This report will cover the flight from Seoul-Incheon to Los Angeles. This route is pretty heavily operated by KE and OZ given the large Korean population in LA. OZ has two flights per day, one is operated by an A380 and the other a B772. This report will cover the A380 service and Part 6 of this series will cover the B772 service so check back later if you are interested in that product (the seats are not identical…).
As a brief introduction, when I booked this ticket about 4 weeks before departure, the only seats left in J were at the back of the bus. After consulting better seat maps, I chose 23A since the odd-numbered seats are the seats along the windows. Why OZ can’t denote this in the seat selection screen? Who knows, but I think this is true of most carriers that opt for these types of seats since I had the same problems with other carriers.
I left off the last report as I left transit security and headed up into ICN. The Christmas tree at ICN.
Since my plane was already scheduled to start boarding, I headed straight to the gate so there will be no lounge stop this time. My whale waiting for me.
An announcement was made that boarding was going to be delayed for an unspecified time due to some last minute maintenance. They said to stay in the gate area since it shouldn’t be too long. I decided to take a walk down the concourse and do some quick spotting. The seating areas at ICN don’t look like they have enough seats per gate.
AI B788 in *A special livery.
Asiana Airlines, OZ 202 Equipment: Airbus A380-800 [HL7626, delivered July 2014] Departure: 14:40 (ATD: 15:28) Arrival: 08:40 (ATA: 08:24) Flight time: 9:56
By the time I made the brief loop of the concourse, they had already started boarding so they didn’t lie about the time to perform the maintenance.
I joined the end of the premium line queue. They did parallel boarding to expedite the boarding process, which didn’t really make sense since both lines merged after the boarding pass check so there was no “priority” boarding. My boarding pass.
As the two lines merged, we head down the escalators where two OZ agents are splitting passengers based on their deck. It will be right for me to get the jetbridge to the upper deck. If you notice, there is a separate jetbridge for F on the main deck.
At the end of the jetbridge is literature.
No entrance shot after the debacle in the last report. But there were 3-4 OZ FAs standing there greeting passengers checking boarding passes and directing passengers down the correct aisle. Turning into the cabin, here is my first look at the Business Smartium cabin.
My seat, 23A.
A picture of 24A, which would remain empty.
Preplaced on the seat are pillow and blanket.
The storage bins on the upper deck (more on these later…).
The view of the cabin from my seat.
Seat pitch is good and the ottoman is of good size. Preplaced on the ottoman was the amenity kit.
The amenity kit is light on products, but there are full line of L’Occitane products available in the lavatories. Other than that, a very full offering of items.
The big IFE with good resolution. You can notice it from this picture; the A380 has ridiculous curvature on the upper deck. I felt very cramped vertically; I really don’t like the A380 and will try and avoid them in the future unless I can sit on the main deck.
The foldout tray table.
Safety card is located below the tray table. You can also tell how clean the carpet is showing that the planes are well maintained (or are they?).
The side table. The headphones are slippers and preplaced here. The “literature,” reading light, USB port, and headphone jack are located here.
The seat controls and IFE remote. A small storage compartment for personal items is located below.
Power is below the side table.
The antimacassar and the funky thing hanging down is for the over shoulder seatbelt you are required to wear for take off and landing. Again, OZ is the only carrier I have seen this on (because of questionable safety record on landings?). The seat fabic is nice.
The two bins for my seat, which I won’t be able to use on this flight.
The first bin, wouldn’t stay shut after I opened it the first time. The tab where it locks was broken. How was this not fixed during the plane’s inspection at OZ’s hub?
I alerted the problem to the FAs, but since the front door already closed by the time I bothered trying to close it, their make shift solution was to use the “sleep well service” stickers to tape it shut. They were very apologetic and embarrassed about the problem, so I tried to make jokes throughout the flight about it to ease their panic. The other bin I had, wouldn’t open after I closed it the first time… luckily I didn’t put anything in before closing it. So long story short, I had one bin that would not close and one bin that would not open. Who to blame? Airbus or OZ? I chalk this down to a poor Airbus product since the plane is too young to be having these kinds of problems.
The view from the window. I also don’t like the A380 windows; it is almost 6 inches between the inner and outer panes making it really hard to take pictures.
The safety card for this A380.
Welcome screen on the IFE as the system boots up.
The FAs pass through with pre-departure drinks. I’ll take a water and champagne.
The purser came around and introduced herself, addressing me by name.
The FAs then pass through and offer customs forms and a pen. I will give OZ big credit for always giving pens when passing out forms. I always keep a pen in my carry-on, but it’s thoughtful to provide one (if not in the amenity kit).
I see another FA going through the cabin giving the kids in the cabin an OZ sticker packet. As she passes by, I ask her if I can have one too. She happily gave me one as a souvenir. I really just wanted one as a gift to my niece.
The slippers, headphones, duvet, and pillow.
As the front door closed and we started pushback, the safety played on the IFE.
The ground crew waves us goodbye.
