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On Asiana Business: Chicken Soup For The Seoul  
User currently offlineairpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 948 posts, RR: 26
Posted (4 years 2 months 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 30964 times:

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Business trips are no fun at all. Those impossibly long days sap you of energy, kill your enthusiasm and – the horror – can even make flying seem like a chore. Flights become nothing more than a means for getting from A to B, and vessels in which you discuss business with colleagues as work spills across the aisle.

But sometimes, life decides to give you a break. Economy Class to Seoul is fully booked and, in a strange turn of events, a global recession has put an empty, discounted Business Class within the budget of your employer. You’re travelling alone with no work mates in tow. What’s more, it’s on an airline you haven’t flown and know surprisingly little about. Can it get any better?

Of course it can. You could be flying Asiana Airlines – the carrier which won one of the most coveted of airline awards. Air Transport World’s Airline of the Year, no less. (Asiana has since also recently been picked 2010's Airline of the Year by Skytrax - for whatever that's worth.) Winning the accolades was a coup for the relatively young Korean operator. A tedious business trip has suddenly turned a whole lot more pleasurable.

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northbound - bangkok to seoul
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I am a lot more hassled that I should today. Having just arrived at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi with open-toe sandals and T-shirt from a largely alfresco existence in Chiang Mai, I am suddenly compelled to look at least half-respectable on official business. But changing on the go between levels on the airport’s travelators is not a smart idea: believe me, swapping sandal for proper shoe and putting on a long-sleeve shirt is best not done on a steep incline.

With a winter coat in hand, I have sprung up quite a sweat when I reach the Asiana check-in desks at the center of the vast terminal, clustered with other Star Alliance airlines. At this time of year (this being mid-March [2009!], as airpearl tries to clear his backlog of trip reports) there’s more than a thirty degree Centigrade temperature difference between Thailand and Korea - where the forecast is for snow the next few days. That’s Asia regional flying for you: it’s one hell of a big continent.
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There’s no mistaking the Asiana signs – they are crisp, clean and mostly in Korean. Judging from the nationality of most of the passengers at check-in, the airline’s got it essentially covered. Apart from returning Korean holiday-makers which form the majority of the passengers, this flight also carries a sprinkling of U.S.-bound travelers connecting at ICN.
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Seven check-in desks are manned by Asiana for this A330-300 departure scheduled for 23:15; the earlier of the airline’s two red-eye services to Seoul Incheon tonight (the other, operated by a B767-300, leaves after midnight). Further along the same check-in island, ANA is also busy processing passengers for its overnight flight to Tokyo Narita. A polite Thai Airways agent pretends not to notice my disheveled look and efficiently issues my boarding pass, lounge invite and a fast track card (that comes with a seemingly generous discount voucher for the duty-free shop – but only if you plan to spend an extortionate amount of money).
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Immigration queues can sometimes be a pain at Suvarnabhumi so the fast track service – an innovation I am trying out for the first time – is well appreciated when it gets me into the cavernous departure hall without much of a wait. Previously, such a service was only limited to TG’s F and J class passengers, but I suppose, it’s now available to any airline willing to pay for it.

Also, until relatively recently, TG was the only provider of lounges for Star Alliance premium class passengers at Suvarnabhumi. But now, SQ offers a tempting (and as yet untried) alternative. Still, TG wins the toss-up easily for simply being the closest: I’m just not being very adventurous tonight.
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Thai Airways has five Royal Silk/Orchid lounges for the use of Business Class passengers at the airport and this one at Concourse D is, by far, the largest of the lot. It is also often the busiest of the lounges because the main entrance is linked directly to TG’s premium check-in desks via dedicated escalators. For me, the key feature here is an aisle of several hundred meters long that runs the entire length of the lounge and that brings one, at the other end, to an exit at the confluence with Concourse C – where there are yet more TG lounges!
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Despite its size, the lounge has enough quiet corners for it not to feel impersonal. I like the warm and refined tones of the TG lounges – they are quite a contrast to the rough-edged, fluorescent-lit, cement-finished factory that is Suvarnabhumi. Their key weakness – at least in the J class section – is the absence of any decent catering. Tonight, it is busy but not overly crowded ahead of the bank of departures for Europe and North Asia from this busy airport.
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As is usual, about an hour to go before departure and I am all out of lounging. The departure screen doesn’t show the gate as being open yet, but I thought I’d make my way down anyway. Like the city herself, Bangkok’s international airport is a busy little place anytime day or night, as you can see. At least it was at the time. Hopefully Thailand manages to rebound quickly from this latest crisis.
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Star Alliance airlines get the prized gates at this airport. The eight gates at Concourse D are the ones that require the least amount of walking, particularly for arriving passengers, and most times of the day, you will them patronized by at least one or two of the Star carriers. Tonight is no exception: my Asiana Airbus is flanked by a Frankfurt-bound LH B744, and next to it is a Swiss A343 headed for Zurich. Further along, an Austrian B772 is boarding for Vienna while ANA has a B763 bound for Narita. Interestingly, home-based TG is a relative rarity here and prefers to congregate at Concourse C for its international flights.
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If one manages to ignore the rather poor finishings, Suvarnabhumi can be a rather stunning airport, in an industrial sort of way. From the holding lounges, the view of the entire multi-level tube-like structure appears obstruction-free and impressive. What the glassy-walled gates should have – but don’t – is a good view of the tarmac. Even during daytime, taking a photo of the aircraft you’ll be flying on out of those monsoon-stained concave panes is a challenge; at night, it’s pretty damn impossible. I spot something resembling an old-liveried Asiana twin-jet parked outside, but can’t even be sure of that.
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Asiana Airlines
Bangkok – Seoul Incheon in business class
Flight OZ 742 Airbus A330-300 HL7740
Dept: 2317 Arrv: 0639 (next day, on time)

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There’s always excitement when you’re about to board an airline you haven’t flown on before. The fact that there’s comparatively little written about the airline (in English anyway) is a little of a double-edged sword with Asiana. The airline’s low profile coupled with the lack of mad fans (or foes) means your experience will come without much of the preconception one might have carried boarding a BA or EK or SQ for instance. There are few expectations of what Asiana “should be like”. But alas, the only preconceived notion is one that’s associated with the carrier’s ATW Airline of the Year award: and by golly, expectations don’t get uplifted any higher than this.
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Welcome aboard Asiana. I may not have had a good view of the outside of the plane, but the interior of the Business Class cabin is nicely pleasant – if a little on the tame side – as I am welcomed politely with a bow at door 1L. The color tone at Asiana is an unimposing light brown that extends beyond seat cushions to stewardesses’ attires and – this one I really don’t like – one of the more bizarre -looking cockpit crew uniforms around. Call me old-fashioned if you will, but I think pilots really ought to look like pilots, and not valet parking attendants.

