Hello everyone. After a wonderful time in the Philippines, it is time to return to L.A. I'm always sad when I leave Asia and head back to the States. I loved my short trip to Taiwan and the Philippines and can't wait to go back. This afternoon I will fly on Asiana 702, a 747-400, up to Seoul. If you want to watch the video, you can watch the YouTube video below. Enjoy!
I had a driver pick me up from my accommodation. Even though the flight was not until 12:15, he got me at 8 am. There was not a lot of traffic heading to NAIA.
Unfortunately, that's where the good ends as I had to fly out of Terminal One. Though I've heard it is improved, it still lacks significantly compared to airports like SIN, ICN, HKG, BKK, KUL and others in the region.
First, you had a security check to get in the building. It was hard to say where the line began. Some people may have "cut?" in front of me. The line somehow divided into two towards the front. Make sure you have your itinerary with you, paper or mobile. Go through a metal detector and you're in.
Once inside, the check in, there are some chairs in the middle. With so many people inside, you may struggle to find your airline check in. You may also notice lines that snake around and go well past the roped off lines. And it is warm inside too. See why you arrive so early?
Even with Priority Boarding, it still took a bit longer than normal to get checked in. It's times like this I'm glad I have priority boarding as it looked like all the economy class passengers were already in line, with luggage and balikbayan boxes. Remember, this is 4 hours BEFORE departure.
The immigration lines are a bit more organized, but not enough stations with the amount of people going through this morning. The Foreign Passport line looked a little quicker than the Filipino Passport line. Then another security check and metal detector to go through.
Asiana and several airlines use a contract lounge, PAGSS. The lounges are all next to each other on the fourth floor. Just look for the sign.
The lounge is very basic and small. It was not busy when I came in, but about an hour later, it started to fill up. The food is nothing special, but since I woke up late and didn't get a chance to eat breakfast, this was sufficient.
At least I had a pretty good view of the planes parked at the gate. Here is a PAL A350!
As it got busy in the lounge, I headed to the gate. There is a guard asking to see your boarding pass to see you are entering the right area of the terminal where your gate is located. I arrived at the gate, which is more like a pen. The gate area is roped off. You get checked in by gate agents and are given the small portion of your boarding pass. Also, you're stuck there. You can leave, but you must give up your boarding pass and get a number. Once you return, you give the number back and you get your boarding pass back.
Here is a decent view of the 747-400 I will fly today. It is a 21 year old Queen of the Skies registered HL7428.
Asiana's boarding process seems so disorganized if you are not in Business Class, Asiana Club Diamond and above or elite. The process is Manila is even more hectic. Every flight I take to and from the Philippines seems to have a high number of passengers needing special assistance, wheelchairs. They get to board first along with what seems like the entire family who is travelling with them. Then it seems like everyone just starts boarding. Oh well.
The second picture is the priority boarding line.
Finally stepping inside, I am greeted by two warm Asiana flight attendants. I turn left and there is my row. The seat is old, but quite comfortable. The cabin lighting is your old school 1990's style yellow light. It will be a full flight.
There is power, the plugs are in the awkward position between seats.
By the way, the section I sat in used to be a business class section. They had converted our section to economy. Despite that, it was nice to sit towards the front and get the views I received.
IFE screen is pretty big, however the entertainment is old. And like the A330's, it is not on demand, but rather plays in a loop. There is also a simple 90's style map which you can see in the picture below.
The IFE screen takes you back to the 90's or early 2000's. There is a remote as well to control the IFE.
My view for the next 3.5 hours.
Unfortunately it was a full flight and both the middle and aisle seats were taken. The gentleman in the middle seat slept through most of the flight.
Perhaps you remember Xiamen Air MF 8667 which crashed as it landed in Manila in August 2018. For whatever reason, the wreckage is still there. And they didn't even try to hide it in a hanger or out of the way place. Rather, they placed it next to the taxiway and is quite obvious as you come into land or as you take off.
This is really comforting to see. Why this wreckage is still there and who decided to leave it there in the open like that?
Though the engines are huge and powerful, the plane takes off so smoothly and gracefully. Until next time Philippines. Hopefully not at that terrible airport.
Bye Bye Philippines. Here is the Northernmost part of Luzon, Ilocos Norte.
About half an hour or so, meal and beverage service started. Unlike my previous flights, I chose not to order a special meal for this flight.
For whatever reason, I decided to go with the fish option. The Korean option was bibimbap.
The salad was a cabbage and bell pepper salad with some kind of dressing, oil and vinegar. The vegetables were not wilted, but lacked any kind of flavor. The fruit was pretty good. Not too sweet and perfectly ripe. The bread was neither hot or cold.
I think I went with the fish option for the simple fact I didn't know if we would have bibimbap on the L.A. flight. The vegetables were cooked well. The fish was not dry. The sauce was bland, more like a mix between a white gravy and alfredo sauce. The rice was cooked well, but lacked flavor. The meal was a bit bland for my taste. I wish Asiana would offer salt and pepper packets as that would help a meal like this out a lot. I suppose I could've asked for the gochujang, red pepper paste if I wanted.
After meal service, shades were down and most passengers slept. No water or drinks were offered during the flight. I occasionally snuck some pictures of the scene.
Here we are over Jeju Island. I wish I was just going to Korea and not to L.A.
It was an uneventful landing into Seoul.
Here is a Korean air 747 hanging out at Terminal 2.
I would be in transit again. I would have about three hours before my flight to LAX. Asiana's connections from Asia to the U.S. are pretty good. You leave in the early afternoon and arrive in Seoul about 2-4 hours before the flights to the U.S.
I was not the only transit passenger as there were many catching flights to the U.S. Some would be flying Delta and had to transfer to Terminal 2.
I would spend it in the Asiana Business Lounge. I have access to being an Asiana Diamond, Star Alliance Gold. That really helped me calm down and relax as the lounge was not busy that night.
It was a strange experience for me seeing what I saw and witnessing what I experienced at NAIA. This was probably the most stressed flying into or out of Manila. The whole situation there is a mess. Seeing the airplane wreckage was like my lasting impression of MNL.
In spite of all that, it was exciting flying on a 747 and a treat to fly in the front, even though it was just in economy. You can expect a pretty consistent, good, service on Asiana. Just add those salt and pepper packets and the meals will be good to go. Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed.