Hello, Flight-Report community. First of all, I would like to apologise for my delay for posting this review of my return flight from Seoul to Hong Kong on Air Seoul back in 2018, as I had planned to write it after my review on the outbound flight. But I had an extremely busy 2018 due to the workload from university and also house renovation. Again, please kindly give any constructive comments and suggestions below so that I can improve my writing in the future :)
Introduction: So after staying 4 days in Seoul with my family back in January 2018, it was time to catch our return flight back to Hong Kong on Air Seoul flight RS531. Since this flight was taken more than a year ago (again sorry for the delay), things have changed. First, their destination has grown from 16 to 19, added cities are Fukuoka, Sapporo and Okinawa. So Air Seoul still continues to focus Japan as its primarily market. Second, the flight number on this route has also been changed from RS531/532 to RS501/502. Third, their fleet has grown from six to seven. Apart from HL7212, the rest of the fleets are transferred from Air Seoul's parent company Asiana Airlines (OZ), which has a 100% stake in Air Seoul. The new plane (HL7789, with 171 seats) also allow Air Seoul to introduce Premium Zone, which I will explain further.
As I have covered most of the aspects and informations of Air Seoul on my outbound flight from Hong Kong to Seoul, this review on the return flight will mainly focus on some new service updates that I have noticed after my flight in 2018, and the pre-ordered meals.
Flight Purchasing and Seat Selection: 1. Air Seoul has three kinds of class fare: Discounted, Promotion and Regular. The difference is that Promotion and Regular fares include one piece of 15kg checked baggage and Discounted fare does not.
2. Also, passengers can purchase pre-paid seats while booking or after their booking . Since Air Seoul has introduced Premium Zone on some of its A321 after I have taken my flight, passengers now can purchase pre-paid seats according to different routes and seat categories.
3. Premium Zone is basically the same business class seat that you could find on some Asiana's A321, which consists of a total of twelve seats, spread across three rows in a 2-2 configuration. And Mint Zone consists of the front three rows of the economy cabin and emergency exit seats.
Check-in and Boarding: 4. As we were a bit late in arriving Incheon Airport due to traffic jam, I was not able to take many pictures during check-in and boarding, but I remembered that the queue at the custom was very long and we had to wait for nearly 30-45 minutes to get to air-side.
5. This is the boarding pass for my flight RS531, which is quite colourful in my opinion and is dominated by Air Seoul's brand colour.
6. To my surprise, the aircraft that operated RS531 is the same one that I was on for my outbound flight RS532 four days ago: HL7212. It is the newest aircraft among the seven A321s which Air Seoul operate (delivered on 18/12/2017). Below picture was taken at HKG.
Flight Information: Date: 6/1/2018 Flight: Air Seoul RS531 Route: ICN - HKG Aircraft Type: A321-231(WL) Aircraft Reg: HL7212 (Y 220), delivered on 18/12/2017 Seat: 31F Scheduled Time of Departure: 20:10 Actual Time of Departure: 20:11 Scheduled Time of Arrival: 23:00 Actual Time of Arrival: 23:24 Passenger load: 80-90%
Aircraft and Cabin: 7. Steeping into the cabin that I was on 4 days ago. The cabin still looked very neat, polished and modern. The use of colouring in the cabin follows the three brand colours that Air Seoul adopted: grey, white and particularly mint green (Air Seoul called the colour as Air Seoul MINT).
8. This was the view from my seat 31F. As the above seat map shows, HL7212 is installed with a tighter configuration that has 220 seats compared to 195/171 seats on the other six planes. So there is also less space between each rows (29-30" vs 32") on this aircraft. The width of each seat is 18'' across all the fleet. There was only a tray table and a seat pocket at the back of the seat, without any PTV or power outlets which the other planes in Air Seoul fleet had. The seat pocket was moved upward to slightly improve the tight legroom. But still, 29-30'' could be tight for taller person.
9. Even the flight was nearly 80-90% full, the door was close on time. The captain made his welcome abroad announcement and anticipated some light turbulence mid-flight. At 20:33 we were cleared for takeoff.
Meal: 10. Air Seoul also offered two types of meal/drink selection. One was to buy them from the inflight menu 'Cafe Mint'. Below is the menu of the snacks and drinks.
11. The second type of section was to pre-order meals before the flight. It could be purchased after booking up to 48 hours prior to the date of departure. Below is the menu of the pre-paid meals. We had purchased the Bibimbap and Bulgogi for KRW15,000 each, and these two meals would be our dinner on this evening flight.
12. This was the Bibimbap (Korean mixed rice with meat and assorted vegetables). The meal was served with meats and assorted vegetables in a proper bowl (not plastic!), rice, gochujang (chili pepper paste), some kimchi and pineapple.
13. This was the Bibimbap after stirring the meat, vegetables, rice and chilli pepper paste together. And I have to say this is one of the best economy meal I have had for a while. It was very yummy and most of all the portion was generous.
14. I forgot to take a picture of the Bulgogi (barbecued beef), but it was also quite delicious and well-seasoned. We also ordered a can of soda for KRW3,000 during the flight.
Cabin Crew and Service: 15. The service started 20 minutes after take off when the seat belt sign was switched off. The flow of service started from giving out water and orange juice to passengers. Afterwards, they distributed meals to passengers that have pre-ordered before flight. To my surprise, quite a lot of people also pre-ordered meals (which is a bit usual on a LCC flight). The crew also took order from passengers that would purchase snacks and drinks during the flight. However, we encountered some light to to moderate turbulence mid-flight so the service was suspended for several times during the 40 minutes of turbulence. But all the crew had handled the situation professionally and had kept the disruption to minimal. They were also friendly and attentive.
16. After returning Hong Kong, I also bought a Phoenix 1:400 model of an Air Seoul A321. Here is the photo of the little bird along with the Air Seoul branded blanket cushion that I bought as a souvenir on the flight.
17. Our flight landed at Hong Kong International Airport at 23:24, about 25 minutes behind schedule as we were put into a holding pattern due to traffic. The plane was parked at a standard gate.
Seoul - ICN
Hong Kong - HKG
To conclude, my second flight on Air Seoul was also very enjoyable and delightful. The aircraft was new and clean, and the crews were very polite and attentive, and had delivered the service in a very professional manner even though the service had to be suspended several times due to moderate turbulence. But the meal was definitely the climax of the flight. Both the Bibimbap and Bulgogi were flavourful and tasty. I do recommend trying out the pre-ordered meals if you have a chance on flying Air Seoul. However, be aware of which aircraft operated the flight, as the seating layout and equipment vary across Air Seoul's fleet.
All in all, I will not hesitate to recommend flying Air Seoul if you are looking for flying in and out of Seoul (especially between Seoul and Japan) that come with low fares, friendly service and great food. I hope everyone enjoy reading this flight report. As mentioned I had a very 2018, so I have to catch up with reviewing the flights that I have taken in 2018, including 1. Garuda Indonesia GA857/856: Hong Kong <--> Denpasar, Bali (May 2018) 2. Swiss LX139 & LX724: Hong Kong to Zurich, and Zurich to Amsterdam (June 2018) 3. Lufthansa LH199 & LH796: Berlin to Frankfurt and Frankfurt to Hong Kong (June 2018)
Also I will be travelling to the Netherland (again haha), Morocco, Lisbon and Barcelona in 2019. I have booked Cathay Pacific and am taking their latest flagship aircraft, the A350-1000. I am also probably going to fly on Royal Air Maroc, Tap Portugal and Vueling. Hope I can finish writing all these reviews in a short time. Please stay tuned, cheers!
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