Mood lighting during the taxi.
Maybe it’s just me, but the A380 feels like the slowest plane ever taxing. I felt like we were going no more than 5 mph. This allowed for plenty of spotting.
KE B77W taking off.
CZ A321 taking off.
OZ A321 taking off.
As we turn off the taxiway, a look back at the KE B738 and NX A321 following us.
The engines wind up and we head down the runway. As we make our way down the runway, we pass a D7 A330 taxing.
Still churning down the runway, we cross the control tower and the remote stands filled with heavies.
We finally lift up and off of Incheon.
We make a sharp U-turn to head east offering an aerial view of ICN.
We then fly over the southern outskirts of the Seoul metropolis. Very hazy this afternoon.
OZ:enter fires up with its matching remote.
The selection is so-so, enough to last through my 4 flights, but the selection is not as good as other carriers.
The screen is touchscreen, but not that easy to reach. The remote is also touchscreen and has the same display as the IFE making it easy to use.
The moving map is quite extensive in features, letting you choose different options to customize your view.
As we flattened out our ascent, oshibori were distributed.
The FA then came by. She knelt at my side, addressed me by name, and offered me menus explaining the different options.
The FA then returned and laid the linens. (Numero_2: the correct direction this time ;) ) She then knelt and took my dinner order as well as my drink selection for aperitif. She got a good laugh when I asked for the “hansan sogokju.” She said she doesn’t like it. I was the last person to get my order taken, but I asked for the beef. She told me to wait a second to see if there are any left. She consulted with the FA from the other aisle, the came back to me and confirmed my entrée.
A couple of minutes later, the amuse bouche and aperitif are delivered by trolley.
The amuse bouche, hansan sogokju, and water. The crab croquette was very good. As far as presentation, I messed up the plate when I was turning it for the photograph (it was not presented to me with the stray pieces of tempura).
While eating my croquette, I got startled when the bin suddenly popped open.
The FA cleared the plate and asked me how I liked the drink. I agreed that the taste was fairly strong, so she recommended I try the “makgeolli” instead since it is a little sweeter.
She then set my table for dinner.
Bread basket was presented. It’s interesting that they offer olive oil for the bread instead of butter.
A peek outside as the sun sets.
The starter was delivered by trolley. Three prawns with a small salad on top. The avocado cream on the bottom was very good.
After I finished my starter, the attentive FAs then promptly cleared my plate and brought me my soup. Soups are rare these days and this was a very delicious offering.
The FAs at work.
After finishing my soup, my bowl was cleared and my entrée was brought out. She then returned with the bread basked and more drinks. The hangar steak was very good, very tender and you could pull it apart with just a fork. Portion size is on the small size for US standards, but I guess it is an appropriate amount of beef. The sauce was excellent on the meat.
After I finished my entrée, the FA came by and informed me that they were going to be dimming the cabin lights as she cleared my plate. I’m a slow eater so was behind the rest of the cabin. She turned on my lights for me and asked me if I wanted the cheese plate and any wine to go with it. The cheese plate was presented and then another FA came by and offered crackers and bread.
To wrap up, the gateau for dessert. The sauce on the bottom was raspberry. She then took my after dinner drink orders. I asked for a coffee and Bailey’s, which were subsequently delivered. The chocolate cake was okay, nothing special.
After I finished my dessert, my table was cleared and I was brought an oshibori and a bottle of water.
A nice feature of these faux-wood tray tables is that they rotate so you can get out of your seat without folding the tray table up when you have to go to the bathroom.
The bathrooms on this A380 have a window, but not as fancy as the one on the SK A340s. The fake wood floors look nice and there are plenty of L’Occitane products available as well as mouthwash and toothbrushes. They are also big enough to change for bed without needing to do yoga first.
Back at my seat, I enjoy a couple more glasses of Bailey’s as I watch TV. The FAs were very attentive and regularly checked on me since I was up.
The mood lighting.
I decided to put the seat into bed mode and lay down to relax a little more.
The bed folds down nicely, plenty of privacy, and plenty of foot space. OZ keeps their cabins on the cold side for Asian standards so the duvet was much appreciated.
The drinks kept coming. My glass was always refilled and my water bottle was regularly replaced.
About 5 hours into the flight (a little over halfway there), I decide to order a snack. Not incredibly hungry, but interested to see their offering. I press the call button, and within 10 seconds, there is a FA knelt at my side. I ask for ramen noodles and a cup of chamomile tea. She asks if I want spicy or mild ramen, I ask for spicy.
She comes back 10 minutes later and lays down a tablecloth (very nice to see for a snack service), then brings out the tray. The ramen noodles were served with pickled vegetables and kimchi. The ramen was a little spicier than I would have liked (not their fault), but was a nice mid-flight snack.
As my tray was cleared, an oshibori was offered.
After the snack, I took a nap until breakfast service started. I find starting breakfast service 3 hours before arrival ridiculous. It is neither dinner time in Seoul nor breakfast time in LA.
