigration is always quick and I’m airside within 7 minutes. The *A Lounge is to the right as you clear immigration.

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Like all NGO lounges, they are down one floor. The *A Lounge is accessed through this elevator.

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Right before I get on the elevator, I notice something out the window. My plane is arriving at the gate from ICN.

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Entering the lounge, two NH agents greet me and scan in my boarding pass. The lounge is long and skinny and is lined with windows. Since the TG and SQ flights just boarded, it’s quiet in the lounge since only OZ and UA have midday flights.

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Press as you enter the seating area.

photo 39

The food and drink offerings. Only one hot food option: noodles and takoyaki. The standard cup noodles, onigiri, and finger foods were also available.

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I grab some food and take a seat next to the windows. The seating area is looking old with these nasty seat cover, but the general lounge condition and décor looks more modern. Power outlets are located along the floor.



My simple snack of some takoyaki and little sandwiches.

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The lounge does have great views of the tarmac. TG B773 departing for BKK and KE B739 arriving from ICN.

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Ten minutes before the boarding time, I head to the gate. There is also this side-seat area in the lounge with a TV and bar stools. Overall the lounge appearance looks good with the hardwood floors, quotes on the walls, and good lighting, but it has a very poor food/drink offering.

photo 53

The two NH agents thank me as I head into the elevator. I like these Betty Boop-esque figures warning you to watch your clothing when approaching the end of the moving walkways.

photo 54




——————————-

Asiana Airlines, OZ 121
Equipment: Airbus A321 [HL8004 (leased from ICBC), delivered October 2014]
Departure: 11:35 (ATD: 11:46)
Arrival: 13:40 (ATA: 13:34)
Flight time: 1:48


Reaching the gate, our A321 is awaiting us outside.

photo 55

The OZ agents (same from check-in counters) give a bow and begin boarding right on time.

photo 56

Special assistance is followed by OZ Elites, *A Elites, and Business Class. My boarding pass is scanned and I head down the jetbridge. Press is available at the end of the jetbridge.

photo 57

I take the fuselage shot as the UA B738 is leaving for GUM.

photo 58

I then turn to take a picture of the plane’s entrance and the purser puts her hands up to block her face. I immediately drop my camera out of respect, never took the picture. She immediately approaches me and grabs my camera and tells me to delete the picture of her. I tell her I did not take a picture of her, but she forces me to flip through about 50 photos on my memory card to prove it. The other FA was just awkwardly standing there the entire time and didn’t say a word. After the purser finally believed me that I didn’t take a picture of her, she lets me onboard saying not to take her picture (didn’t mention any of the other crew, only herself). I was not going to fight the situation since Korea has very strict sexual harassment laws and I did not want my photography to be misconstrued in any negative way. I just bit my lip and went to my seat, but I did not think the situation was not handled very professionally at all. It seemed very attacking and she was not very polite as you would expect. It should also not have been a big scene in the galley in front of all the other passengers. A very bad way to start a trip.

I then immediately get called back by the other FA to check my boarding pass. She walks me to my seat. I didn’t take a cabin shot since there was another FA standing at the start of the Y cabin and I didn’t want the purser to blow up again. Here is a picture of my seat on arrival. There was no pillow or blanket in the seat (neither of these items were offered at any point during the flight). Instead, pre-placed on the seat were headsets and slippers.



The seat pitch is about the same as US domestic F, they list it at 39”. You can’t get out of the window seat without making your seatmate get up. Also, there is a huge amount of crap under the seats, neither of the seats really have room for personal items under the seat in front of you. A FA happily took my bag and put it in the overhead compartment for me.

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Strange protocol, but they didn’t offer pre-departure drinks until after the front door closed. I’m assuming they didn’t want to slow down boarding by clogging the aisle with FAs going back and forth from the galley. Drinks were offered from a tray offering water, orange juice, and guava juice. I took an orange juice. Pre-departure drink distribution was followed by distribution of pens and immigration cards for Korea, which I declined since I as connecting.

photo 65

The flight was full in J, my seatmate was a middle-aged woman that had a US passport and spoke fluent Korean. As we taxied to the runway we pass this unusual sighting: a VistaJet Bombardier Global 6000.

photo 70

The DreamLifter is now ready to get its rear filled.

photo 71

We turn onto the runway and takeoff to the north over Ise Bay filled with ships strolling into the Port of Nagoya.

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We are quickly up above the clouds, which will be the view for the entire flight.

photo 74

A brief seat tour. This plane is really new, but the cabin looks much older. As a leased aircraft, this is maybe not surprising.

photo 139

The center console has a fold-out drink tray. There is a USB and headphone jack on the inside. There is no storage compartment for small personal items in this seat, which is annoying. The AC power is located on the front of the center console and there is a reading light above the center console.

photo 66

The left armrest has the seat controls and the foldout tray table. The seat control for recline has been completely rubbed off showing how old these seats are.

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The other weird feature of this seat is that it comes with an airbag seat belt. I haven’t seen this on a narrow-body before, but maybe OZ is now required to have them after their numerous mishaps landing planes recently…

photo 75

The seatback pocket contains all of the literature (packed in a plastic sleeve). It contains numerous magazines, duty free catalogs, and the safety card for this A321.



The OZ A321s are configured with IFE in J. The screen is touch-screen and has the same content that you find on the long-haul IFE, but the interface is a little bit different. You can also use the remote to control everything.



Service started as we leveled off. Oshibori were distributed.

photo 84

The purser then came and introduced herself, welcomed me on board by name, and handed me the menu for this flight. The photography incident did not come up again, but I was still feeling a little bit bitter how it was handled. So when she addressed me as “Mr. NGO85”, I sharply replied “Dr.” and she quickly apologized for the mistake. I normally don’t care, but she deserved it after embarrassing me in front of the cabin.

The menu for this flight. The liquor aficionados will notice that there is no champagne in the menu and only one option of white and red wine.



A FA knelt and took my order. I asked for the Seafood Wanja and a Beck’s. She then returned and laid the linens. The lines are nice with the embossed OZ logo and are made in Italy.

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The tray was delivered along with my beer. I find the trays very cluttered. I don’t think it is necessary to offer the coffee/tea cup with the meal since this is not used until later in the service. I also don’t like the main being delivered with the starters. It should be delayed and delivered once the salad is finished; otherwise it just gets cold sitting there.

photo 95

A salad starter isn’t very interesting, but it did look nicer than most with the bacon and sundried tomato on top.

photo 96

Bread basket was then brought out and I grabbed this green tea bread.

photo 97

The main was okay. The seafood patties were good and there were a lot of vegetables on top (mushrooms, broccoli, peppers, etc.).

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No shakers on regional flights, just salt and pepper packets placed in the napkin.

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The dessert was good; the raspberry sauce was underneath so you had to scoop to the bottom to get it in each bite. Kudos to OZ for not offering ice cream!

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Coffee was proposed as the mains were finished. Drinks were promptly refilled during meal service.

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Meal service concluded as we approached the Korean coast.

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I spent the rest of the time watching the first half of “To Catch a Thief.” I didn’t think the selection was great on OZ, but there was at least enough items of interest for me to make it through 4 flights on OZ with the same selection. I should also note that there were no ads before the programs.

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Cloudy skies continue over Korea.

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The FA then offers me more coffee while I watch my movie.

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An annoying thing about OZ is that 30-minutes prior to arrival, they stop and play a special UNICEF ad and ICN propaganda as they come through the cabin collecting money.

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I start hydrating for the next flight with water.

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As we being our final descent, I make a quick trip up to the lavatory knowing my layover is really short. The lavatory is standard Airbus issue, but contains full L’Occitane toiletries. A lemon-scented spray, makeup remover, lotion, comb, mouthwash, and a toothbrush.

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Getting back to my seat we are into the final descent.

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The clouds finally break near Suwon.

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A slightly hazy sunny day as we drop into Incheon.



As we touch down ahead of schedule, we get a glimpse of a UA B739 with scimitar winglets probably leaving for GUM.

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The “others” terminal at ICN.

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We are going to have a flurry of ST special livery spottings in this series, the first is this CZ A320.

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As we taxi back to the main terminal, the thank you message and final route.

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OZ and KE cargo operations.

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KE B77W in a special livery arriving in the distance.

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KE heavies milling around their side of the terminal at ICN, including the KE A332 in ST special livery (this one will be following us to LAX).

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A first for me: Aurora Airlines (HZ) A319 taxing by. This seems to be SU-owned mainly operating Russian Far East operations out of VVO.

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We pull into a gate next to an OZ A333.

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Deplaning, the purser and a FA thank me for flying. At least the photography incident died at the moment and there were no lingering effects throughout the rest of the flight.

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Welcome to Korea.

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Heading towards international transfers.

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What is this I spot from the window? This OZ whale will be my beast from ICN-LAX awaiting my arrival.

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Transfer point is clearly marked in bright green font. There is nobody in sight and I’m through the security point in less than 30 seconds after a quick patdown.

