The airline with the best average rating is Asiana Airlines with 7.9/10.
The average flight time is 11 hours and 9 minutes.More information
Welcome back to my journey on Asiana Airlines. This is the second and last trip report of this "series". Today I'm taking you on Asiana Airlines flight 541 from Seoul-Incheon to Frankfurt. This flight is part of a trip to Japan and Korea; however, I accidentally formatted my SD card upon arriving in Tokyo, which means that this will be the first report instead. The complete itinerary was as follows:
September 5, 2019: OZ542 A380-800 FRA-ICN
September 6, 2019: OZ106 B777-200ER ICN-NRT
Transfer between Tokyo and Fukuoka by Shinkansen
September 17, 2019: OZ131 A330-300 FUK-ICN
September 21, 2019: OZ541 A380-800 ICN-FRA [THIS FLIGHT REPORT]
This trip was a mixture between vacation and family/friends visit, together with my parents. I'd flown on Asiana before, and had the impression that they don't really deserve their 5-star rating. Still I found them to be a perfectly adequate way of travelling in Y; thus, when I saw the airline's offer at a very cheap price point, we couldn't say no. A major plus point was that we were able to add a stopover in Seoul for a low extra price. So it was decided to take OZ.
Airbus A380-841, HL7641, built date: Aug/2016.
We arrived at the airport with about 2,5 hours to the flight by airport limousine. Our driver dropped us off directly at the right place, so we could just walk into the building and were at the Asiana check-in area. Check-in (for those who hadn't already done it) is separated into multiple sections, like Business Class, flights into the US, Asiana status guests, families with little children etc. For "regular" Economy folks it's completely automated. However, if you have baggage to drop, you'll still need to do that at a manned counter; this was labelled as "Mobile/PC", but it was still the regular Economy bag-drop counter.
Other than that, everything went smooth and quick at the airport. There even was electronic immigration for holders of foreign passports, which I hadn't seen before. There was sufficient waiting room, an acceptable selection of shops, restaurants and cafés, as well as an adequate amount of (clean) restrooms.
Some shots of the terminal building and one of today's aircraft. The A321 was going to Da Nang (Vietnam) that day, the Triple-Seven to Barcelona. Note the stopping marks on the tarmac: I can't really imagine DC10s or 747SPs to be a common sight at ICN. I can also remember seeing a Il-62 mark on ICN's tarmac on the inbound flight.
Boarding for our 12:00 departure starset at 11:20, and despite the usual subjects running to the boarding desk before called, everything went nice and orderly. The flight seemed to be very full, and at least on the upper deck Eco section there were no free seats, in sharp contrast to our earlier FRA-ICN flight; this one was full of Korean tour group tourists.
Oh, and it's also nice (and funny to me as a German) that the German version of the display at the gate said "Frankfurt am Main". I was very relieved to know that this A380 wasn't going to Frankfurt Oder or even to Frankfort, Kentucky.
Inside the aircraft, we were greeted by smiley and courteous Asiana cabin crew.
The upper deck Eco section of OZ's A380 is laid out in a 2-4-2 style, with more than decent seat and aisle widths. Even though 117 people fit in this cabin section, it feels somewhat private even with a 100% load factor. Waiting at each seat were a pillow and a blanket, both regular quality I would say. Legroom was great - as typical for Asiana (however note that I have very short legs). Recline was reasonable for Y, and there was a legrest. The headrest could be folded out, which is an absolutely necessary feature for me on long-haul flights. The side stowage bins definitely are a great feature on the A380's upper deck, as they provide a good space to store blankets, pillows, hats, watches etc. during the flight. Row 75 even has two of these.
Seat pocket contents were nothing special. Besides an air sickness bag and a safety card, there were some duty free leaflets/catalogues and some headphones which I didn't try.
During taxiing, the typical Asiana old-school safety video was played; after some ads were played, access to the IFE was available.
Announcements were made only in Korean and English (which at some points wasn't easy to understand, albeit being better than what I already experienced on Japanese carriers). German announcements would have been a nice addition, in fact none of the crew members seemed to be able to speak German. But well, you can't have everything.
Load factor: 100% in Upper Deck Y. No idea about C and F/Business suites.
(I could have asked but well…)
After pushing back around 11:45, we taxied across ICN airport, encountering some typical East Asian colleagues, like ICN-based Easter Jet, Jeju Air and KAL (Pepsi Air), but also China Eastern and 4 (!) China Southern planes docked at the terminal. Other "catches" include a Vietjet Air A321, Delta A350-900, Lufthansa 747-400, and an Air Asia X A330-300. From the upper deck window seat 76K you have a great view of what's going on, with just the right amount of wing to look at. As an additional bonus, OZ's A380s are equipped with a front-facing camera, which made following the take-off process even easier.
