It doesn’t get better than Asiana…

In terms of the actual in-flight experience I’m convinced that Asiana is the best airline out there. I flew them a couple of years ago from Seoul to Frankfurt, and again this weekend on the same route. Like last time, my flight was more or less perfect. I’ll have a full report in the next week (I’m serious this time, the trip report is more or less ready to go), but in the meantime here’s a quick teaser.

The seats

Yes, the seat themselves are on the old side and by no means among the best out there, though they’re still very comfy.

The food

This is one of the places that Asiana shines. I’m convinced their food is among the best in the sky. It’s the only airline I’ve flown where they ask how you want your steak cooked. Now that’s the sign of a good airline!

The service and amenities

The food on Asiana is excellent, though it’s the service that really shines. The way I feel about Asiana service now is the way I used to feel about Singapore service, which I feel has slipped a bit over the past few years.

Another cool thing Asiana does is that they offer their first class passengers a choice of gifts towards the end of the flight. In this instance I selected an iPhone case.

Beyond that, their PJs and slippers must be among the most fashionable in the industry. šŸ˜‰

I was one top hat short of looking like a teacup monkey out of a movie.

One other really unique thing Asiana does if you’re flying first class is that they wrap your checked bag in plastic, and plaster it with a huge “FIRST CLASS” sticker. On one hand it’s totally awesome since it ensures your bag arrives undamaged, but on the other hand you do have to dispose of the plastic in baggage claim, which can be a bit of a pain if your bag is heavy.

Anyone else a huge fan of Asiana? They release plenty of award space on their Los Angeles/Frankfurt to Seoul routes, so if you want to try them in first class it’s not all that hard to do.

Comments

  1. @ lelee — This was booked using Aeroplan miles pre-devaluation. Availability tends to be best far in advance.

  2. UA has plenty of Asiana availability throughout the year, especially Seoul-LAX. Had no problem booking mulitple legs for december.

  3. I flew business syd to icn to lax and it was an amazing experience. All around awesome product they offer for business class.

  4. Ben..what are the routing rules if we do want to fly Asiana? Can we do stopover? I’d like to fly them but my final destination would be Kuala Lumpur….but I’d like do a stop over in PEK.

  5. @ Ozaer — It depends on the airline you book through. Most airlines would let you stopover in Beijing if connecting to Kuala Lumpur without too much trouble.

  6. I flew Asiana to SGN in economy back in 2010. I had no problem with anything they did, except…

    Sweet Jesus, was it hot! No whisper vents and hot as hell. I was asking for damp cloths by the time we were one hour out. For that reason alone, I will pay more on another carrier to get where I’m going.

  7. I posted the question in FT and no response; It is hard to find Asiana First using ua.com but there is plenty of Asiana Business class; Is Asiana Business better than United First?

  8. Food is great, amenities are great, service is outstanding though English can be a frequent challenge. Which is fine, they’re an Asian carrier, but flying US routes I am surprised sometimes but how much the flight attendants struggle with it and there have been some pretty amusing results when I ask for something and it comes out very differently…

    Seats aren’t great, oh they’re fine and not worse than ‘new’ United first. But not ideal.

    Entertainment system is fine but doesn’t compare to CX/SQ, though not worse than NH.

    PJs are good but aren’t high quality materials the way SQ and CX are, they don’t wash well.

    I’ve always gotten an escort from the F lounge in ICN.

    The most frustrating thing dealing with them is the tendency to block many of the seats in the cabin, it’s almost impossible to get the 2 seats together in F even with an empty cabin, at least in advance. Frequently at the airport they aren’t taken.

  9. @ Rami — I guess it depends what you value the most. United’s first suite has a lot more personal space, so if you plan on sleeping most of the flight is probably better. I suspect food and service will be better on Asiana. If you do fly Asiana, stick to a 777, as it has the best shot of having the new business class.

  10. I put ANA above Asiana when I did my C class trip to Japan this year – but Asiana is consistent – consistently good.

    Bear in my mind I had the Old C product, the crew, food and everything was… well… delivered in typical Asiana style.

