Knightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1429 posts, RR: 17 Posted (1 year 2 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 9777 times:
Welcome to the second in a series of reports I wrote on a recent trip to Japan. In part one I take a Lufthansa Regional Jet from Basel to Frankfurt in Business Class and then have the pleasure of sampling Asiana’s excellent First Class service from Frankfurt to Seoul. You can read that report here: Asiana First Class: Via Frankfurt To Seoul (by Knightsofmalta Jun 3 2012 in Trip Reports)
Date: 27 May 2012
From: Seoul Incheon
Airline: Asiana Airlines
Aircraft: Airbus A 321
Class: Business Class
Seat: 1B, aisle. Just before pushback I move to 3D, window.
GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
To get to the airport, I make the same trip I did the previous day but in revers. First the Metro line 1 from City Hall to Seoul Station and then from there the Airport Express to Incheon. The railway station of Lucerne inspired the original main building of Seoul Station. It is now closed for traffic though, and houses a museum instead.
The Airport Express station is on the second basement floor, the platform for the train is five storeys further down in the seventh basement floor.
At Seoul Station some carriers, including Asiana, provide the possibility to do check-in and even immigration. I give it a miss this time as I only have four minutes to spare before the train leaves.
AT THE AIRPORT
Once I arrive at the airport, I find the Asiana check-in counters to check if they will accept the SWISS branded boarding card I was issued in Basel two days earlier. The agent looks at my passport, tells me everything is fine and writes the number of the gate on the boarding card for me.
After that I head for security, which, although very busy, is also highly efficient. After security and emigration I head for the Asiana lounge one floor up.
THE LOUNGE EXPERIENCE
The receptionist welcomes me to the lounge and tells me that I am welcome to use the lounge proviso that I go across to the transfer counter and have my SWISS boarding pass exchanged for an Asiana branded one. So I do that, no idea what the point of all this is though, and then return.
The lounge is elegantly appointed, but there are a few odd items: a piano that does not make a sound and shelves of faux books – covers with empty pages.
The lounge is not too full and I manage to secure a comfortable seat by the window. I pass my time watching the action on the ramp.
When I arrive at the gate I find my bird standing there with a bunch of engineers peering at the left engine with its cowling open. It is only when I take a closer look that I realise they are running a test and the engine is actually on. Standing so close to it the noise must be deafening. The gate attendant announces that there will be a delay for technical reasons. Indeed!
Eventually we depart about thirty minutes behind schedule. But the flight time is calculated at just under one hour, so we are able to make up time en route and by the time we arrive in Fukuoka, we are only 15 minutes behind schedule.
Asiana has a dedicated Business Class on its Airbus narrow-bodies. There are three rows with four seats on each row, for a total of twelve seats. The colours and patterns are the same as in First Class on the B 747-400. The seat is incredibly wide, has amazingly soft cushions, a footrest and is tremendously comfortable.
I arrive at my seat to find earphones, the menu and a pair of slippers placed in the seat pocket.
There are two flight attendants working the Business Class section on this flight. Again the crew seem friendly enough. Service begins with one of the flight attendants passing through the cabin with the customs and immigration forms for Japan.
THE MEALOnce boarding is completed, the lead flight attendant comes by offering either water or orange juice for a welcome drink. This is followed by a hot towel.
After take-off it takes a while for the service to begin as there is quite some chop, which takes some time to clear.
When eventually the fasten seatbelt sign goes off, my table is covered with a crisp linen tablecloth. Every passenger is served a tray individually from the galley, not from a trolley. And this is what we get.
I have a Perrier with that and then later on a coffee. During the meal the crew serve green tea.
The approach into Fukuoka is pretty spectacular. First we fly in over the sea, along the cost. Then we bank right and fly right over the city towards the hills in the background. As the hills begin to close in around the aircraft, that is when you begin to wonder where on earth you are actually going. I hear the sound of the autopilot being disengaged and shortly thereafter we bank sharply to the left to execute a 180 degree turn at an interestingly low altitude. It reminds me a bit of the approach to Hong Kong’s old Kai Tak airport. Eventually we come out of the turn, the wings are levelled again and we gracefully glide down onto the runway. Nice one captain!
Last view of my bird.
GETTING INTO TOWN
Fukuoka has an international terminal and a domestic terminal, which are separated from each other by the runway. There is the metro into town, but that only runs from the domestic terminal. But there is a free shuttle to take passengers across the airfield. And that is literally what it does. You pick up the shuttle just outside arrivals, landside. After a brief stop at the cargo terminal, the bus then passes a gate in the perimeter fence that takes you airside again. It is an interesting route and runs between the masts of the approach light markings as you round the runway threshold. Once you reach the other side, the bus passes a gate and you find yourself landside once again.
The only problem on this particular occasion is that the bus is stifling. It so hot and muggy it takes your breath away. But luckily the journey does not take too long to complete.
The domestic terminal is divided into sections, although I am not exactly sure according to what criteria. One would expect there to be separate sections for ANA and for JAL, but that does not seem to be the case.
The trip into town only takes 5 minutes by metro. I get out at the second stop, which is Hakata main station. From here there are connections onto the JR Shinkansen mainline routes. My hotel is in a shopping mall complex known as Canal City and is some 10 minutes away from the station on foot.