That strange departure aside, the general feel of the airline is one of understatement. Nothing really loudly shouts out: “hey we’re Asiana, look at us!” The messages are usually subtle, such as in the magazine rack, where I find a copy of the February edition of the industry journal which recognizes the airline on the cover. I doubt if ATW is among the literature usually loaded aboard OZ flights.
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Less subtly, the welcome messages on the PTVs also advertise the ATW award. (I suspect they may now be promoting the latest Skytrax prize.) Still, at this early stage, I'm having a hard time trying to describe what Asiana is all about, just as I have difficulty finding fault, hard as I may try. There could be a word that succinctly relates the Asiana experience these past fifteen minutes, but it isn't yet in my vocabulary: I hesitate to use 'flawless' when the doors haven't even been closed.

After all, in a lightly loaded cabin tonight (only about a third of the seats taken), the service is bound to be pretty good. For sure, the stewardesses are all unfailingly polite, smile endlessly and bow a great deal, and are really taking great care of my needs. Steaming hot towels are offered (the first of many during this flight), champagne is on demand, while a small inflight comfort (but not amenity) kit at my seat includes a pair of slippers. The seat is cushy and wide, there's no one seated next to me, and the prospects of a comfortable and pleasant flight ahead are excellent - I'm as happy as a lark.
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We depart almost on the dot with a barely audible welcome announcement telling us it's a short five hour flight to Incheon and Captain Kim is at the controls. The menu is distributed as we leave the gate for the short taxi to 19R for an unusually powerful take off run.
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Catering is always a challenge for short red-eye flights with late-night departures. The days when airlines served two square meals on a flight like this are long gone - but these days, even the one hot meal that's served often seems skimpy. Airlines will say passengers prefer the lighter offering overnight (which is probably true), but cost-cutting plays a bigger part, I'm sure. Asiana serves supper - the full works of starter, mains, cheese, fruit and dessert - which is more lavish than many of its competitors that opt for a single-tray breakfast before landing. The main course choices all look appetizing, but I am a tad disappointed there isn't a Korean option that I'd been looking forward to.
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Meal and drink orders are taken not long after we take off, and the service starts in earnest as soon as we level off. As supper is the only sustenance on the flight, I think all of my fellow travelers opt to eat. It's a short night and my feeling is that the crew try to get through the service as quickly as possible in order for us to get some shut-eye - it does feel just a little rushed.
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Still, the meal presentation is rather nice. The food is decent too and served course-by-course: the prawn and russian salad and mixed salad come with the tray, together with a choice of breads.
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This is followed by the main course: I opt for Asian style pan fried snapper in oyster sauce and fried rice that tastes quite good actually. Then comes the cheese and fruit plate.
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Dinner ends with coffee and a lovely dessert. The slighly expedited service notwithstanding, the crew is consistently good although there's a bit more "formality" than I'd like - but that's really just a personal preference. Everyone is unfailingly courteous.
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It seems we had left Thailand and crossed a further two countries during dinner and are now headed over the South China Sea - a bit south of Hainan island - and well on our way heading north-east. The PTV is best used tonight for the airshow - and although there's AVOD, the movie and TV offerings in English are not particularly exciting. And besides, an early appointment in Seoul means I really should be getting some sleep. A quick visit to the washroom reveals an immaculate, reasonably well-appointed facility.
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Even with the rather comfortable seat, I sleep fitfully - it happens I suppose, which is why I try to avoid red-eye flights like this if at all possible. Each of the 30 seats in this business class cabin gets a 58 inch pitch, and an almost angled-flat contraption that's now a standard on the newer planes plying longer regionals in Asia - so I have no reason to complain. Still, staying awake does allows me to observe what the OZ crew are up to in the wee hours. And I am impressed by the conscientious, but discrete, patrolling of the darkened cabin by the flight attendants - about every 10 minutes without fail - throughout the night. I finally succeed in nodding off after more than an hour while counting stewardess cabin-rounds.
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Cabin lights are switched on as we overfly Jeju island, south of the Korean peninsula. There's no further catering at this time but another round of hot towels and juices are made. It's start of a brand new day. The sun is just rising rather spectacularly in the distant east as we close in on the capital, which is also about the time my eyelids feel very heavy indeed and I fall into a deep sleep. I am only awoken as we brake to a halt on landing at Incheon.
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We arrive on time and park at the main terminal, together with a sprinkling of other Asiana machines that are painted in both the old and new liveries. It's barely above freezing at this hour and the airport is only just coming to life with early morning arrivals from Southeast Asia and the States - but immigration queues are longer than I had anticipated. The clean, simple lines of Incheon's arrival concourse is nevertheless a delight, and among the reasons why I would rate this airport so highly.
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With no express rail link to Seoul yet, the most convenient way of getting into the city is by one of the many comfortable buses that operate frequent, scheduled services to the city center or suburbs. A plush coach operated by KAL Limousine brings me from airport terminal to Seoul Hilton door-to-door in less than an hour, for a very reasonable 14,000 won (about $11.50) oneway. And there's even the bonus of the entire contents of KE's seat pocket at each seat - bar the safety information card, of course.
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southbound - seoul to bangkok
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After a few days in Seoul where I rediscover the reality of being on a business trip - that employers, if they're paying J, will make sure they squeeze many times the Business Class fare out of you - it's thankfully time to leave. Needless to say, I see nothing of Seoul. The reliable and comfortable KAL Limousine (it runs at 30 minute intervals) gets me back to Incheon door-to-door, taking about an hour to do the 50 kms from my hotel.
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It is a cold but lovely, crisp and sunny winter's day in Seoul. Even though I didn't manage to see much of the city, I make sure I have enough time to explore the airport - after all, business is concluded and I can relax. I arrive at Incheon with a good four hours to spare for my flight. Today seems like a perfect day for exploration.
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As the airport's second largest user Asiana, like largest Korean Air, gets its own sign at the door. Even though more than 60 other airlines fly into ICN, it doesn't feel it at all. It is early afternoon and there's obviously a lull in activity for it's quite deserted at the entrance.
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Inside, the terminal is equally as quiet. Asiana devotes an entire row of check-in desks for its First, Business and status frequent flyers. Despite the off-peak hour and absence of passengers, it's impressive to see almost all of the dozen or so counters manned - I can't think of many airlines (even top-rated ones) where this happens. I am escorted to a Business Class desk by a queue minder (one of a few here) and my check-in agent - perhaps just glad to see a customer show up - gets off her chair as I approach, stands back and bows deeply - again, very impressive. This is what I call five-star service - the Airline of the Year award is well deserved.   
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Check-in is conducted quickly and courteously, as expected. I take a wander down to the economy class - or 'Travel Class' as Asiana calls its Y - counters to see an equally painless and well-organized check-in area. There are quite a number of self check-in machines too here. Also present are constant reminders of which airline won ATW's top prize.
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Still, Star Alliance makes its strong presence felt, to the extent that alliance branding sometimes takes precedence over individual airlines as you see below. I suppose it's not so surprising considering ICN is a major north Asian hub for two major airline groupings, and competition between them is intense here.
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Time to explore the airport. Landside at the main terminal is a spacious, comfortable place where the modern architecture of glass and steel is softened and "humanized" somewhat with indoor gardens, water features and the extensive use of wood flooring throughout.
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One of the most imposing buildings at Incheon - and this one really puts the airport in the sci-fi category - is actually not part of the main terminal at all. That this shiny beast with outstretched metal-tube arms and a strange crest from another planet is simply called the "Transportation Center" almost makes you believe interplanetary travel is a real option from here.
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The interior of this futuristic mothership doesn't shatter the illusion that perhaps something more than meets the eye could be happening, somewhere in this building. It is quiet, empty and the cleanliness is clinical. The roof is strange, free-flowing and glassy, allowing plenty of natural light, while travelators and huge metal tubes stretch purposefully away from you, as if waiting for intergalactic passengers to arrive from some distant, invisible destination.
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More down to earth, the signs in this grandiose building point only to an airport rail-link (to close-to-city Gimpo airport) and a car park - I presume the departure gates for Space Station V will only be completed in 2021 as part of Incheon's phase 4 development plans.
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In the meantime, Stargarden - a huge indoor greenhouse containing mainly tropical flowering plants and cacti - takes centerstage at the Transportation Center. Split level platforms ensure the best vantage points to enjoy the wild folliage, mini waterfalls and attractive water features at a "safe" distance.