    Depending on the crews you’ll get various levels of English. I’ve been lucky and got good staff each time.

    Put it like this. Given the choice on Asiana vs United on a shorthaul or long haul leg…. well… do you REALLY Need me to answer that question???

  11. I flew Asiana from ICN-FRA. It was nice especially as I was one of only 3 passengers. Must admit I wasnt too impressed with the seat or the food. Would certainly say the food was better on ANA.

  12. Dude, Lucky, I love your blog, man, but you’re starting to sound a bit like the boy who cried wolf! šŸ˜‰ I mean, this is exactly what you said after your LH flight… So is it Asiana or LH or LX…? Just busting your chops, but I think I preferred you when you were more picky, because they weren’t all “perfect” back then! I’m trying to build my next dream trip here, so pick ONE! hehe

  13. Well, to be fair, he’s never said the food on LH was ever among his favorite (well, not for the last couple of years, anyway). He has said Asiana and Swiss have his favorite food.

    Note he also said “In terms of the actual in-flight experience…”, not including ground service. I’m sure the First Class Terminal in Frankfurt is a big factor in his love for LH.

  14. @ A. S. — Too funny! I’ll make you a deal. I’ll be more critical, and every time someone calls me an ungrateful douchebag for finding a flaw in a premium cabin, you’ll yell at them on my behalf. Deal? šŸ˜€

  15. Lucky,
    Now that you have more experience on OZ, would you prefer LH or OZ out of FRA, in terms of the overall product.

  16. @ hsw25 — I’d have to say Lufthansa if departing Frankfurt because I love the First Class Terminal.

  17. What do yall think about UA First class vs OZ First class with an overnight layover? I.e.

    US-ICN (overnight)-NRT in OZ First
    vs.
    US-NRT in UA First

    Is the OZ product that much better to justify the overnight layover in an airport hotel at ICN?

  18. @ lucky – The PJ and slippers on OZ are NOT the most fashionable in the industry, and they are just ok quality. NH’s slippers are the best out there, and in terms of PJ, just like Gary mentioned, there are many have higher quality than OZ. LX ones certainly is my newest favorite.

    @ hsw25 – Just another note about LH vs OZ. OZ can only beat LH with its service and amenities. In terms of seat, espeically if you can get LH 744 new F on the upper deck, no other airlines in the world can beat that, as it is a seat + real bed next to your seat.

    @ Lucky – Becareful of your comment about stick to OZ’s 777 for new business class seat. As OZ only has 4 777 have those seats, and they only use those on SFO-ICN and LAX-ICN. And even so, those 777 on these 2 routes do NOT guranteed 100%, there are many disguntle pax after they book those flights, then they got a call from OZ about a downgrade. And when they have a downgrade, there is nothing you can do, and they don’t compensate you for your loss, you would only end up getting stuck in an angle flat seat with no AVOD on a 12 hours flight.

  19. @ JTI — I guess it depends how much you enjoy the travel experience. If you don’t enjoy the travel experience, then it’s hard to justify “wasting” a day in order to get a better 11 hour flight. If you enjoy the travel experience, however, then I’d say it’s well worth it. If it were me, I’d go for it. But if you’re not like me and not able to work from anywhere in the world, I’d say it’s probably not worth “wasting” a day.

  20. @Lucky – Do you know if Asiana offers gifts at the end of short haul flights as well. I have them booked F for an upcoming intraAsia flight. Unfortunately it is on one of their old products. Still, better than United.

  21. @ Josh — I’ve never flown them in shorthaul first class, though I believe it’s offered on all flights that have a first class product. I could be mistaken, though.

  22. Lucky, you steered me to fly OZ and boy was I glad…
    The service is a lot better/friendlier than LH.
    Some examples:
    I was lying in my “bed” but couldn’t sleep so a flight attendant asked me what was wrong. I told her the huge “Lavatory” sign on the ceiling (747) was too bright… Anyway, a minute or 2 pass by and then I see the flight attendant climbing on top of the “table” beside me (the table with the 2 screens in Lucky’s first picture) with a magazine. I ask her what she’s doing and she tells me that she’s going to cover the sign with the magazine… I of course tell her to stop!!!

    Also, I picked the Samsung Galaxy S case as my gift but was hesitating since the bag would also be handy… Guess what, the flight attendant told me plainly I could have both because I’m flying First Class… šŸ™‚

  23. Never flown Asiana or even been to Asia šŸ˜‰

    But my father-in-law has been multiple times and says he likes their planes for the most part. I think my wife and I are planning a trip in 2013 and will probably save the points to fly first class!

    Looks amazing.. Inception? Looks like the same plane type as in the movie.

  24. As other have said, OZ’s PJ’s good for one time only, wash them once and it will shrink to kid’s size. I like the duffle bag gift, it rolls up into a tiny pocket and it’s perfect to take on long trips in case if an extra bag is needed.

  25. Quote Gary:

    “The most frustrating thing dealing with them is the tendency to block many of the seats in the cabin, itā€™s almost impossible to get the 2 seats together in F even with an empty cabin, at least in advance. Frequently at the airport they arenā€™t taken.”

    I am finding this too – my wife and are I traveling F LAX-ICN in April and best we can do at the moment is 3A,4A.

    Will Asiana allow once to call and request 4E,F or the only option is take your chances once at the airport – surely they would see 2 pax traveling together and assign 4E,F if not already assigned?

  26. @ Lucky – have you flown NH F? They also ask how you would like to have your steak cooked. There was one time my steak was slightly over-cooked which I was fine, but the purser apologized and insisted that she had to take it back and re-do. šŸ˜® It came out perfect second time, and she seemed to be relieved. Now that’s the service!

    I’m always impressed by their knowledge when I ask them where they procure certain ingredients in their food, and of course the food presentation… Also, you can ‘mix and match’ any items on the menu and they serve you anytime you want.

    I have never seen more than 4 pax in their F (8 seats – 777), so the cabin is quiet and sparkling clean – including the lavatories…

  27. @ Simon — Agree with Gary that they do way too much blocking. The blocked seats are assigned on a first come first serve basis in my experience, so don’t assume they’ll pre-assign you based on the fact that you’re traveling together. I’d get to the airport early.

  28. @ FlyMan — I have, and agree that NH F is phenomenal as well. Don’t recall being asked how I want my steak cooked, but everything else mirrors my experiences with them.

  29. Not to mention for the not-as-frequent fliers, Asiana offers one of the easiest ways to earn *Gold, if that’s a goal.

  30. Thanks Lucky – last year, although I flew LAX-ICN solo, I got there 4hrs early so will plan to the same next month. If we miss out, hopefully we can negotiate with fellow pax in 4E,F to move.

  31. Looooove Asiana First. Flew JFK-ICN recently and it was great.

    @ mike – (Comment 8) – I have been very unimpressed with Asiana Business from ICN to SYD. I always go Korean on this route (or do Qantas A380 SYD-HKG and Cathay HKG-ICN).

    Asiana had tight, not-flat seats, crammed in, in a noisy cabin that I didn’t enjoy.

  32. @ Simon — For what it’s worth when I flew Seoul to Frankfurt I had selected seats 4E & 4F at check-in, though once aboard decided to move. They felt VERY cramped with little privacy. I realize if you’re traveling with someone it’s nicer to sit next to them, but you are giving up quite a bit of privacy compared to row one, for example. Just my two cents…

  33. Flying 4 legs with Asiana in September. 3 x First and once in Business…Looking forward to it.

  34. I have my first flight on OZ (ICN to HKG) in J class next month. Looking forward to it after all I’ve heard.

  35. Hi

    I’m glad I found your trip report.

    we just booked ( with ua mileage) san/hkt today
    asiana first lax/icn, and business icn to hkt.

    I am really looking forward to the trip after reading your review.

    Now we have to wait a few weeks to book our return flights ( once they are 330 days out)

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