When last we saw each other, your humble flight-reporter had just completed the extremely simple and painless process of transit security at Incheon, having arrived from Jakarta, as detailed above.
The first order of business — hitting the lounge. It’s a relatively long layover, but provides me with some time to get caught up with the world around me. No problem. Transit security spits me out airside not at all far from this little alcove, which leads to (as the signage would suggest) Asiana’s Business Class Lounge at ICN.
Up the escalators, and you arrive in the central reception area, with basically identical lounge zones to either side. My boarding pass is scanned, and I’m off to the side to the right in this picture.
Oh yes… soon enough, my pretty. Soon enough.
There’s a lot to like about OZ’s flagship business class lounge at ICN. It’s one of my favourite lounges for decor and motif, with a classy and understated library theme, complete with grand piano. Because really, who doesn’t have a grand piano in their library, no?
There’s also some things not to like about this lounge. When last I was here, I was none too impressed by the catering. Offerings are the same on both sides of the lounge, and still not too impressive.
I grab a small post-breakfast snack of a hash brown and some fried rice. Nothing special.
Still a little hungry, I head back for some juk, which is actually pretty good.
I’m surprised I didn’t get any airside pictures — views aren’t perfect from the lounge, and it’s a cloudy day, but it is possible to get a look around the apron from here. I’m disappointed.
After working for a while — the WiFi is preforming very well — it’s time for some snacks.
A look at the bar. Nothing super-impressive, but it will do nicely.
We’ve switched over to the lunch menu by now, and there’s a few new hot menus available, including this kimchi with tofu dish…
… an these mung bean fritters being healthily fried up right in front of me.
I try both, and quite like them. A great improvement from the food offerings when I last darkened the hallways of this lounge, about a year ago.
Rounding out the in-lounge snackage, some peanuts, and some corn chips with cheeese… still served room temperature, which is less than ideal.
By now it was about time to head down to the gate and see what’s happening there. Just a sort walk, and I find, happily enough, an A380 in the fog. So it looks like we should be good to go.
All’s fairly quiet at the gate, which has short lineups for first, business, Star Gold, and upper-deck economy.
And this very long cordon for main deck economy.
With the usual line-up-and-bow routine, boarding starts just about on time, and there are just a few people ahead of me in the lineup for business class.
Here’s a look from the jetway complex before starting to head upstairs.
Flight: OZ202 From: Seoul Incheon (ICN) To: Los Angeles (LAX) Date: 2/12/2016 Aircraft: Airbus A380-800 Registration: HL7635 Seat: 23K ATD (STD): 15:25 (14:40) ATA (STA): 08:36 (08:40)
For this flight, I was sitting in 23K, one of the last rows in the main business class cabin, but the first “true window” seat available for this flight. I had previously selected 17A, but for some reason, got kicked out of it and into an aisle seat a few weeks before flight time. That would not do. A quick call to Asiana’s call centre fixed this.
The A380 features Asiana’s “Business Smartium” staggered configuration, and for the solo traveler, these “true window” seats are the gems, blending aisle access with as much privacy as one can reasonably expect.
A bagged blanket awaits me on my seat.
Other amenities are hidden away on the ottoman/footwell part of the seat. Here’s an over-the-shoulder look from the seat behind me.
The A380 side bins provide a great place to dump one’s laptop, power adaptor, noise cancelling headphones, and just about anything else one might want to keep handy during the flight.
A look across the cabin as boarding continues. This would continue to be my view for much of the process, and I began to think that perhaps I was alone in this section of the cabin.
In this seat, there’s a tabletop between you and the aisle — with reading light, reading materials, and headphone and USB ports.
Further below, the seat controls and the touch-screen IFE controller are located on the side wall of the pod between the passenger and the aisle.
Here’s the haul on the ottoman — amenity kit, slippers, and noise-cancelling headphones.
Out the window, it’s still looking like a lovely day.
These seats have a unique setup for the table — rather than “slide out,” it’s a “drop down” table.
The electrical power plug is located below the controls and next to the seat, making it somewhat challenging to photograph.
The provided earphones are probably not bad, but I really prefer leather earpads to foam, so I’ll just use my own on this flight.
Slippers are of pretty good quality.
And here’s the L’Occitane-branded amenity kit. About what one would expect, and not a bad haul.
The IFE screen is large and decent resolution — during boarding it was playing flight information on a loop.
Service began with a friendly welcome, and a choice of pre-departure beverages. Champagne, but of course.
Customs forms were offered before departure, surprisingly enough. With a pen. That’s always a good idea.
Around this time, I started to explore the IFE. It’s a modern system, quick, responsive, and fairly intuitive.
As boarding the whalejet takes a bit of time, I decide to get my first film going, the story of Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace. I’d previously watched a documentary on this — but this time, it’s the fictionalized retelling. Playback would resume seamlessly after announcements, including the pre-departure safety briefing.
Towards the end of boarding, the rest of the row and the row behind me were filled with a young family. I was briefly concerned by the young boy sitting on the opposite side of the aisle from me who seemed to be having trouble settling in, but he was just fine for the whole flight. We ended up being pretty full in business class on this flight.
Boarding complete, we pushed back and began the long taxi on this beautiful, shiny Korean afternoon.
During the usual seatbelt safety check, the flight attendants are very adamant that we all wear the shoulder buckle that fastens into the main belt, but otherwise spends the flight tucked away beside the seat. I’ve not seen this on any other product before, I don’t think, an I wonder if there’s any real safety benefit to the shoulder buckle, or are we just told to use them because they’re there?
What a time we live in, when “no smoking” has been replaced by “no electronics” in terms of signs that need to be illuminated. A change for the better, I think.
And just to bring home what a lovely afternoon it is, this is the view about two seconds off the ground. Seriously… nothing.
But the clouds don’t last forever, and soon, we’re above them, where it’s always sunny. Well, except when it’s pitch black, of course.
Here’s the remote for the IFE — touchscreen and context sensitive, I like these new ones so much better than previous generation remotes.
As we reach cruising altitude, service begins with an oshibori.
About this time, I’m feeling pretty stupid, because I didn’t get a picture of the menu, so I’m going to have to take you through the meal service on memory. Bad form on my part — as I recall, there were a couple of western-style entrees, and the ever-present Korean bibimbap. I opted to go Western, having had the bibimbap last year when I took this same flight.
The lavs towards the back of business class are nothing particularly special, except, of course, for some enhanced amenities.
Obligatory “Hey, there’s a window in the bathroom!” shot.
Before linner, an amuse bouch, a little tart with some blue cheese. Pretty tasty.
With the table set for dinner, champagne and a glass of water.
Here’s the whole setup. Interestingly, they seem to have the same brand of salad dressing that AC offers. Maybe AC is sharing, or maybe it was even broader Star Alliance bulk buy than the AC bulk buy I’d previously assumed.
However, I’d much rather use this simple balasmic and oil mix for bread. And the breadbasket is forthcoming.
A nice little smoked salmon dish for the appetizer.
It’s followed by some mushroom soup with truffle oil. Very good.
For the main, I have some fish — unfortunately I forget exact what time, but I seem to think it may have been halibut — accompanied by fried rice and asparagus. It’s a pretty good main, and I quite enjoy it.
About this time, my movie ends, so it’s on to the next thing — Burnt.
With a cheese course to accompany it. I do love the date and nut loaf that comes with this. Generally, a pretty good cheese plate.
Dessert is simple cake, light and sweet.
And, of course, a cup of coffee to round out the meal.
After the plates are clear, I request a glass of the ice wine Asiana offers in business class. I don’t mean to keep hitting on a note I hit in my previous flight report, but I really wish Air Canada would offer this in premium cabins on international flights. It’s so good, and so Canadian!
Bottles of water are distributed, and one last hot towel to round out dinner services before they put the lights down and bid us all nighty night.
I settle in to continue watching my movie in a reclined position, and am promptly off to sleep. I wonder how many movies I’ve slept through on planes at this point in my life?
I sleep very well, waking up only as yet another round of hot towels are being passed out.
At this point, I fast foward through Burnt to approximately the point where I fell asleep, just to see how it turns out.
At this point, we’re a couple of hours out of LAX, according to Airshow.
The lights come up, and breakfast service begins. I wasn’t terribly picky about this. The danish was okay and the yogurt was fine, but the fruit plate didn’t grab me too much.
The Western main course was an omelette with a tiny bit of “Canadian bacon” (actually ham, and some veggies. It was tasty enough, but I found the portion a little small for breakfast at the end of a fairly long flight.
Breakfast service wraps up with still another oshibori. They certainly aren’t skimping on these.
With my movie over, I search for something else to finish the trip, eventually selecting Maleficent, which I had not seen before. I don’t think I have enough time to finish it on this flight, though.
Soon enough, our descent begins into quite a lovely morning in Southern California, several hours before we actually left Seoul. It’s still weird being “behind the wing” and still being in business class.
Turning to get lined up.
On final approach.
And finally here.
It’s actually a short taxi, by LAX standards.
We end up parking next to our twin from down under, and this flight is over.
Even with just Business Class using the upper-deck doors, it takes a little while to get off the whalejet. But when we do, I’m quickly through the TBIT at LAX, even if I do have a little bit of a misunderstanding with the Global Entry machines. (Protip: Global Entry kiosks at Canadian airports will accept your Nexus card. Global Entry kiosks at American airports will not. Use your passport instead.)
With just carry-on luggage, I’m soon free, out this corridor and landside at LAX for the unfortunate and annoying experience of connecting to Air Canada at this airport.
Last time I did this, the A380 from Incheon was late getting into LA, and I ended up misconnecting. This time, I was in plenty of time, although a quick glance at Flightradar24 suggested that not everything was going to go exactly as planned this morning.
But that’s another story, for another flight report.
And that’s where we’ll pick the story up next time.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll catch you on the exciting(?) conclusion of this trip report in the near future.
Asiana Airlines Business Lounge
Seoul - ICN
Los Angeles - LAX
A fine Asiana flight on the A380. The seat is very good, particularly if you can get the window-side window (as opposed to the aisle-side window.)
Service was efficient and friendly, although it lacked any real outstanding memories.
Catering was neither good nor bad. If I were to do it again, I’d probably go with the Korean menu, which I seem to recall being more impressed with last time around.
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