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FIDS leaving security, my flight shows “Go to Gate” so there will be no OZ Lounge stop this time.

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I head up the escalators into the terminal and veer off towards Gate 43 where my whale awaits me.

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I will leave off this series here as I begin my layover in ICN before the TPAC into LAX. Thanks for reading this report and please stop by for the end of this series!
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Verdict

Asiana Airlines

7.5/10
Cabin7.0
Cabin crew8.5
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Meal/catering7.0

Star Alliance Lounge Business Class Section

6.0/10
Comfort5.0
Meal/catering5.0
Entertainment/wifi9.0
Services5.0

Nagoya - NGO

8.8/10
Efficiency10.0
Access7.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness10.0

Seoul - ICN

9.2/10
Efficiency10.0
Access7.0
Services10.0
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

This is my second time taking OZ overall and first time in 4 years. OZ definitely has 5* service that is not only in the cabin, but also the ground crews and call centers. KE wins the hard product battle since most of their flights are on wide-bodies, but I felt catering was about the same for both carriers on this route (Ke doesn't lay linens, but has better drinks menu). The photography incident with the purser really stung, but I tried not to let it detract from the rest of the flight experience. Overall, a solid regional offering.

Cabin comfort: Brand new and clean A321, but with an old cabin. The seats were big and comfy, but pitch could be better. No blanket and pillow is really weird, but full long-haul amenities in the lavatory.

Crew: I got off to a real bad start with the purser. The photography incident is completely understandable from my end. I understand if you don’t want your face in my picture, but you shouldn’t grab my camera and force me to show you a bunch of pictures before letting me on the plane. Despite the rude way that was handled, she never brought it up again and the rest of service was up to normal OZ expectations. The other crewmembers I interacted with all spoke fluent English and were all smiles during service. Pilots came on twice during the flight to give updates and route information.

Meal and catering: A single tray service is standard on regional flights of less than 3 hours. A salad starter is boring, the main was good, and the dessert was good (not ice cream!). Overall, a good meal that was well-presented visually. I felt the tray looked cluttered and the drink list was lacking. Very attentive FAs throughout the meal service. Better than what KE offers.

Entertainment: Newspaper available on the jetbridge, magazine rack on the bulkhead behind my seat, and the standard seatback literature. OZ’s IFE has a mediocre selection, but at least no ads before each program. The screen is the same size as long-haul Y, which I guess is okay for this older J-product and narrow seat pitch.

On-time performance: Left on-time and arrived slightly early. With a tight layover, this is always big concern and OZ handled everything perfectly.

Information on the route Nagoya (NGO) Seoul (ICN)

Les contributeurs de Flight-Report ont posté 3 avis concernant 2 compagnies sur la ligne Nagoya (NGO) → Seoul (ICN).


Useful

La compagnie qui obtient la meilleure moyenne est Korean Air avec 8.0/10.

La durée moyenne des vols est de 2 heures et 0 minutes.

  More information

21 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 153725 by
    CounterSurprise 80 Comments
    Hi Michael, once again I thoroughly enjoyed reading your FR and looking at your great pictures! What a great report and I'm looking forward to see the rest of this interesting journey! And, may I add that paying around $2500 for this trip does not seem like a lot to me, being used to prices that carriers charge for flying out of AMS. It's a lot of money but if you'd said you'd paid $4500 i would have believed it too ;)


    I was shocked that OZ would even touch an OW connecting flight and was able to issue me a boarding pass for my AA flight on OZ cardstock (this is a collector’s item!).
    That is rare indeed! Excellent customer service I might add.Big question of course is: did it work? Did your suitcase arrive at their destination? I guess we'll have to wait for the rest of the trip to find the answer. Nice cliffhanger ;)

    She immediately approaches me and grabs my camera and tells me to delete the picture of her.
    I have no words for this. That's beyond rude. There are better ways to solve this situation if you don't like your picture taken. I think you handled the situation great though. Just my five cents...

    The seat control for recline has been completely rubbed off showing how old these seats are.
    Why on earth do they install old seats in a brand new aircraft? Or is that just me? Does that happen more often? I'm glad my home carrier KLM did not take this approach on their B788....

    Thanks again-- always love to read your FRs!

    • Comment 331397 by
      NGO85 SILVER AUTHOR 1930 Comments
      Thank you very much for you kind words and comments!

      may I add that paying around $2500 for this trip does not seem like a lot to me
      - TPACs normally run $4000-6000 for Japan-US. The Korean and Chinese (CX included) carriers often try and poach customers from the Japanese market by offering lower fares. I saw MU offering roundtrip TPACs in Y for $500 last week.