To be honest, this place looks a little bizarre for me. Like the rest of Incheon, it is spotless, organized and tidy - when it shouldn't really be: tropical settings I am used to are usually a little over-grown, a tad disorganized and far from spotless. Still, it's nice to see some green and color amid the drabness of winter.
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If you wander far enough and don't get lost in the bamboo forest, you will emerge into open air at the other side of this building - not at the launch platform for an interplanetary shuttle but rather an astro-turfed balcony with a commanding view of a car park. I take a cursory photo of the building, and rush back inside - it may be sunny but it's bloody freezing.
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Less than two hours to go for departure and I retrace my steps back to the airport, get my passport stamped and backpack x-rayed and I am quickly and officially out of South Korea. It's the start of Incheon's evening peak with both hub airlines organizing their busiest bank of flights - mainly heading south and east - within the next 2-3 hours.
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It may be busy but the spacious terminal doesn't get overly crowded at all. There's never a shortage of seats, while the huge windows ensure a good view is never too far away. Incheon may look like many of the other new glass and steel Asian mega hubs, but in many areas, it also manages to feel as convivial as a favorite coffee shop. I like it enormously.
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Spotting can be great, especially if you're a Korean Air fan. You will get an overdose of its jade blue livery. KE occupies one end of the main terminal while OZ - but with fewer planes and less uniformity in old and new liveries - take up the other. Non-Korean carriers are almost invisible as they occupy gates at a satellite terminal known as Concourse A, and those are only reachable if you're travelling with them.
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The A321 above is headed for Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia, which I find an interesting choice for Asiana that doesn't fly to Kuala Lumpur. The A333 behind it is HL7740, the plane I flew here a couple days ago from BKK. Below, this new-liveried B744 is departing behind schedule for LAX - I am there to see the passenger who gets to the gate late, is denied boarding and look very pissed indeed.
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And now, back to my priveleged existence today.   Travelling in Business gives me access to the premium lounges of course. The main Asiana lounges are located on a different level and accessed via elevator from the main terminal but their presence is well advertised to those in the general departures concourse. (There's also another Asiana lounge at Concourse A specifically catering to other Star Alliance carriers.) Once upstairs, there's further class segregation.
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Welcomed politely (like with every other Asiana encounter so far) at the entrance, I'm ushered into the well-appointed Business Class lounge. All feels pretty predictable so far... that's until I turn the corner and am introduced to the centerpiece of the room. Like the thing with the pilot's uniform, I'd forgotten how much of a tease Asiana can be. Just when you think you've finally got OZ sussed out (hallmarks being reliability, politeness, conservatism), she throws you a curve ball, and lands a baby grand on you. Fancy that.
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I wonder if a pianist shows up at dusk in a tuxedo and takes requests for jolly singalongs late into the night, but on first impressions this mid-afternoon, it all seems a little strange to be frank. With the walls lined with book shelves, I presume the intended effect is one of the rarified air of a library or British club. It may well look quite different in soft lighting at night, but by day, everything just appears contrived and unnecessarily extravagant.
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Still, this lounge is pleasant and not such a bad place to while away some time, even if I do have issue with the designers and their eclectic style. But who am I to comment on something I obviously know little about. After all, the unique layout above may not be due to a lack of imagination - but from a disproportionately large number of OZ premium passengers who like watching television from a distance with the sound off?
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There are far fewer seats by the window, which is unusual because these tend to be the most popular ones. But again, that's just me - and I obviously come from a different planet to that of the lounge designers. I settle down on a comfy armchair with a view of tarmac activity before grabbing some food from the decent-sized buffet. There's an acceptable mix of canapes, soup, salad, fruit and an assortment of bar snacks and instant noodles on offer, but no hot food at this time of day. There's also a dining area adjoining the self-service area.
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As the main Business Class lounge at a home base, this Asiana facility is not a particularly large one, but it has all the basic facilites like wifi and showers. At the quiet end of the lounge are a couple of "relaxing rooms" that come equipped with massage chairs. Not a bad place to while away a half-hour or so, but with just a few cubicles available, they are likely to disappoint more passengers than they satisfy.
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Across from the relaxing rooms are a small number of shower rooms, which will probably be equally in demand when the transits descend on this place. In order to use one you need to deposit your boarding pass at reception in return for a key to one of the shower rooms. I don't need a shower, but as I still have time before the flight, decide to take a peek into one.
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It's time to move on. My flight isn't shown as boarding yet but I like to take my time, especially when my walk to the gate is seldom the most direct route. OZ741 leaves from gate 35, which is at the tip of one of terminal's two fingers. This also means the view of the plane is not the best - unlike at most other gates at Incheon. I capture a partial, unsatisfying shot of the A333 that'll be carrying to Bangkok this evening, for the record. In the background is Concourse A that's looking rather quiet today.
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Asiana Airlines
Seoul Incheon – Bangkok in business class
Flight OZ 741 Airbus A330-300 HL7746
Dept: 1824 Arrv: 2231 (arrives 26 minutes late)
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A short wait at the holding lounge and boarding, when it starts about 25 minutes before scheduled departure, is an orderly affair with the usual priorities. A dedicated aerobridge for the smallish J class cabin ensures that the process is not a hassle at all, before I'm greeted at the door with the signature Asiana bow and politeness.
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I get settled at the back of the cabin. Although this 5-row Business Class in a 2-2-2 configuration is identical to the one I flew on a few days ago, it's always much better to see it in the light of day. The fittings seem to be in good order for a three-year old aircraft, while the seats and legroom appear decent for a regional J product. I believe China Airlines in this region also fits these seats into its A333s.
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Welcome drinks, hot towels, newspapers, magazines interspaced with lots of smiles appear to a standard pre-departure routine. Reminds me quite a lot of Singapore Airlines - which has got uniformity down to an tee - only without the sarong kebayas. We are 15 pax in J class today and all three stewardesses serving the cabin are lovely, attractive and look and sound so alike they could have been cloned. Like on the outbound sector, a pair of slippers and comfort kit are found near my feet.
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The 15 inch PTV screen looks nice and has good resolution but the movie and TV selections in English are small and aren't particularly inspiring. Not such an issue on this evening's six-hour haul traversing East Asia, but it may well be quite a source of frustration on a longer haul.

