Asiana A380 First Class Los Angeles To Seoul

Hello from Seoul! As I mentioned on Friday, I just flew from Los Angeles to Seoul Incheon on the Asiana A380. It’s the last A380 presently in commercial service that I’ve yet to fly, so I was excited to check it out (I’ve already reviewed the A380 first class products offered by Air France, British Airways, China Southern, Emirates, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways).

I should start by saying that I’ve long been a huge fan of Asiana. I’ve flown them in first class on their 777 and 747, and while their hard product has always been lacking, the soft product was among the best in the sky, on par with ANA, Cathay Pacific, Singapore, etc.

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Asiana A380 at LAX

Asiana A380 First Class Seat

On the A380 the first class cabin consists of a total of 12 seats, spread across three rows in a 1-2-1 configuration.

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Asiana A380 first class cabin

First class is on the lower deck, which means the cabin is a bit wider than what’s offered by airlines that have first class on the upper deck (of the airlines flying the A380, Air France, British Airways, China Southern, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, and Singapore Airlines have first class on the lower deck, while Emirates, Lufthansa, and Thai Airways have it on the upper deck).

On the plus side, the cabin is spacious, the suites are fully enclosed, there’s plenty of storage, and the TV screen is massive – supposedly the largest available on any airline, at 32″.

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Asiana A380 first class suite

But if I’m being critical, that’s where the positive aspects of the hard product end.

First of all, who decided on the color scheme of the cabin? Does anyone find the barf-colored tones to be visually appealing?

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Asiana A380 first class seat

Let’s talk about the entertainment selection for a second. You know what’s even better than a 32” TV at your seat? Programming people would actually want to watch. Now I can’t speak to their Korean programming, but in terms of English programming, Asiana must have among the worst selection of any airline. They don’t even have any US sitcoms on the entertainment system. It made China Southern’s entertainment selection look good, by comparison.

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Asiana A380 first class entertainment selection

Beyond that, the entertainment controller was extremely difficult to use. That was fine given how bad the entertainment selection was, but I struggled to even turn on the airshow.

And while it’s totally minor, here’s one thing that shows the seat was designed by someone that has never sat in a first class seat before. The power port is located underneath the ottoman and at such an angle so that you have to get on your knees to plug anything in there. Maybe other people enjoy getting on their knees? I don’t…

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Asiana A380 first class power port location

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a spacious and super comfortable product, but it just amazes me that a brand new plane has so many user-unfriendly features.

Asiana First Class Food

I love Korean food, so almost exclusively had Korean food on this flight.

The canapé was a turnip vegetable roll.

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Asiana first class canape — turnip vegetable roll

Then I had caviar, which you can still opt to have even with the Korean meal. Kudos to Asiana for the presentation, and for their mother of pearl spoon (which my beloved Lufthansa really needs to pick up).

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Asiana first class caviar presentation

Then I was served shrimp with vegetables.

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Asiana first class appetizer — shrimp with vegetables

Then Korean pumpkin porridge.

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Asiana first class soup — Korean pumpkin porridge

And then I had the bibimbap. It was good, but didn’t blow me away – I preferred the Korean meal I had on Korean Air earlier in the year, all things considered.

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Asiana first class main course — bibimbap with beef short rib bulgalbi

Then for dessert I had some fruit and cheesecake, and the flight attendant also insisted I try the Korean dessert (which was the only part of the meal I didn’t enjoy).

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Asiana first class dessert — cheesecake and traditional Korean cookies

All-in-all the food was good, though comparatively I was more blown away be the western options in the past, at least compared to other airlines serving western food. When I flew Asiana in the past they had both a pasta course and then a beef course, and they’d prepare it to your liking. I think the best steak I’ve ever had was in Asiana first class.

In terms of drinks, Asiana had two types of champagne — Pol Roger Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill 2000 and Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millenaire 1995. That’s quite a selection, though I definitely preferred the latter. The Pol Roger was too complex for me, at least when accompanying a meal.

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Asiana first class Pol Roger champagne

Asiana First Class Service

I’ve found service on Asiana to always be excellent, and this flight was no exception. The crew was charming, engaging, friendly, attentive, and proactive.

They didn’t speak English very well, but then again my Korean could use some work as well. 😉

And they really did try, which made up for any language barrier.

I will say that the service was slow, though. Not uncomfortably slow, but it was 75 minutes into the flight before I was served my canape, which is a bit longer than I’m used to.

Asiana A380 Amenities

There’s a single bathroom in Asiana first class, which is located on the right side of the cabin and in the front. It’s a large bathroom with an interesting bench setup, so that you can sit down as well.

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Asiana A380 first class lavatory

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Asiana A380 first class lavatory

Then on the upper deck there’s a small lounge with four seats at the very front of the cabin.

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Asiana A380 business class lounge

Asiana’s A380 certainly pales in comparison to Korean Air’s A380, which has a small first class bar, huge business class bar, and duty free gallery in economy.

There was no self serve snack bar anywhere in first or business class – even China Southern has that!