      Big question of course is: did it work? Did your suitcase arrive at their destination? I guess we'll have to wait for the rest of the trip to find the answer. Nice cliffhanger ;)
      - Not really since the bag would have to be reclaimed in LAX for customs regardless of final destination ;) But did it make it to LAX with the tight connection in ICN? Time will tell!

      That's beyond rude.
      - Exactly, you don't grab someone's personal property. First of all, she didn't trust me when I told her I did not take a picture with her in it. Second of all, she should have just talked to me privately and told me that she doesn't want to be photographed and that I should delete any picture in which she appears (it didn't have to be some big scene during boarding in the galley).

      Why on earth do they install old seats in a brand new aircraft? Or is that just me? Does that happen more often? I'm glad my home carrier KLM did not take this approach on their B788....
      - I would think that a new cabin would be coming soon for OZ. They just ordered a lot of new A321NEOs to expand their regional network. The seats definitely were older than 5 years old. It happens often, just ask JL who is still installing angle lie-flat seats on their B788s.

      Thanks again-- always love to read your FRs!
      - You're welcome :)
  • Comment 153731 by
    757Fan 632 Comments
    Thanks for your newest report, NGO85! Great photos from your trip, and nice to read about your experience on Asiana.

    It looks like you had a pretty nice flight with them in J. I agree with you on all the food being served at once; it's always nice when things are spaced out a bit!

    The other weird feature of this seat is that it comes with an airbag seat belt. I haven’t seen this on a narrow-body before, but maybe OZ is now required to have them after their numerous mishaps landing planes recently.

    I've seen this also on a few flights I've taken with Delta and Alaska in their premium cabins. Alaska had a big seat belt like that on one of their 737-800's I flew on back in March.

    Looking forward to the continuation of your trip!!

    Matthew
    • Comment 331396 by
      NGO85 SILVER AUTHOR 1930 Comments
      Happy New Year Matthew!

      It looks like you had a pretty nice flight with them in J. I agree with you on all the food being served at once; it's always nice when things are spaced out a bit!
      - It's a standard Asian regional shuttle flight (90 minute flight time or less). They are whirlwind flights; there is really only time to eat before the descent starts. But when you compare a US domestic F experience on a similar flight-length, there is no comparison. For the narrow-body operators in northern Asia (KE, OZ, NH, JL, CA, MU), OZ's product is average. The crew are some of the best though considering both service and language-ability (NH/JL have better service, but not as good at English as KE/OZ in my experiences).

      I've seen this also on a few flights I've taken with Delta and Alaska in their premium cabins. Alaska had a big seat belt like that on one of their 737-800's I flew on back in March
      - My comment was slightly joking since all the other OZ flights did not have it, but it's interesting to hear AS has them too. Maybe AS opts for them due to the large number of flights operating over water?

      Thanks for your comments!
  • Comment 153733 by
    Numero_2 TEAM BRONZE 10390 Comments
    Thanks for sharing, Michael !

    Interesting introduction but you might know that few airlines have status match promotion to get the OW Sapphire for free, so no need to force you to fly AA. ^^

    The price paid for the whole journey isn't very cheap, but everone wants to fly on these days. ;)

    OZ, like KE, has an absolutely horrendous website. -> The old version was even worse… It reminds me about the Japanese hotels websites. lol

    As the memo at the top of their website states, you cannot buy tickets online using a Mac. -> This was temporary as everything was fine for me to buy an OZ ticket few days ago using an iMac.

    I have never understood why *A wanted to have an own branded lounge in NGO…
    The lounge itself is average for Japan.

    Nothing really impressive for a narrow body business class, I'd say the cabin is average, not much.

    So when she addressed me as “Mr. NGO85”, I sharply replied “Dr.” and she quickly apologized for the mistake. I normally don’t care, but she deserved it after embarrassing me in front of the cabin. -> NOTE : Never embarrass NGO85 in public. ^^

    The menu and wine list are, again, average and I expected more from OZ which is a 5* airline !
    BR does a better job for such short hops business class service.

    The lines are nice with the embossed OZ logo and are made in Italy. -> But the FA laid it in the wrong direction.

    Overall I'm not very impressed after reading your experience and I still think this is nothing but an average flight.