We push back almost on time and are waved away by Asiana's own tug crew. Like in Japan, the send-off from the ground staff here isn't half-hearted, with them waiting for us to fully taxi away before leaving - don't envy them though, it looks pretty cold out there.
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We taxi past an OZ B763 parked next door - that is scheduled to leave soon for KIX - after which it's a line-up of Korean Air machines that accompanies us all the way to 33L, where there's no further delay for takeoff. The two PW4168s spool up and we are thundering down the runway in almost no time.
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The sea is immediately visible on take off from Incheon - not suprising considering the airport is located on an island off the west coast of the Korean peninsula. In fact, the airport complex is built on reclaimed land between two small islands off the coast. Taking off from 33L is interesting too for the direction we're headed - essentially north-west - and at the current trajectory, I reckon it'll take us 5 minutes to enter North Korean airspace. Only a week earlier, North Korea had issued a thinly veiled threat to shoot down commercial airliners when it said it "could not guarantee their safety" in its airspace. That caused KE and OZ to immediately reroute their flights, giving South Korea's recalcitrant sibling a wide berth.
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It's with a collective sigh of relief (or maybe that's just me) that we bank sharply to port soon thereafter, and immediately turn south over the Yellow Sea. Seeing the rather attractive sunset on my side of the plane is a nice reassurance we're now no longer headed in the direction of Pyongyang.
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When the seat belt signs come off, a friendly stewardess (one of the three - I really can't tell them apart!) goes round distributing the menus, and takes drink orders. The service is more relaxed and less rushed than on the red-eye flight over, and that's a nice plus too. As the seats around me are unoccupied, I also take the opportunity for some cabin pics. These appear to be the same seats currently fitted on most of the airline's longhaul fleet, but it recently announced new flat-bed OZ Quandra Smartium (what could have inspired this name!?) seats that will replace these angled-flat seats and initially be fitted on the B772s.
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Orders for dinner are taken as we level out, and I'm glad to see that there is a Korean menu option on this flight. The "Western" menu looks like a safe but solid offering, but I opt for the "Mixing and Harmonizing" Bi-Bim-Bab that both major South Korean carriers like to call a speciality aboard their flights.
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Bi-Bim-Bab is essentially what the menu says it is - a rice-based dish that works only with some DIY-style harmonious mixing beforehand. On Asiana, everything you need comes on a single tray together with a small, useful fold-out guide for first-timers on "how to enjoy Bi-Bim-Bab". Those who have eaten the popular Korean dish more than once will instictively know that you can't go too wrong by pouring everything into the biggest bowl and giving it all a vigorous stir. When the contents look a right mess, then it's ready to be eaten! This is not haute cuisine by any means, but is quite delicious and rather satisfying in the way comfort foods can be.
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The meal takes a decidedly westerly-heading after the Bi-Bim-Bab with a cheese plate and then a tasty blueberry almond cake for dessert with coffee. We have made some good progress during dinner crossing the East China Sea and are now headed towards Taipei.
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The fasten seat belt signs come on around the time we're skirting Taiwan's east coast, but I make a quick dash to the loo. Like on the flight over, the washroom is immaculate and it's reasonably well-stocked too. The seat belt signs stay on for pretty much the rest for the flight to Bangkok from here.
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With not much on offer on the AVOD, it's time to test out the recline button and get some shut eye. The cabin lights go off too. The seats don't go fully angle-flat actually but this is what I prefer anyway. After a few long days, I find it easy to drift off to sleep this time.
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The next time I am conscious, the cabin is being prepared for landing at Bangkok. We are running more than 20 minutes behind schedule due to stronger-than-expected head winds - but it doesn't bother me for I have nowhere else to be tonight. Clouds obscure any night view of the city - it's pitch black outside except for the pleasing hum from the now brightly-lit engine number two. We land at Suvarnabhumi - it's a gentle one - and the appropriate end to a trip that would surely have been a lot less pleasant without Asiana.
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last words
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Asiana clearly deserves to belong among the world's top airlines. That it has managed to get there in a relatively short time makes it doubly impressive. Service is a major selling point. What I experienced - both inflight and on the ground - have been some of the most attentive and polite you can get. The planes and facilities are well-maintained and immaculately clean. But there are flaws too. IFE is an area that's important to many passengers but one that seems to have neglected by Asiana: it needs a significant overhaul. The airline's website is another space requiring improvement while its premium lounge at ICN could perhaps be made more practical. More annoyances than fundamental problems - and really quite easily fixed - after which, the carrier's Airline of the Year award becomes a lot more believable, even if it comes from Skytrax  
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Hope you enjoyed the read.
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Cheers,
airpearl
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South Korea has two world-class carriers. For a perspective on Asiana's homeground competitor Korean Air, you might want to take a look at this trip report on a flight in Y I took a few months after this one.
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28 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineDALelite From Switzerland, joined Jun 2000, 1770 posts, RR: 25
Reply 1, posted (4 years 2 months 2 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 30782 times:

Cool title! Cool report! Cool pics! I am impressed of the high quality of food and its representation. It abashes most Non-Asian Airlines .

Cheers : DALelite



They loved to fly and it showed..
User currently offlineLAXintl From United States of America, joined May 2000, 25198 posts, RR: 48
Reply 2, posted (4 years 2 months 2 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 30109 times:

Nice report.

I continue to be impressed with Asiana. My first contact was with them only a few years into their existence during the early 90s as a total unknown airline when they commenced their first Trans-Pac services to LA.