Slowly but surely, ICN airport disappeared below us. Taking off towards the North, we turned West and climbed doing a full-circle turn, clearly to avoid the Northern neighbor. As a typhoon was said to be arriving the next day, the take-off was somewhat bumby and we enjoyed some light turbulence.
(By the way, if anyone knows how to put the images in a gallery in a sensible order, I would be happy to know.)
The inflight service commenced shortly after take-off, when a small amenity kit of slippers and dental set were handed out. Though the whole package felt quite cheap, I like it a lot that they were giving out anemity kits in Y with useful contents. It would have been ideal if the set also contained a sleeping mask and ear plugs, but I for my part didn't need either on this flight.
Meal service began with a drink; the choices available were orange juice and water. There were two options for the meal: Western-style chicken with potatoes or Korean-style beef barbecue (Bulgogi). I chose the latter one and was very satisfied - truly a winner considering this is an Economy inflight meal. I especially appreciated that there was a little piece of paper telling you how to eat this dish (making little wraps with the leafs, inserting rice, beef and sauce) with additional information about food allergens. The meal also came with kimchi, a "soy bean soup", a small piece of egg roll, a pre-packaged refreshment towel, paper napkin and metal cutlery. The Western-style choice seemed to be good as well.
I went with pineapple juice to go with this. Alcoholic drinks (beer, wine) were also available. To finish it off, there was a tea/coffee service; you could have your tea with a slice of lemon, which I made use of.
Some general notes: There was no printed menu of any kind, which I would expect from a 5* carrier. As the FAs tend to speak not very loud, it can be hard to correctly understand them.
Working the upper deck section on this flight were three female flight attendants who were in my book doing an otherwise great job - always friendly, patient and happy to help.
The inflight entertainment system was a mixed bag for me. On the plus side, it's easy to use, and the screen is reasonably big, bright and responsive. There is a flight map on this IFE, in which you can choose between various modes. However, I find it slightly too sluggish to call fully interactive; there are interactive features, but the system seems too slow to make fully use of that. I also liked that they always had ten or so episodes of the TV shows they have.
The negative side where the film selections. I've heard that Asiana tends to have limited amounts of films, shows and music, and I could cope with that if I can find some interesting stuff to watch out of that small selection. But the selection itself didn't really work for me - there was nothing that really caught my interest.
The system also featured a cable remote control, but I didn't use it except for the reading light. (The attendant call botton is also on there.)
I didn't use the wifi. I don't even know if there is one, so I can't tell you anything about that.
On a side note: Asiana's IFE is obviously running on Android. Swiping upwards from the bottom of the screen, the typical UI toggles, and you can even use those bottons like on your phone/tablet PC.
There are three lavatories in the Upper deck Y section of OZ's A380. They were the usual A380 lavatories, with one of the rear lavatories being bigger than the other two. In addition to soap and paper towels there was a hand and facial cream next to the sink as well as some combs. One thing I found peculiar was the paper cup of ground coffee to combat bad odors. I wonder how often people manage to spill the coffee powder.
I can remember OZ lavatories being stocked with dental kits. However, I like the current solution (little amenity kits) better, as you don't feel as if you're participating in a race for the last toothbrushes.
One thing I didn't quite like was the fact that even in a darkened cabin all screens would turn on if an announcement is made. There were not many accouncements; only a few times when there were turbulences. That however didn't keep the cabin crew from doing occasional drink rounds during the "night".
After sleeping against my biological clock (or at least trying to for 1-2 hours), I woke up and got my mother and me some drinks in the galley. It's funny that you can get ice cubes with your drinks, but only if you ask for them. What's the point of making ice cubes if you only give them out on demand? Another thing I've noticed was that if you order soft drinks during meal services, you only get a cup, while you get the full can if you order a drink at any other point. A cost-cutting measure?
Well, visiting the galley I already saw the mid-flight snack being prepared, some chicken burritos served in a dark cabin. As there was no kind of announcement, they came as a surprise to most passengers. The burrito was quite tasty; it had a nice tangy spice to it. Even though it was quite small, it was adequately sized. On the package, it said "Truly Healthy Food", which I somehow can't believe.
Then, crusing over the Baltic states, it was time for yet another meal service. This time, the choices were between "Fish and rice" and "kimchi rice". The first option turned out to be "Deep-fried fish and Steamed Rice" according to the package. It came together with a pasta salad (very good), a piece of fruit cake with some vanilla mousse on top (also very good), a bun with butter (nothing spectacular but solid for Eco), and the usual package of refreshment towel, paper napkin and metal cutlery.