    See you for the Airbus leg.
    • Comment 331395 by
      NGO85 SILVER AUTHOR 1930 Comments
      Merci Clement^^

      few airlines have status match promotion to get the OW Sapphire for free, so no need to force you to fly AA. ^^
      - AB rejected my EY match (go figure, since AZ quickly matched, should have waited and used the AZ to match AB, lol), but AA has some value for me for other reasons in the coming year, which is why I felt it necessary to finish it up.

      The price paid for the whole journey isn't very cheap, but everone wants to fly on these days. ;)
      - If you think this is expensive, you should see what NH/JL fares looked like^^ TPACs typically run $4000-6000 in J for some perspective ;) NH in Y would have only been $400 cheaper than OZ in J... The AA ticket was much worse, but the options LAX-SFO were poor on all carriers. WN was the cheapest at $240, and AA in Y was $330, so I saved money flying F because of the baggage fees ;)

      It reminds me about the Japanese hotels websites. lol
      - LOL^^ Best comment ever^^ I know exactly what you are talking about^^ It's like what the Chinese carrier websites still are like. I cringe every time I try to use MU's site.

      This was temporary as everything was fine for me to buy an OZ ticket few days ago using an iMac.
      - It froze when I tried to buy my ticket on a MacBook, so then I had to call and make sure it didn't go through so I didn't buy two tickets.

      I have never understood why *A wanted to have an own branded lounge in NGO…
      - Because NH has such poor international service out of NGO, they have no interest in operating an ANA Lounge (which wouldn't be much better^^). JL at least has heavies in/out of NGO operating to BKK and HNL to justify a Sakura Lounge. NH only sends B737s on its international routes out of NGO.

      I'd say the cabin is average, not much.
      -Standard narrow-body J cabin, nothing special at all. At least it had personal IFE, which is not standard on all Asian carriers. KE has some B738s with 50 pitch, but 36-40 seems standard.

      NOTE : Never embarrass NGO85 in public. ^^
      - To quote White Goodman, nobody makes me bleed my own blood, nobody!

      BR does a better job for such short hops business class service.
      - I don't think that is a fair comparison (TPE-HKG). If you look at the menu, you can see that this is for thin routes into Japan. Look at BR catering on a TPE-HGH route, then compare. KIX/NRT/HND get much bigger drink menus (wait for Part 7). When compared to KE, the meal service is better. KE doesn't lay linens and doesn't even cover the tray with a napkin. OZ still used the fancy coffee pots for drink service from a trolley. The food taste (may not look it) was very good, and don't underestimate the real dessert^^ All other carriers use fruit plates for dessert (KE) or the standard ice cream offering on a short flight like this. I do feel that MU had better catering than OZ though.

      But the FA laid it in the wrong direction.
      - She had it oriented so that she could remember what airline she worked for ;)

      Overall I'm not very impressed after reading your experience and I still think this is nothing but an average flight.
      - I agree, very average. I'm glad I did ICN-KIX instead of ICN-NGO for Part 7, because the A321s are not great products. It's on par with the mainland Chinese carriers, but with better crews.

      See you for the Airbus leg.
      - This was an Airbus leg^^
    • Comment 331437 by
      Numero_2 TEAM BRONZE 10390 Comments
      TPACs typically run $4000-6000 in J for some perspective ;) -> That's typically why I think that J is overpriced.
      I'd never pay more than 1500CHF for a roundtrip business class ticket !

      Look at BR catering on a TPE-HGH route, then compare. ->But BR still offers vintage champagne on short routes. ;)

      See you for the BIGGER Airbus leg. ^^
  • Comment 153752 by
    byromania 38 Comments
    I enjoyed reading your report, but the interaction with the purser even made me feel awkward as I was reading it. I completely understand if she did not want her picture taken, but the way in which the situation was handled by the purser was unprofessional at least, and just downright rude at the worst. Very strange, but again, I enjoyed your report.
    • Comment 331394 by
      NGO85 SILVER AUTHOR 1930 Comments
      I completely understand if she did not want her picture taken
      - That's what I just kept in mind during the whole exchange. They have rights too. But for a senior crewmember (~50ish), I would have expected a more professional response. She should not have grabbed my personal property under any circumstance. I think her response was emotional, because her interactions with me throughout the rest of the flight were no different than with any other passenger so she didn't hold a grudge, so I do commend her for that. I was not deliberately taking her picture, I always try and go to the leftside of the jetbridge, and angle the shot to the right so that the crew aren't front and center. I've been lucky not to have this problem before, but I guess it was bound to happen at some point.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, this was the least interesting of the OZ reports.
  • Comment 153788 by
    Rl 777 806 Comments
    Thank you for sharing another fantastic and detailed FR with us!