From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
User currently offlineStevePER From Australia, joined May 2004, 74 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (4 years 2 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 29303 times:

Great report and excellent pictures. I flew Asiana a couple of months ago ICN-HKG in business but didn't get the same great service you described. But the biggest thing that worried me was the lack of infant seatbelts on both international and domestic flights.


"You're like Icarus - always wanting to fly."
User currently offlineronerone From Jordan, joined Aug 2004, 1660 posts, RR: 53
Reply 4, posted (4 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 28726 times:

Airpearl,

Thank you for another excellent Trip Report on an airline that deserves so much more credit than it is given!

The stark contrast between Asiana's humble (and more desirable) approach, and Etihad's loud bangs and whistles about winning their respective airline of the year awards is almost unbearable!

It is too bad Asiana is a Star Alliance, as i would have tried them ages ago. But i am sure one day i will go for it!
From all the TR's i have read, OZ (minus their horrible branding theme) seems to offer a better product than KE.

And not to forget Incheon! WOW! This is the first time i pay attention to detailed pictures of the airport's interior! Dare i say that it looks nicer than HKG!


Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Thai Airways has five Royal Silk/Orchid lounges for the use of Business Class passengers at the airport

This is quite impressive! CX only has two at HKG (or three if you count The Arrivals), and EK has one dedicated for each class (though i would prefer several smaller lounges to a much larger single one).

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
The color tone at Asiana is an unimposing light brown that extends beyond seat cushions to stewardesses’ attires and – this one I really don’t like – one of the more bizarre -looking cockpit crew uniforms around. Call me old-fashioned if you will, but I think pilots really ought to look like pilots, and not valet parking attendants.

This is one thing i am not too big of a fan when it comes to Asia. The brown theme! I did think it looked nice on the female cabin crew (and nicer than KE's outfit), but not on the aircraft and the seats too.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Airlines will say passengers prefer the lighter offering overnight (which is probably true),

Haha .. Why am i suddenly reminded of SQ?  
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
After a few days in Seoul where I rediscover the reality of being on a business trip - that employers, if they're paying J, will make sure they squeeze many times the Business Class fare out of you - it's thankfully time to leave.

I feel you on this one! If it isn't for the option to travel on an itinerary separate to those of colleagues during a business trip, i would dread the whole idea altogether! The rest of the time i'd be squeezed to the maximum!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Inside, the terminal is equally as quiet. Asiana devotes an entire row of check-in desks for its First, Business and status frequent flyers. Despite the off-peak hour and absence of passengers, it's impressive to see almost all of the dozen or so counters manned - I can't think of many airlines (even top-rated ones) where this happens. I am escorted to a Business Class desk by a queue minder (one of a few here) and my check-in agent - perhaps just glad to see a customer show up - gets off her chair as I approach, stands back and bows deeply - again, very impressive. This is what I call five-star service - the Airline of the Year award is well deserved.

This is indeed very impressive!
Does KE provide this too?

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
". Those who have eaten the popular Korean dish more than once will instictively know that you can't go too wrong by pouring everything into the biggest bowl and giving it all a vigorous stir. When the contents look a right mess, then it's ready to be eaten! This is not haute cuisine by any means, but is quite delicious and rather satisfying in the way comfort foods can be.

Looks great! can't wait to try it!


Thanks a lot for sharing this my friend! .. The pictures are as always, EXCELLENT!

Cheers,
R



A Stop Away From One-Stop, Is Non-Stop : Airbus A340-500
User currently offlineJL418 From Italy, joined Jun 2009, 493 posts, RR: 6
Reply 5, posted (4 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 28498 times:

Hey Airpearl,

good to see another Trip Report from you on these pages. It has been a really interesting read, from an airline that has received very few comments here. I loved the pictures of ICN, it truly is a stunning piece of architecture, looking halfway between an Isaac Asimov's novel cover and a Swedish minimalist forniture maker's catalogue.
I was expecting, however, a picture about Asiana's Y class, would you be so kind to post one if you can? Thanks a lot in advance.


User currently offlineakhmad From Netherlands, joined Sep 2005, 2461 posts, RR: 53
Reply 6, posted (4 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 28450 times:

Hi Airpearl,

Truly awesome and entertaining trip report. It was like being there with you and getting indulged all the way from BKK to ICN and back. The perfect combination of professionalism, customer minded attitude and genuine Asian hospitality. On top of that, you can collect QR miles while flying OZ. If the schedule would fit, no doubt I might be flying OZ one day.

I did not expect ICN to be such a great place to transfer. Definitely on par with SIN!

Thanks for sharing this lovely experience.

Cheers,
Suryo

[Edited 2010-06-21 11:03:36]


Friends forever
User currently offlineairbuseric From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 4268 posts, RR: 51
Reply 7, posted (4 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 28236 times:

Great report here also, Airpearl! With a fantastic amount of good quality pics. ICN looks impressive to me. What a fantastic building it is!
Lounges look like 'home', with their warm feeling. Definitely a plus!
I must say that the airline is not quick in repainting their fleet in the latest company colours. The new colours are much better then the boring grey...



"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
User currently offlineNZ107 From New Zealand, joined Jul 2005, 6418 posts, RR: 38
Reply 8, posted (4 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 27570 times:

Hi Airpearl,

Superb TR with excellent detail. Well written. Thanks for sharing this Korean trip with us! Photos were great as well.

The seats looked good, meals, service.. I wonder if they'll reappear in AKL someday.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
(this being mid-March [2009!], as airpearl tries to clear his backlog of trip reports)

I guess I'm not that bogged down by TRs! Got a 8 month buffer on you  
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
But changing on the go between levels on the airport’s travelators is not a smart idea: believe me, swapping sandal for proper shoe and putting on a long-sleeve shirt is best not done on a steep incline.

That's gotta be up there with the best advice I've received on A.Net. 
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Immigration queues can sometimes be a pain at Suvarnabhumi so the fast track service – an innovation I am trying out for the first time – is well appreciated when it gets me into the cavernous departure hall without much of a wait. Previously, such a service was only limited to TG’s F and J class passengers, but I suppose, it’s now available to any airline willing to pay for it.

Interesting. It's quite nice when airlines offer short customs lines for premium passengers.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
And there's even the bonus of the entire contents of KE's seat pocket at each seat - bar the safety information card, of course.

Awesome! You don't even have to fly KE and yet you can grab their stuff as if you flew with them! Timetables in there too, I guess some businesspeople might use them on that transit into the city.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
One of the most imposing buildings at Incheon - and this one really puts the airport in the sci-fi category - is actually not part of the main terminal at all. That this shiny beast with outstretched metal-tube arms and a strange crest from another planet is simply called the "Transportation Center" almost makes you believe interplanetary travel is a real option from here.

I'm not sure if I've seen such a comprehensive look around ICN on here. Plenty of SIN, HKG, BKK and other top airports around the world but that's one which seems to have slipped under the radar somewhat. It's always been one of (if not) the top airport(s) in the world and I've wondered what it was like. Those pictures just blew me away! Amazing.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
It may be busy but the spacious terminal doesn't get overly crowded at all. There's never a shortage of seats, while the huge windows ensure a good view is never too far away. Incheon may look like many of the other new glass and steel Asian mega hubs, but in many areas, it also manages to feel as convivial as a favorite coffee shop. I like it enormously.

That's one thing I like - planning ahead. We need some planners down here from Asia as things that are built are always built far too small for what's needed. I bet it's more costly do do it NZ style than to do it nicely like ICN.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Still, this lounge is pleasant and not such a bad place to while away some time, even if I do have issue with the designers and their eclectic style. But who am I to comment on something I obviously know little about. After all, the unique layout above may not be due to a lack of imagination - but from a disproportionately large number of OZ premium passengers who like watching television from a distance with the sound off?

I'd still prefer a screen to myself than a 'cinema' style.. But quite interesting.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
but no hot food at this time of day

Sounds a bit disappointing being their main lounge I presume.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Reminds me quite a lot of Singapore Airlines - which has got uniformity down to an tee - only without the sarong kebayas.

Not bad!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Hope you enjoyed the read.

Very much so!

Thanks again,

Cheers,
Nicholas



It's all about the destination AND the journey.
User currently offlinekurt From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 417 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (4 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 27378 times:

Excellent report! Great photos, and I love your writing style. Keep it up!

User currently offlineairpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 948 posts, RR: 26
Reply 10, posted (4 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 27109 times:

Hi all,

Thanks for your comments and kind words. It's very much appreciated, especially for a report on a flight from more than a year ago! Being so late, I was contemplating not posting this one but reading about the Skytrax award recently brought new inspiration  
.
Quoting DALelite (Reply 1):
Cool title! Cool report! Cool pics! I am impressed of the high quality of food and its representation. It abashes most Non-Asian Airlines

Thanks much DALeilte! The food presentation and quality are definitely strong points with Asiana. Having said that, I had read recently that cost-cutting had reduced some of the quantity of food served aboard. Sign of the times I guess.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 2):
I continue to be impressed with Asiana. My first contact was with them only a few years into their existence during the early 90s as a total unknown airline when they commenced their first Trans-Pac services to LA.

Hi LAXintl, must be nice to see an airline "grow up" and still keep the standards intact. What were they like in the early days? I had heard some good things about OZ for the longest time but never got the opportunity to try them until now...

Quoting StevePER (Reply 3):
Great report and excellent pictures. I flew Asiana a couple of months ago ICN-HKG in business but didn't get the same great service you described. But the biggest thing that worried me was the lack of infant seatbelts on both international and domestic flights.

Hi StevePER, thanks for your comments but sorry to hear about your experience on OZ. What happened there?

Quoting ronerone (Reply 4):
The stark contrast between Asiana's humble (and more desirable) approach, and Etihad's loud bangs and whistles about winning their respective airline of the year awards is almost unbearable!

Hey, hey Roni, thanks for dropping by and your kind words! But am I reading too much into your choice of words here or is the man at AUH really falling out of love with its biggest customer?  
Quoting ronerone (Reply 4):
It is too bad Asiana is a Star Alliance, as i would have tried them ages ago. But i am sure one day i will go for it!

I am certain you will - there are plenty of detours to take yet haha

Quoting ronerone (Reply 4):
And not to forget Incheon! WOW! This is the first time i pay attention to detailed pictures of the airport's interior! Dare i say that it looks nicer than HKG!

ICN is just GREAT! It became an instant favorite of mine the first time I went there and the affection has only grown. It's just such a pleasant airport to pass through and a lot less stark than HKG. Great views too, but it's a far cry from HKG for sheer variety in spotting opportunities.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 4):
This is quite impressive! CX only has two at HKG (or three if you count The Arrivals), and EK has one dedicated for each class (though i would prefer several smaller lounges to a much larger single one).

This seems to be a legacy of the Don Mueang days I think when TG used to operate a few lounges too. Some of these lounges are just opposite each other as well... ahem, let's just say it's another one of those unique things that make TG so lovable.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 4):
Haha .. Why am i suddenly reminded of SQ?

That's because you're such a fan  
Quoting ronerone (Reply 4):
Does KE provide this too?

I can't be certain since I traveled in Y with KE where things are far less elaborate. The check-in staff were pretty good too though.

Quoting JL418 (Reply 5):
I loved the pictures of ICN, it truly is a stunning piece of architecture, looking halfway between an Isaac Asimov's novel cover and a Swedish minimalist forniture maker's catalogue.

Hi JL418, good to hear from you. ICN is indeed stunning and I like it very much but I am a little unsure about the 'Transportation Center' which seems an overly ambitious project. The greenhouse is really quite nice but not surprisingly under-visited because there's really no reason to go there for most passengers.

Quoting JL418 (Reply 5):
I was expecting, however, a picture about Asiana's Y class, would you be so kind to post one if you can?

I have to admit I wasn't doing a good job as a trip reporter... I didn't even make it into Y this time. Sorry!   

Quoting akhmad (Reply 6):
Truly awesome and entertaining trip report.

Hey Suryo, thanks for your kind words. Off for your summer travels soon?

Quoting akhmad (Reply 6):
If the schedule would fit, no doubt I might be flying OZ one day.

I am certain you will as you did many other airlines - even if the schedules don't exactly 'fit' hehe

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 7):
Great report here also, Airpearl! With a fantastic amount of good quality pics. ICN looks impressive to me. What a fantastic building it is!
Lounges look like 'home', with their warm feeling. Definitely a plus!

Thanks Airbuseric for stopping by, and the nice words too. Looking at the pics again, the lounge does look quite 'homely' actually! A good way to describe it.

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 7):
I must say that the airline is not quick in repainting their fleet in the latest company colours.

That's quite a surprise to me too as the airline's 'new' livery isn't that new really, having been introduced in 2006.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 8):
I guess I'm not that bogged down by TRs! Got a 8 month buffer on you

Hahaha... you're well ahead of me Nicholas! But I am sure that backlog of yours is about to get longer... aren't the holidays coming up in N.Z.? And time for another 20 flights? hehehe  
Quoting NZ107 (Reply 8):
That's gotta be up there with the best advice I've received on A.Net.

You're getting very cheeky, my friend...

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 8):
Awesome! You don't even have to fly KE and yet you can grab their stuff as if you flew with them! Timetables in there too, I guess some businesspeople might use them on that transit into the city.

It's wonderful - and the latest editions too. I took them all home with me.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 8):
It's always been one of (if not) the top airport(s) in the world and I've wondered what it was like. Those pictures just blew me away! Amazing.

ICN is definitely up there with HKG and SIN, and nicer than KUL and BKK in my opinion.

Quoting kurt (Reply 9):
Excellent report! Great photos, and I love your writing style. Keep it up!

Thanks Kurt, glad you enjoyed it.


User currently offlineakhmad From Netherlands, joined Sep 2005, 2461 posts, RR: 53
Reply 11, posted (4 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 27027 times:

Quoting airpearl (Reply 10):
Off for your summer travels soon?

Definitely! I can hardly wait.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 10):
even if the schedules don't exactly 'fit' hehe

You know me.   



Friends forever
User currently offlineronerone From Jordan, joined Aug 2004, 1660 posts, RR: 53
Reply 12, posted (4 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 26979 times:

Quoting airpearl (Reply 10):
But am I reading too much into your choice of words here or is the man at AUH really falling out of love with its biggest customer?

Ooops..did i say that?  
Quoting airpearl (Reply 10):
I am certain you will - there are plenty of detours to take yet haha

LOL .. It's all about those detours and those circles that go nowhere just to get you somewhere!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 10):
ICN is just GREAT! It became an instant favorite of mine the first time I went there and the affection has only grown. It's just such a pleasant airport to pass through and a lot less stark than HKG.

Looks like i may have to take my 'virtual airline' to hub at ICN someday and assess its self-connect capabilities  



A Stop Away From One-Stop, Is Non-Stop : Airbus A340-500
User currently offlineJL418 From Italy, joined Jun 2009, 493 posts, RR: 6
Reply 13, posted (4 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 26948 times:

Quoting airpearl (Reply 10):
I have to admit I wasn't doing a good job as a trip reporter... I didn't even make it into Y this time. Sorry!

Hahaha nevermind! It has been a pleasure as usual, anyway. I hope you'll have a summer with plenty of flights or that, at least, you'll find some time to clear up your backlog!


User currently offlineLAXintl From United States of America, joined May 2000, 25198 posts, RR: 48
Reply 14, posted (4 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 26943 times:

Quoting airpearl (Reply 10):
Hi LAXintl, must be nice to see an airline "grow up" and still keep the standards intact. What were they like in the early days? I had heard some good things about OZ for the longest time but never got the opportunity to try them until now...

Well back in the day, comparing KE and OZ was day and night.

While OZ was much smaller, it was the the young private dynamic company, while KE was like a bloated government operation(with a poor safety record).
I actually think the creation of OZ and its very quick popularity in the domestic market helped force KE to reinvent itself and become the more modern and improved company it is today.

As far as service, I remember OZ had many foreign flight attendants in the beginning, and also recall they hired them also based on unique talents such as being some sort of performers (eg musicians, magicians), and also from careers like nurses.

Here is a post about OZ having live inflight entertainment onboard:
Asiana In-Flight "Entertainment" (by Tsully Nov 29 2001 in Civil Aviation)

For the product, OZ was also ahead of KE by offering more spacious modern seats and cabin service. Off course helps the airline was able to start with all new planes which were the most modern available at the time while KE still flew older types like the 727, DC-10, 747-200 or A300B4.



From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
User currently offlineNZ107 From New Zealand, joined Jul 2005, 6418 posts, RR: 38
Reply 15, posted (4 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 26753 times:

Quoting airpearl (Reply 10):
But I am sure that backlog of yours is about to get longer... aren't the holidays coming up in N.Z.? And time for another 20 flights?

Yes, holidays are just a few days away but unfortunately, barely any flying for me.. One flight for me, the other half is a train ride from WLG-AKL, which still might make for an interesting report. I did however manage to get some seats for my brother and sister on the INAUGURAL JQ flight from AKL-SIN!! Damn.. Too bad I still have uni! At least it gives me some chance of shortening that backlog! I'm trying to get my brother to do a TR, don't think he likes the sound of that..

Quoting airpearl (Reply 10):
You're getting very cheeky, my friend...

Hehehe.. Couldn't resist!  
Quoting airpearl (Reply 10):
I took them all home with me.

I bet!


Cheers,
Nicholas



It's all about the destination AND the journey.
User currently offline767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1935 posts, RR: 24
Reply 16, posted (4 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 26615 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Great report! Looks like you had nice flights to and from BKK. Asiana looks to be very nice in all the reports I've read about them! Thanks for sharing!

767747


User currently offlineairpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 948 posts, RR: 26
Reply 17, posted (4 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 26254 times:

Quoting 767747 (Reply 16):
Great report! Looks like you had nice flights to and from BKK. Asiana looks to be very nice in all the reports I've read about them! Thanks for sharing!

Thanks for your comments 767747, and yes they were great flights. There are always exceptions of course, but it seems quite a safe bet that you'd get on a good one I think.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 11):
Definitely! I can hardly wait.

That's great. Looking forward to more of your TRs!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 12):
Ooops..did i say that?

Actually I'd love to hear more of that story - perhaps at the next airport coffee shop conference? haha

Quoting JL418 (Reply 13):
I hope you'll have a summer with plenty of flights or that, at least, you'll find some time to clear up your backlog!

It'll just mostly be flights of fancy I'm afraid - but you're right, I'll have some time to clear the backlog haha

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 14):
Well back in the day, comparing KE and OZ was day and night.

Hey LAXIntl, thanks for the comprehensive background! I'd almost forgotten how lowly KE was ranked in those days. I totally agree with you that they were forced to up their game only after OZ was allowed to compete with them - which shows what competition can accomplish. And fancy all that 'inflight entertainment' on OZ - wow! A friend of mine flew an OZ red-eye SIN-SEL (still Gimpo at the time) more than a decade ago - she told me that at daybreak the crew would lead morning stretching exercises which the whole cabin would join in!

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 15):
One flight for me, the other half is a train ride from WLG-AKL, which still might make for an interesting report.

Absolutely. You always write great reports and we get to see more of NZ as well.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 15):
I did however manage to get some seats for my brother and sister on the INAUGURAL JQ flight from AKL-SIN!!

Now, that'll be an interesting one! Shame you couldn't be on it - make sure you book yourself on the first AirAsia X flight out of AKL   I am almost certain that'll happen at some stage.


User currently offlinereadytotaxi From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2006, 3232 posts, RR: 2
Reply 18, posted (4 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 26014 times:

Hi, really liked that report.
From the Uk it would be so nice if ground crew waved you good bye,passing you on to the next stop.
Sigh
Thank you for that.  



you don't get a second chance to make a first impression!
User currently offlineloveofflying From Canada, joined Jan 2007, 105 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (4 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 25969 times:

Very nice TR! Nice pics too.


Fly the DC10 before you can't!
User currently offlineLucky727 From Canada, joined Sep 2003, 602 posts, RR: 1
Reply 20, posted (4 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 25297 times:

Amazing report! Beautifully written & great pics, (particularly, shooting the menus in dramatic perspective - love it!)

L727

p.s. "chicken soup for the *Seoul*" - lolol!

[edited to add p.s.]

[Edited 2010-06-24 17:24:10]


··· [·] oooooooo [·] oooo oo ooooo [·] ooooooooooooooooooo [·]
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6780 posts, RR: 77
Reply 21, posted (4 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 24472 times:

Hi Airpearl,

fantastic report with many nice pictures, great to get such a good impression of Asiana. It seems it's time to try OZ, the product looks very good.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Even during daytime, taking a photo of the aircraft you’ll be flying on out of those monsoon-stained concave panes is a challenge; at night, it’s pretty damn impossible. I spot something resembling an old-liveried Asiana twin-jet parked outside, but can’t even be sure of that.

Yes, I really hate these windows, too.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
The sun is just rising rather spectacularly in the distant east as we close in on the capital

Great shot!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
With no express rail link to Seoul yet, the most convenient way of getting into the city is by one of the many comfortable buses that operate frequent, scheduled services to the city center or suburbs. A plush coach operated by KAL Limousine brings me from airport terminal to Seoul Hilton door-to-door in less than an hour, for a very reasonable 14,000 won (about $11.50) oneway. And there's even the bonus of the entire contents of KE's seat pocket at each seat - bar the safety information card, of course.

Interesting, I'll keep that in mind. Similar busses are used between TPE and the city.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
I am escorted to a Business Class desk by a queue minder (one of a few here) and my check-in agent - perhaps just glad to see a customer show up - gets off her chair as I approach, stands back and bows deeply - again, very impressive. This is what I call five-star service - the Airline of the Year award is well deserved.

Very impressive!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Spotting can be great, especially if you're a Korean Air fan. You will get an overdose of its jade blue livery.

Can you only find spotting spots airside?

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
The 15 inch PTV screen looks nice and has good resolution but the movie and TV selections in English are small and aren't particularly inspiring. Not such an issue on this evening's six-hour haul traversing East Asia, but it may well be quite a source of frustration on a longer haul.

Disappointing indeed. I'm wondering whether the same system is used on the 777s.


PH

[Edited 2010-06-27 02:00:08]


Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineNZ107 From New Zealand, joined Jul 2005, 6418 posts, RR: 38
Reply 22, posted (4 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 24417 times:

Quoting airpearl (Reply 17):
Now, that'll be an interesting one! Shame you couldn't be on it - make sure you book yourself on the first AirAsia X flight out of AKL I am almost certain that'll happen at some stage.

I know.. Too bad uni gets the better of me still. But yeah I'll endeavour to get on that AirAsia X flight!



It's all about the destination AND the journey.
User currently offlineairpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 948 posts, RR: 26
Reply 23, posted (4 years 2 months 1 week 1 day ago) and read 24265 times:

Quoting readytotaxi (Reply 18):
From the Uk it would be so nice if ground crew waved you good bye,passing you on to the next stop.
Sigh

Yes, it would be nice would it? It certainly adds a sense of occasion to the journey! Had experienced it more in northern Asia - Japan, Korea and China - and also in Thailand where some of the ground crew "wai" to the pilots. Thanks for your kind words Readytotaxi.

Quoting loveofflying (Reply 19):
Very nice TR! Nice pics too.

Thanks much Loveoflfying.

Quoting Lucky727 (Reply 20):
(particularly, shooting the menus in dramatic perspective - love it!)

Thanks for your comments Lucky727, I was just trying out some different shots... not sure if they really "worked" but glad you liked them hahaha

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 21):
It seems it's time to try OZ, the product looks very good.

Hey Planehunter, good to hear from you. Thanks for your comments. Yes, OZ is a decent airline and the Y class isn't overly reported on either.  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 21):
Yes, I really hate these windows, too.

One of the glassiest airports with the worst views. What missed opportunities. Very sad actually.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 21):
Interesting, I'll keep that in mind.

The information counters in the arrivals concourse are great. They will direct you to the best coaches to get to where you want to go in Seoul, and even write directions for you in Korean.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 21):
Can you only find spotting spots airside?

There could be some sites on the airport perimeter but the best ones close to the airport appear to be airside.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 21):
Disappointing indeed. I'm wondering whether the same system is used on the 777s.

From what I've read, it's pretty similar. It's not a total loss though - there are a few worthwhile movies - some recent releases at least, but it's just not a whole lot of choice.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 22):
I know.. Too bad uni gets the better of me still. But yeah I'll endeavour to get on that AirAsia X flight!

I'm quite sure their launch fare offers will be pretty good - so you can probably justify a cost-and-time effective weekend AKL-KUL-AKL without missing much of uni  


User currently offlineabrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5089 posts, RR: 55
Reply 24, posted (4 years 2 months 1 week 23 hours ago) and read 24237 times:

Wonderful report as usual. I just flew OZ and will write a report at some point soon ... but my experiences are pretty in-line with what you went through.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Still, staying awake does allows me to observe what the OZ crew are up to in the wee hours. And I am impressed by the conscientious, but discrete, patrolling of the darkened cabin by the flight attendants - about every 10 minutes without fail - throughout the night.

= Yes, I am always amazed at how pro-active OZ crew are ... they have mastered this, and the only other airline where I have seen crew being this pro-active is probably on IT.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
If one manages to ignore the rather poor finishings, Suvarnabhumi can be a rather stunning airport, in an industrial sort of way.

= Ya - what's up with BKK? I have mixed feelings about Suvarnabhumi and the industrial unfinished decor has been unappealing of late. It just feels like a work-in-progress damp terminal from some bygone Communist days.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
but immigration queues are longer than I had anticipated.

= I consider this to be the one design flaw at ICN. It is as if, they built this amazing connecting airport and suddenly realized that they have passengers actually wanting to go to Korea  . I have had really long IMMI queues ... and they can be quite back when OZ and KE dump in some of their North America arrivals in the AM.

Thanks for a wonderful report.

Saludos,
A.



Live, and let live.
25 The777Man : Amazing report with fantastic pictures! Asiana seems really nice; I have only flown them on a short ICN-SHA flight but would like to try them on long-
26 Flying Belgian : Nice job airpearl, makes me wanna fly to ICN with OZ. The airline deserves to be better known here in Europe. Thx again !!!
27 nethkt : Still wonder to myself how could I missed the 5 stars review like this! Many thanks for the report. I just fall in love with Asiana's Ivory White Chin
28 BA319-131 : Great report and pictures, not sure how this passed me by when you first posted it. - Indeed a tad odd, you would expect a Korean option without quest
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