The meal itself was quite tasty, though fried foods tend to be difficult in the air; this was no exception, as the fish was somewhat soggy. The red sauce on the fish was some kind of Korean sauce, which I didn't like. Moreover, I highly suspect it to be the culprit of me feeling rather unwell for the rest of the flight. It certainly didn't help that the food quantity was a bit too much for my liking. The other meal wouldn't have been better, as it was quite heavy with its cheese and eggs topping.
There also was a drink round; I chose Chilsung Cider, which is like Sprite, only sweeter (also comparable to Matsuya Cider or Uludag - I often call drinks like this "candy water"). After that, there was another tea/coffee service.
Shortly after, it was already time for the obligatory Asiana UNICEF video and the stretching part, which couldn't be skipped. Very soon, we were in German airspace. Instead of approaching Frankfurt airport from the East we flew past Frankfurt in the South, which meant that people sitting on the right side could catch some great views. In the gallery, you can find some shots of Hesse, downtown Frankfurt, the airport and a rural Rhineland-Palatinate. I already thought we were going to land in "Frankfurt"-Hahn today, but we finally turned back towards FRA at an altitude of roughly 1000m.
Approaching FRA airport on runway 07R, we touched down around 16:00/4pm, half an hour before the scheduled arrival time. The landing was smooth; as expected, nobody applauded.
In the gallery below, you can see parked planes from Lufthansa (A330-300 and A340-300) and Ethiopian (A350), as well as DHL and Kalitta Air cargo planes. I could also get a nice view of the Terminal 3 construction site, even though there is not much to see there at the moment. Also there are two photos of planes parket in front of/at Terminal 2, including an Etihad 787-9 and a few Ryanair planes - I'm still not quite used to seeing them in FRA.
Finally, around 16:10, we arrived at our arrival gate at Terminal 1. We were parked next to Asiana's Star Alliance colleague ANA; their 777-300ER JA785A was getting ready for the evening flight NH224, which (somewhat ironically) went to Tokyo.
A few "parting shots" of HL7641 and some random photos of Lufty planes parked at their accordingly-branded gates (those reflections, though…) - yep, that's definitely Frankfurt.
Thanks a lot for reading, especially if you've made it till the very end! I hope you enjoyed reading it and have got a good impression of this flight. If you have feedback, questions, criticism or suggestions, please let me know in the comment section. Peace out.
OZ: a 5* carrier? Well, I know what many people out there think about Skytrax. I'd say Asiana is a solid 4*, the reason for this being that some small things are missing for me that make a carrier really outstanding. Asiana has a lot of this, like spacious cabins, good amenities, great food (mostly) and nice crews; I also liked the whole hassle-free and easy-going experience with them, for really attractive prices. Still, things that would make Asiana a 5* carrier, for me, would include:
printed menus, or at least a page in the IFE showing the menu; a larger and more current film selection; more drink rounds (this was actually ok on this flight, but not on OZ542); a proper "cocktail" service with nibbles and a wider drinks selection; a more colorful interior; better English skills; and, important to me, "sub-seat pockets" like on CX or SQ to store stuff better, even though this isn't much of a problem on upper deck window seats. I wouldn't say that I *need* this all, still it would improve the experience by a lot. I might miss something, but these are my suggestions for now.
In general, it's always nice to board the upper deck on an A380, particularly considering how spacious and quiet this plane feels even in Y. I hope that this type of plane will stick around a bit longer than it currently seems...
On another note, I realized that they are now charging 25€ for upper deck Eco seats A, B, J and K. That's a pity, as I always liked that practically every seat on OZ flights could be reserved for free well before the flight date. However, I also see that they are in some economic trouble, and understand that they need to explore new revenue sources. I just hope that the general experience won't suffer too much in the future...
ICN: The lines at check-in/baggage-drop were of an acceptable length; staff were friendly and helpful. Security and immigration was fast and efficient - I even felt guilty holding up the line because of the absurd amount of tech articles I'm carrying with me. Access to the airport is great considering it's so far from the city. The selection of shops could be improved though (mostly high-price generic stuff like watches, liquor, tobacco and accessories). Planespotting works fine as well, as there are plenty of big windows.
FRA: A step down from Japanese/Korean airports when it comes to cleanliness and efficiency. Baggage claim took very long and was quite chaotic (two belts were used and until some point of time how the baggage was split between them). Immmigration for non-EU-passport holders took ages, as everyone seemed to be inspected very thoroughly - I mean, come on: it's not as if East Asian tourists are kind of a high-risk group in Europe. Getting to Frankfurt city, Wiesbaden or Mainz is quite easy; this, however, doesn't hold true for all other places.
Plus, FRA is not a very nice or beautiful airport to spend time in.