    The weather didn't look too bad in NGO, you managed to snap some fantastic spotting shots nonetheless!

    It's of course understandable that the FA didn't want to be in any pictures but the situation could've been handled in a more professional way.

    The seat looks comfortable, the pitch doesn't look like anything to write home about. The legroom for the window seat looks very small compared to the space for the aisle seat.

    The meal offering looks average on this flight, at least it was better than what KE offered.

    Thank you for a great 2015! I wish you best of luck in 2016 :).

    Have a good one, see you!
    • Comment 331447 by
      NGO85 SILVER AUTHOR 1930 Comments
      Thank you for all your support RI 777!

      The weather didn't look too bad in NGO
      - Just wait for the always perfect weather at LAX for better spotting ;)

      It's of course understandable that the FA didn't want to be in any pictures
      - Even if I do take a picture of an FA, they always have their faces masked and name tags blacked out.

      The legroom for the window seat looks very small compared to the space for the aisle seat.
      - That wasn't true though! There were more entertainment boxes under the aisle seat too! It was incredible how much stuff they had under the seats, there was no space wider than 20cm to stick something. I think I've seen this on MU once too. All rows are like bulkhead seats... The seat was comfortable, but no pillow for back support was disappointing.

      The meal offering looks average on this flight
      - Average is relative though; since it is still better than what other parts of the world get. Asia is just spoiled when it comes to carriers.

      Have a happy new year too!
  • Comment 153837 by
    jetsetpanda 2283 Comments
    First congratulation on your 50th FR and I believe that you were the first English one for 2016. A good start already.

    CA, CZ, KE, and OZ have really cheap fares, $1800-2200 in J.
    - Those are really good fares. Last year I was checking some fares into HKG and JL offered a USD 1,500+ rt from SFO-HKG in Y+. I eventually cashed my BA Avios for a one way HKG-SFO and decided to fly on TK from Europe to HKG.

    OZ, like KE, has an absolutely horrendous website.
    - Inexcusable for a high tech country and a 5* carrier.

    I was shocked that OZ would even touch an OW connecting flight and was able to issue me a boarding pass for my AA flight on OZ cardstock (this is a collector’s item!).
    - Great service! I have a couple of those boarding passes from OZ. Really distinctive, although I would have liked to see their old logo with the woman opening her arms instead of this new simplified one that reminds me of OS.

    I take a stroll through the shops up stairs, which are all decked out in a holiday theme for the “Funky Spunky Xmas,” whatever that means.
    - Lost in translation perhaps? That sounds like the title for an x-rated movie. :P

    The Boeing DreamLifter arriving from Seattle. Talk about an awkward looking plane, it looks almost like an insect with all those little landing gear hanging from the bottom.
    - It should be the perfect cover for a modern edition of Metamorphosis by Kafka.

    It seemed very attacking and she was not very polite as you would expect. It should also not have been a big scene in the galley in front of all the other passengers. A very bad way to start a trip.
    - I commend you for your composure. Experiences like these always leaves a sour taste for the rest of the flight. Her handling of the situation is particularly unsettling coming from an Asian carrier. Perhaps she forgot to take her Prozac that day, who knows?

    The DreamLifter is now ready to get its rear filled.
    - It got stuffed through the back just like a Thanksgiving turkey. ;)

    So when she addressed me as “Mr. NGO85”, I sharply replied “Dr.” and she quickly apologized for the mistake. I normally don’t care, but she deserved it after embarrassing me in front of the cabin.
    - Good for you! She is lucky that she did not blew up with someone like the KE executive with the nut rage incident.

    A FA knelt and took my order.
    - A common approach on OZ.

    I don’t think it is necessary to offer the coffee/tea cup with the meal since this is not used until later in the service. I also don’t like the main being delivered with the starters. It should be delayed and delivered once the salad is finished; otherwise it just gets cold sitting there.
    - Agree 100%. Let me add that the dessert could have been delivered along with the coffee/tea. Aside from this the meal looks very OK for a regional flight. The salad should be enhanced with a protein like shrimp or smoked duck.

    Superb spotting as usual. The Aurora plane is a great discovery.

    Thanks Michael for sharing another amazing FR series. Looking forward to the big guy.
    • Comment 331679 by
      NGO85 SILVER AUTHOR 1930 Comments
      First congratulation on your 50th FR
      - Thank you very much Adan, I've been a busy little boy.

