The airline with the best average rating is Thai Airways with 8.1/10.
The average flight time is 5 hours and 36 minutes.More information
After my first experience of flying Business last November, I had got the taste for this whole Premium Cabin thing.
Strangely enough it was a chance comment from a friend that was the opening to the rabbit hole. He mentioned about how he was taking his dad from London to LAX in BA First using Avios.
Now honestly I'd never really had a clue about miles, points etc and how the whole thing worked. Boy did I ever waste a lot of years! I'd always wondered how so many people could afford to pay the insane prices airlines charged for F and J. Little did I realise that many of those people were there for pennies on the dollar.
After diving into the whole scene full blooded I'd unlocked the key to do this on a big scale. So less than a year after starting I was able to put together a trip around Asia all in Business.
The YYZ-ICN-BKK flights cost 75,000 Aeroplan miles. The TPE-YYZ flight also cost 75,000 Aeroplan miles and for reasons I'm not entirely sure I understand I wasn't able to make my multi-city itinerary accept my return flight KUL-TPE-YYZ so I had to book KUL-TPE as a separate leg. This was highly annoying however the blow was softened by a 30% transfer bonus on my SPG points, so that effectively made the flight free in the end.
I used 15,000 BA Avios for the BKK-SIN leg on Cathay which is a crazy good value.
However my terrible luck bit me again on this flight which frankly I booked because it was on the A350-900 and I was yet to fly on one and with the rave reviews it was getting was to be a highlight of the trip for me.
Of course about 2 months before we left ExpertFlyer delivered the brutal news that there had been an aircraft change to an A330-300.
I was gutted especially when I checked EF and found that of the 30 days in September the A330 was operating on only 2 of them. The day after I travelled it was an A350-1000 which would have been even better. I thought long and hard about changing plans to fly a day later but it was just too much hassle. While my wife is nice and understanding even she has limits on how much she will accommodate my avgeekness!
The rest of the flights were cash bookings.
The most expensive flights was the SIN-KUL return on SQ. I originally booked in Y as the cost difference between Y and J was too much. However not flying in J was eating away at me and I started to wonder about how often I would get the chance to fly SQ J again and I buckled and upgraded the flights. It was crazy for a 50 minute flight, but our travel decisions are not always made with the head are they?
It ended up about $775 return.
KLM was about $390 for SIN-DPS, Garuda was about $260, Malaysian CGK-KUL-BKI was $330 and BKI-KUL was $190
*All prices per person in CAD
I mentioned at the end of my last report our arrival into ICN was not the greatest.
The transfer area took forever to reach on foot and once we got there, were greeted by lengthy security queues. I ended up finding out that this was because the security agents were beyond pedantic, and the backup was because everybody had to end up taking something out of either their bags or their person to be x-rayed. In my case they didn't like the used tissue I had in my pants pocket and demanded it be put through the x-ray machine. Not quite sure what the x-ray would have shown of my tissue but there you go.
Given that everyone there was already inside the secure area it seemed like security theatre at its most absurd.
Of course this all took far too long but once we were through it was off to find the Asiana transit desk to get our gate information and lounge passes.
I've already described the chaotic scenes on the upper level of scores of people with massive bags of what looked like trash all over the place creating a scene reminiscent of seagulls on a landfill. It was quite shocking and a terrible look for a major airport.
We made our way to the Asiana Business lounge and were welcomed in.
Now by this point I was starting to feel quite ill. I had a horrible sinus headache and was feeling very run down, so I completely neglected to take any lounge shots. We found some free seats near some outlets so we could charge and I grabbed a can of coke.
The lounge itself was an incredibly average experience. I was somewhat surprised that this was the flagship J lounge at Asiana's biggest hub.
The lounge was crowded, finding seats was a challenge the whole time we were there. The food offerings looked nothing special and the whole space seemed quite small. One positive was there were lots of staff rapidly cleaning plates, glasses etc so the place was kept very tidy and clean.
We spent most of our time trying to keep awake and I popped some pills in an attempt to feel better.
We headed to the gate in plenty of time as the lounge was nothing special. All in all a disappointingly average product for a 5 Star airline at its main hub, fortunately the on-board experience was about to be much better.
Our flight originally had a 1930 departure time, however a few weeks before we travelled I got notification that the departure had been moved to 2030. This wasn't ideal as we were already on a long travel day and an extra hour was most unwelcome.
Gate 46 was where we would board from and at 1950 on the dot we were called to line up. After a few minutes delay boarding began with priority sequence well respected.
I wish I had got more shots but by this point I was heavily fatigued and not feeling great so my trip reporting plans somewhat went down the drain.
The jetbridge boarded directly to the upper deck and we made our way over to the far side of the aircraft down to the back of the J Class cabin. I was a bit miffed because I had selected our seats at the front of the cabin on the window side only to one day just happen to be checking and see that while my wife was unchanged I had been moved across the cabin to a middle seat.
By this point the only window seats that were left were at the back. I hate it when airlines just bump people from reserved seats, so annoying and they never tell you.
Our aircraft was HL7635 and I took up my seat in 23K.
The Business cabin has the common 1-2-1 configuration with staggered forward facing seats.
I found the seat to be comfortable and the footwell was reasonably spacious, although by this point I might well have been able to sleep anywhere. There was a decent sized touch screen monitor in front and off to the side the table folded down from the back of the seat in front.
There wasn't a huge amount of storage on the seat itself however being A380 upper deck there were the wonderful side storage bins that you could put virtually anything in
At my seat was a pillow and blanket and a pair of slippers. As this was a short 5 hour flight no amenity kit.
We were warmly greeted by friendly and smiling crew and handed menu's and given some information about the flight.
Shortly after the crew came around to take meal orders and offer a pre departure beverage.
It was at this point that the captain advised us that we wouldn't be moving for at least 30 minutes due to airspace congestion.
The cabin crew though were incredibly helpful and I found their service all flight to be well intentioned and friendly. There was a very slight language barrier and I suspect anything beyond the basics would need some explaining but overall the crew spoke good English, certainly far better than my Korean and overall left the flight with a very positive impression of Asiana's crew and service.
Finally at 2110 some 40 minutes late we pushed back. Fortunately the taxi to 33L was quick and we were on our way.
The nose gear camera on the A380 providing some great views.
To me its still always a joy to fly on the A380. I find it quiet and comfortable and just a very pleasant overall experience, and of course there is still something magical about taking to the skies in such a huge aircraft.
Again please forgive me for taking menu photos in portrait mode. I'll have to add them individually rather than in a gallery.
If anyone is still on dial up please forgive me!
Plenty of choice
I was somewhat apprehensive of what dinner would be like given that our flight was during the time that Asiana was having a total meltdown at Seoul with its catering, having changed suppliers and then finding out that the supplier couldn't even come close to meeting the demand. There were lots of reports of truly dreadful catering ex-ICN even in First from many people.
Fortunately this was unfounded as I was served a perfectly fine tenderloin steak
Everything was served in one go on a single tray, but given the departure time and the fact that I wanted to sleep more than anything I was perfectly content with this.
The crew also came around with drinks and I had a glass of champagne to start followed by the New Zealand Sauvignon with dinner.
I had actually dozed off after take off and woke just as meals were being served.
Once the dinner things were cleared away I set the IFE to the moving map and left it there. I wasn't interested in watching any movies, all I wanted at this point was to close my eyes.
What was interesting about this flight and I'm not sure if this is company policy or not but the seatbelt sign stayed on the entire time.
Literally from the moment we boarded until the moment we parked at the gate.
The flight wasn't even remotely bumpy however so I don't know if the crew just forgot but absolutely evverybody just completely disregarded it from crew to passengers. People got up, moved around, went to the lavatories as if the sign didn't exist.
It was very strange and kind of made a mockery of the seatbelt sign. Had we actually hit any real turbulence then it could have been interesting.
After a toilet visit it was time to recline my seat and get some much needed rest.
The seat was very easy to configure and I was able to stretch out in comfort. With my pillow and blanket keeping me cosy I fell asleep in seconds and I woke on descent into Bangkok after grabbing close to 4 hours of desperately needed sleep!
Landing was a little on the rough side, but that always seems to be the case with the A380.
On our taxi in all the windows steamed up a sign of the humidity we were about to encounter.
Once at our gate there was a bit of a wait while all the jetbridges were set up and then we were able to disembark from the upper deck and bid farewell to the lovely crew.
It was now 0045 on Sept 8th and we started travelling at 1345 on the 6th, so we were keen to get to our hotel ASAP.
Unfortunately it ended up taking a while. Bangkok airport it absolutely huge and as always seems to be my luck we were at a gate about 3 miles from the exit. After walking for what seemed like most of my adult life we made it to what appeared to be the Fast Track Immigration.
It was not and we were in the wrong place and eventually we found our way to where we needed to be. I didn't feel the fast track was particularly well signed and we were sort of wondering aimlessly for a while.
Once there though we were processed quickly and found our bags waiting on the belt.
From there it was off to the exit and find the shuttle for the wonderfully named "Grand Inn Come" hotel.
I knew this hotel was a bit rough around the edges, but it was cheap, it was right by the airport and more importantly it had runway view rooms which meant that next morning I could get a half day spotting in before we headed to our hotel in Bangkok itself.
Now this is a room with a view!
And so ended the longest travel day of my life.
24 hours earlier we had started our day in Toronto and now we were in Bangkok. It was 2am and it must have been at least 29C outside. It was baking hot and humid. We were tired and just fell into bed, I think I may have been asleep before my head hit the pillow but I was so happy to be back in Asia, my favourite part of the World.
Its difficult for me to give a fair assessment of Asiana given how tired we were and how ill I was feeling.
I found the lounge to be a massive disappointment given this was their hub and their lounge here should be their flagship product. It wasn't terrible but it was incredibly average and more akin to something you would expect at an out station.
The A380 Business Smartium cabin was perfectly fine and the staggered forward facing seats were fine as well. Infact fine kind of sums everything up, the food was fine, the service was fine and so were the crew - They were very service oriented as you find with most Asian airlines.
I would certainly consider Asiana again, while nothing stood out as being World leading nothing was so poor I would cross them off my fly in future list.
All in all I guess it was.............fine :)