It has been a while since I have written new FRs, and now I have come back with a world premier exclusive to FR.com which would cover Asiana Airlines' inaugural A380 service to my homeport Hong Kong. Before going into details, I really would like to thank the Asiana crew onboard 13 June's OZ745 for making this report possible. They have indeed gone out of their way in assisting my photo taking, and shared their joy for their new gem with me.
Since flying the A380 for the first time in 2009, I have long admired this technological marvel and became a big fan of it. It falls just short of the B777-300ER as my favourite aircraft and I have since done numerous sectors with Singapore Airlines and Korean Air to and from HK. Asiana Airlines never really had a place on my to-fly-list – It probably was not as high profile and acclaimed as CX & SQ, but this changed in March 2014 when they announced that Hong Kong would be one of the launch destinations alongside Tokyo/Narita for their new A380s. After some quick research, I found that they actually offer quite competitive fares in the HKG-ICN route, with Business Class fares at around $7500 RT. Having matched my schedule, I very quickly rang my agent up to be on the inaugural service from Seoul to HK. This meant that I would be able to fly both the B747 and the A380 together under one itinerary, being booked onto the 9 June red eye OZ746 flight to Seoul (which will be covered in a seperate report), and returning on the inaugural A380 flight.
Pre-flight and Check In
Having spent a good few days in Seoul with my parents, we headed to Incheon Airport at about 4:45pm from the Park Hyatt Hotel on the 13th. Traffic was pretty bad in the Gangnan area and the drive took almost 1.5 hrs.
Upon arrival to the Asiana check in area, which is at the far end of the terminal, we quickly felt the excitement all round us. The monitors above the check-in counter were all showing pictures of the airline's new flagship.
Asiana has a dedicated check in area for their premium customers, and the queue that day was surprisingly long even with all counters open. However the wait did not take too long and within 5 minutes it was already our turn.
I have pre-booked seat 10K earlier on, which is in the mini cabin at the front of the upper deck. I understood that First Class was not offered in this short hop, so I asked the check in agent of the possibility of upgrading us. Unfortunately the whole section was blocked by the airline for some reason and she politely told us that we were to remain in row 10.
After check-in we went through Customs and Immigration in no time, only to find ourselves almost opposite our gate.
And a few paces up the window I see my ride of the day:
Ship HL7625 was only delivered about 3 weeks prior and this flight would only be its 3rd revenue flight after the OZ101/102 run to Tokyo earlier that morning.
With less than one hour left before boarding, we headed to the Asiana Business Class lounge, located coviniently near gate 28.
We were welcomed by a few smiling attendents at the reception, and notifying us that the boarding time would be pushed foward 10 mins to ensure an on time departure. As I really wanted some clean cabin shots of the new jet, I grabbed some quick snacks before dashing back to the gate.
At gate 43, a sizable crowd was already gathering in the economy line, while staff were busying preparing the first flight gifts. At 7:15pm, an announcement came to invite JCL passengers to first board the aircraft. I was amongst the first to enter the gate.
There were many passengers stopping by the huge glass windows to catch a glimpse of the beautiful whale, whilst the Asiana staff were guiding pax to their respective boarding bridges.
One thing I like about the boarding gates at ICN is that they are more like giant glass houses that offer special angles to the aircraft.
I walked down the bridge for the upper deck, greeted by a few upbeat crew at the door.
There was no doubt a strong new plane smell, and I grabbed the opportunity to give myself some cabin shots before the others begin to flood in.
A crew member quickly came up to me and introduced herself as Miss Park. She saw me clicking away at the seats and offered a visit down to First Class downstairs on the Main Deck.
Asiana does offer a far better FCL product than her bitter rival Korean Air. As it was nearing the departure time, Miss Park escorted me back up and promised a tour later in flight.
My seat 10K:
The flight pushed back 2 mins before its scheduled departure time and was airborne from rwy 34 within minutes.
After takeoff, I had more time to investigate into the Smartium seats:
and the enormous toilet…
The atmosphere onboard was truly amazing, with almost everyone in JCL trying to get a picture/selfie of themselves on the A380.
The flight attendents soon came around with the menus, which offered a Western and Korean choice
I went for the Korean choice, which looked like this:
The Bulgogi stewed beef with leafy greens and steam rice was very decent though I've seen it come up on many other OZ flights I won't mind a second serving though.
After dinner, a crew member came over the PA, once again thanking us for flying the first flight, and announcing that they would be giving out special Columbian coffee across the whole plane. That again was a very good gesture.
With the coffee I wanted a nice cup of ice cream, which she promptly did with a big smile
With eating complete, Miss Park gave me the tour around FCL that I was promised, only to bump into mates and fellow fanatics Michael and Tilo
The crew themselves were very excited about the cabin as well, eager to show off their state of the art features
Cabin lighting control panal
The FCL seats in lie flat position
The partition up
As the flight was approaching HK, the FAs told me that the captains would be willing to see me after landing. Perfect!
Touch down was just like any A380 landings I've experienced: smooth and quiet. We taxied into gate S23 with 15 mins ahead of schedule. The captains soon came out after the pax have disembarked, and I was then told that they were Asiana and Airbus training pilots. So honoured to be flown by such a heavy crew! Capt Jo then gave me a quick walk around of the brand new cockpit
I parted the friendly crew therafter.
And of course the 1st flight JCL gifts, a beautiful cutlery set..
Asiana Airlines Business Lounge
Seoul - ICN
Hong Kong - HKG
You probably can tell from the pictures that this was quite an amazing first flight. The crew themselves were very excited and curious about the A380 and the special perks. Nevertheless, they demonstrated a high degree of professionalism, resulting in a very high degree of passenger satisfaction on this short 3 hr hop. I do believe that Asiana is a probable future star granted if the service is passed on to all other flights. As a closing remark, I would once again like to thank the crew who took care of me with their Korean Hospitality, it is them who made this an unforgettable experience.
Thanks for reading!!
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