      Those are really good fares. Last year I was checking some fares into HKG and JL offered a USD 1,500+ rt from SFO-HKG in Y+.
      - I think CX in Y+ was around $1500 when I checked, but had an overnight layover to catch the HKG-SFO flight so I scrapped that idea.

      Great service! I have a couple of those boarding passes from OZ.
      - As soon as I got to LAX, I quickly went to AA to get a new boarding pass on AA cardstock so the OZ one wouldn't get defaced by TSA. The things we do for nice boarding passes...

      It should be the perfect cover for a modern edition of Metamorphosis by Kafka.
      - That or The War of the Worlds, definitely has that creepy look to it.

      I commend you for your composure. Experiences like these always leaves a sour taste for the rest of the flight.
      - Once I saw my whale, I was much happier. I was pretty bitter for this flight because of that incident, but at least she never brought up the incident again.

      It got stuffed through the back just like a Thanksgiving turkey. ;)
      - I was waiting to see who was going to be the first person to comment on that caption. You were the winner!

      She is lucky that she did not blew up with someone like the KE executive with the nut rage incident.
      - OZ gave me packaged nuts on the regional flights, but served them in a ramekin on the long-haul. They learned their lesson from KE, lol. Well, I definitely don't look like I'm (legitimately) related to any OZ executives... but never judge a book by its cover.

      Let me add that the dessert could have been delivered along with the coffee/tea. Aside from this the meal looks very OK for a regional flight. The salad should be enhanced with a protein like shrimp or smoked duck.
      - It had bacon on top, but still not a real protein. A couple slices of duck would have been nice. The single tray is just standard protocol, all the carriers do it. I think delayed desserts are only common when it is the Häagen-Dazs ice-cream so it doesn't melt. All other times, the dessert has been a fruit plate (really lame) or ice cream, so OZ at least wins the dessert battle with their Asian rivals.

      The Aurora plane is a great discovery.
      - It was actually an accident, I was trying to take a picture of the KE ST livery, when this A319 photobombed me, so I quickly took its picture too.

      Looking forward to the big guy.
      - The flight was good, but I will definitely not be going out of my way to fly an A380 again...
  • Comment 153893 by
    aussenrist 225 Comments
    Thanks for sharing this report with nice pictures!

    I am quite surprised that you will take the *A airline flight. I assume that you will forgive the *A status and take either OW or EY related flights :P

    “you cannot buy tickets online using a Mac.”
    - (joke) You should buy it on Samsung or LG devices! ^^ BTW OZ even doesn’t have an optimized HK website (in comparison KE has a better accessible website...and a HK site!)

    The lounge is just average, but I like they have windows so that it looks bright and modern.

    “The other FA was just awkwardly standing there the entire time and didn’t say a word.”
    - IMO the concept of classes inside Korean corporation is very influential. So the FA (lower grade) dare not to help to solve this situation. I understand the purser might not want to be in pictures but she was very unprofessional and rude. Indeed she could have a better handling skills.

    For the seat, although it is old cabin, it is OK for just a nearly 3-hour regional flight. And the catering looks good (where is the ice-cream >
    Look forward to your next trip and ??????????????? (again I am a bit late lol…)!
    • Comment 331680 by
      NGO85 SILVER AUTHOR 1930 Comments
      I am quite surprised that you will take the *A airline flight. I assume that you will forgive the *A status and take either OW or EY related flights :P
      - OZ is a partner airline of EY. So you can earn full mileage with EY FFP on OZ flights. Kind of weird since KE is also a partner with EY. Not sure why EY needs to partner both Korean carriers, but I'm not complaining since I get earn and spend miles with both carriers. The only north Asian OW carrier is JL and its routings weren't working for me.

      “BTW OZ even doesn’t have an optimized HK website (in comparison KE has a better accessible website...and a HK site!)
      - KE's website is new, but I still find it really difficult to navigate, it has way too much java making it difficult to find your way through all the tabs. Once the ticket was booked, it was really easy to use OZ's My Asiana page in order to modify everything and the call center was very good (a lot of people don't like calling airlines, but I find NH really easy to just pick up the phone and call (I always use the Osaka number and not the Tokyo number), I never have to wait to talk to a human).

      The lounge is just average, but I like they have windows so that it looks bright and modern.
      - It's the lounge with the best view (KAL Lounge is blind and the other third-party lounges are blind, but all offer better food offerings).

      “IMO the concept of classes inside Korean corporation is very influential. So the FA (lower grade) dare not to help to solve this situation.
      - Same is true in Japan. A junior will never stand up to a senior.