On this flight Asiana certainly showed consistency in its service in that the flight, although a very short one, was equally pleasant as my trip from Frankfurt to Seoul with them the previous day. The Business Class seat is positively enormous and the crew were pleasant, professional and charming. The food perhaps is a matter of taste. Asiana are certainly catering for the Japanese market here. I like Japanese food, so I don't mind. But I can imagine there may be people who would not have enjoyed this meal
The day after I arrive in Fukuoka I have to explore the city before heading out to the airport again in the evening for my flight to Okinawa. Stay tuned.
767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1760 posts, RR: 25 Reply 3, posted (1 year 2 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 8466 times:
Another good report of your travels!
Food looks tasty again; I'm a big sushi fan so I would have loved your meal on the flight to Japan. Those Business seats look really huge for the A321 cabin! Maybe its just the angle of your photo of them ...
HT From Germany, joined May 2005, 6475 posts, RR: 26 Reply 4, posted (1 year 2 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 7650 times:
Thanks for the nice report.
I flew the very same route on Asiana in Business Class in March 2011, but was on an A330, departing mid-morning.
The food you had ...: Was it the only option ? I had the option of either a Korean or Japanese meal back then. I chose the Japanese one and, of course, it only came with chop-sticks.
Interesting to read about the land transportation at FUK, as I was greeted at the aircraft door being escorted through deserted corridors before receiving an individual security check, as I was the only pax onboard connecting internationally (onto a BR-flight to TPE).
Carpe diem ! Life is too short to waste your time ! Keep in mind, that today is the first day of the rest of your life !
Quoting adamspotter (Reply 1): Asiana service looks great once again, even though I'm not a big fan of Japanese food, thanks for sharing!
Yeah, I like Japanese food so I don't mind. But I did find the choice a tad risqué. Then again, I was the only non-Asian in Business Class and from what I could tell, there were only a handful in Economy. So fair enough.
Quoting 767747 (Reply 3): Food looks tasty again; I'm a big sushi fan so I would have loved your meal on the flight to Japan.
Actually Korean cuisine is very tasty generally speaking. They even have their own take on Sushi, some of which is made with pieces of cooked meat. The combination with the seaweed takes getting used to.
Quoting 767747 (Reply 3): Those Business seats look really huge for the A321 cabin! Maybe its just the angle of your photo of them ...
Quoting HT (Reply 4): I chose the Japanese one and, of course, it only came with chop-sticks.
Ah, I see the problem. Chop sticks take getting used to anyway, but those metal ones the Koreans use are quite difficult to use if you're not used to it.
Quoting HT (Reply 4): Interesting to read about the land transportation at FUK, as I was greeted at the aircraft door being escorted through deserted corridors before receiving an individual security check, as I was the only pax onboard connecting internationally (onto a BR-flight to TPE).
But I guess that means you remained airside all the time. I interrupted my journey in FUK.
Quoting deltamartin (Reply 5): Asiana sure seems impressive for such a short flight, with a meal like that and all!
I can see why people seem to like them.
It was quite funny actually. As the service unfolded I couldn't help thinking that the inflight product managers of most European airlines would be green with envy if they saw any of this!
Well gents, thank to all of you for taking the time to comment!
aflyingkiwi From New Zealand, joined Nov 2010, 490 posts, RR: 3 Reply 7, posted (1 year 2 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 6561 times:
Great 2nd installment to this series. OZ's product looks pretty solid. The food doesn't look too bad though I'm surprised that there was only one choice available. I have to admit, those seats look very comfy, definitely better than Euro-business.
Sultanils From Belgium, joined Mar 2010, 1215 posts, RR: 29 Reply 9, posted (1 year 1 week 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 5911 times:
Hello again William,
Thanks for this next part of your grand Japan trip. A great continuation of your travels on Asiana it seems, those business seats look damn comfy! I liked the view from the lounge: all lightblue from KE and greyish from Asiana. The meal box looks nicely presented in typical Oriental/Asian style.
PlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6211 posts, RR: 79 Reply 10, posted (1 year 1 week 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 5613 times:
very nice second part of your new series! OZ's Business Class product looks quite impressive on that short sector.
Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter): The lounge is elegantly appointed, but there are a few odd items: a piano that does not make a sound and shelves of faux books – covers with empty pages.
Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter): Asiana has a dedicated Business Class on its Airbus narrow-bodies. There are three rows with four seats on each row, for a total of twelve seats. The colours and patterns are the same as in First Class on the B 747-400. The seat is incredibly wide, has amazingly soft cushions, a footrest and is tremendously comfortable.
They look very comfortable indeed. Btw - you wear interesting shoes.
Quoting Knightsofmalta (Thread starter): The approach into Fukuoka is pretty spectacular. First we fly in over the sea, along the cost. Then we bank right and fly right over the city towards the hills in the background. As the hills begin to close in around the aircraft, that is when you begin to wonder where on earth you are actually going. I hear the sound of the autopilot being disengaged and shortly thereafter we bank sharply to the left to execute a 180 degree turn at an interestingly low altitude. It reminds me a bit of the approach to Hong Kong’s old Kai Tak airport. Eventually we come out of the turn, the wings are levelled again and we gracefully glide down onto the runway. Nice one captain!
Yes, I remember that when flying OKA-FUK on JTA back in 2007. Fantastic approach!