The cabin lights slowly come on.
The FAs come through and offer orange juice as an aperitif. The FA kneels and takes my breakfast order. I ask for the congee since I’m not that hungry after devouring the ramen just 2 hours earlier. The lasagna sounded really good, but I went for the lighter option.
The FA then prepares the tray table for breakfast.
Strawberry preserves this time.
The trolley comes through and I’m offered a fruit plate, yogurt, and then pastries from a bread basket. The fruit plate was okay, the croissant was warm and flakey, and the yogurt was yogurt.
More bread was offered and the trolley came through with coffee/tea service using the fancy silver pots.
My main was delivered and served with pickled vegetables. The congee was good with nice chunks of crab meat in it.
I really like the OZ tableware. I’d get some of this for home use.
After breakfast, we still had close to 2 hours until arrival. The cabin after breakfast.
I just watched TV for the rest of the flight. But I did enjoy the always beautiful sunrise over the Pacific. The colors are always brilliant.
As we arrived at the California coast near Monterrey, water bottles were distributed again for arrival.
I decided to pull out the 1” thick literature offering.
The specs of this A380.
About 30 minutes before arrival, the UNICEF ad played, money was collected by the FAs, and the pre-arrival exercise video came on.
The purser came through, thanked me for flying, and profusely apologized for the broken bins. The cabin was prepared for arrival; LA is always stunning on arrival.
We turn east as we reach Malibu and run past the northwestern suburbs.
Welcome to Hollywood.
We make our U-turn and lock on to a parallel approach with this DL B738.
Dropping into LAX.
Landing at LAX on this beautiful morning about 15 minutes ahead of schedule.
We taxi around to TBIT. If you can see it, the first plane is the AA A319 in PSA heritage livery.
Crossing a UA B789 that is squeaky clean having just been delivered to UA 3 weeks before this photo.
The pair of VA B77Ws camping out.
Half of QF’s LAX operations. A B744 and A380 in the “Go Wallabies” special livery.
We pull into our gate at TBIT and the jetbridges are quickly engaged. Deplaning through the upper deck.
At the door, the FAs from my row both address me by name and wish me a pleasant visit with my family. Remembering personal information from a flight exemplifies the level of attention of the OZ crews. I thank them for their excellent service and hard work.
Rushing off to immigration, we are welcomed to the US.
We beat the rush of Asian arrivals; only the LA flight from SCL was in front of us at the baggage claim. There was no wait for the kiosks to print off my entry receipt. TSA was typically terrible. There was no wait, but the agent didn't even speak to me. I said “good morning;” he didn’t respond or look up. He just took my passport, scanned it, stamped my forms and handed them back before turning to wave the next person up. Isn’t it their job to welcome US citizens home?
It was a 20-minute wait for bags since immigration was so quick. My bags were off and I joined the 50-person line to go through customs, where again TSA didn’t acknowledge my existence. The agent just continued her conversation about the burrito she had for lunch the previous day with the agent sitting next to her. I headed towards the connections area to drop off my bags. They scanned the barcodes, confirmed SFO as the final destination and sent them off down the conveyer belt. So, thank you OZ for checking my bags all the way through to SFO on a separate AA ticket. With 5 hours to kill until my flight to SFO, I started the 30-minute walk to In-n-Out burger to stretch my legs in the perfect LA weather.
I will leave off this series here as I begin my layover in LAX before continuing onto SFO. Thanks for reading this report and please stop by for the end of this series!
Seoul - ICN
Los Angeles - LAX
This is my first time on OZ long-haul. OZ offers a very good hard product with these Business Smartium seats. OZ service standards are very high and I feel like the crew was excellent (they aren't chatty, but very attentive and don't feel robotic). Catering was very strong with two full meals. IFE content could be improved.
Cabin comfort: Brand new and clean A380, but not really my cup of tea. I find the upper deck to feel small because of the curvature. Broken storage bins is a little bit of nuisance, but I wasn't going to use them anyways. The Business Smartium seats are very comfortable for lounging or sleeping. Plenty of privacy for the window seats (aisle seats, not so much). All of the amenity's you would expect were there.
Crew: I didn't get any bad vibes from any crew member. I would consider their service to be very professional, but not to the point of being robotic. There was some personality to them and they all were smiling and very attentive. I guess they are about what you would expect from OZ.
Meal and catering: Two full meal services on a short TPAC is nice (compared to what is offered ex-Japan). Both meals were done coursed as well and the only time I saw a tray was when they delivered my mid-flight snack. Trolley service is always nice. For dinner, high points were the beef entree and prawn appetizer, but the low point was an average dessert. For breakfast, the congee was very good. I thought the meal services on this flight were very good.
Entertainment: Newspaper available on the jetbridge, magazine rack at the back of the cabin, and the standard seatback literature. OZ’s IFE has a mediocre selection, but at least no ads before each program. The screen was large and good resolution.
On-time performance: Left late for some last minute maintenance, but arrived slightly early.
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