      For the seat, although it is old cabin, it is OK for just a nearly 3-hour regional flight.
      - I think these A321s are going to be deployed on longer flights soon, they just made an order for a lot of A321NEOs (25-30), so I think the regional network is expanding. They are also getting a bunch of A350s so the future looks bright for them. They have a had a rough past couple of years with 3 accidents in 4 years, but I'm not scared to fly them. Every carrier has that risk, it's just part of flying.

      Thank you for all your comments and have a happy new year!
  • Comment 154139 by
    socalnow 976 Comments
    Thank you for sharing this flight NGO85. The gold standard in flight reports continues.

    My heart aches to be in Japan every time I read one of your spectacular reports.

    Thank you again and I look forward to following this fantastic series. Happy flying.
  • Comment 155308 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 6585 Comments
    I was looking forward to reading about this incident in detail! Of course, I couldn't from the depth of Middle-Earth, until now :-)
    The NGO *A lounge seems pretty decent, and dare I say almost as good as my recent JL NRT F class lounge experience.
    Always enjoy the planespotting--it's always funny to see all these little U.S. carrier narrowbodies in Asia.

    I'm surprised that there are only 3 rows of Business class on an A321, especially on such a premium carrier. Even in the U.S. there are at least 4 rows of F, though usually 5, on A321s. The seats look really shabby for such a new aircraft. I think the ugly seatcover choice has something to do with it. Nice to have PTVs on a shorter regional flight, however.

    The liquor aficionados will notice that there is no champagne in the menu and only one option of white and red wine.
    - AAAArrgh!?! What? The Horror! That's it, I'm calling SkyTrax and having their stars taken away! Unacceptable :-P

    Aside from the lack of adult beverage choices, I find the catering in general to be underwhelming--for a supposed 5* premium Asian carrier, I expect better. A salad starter and everything slapped on one tray....not premium at all IMO.

    Glad you enjoyed the flight despite the camera-Police, but OZ leaves me a bit disappointed. I'm sure the long-haul Smartium product will be more in line with what I think OZ should look like in my head.
    • Comment 333337 by
      NGO85 SILVER AUTHOR 1930 Comments
      Yeah, the MU catering on NGO-PVG is almost the same...
    • Comment 333215 by
      NGO85 SILVER AUTHOR 1930 Comments
      I couldn't from the depth of Middle-Earth, until now :-)
      - I'm looking forward to your LARPing bonuses in your FRs

      The NGO *A lounge seems pretty decent, and dare I say almost as good as my recent JL NRT F class lounge experience.
      - I warned you, the JL Sakura Lounges look really old and dated. The best lounge at NGO is the third-party lounge that ost of the ST carriers use (it's in one of my MU reports, because the KAL Lounge at NGO is really bad).

      I think the ugly seatcover choice has something to do with it. Nice to have PTVs on a shorter regional flight, however.
      - The seats look like a pee stain. This yellow on grey thing is really not attractive and the complete lack of a pillow is mind-boggling (almost US F style, lol). PTVs are not standard on Asian narrow-bodies so that is a very nice bonus to have.

      AAAArrgh!?! What? The Horror! That's it, I'm calling SkyTrax and having their stars taken away! Unacceptable :-P
      - It is completely route dependent as I mentioned to Clement. On the flight to KIX, there was a complete drink list and that flight is shorter!

      I find the catering in general to be underwhelming--for a supposed 5* premium Asian carrier, I expect better. A salad starter and everything slapped on one tray....not premium at all IMO.
      - So, maybe you are misjudging the length of this flight, NGO-ICN is pretty short (only halfway to PEK), about 1.5 hours in flight time. So compared to what I have gotten on longer flights to TPE/PVG/PEK that are 2-3 hours in length, I find this to be an acceptable offering. It has to be tray service, I don't think the flight is long enough to do a coursed meal (the cut-off on most carriers for a coursed meal is 3 hours). Even NH/JL do a tray service on these routes. That said, the meal was alright, definitely nothing special. But I think the dessert and tea/coffee should be served separate after the tray is removed (there should be time for this).

      OZ leaves me a bit disappointed
      - Regional OZ is pretty meh, but with the increase in their A321 fleet, it will be even more meh to go around :P

      Thanks for stopping by Kevin!
    • Comment 333232 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER 6585 Comments
      Oh ok, I was thinking the flight was like 2.5 hours long. I suppose for 1.5 hours that the catering is quite acceptable, though still a bit meh for a 5*. I've had similar meals on short flights like this on lower caliber carriers.

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