Then again, they cram 495 seats on their A380s, which is 88 more than Korean Air has on their A380s.

In terms of first class amenities, there was a really nice Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kit, plus pajamas that were actually comfortable (unlike their old ones).

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Asiana first class amenity kit

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Asiana first class pajamas

The bedding left a bit to be desired — the pillow was small, and the duvet was rough and not very big.

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Asiana A380 first class turndown service

Asiana A380 First Class Bottom Line

I know this might sound like a negative review, but it really isn’t. All things considered my flight was spectacular, with great food and service.

I tend to think we’re most critical of the ones we love most, and I do love Asiana.

Their new hard product is a huge improvement over their old one, so that’s exciting. There are aspects of it that leave me shaking my head, but it’s still way better than their old product.

Anyway, I’d absolutely recommend Asiana’s A380 first class. Just don’t expect the A380 features offered by other airlines, like a bar, lounge, or shower.

Have you flown Asiana’s A380 first class? If so, what was your experience?

Comments

  1. We flew the A380 ICN-LAX at the end of August. I thought everything was great…from the food (had the Western option), service and the suite. I do agree about the IFE…just terrible. I also thought the pillows were too small. Luckily, our flight was only half full so i took the pillows from the other unoccupied suites and piled them up.

    This was our first time flying on Asiana and their ground service at ICN is not so good compared with other Star Alliance members like Thai, Singapore and ANA. That being said, I would definitely fly Asiana again.

    Ben, do you agree about their ground service at ICN being left a lot to be desired?

  2. I enjoyed my flight very much and the things I might complain about are hardly serious issues:
    1. I agree the pillows are too small.
    2. The cabin was too warm for my taste.
    3. Boarding at LAX left much to be desired. I have no such complaints about ICN.

    There actually is another lavvie in the front of the FC cabin. It’s behind the curtain and up a few steps, directly across from the stairway to upper deck. It’s small and doesn’t have the Evian Spray, but still usable.

    I hope you had the caricature team on your flight – it was a fun little memento.

  3. Hey,

    It was a nice surprise to find that we were on this flight together. Thanks for the tour of the LAX lounge and and pouring us champagne. I think you were more familiar with the place than the staff.

    We didn’t get caviar on the flight. The attendant explained that they didn’t load enough when they left Korea. She said they only had enough for 6. (Evidently all the caviar they serve is brought with them when they fly out of Korea.) The flight attendant gave a very heart-felt apology to both my wife and me individually. They also ran out of the Korean meal but the FA brought me one from business class in addition to the western first class meal. I tried my wife’s Korean FC meal of bibimbap and short rib and it was almost identical. The canape and shrimp are probably the main difference between the two.

    I tried the USB option where you can supposedly view pictures and listen to music on your USB device, but it didn’t work. I tried a USB stick loaded with pictures, video and music and it never recognized it. I also tried plugging in my android phone which should show up as a drive, and it never worked either.

    My seat wasn’t solidly connected to the floor I think because it kind of rocked if I pushed back on it.

    As for the entertainment system, I was fine with it because the movie selection was pretty recent. There were at least half a dozen movies that I was interested in. The touch screen controller worked pretty well too. There were some US TV shows but they weren’t listed under TV. I can’t remember exactly where they were, but it wasn’t intuitively categorized.

    I tried the seat-to-seat calling feature. I had to first enable it on my wife’s controller. Her controller rang but I couldn’t tell where the speaker and mic were so we couldn’t really “talk” over it. I don’t know if other classes have the feature too. Seems like an odd feature though. I didn’t try the seat to ground calling feature.

    There was a second bathroom in FC. It was at the very front using the same stairs that get to the cockpit. The FAs said it was small and recommended that I use the big one.

    The touch screen seat adjustment controller isn’t placed in a convenient spot. You definitely need to detach it to use it.

  4. Im booked on OZ201, from LAX to Seoul, this coming Friday and, except for the IFE, this feedback pretty much meets my expectations, though my A380 experience on Koran Air was not nearly as good as Ben’s (I had the western meal and the steak was inedible). That said, I certainly hope there are a few good movies to help pass the time, as I find I’m too psyched up to sleep.

  5. fwiw, Most of your meal looks the same as you would get in OZ J (except the caviar and shrimp)… Bibimbap looks the same, as does the Korean dessert, turnip rolls, and the soup.

  6. “Maybe other people enjoy getting on their knees? I don’t…”

    you just disappointed half of your loyal readers!

  7. @ John — Yup, totally agree. In the past I’ve been escorted to the gate at ICN when flying Asiana first class, but in general Asiana’s ground services aren’t very good, in my opinion.

  8. @ Holly — I’ve heard about the caricature team, but didn’t get them, unfortunately. Seems like such a cool idea!

  9. @ Bob — It was great running into you! Ouch, didn’t realize they had run out of food, guess I got lucky (at your expense).

    Interesting, didn’t realize the cockpit lavatory could be used by passengers.

    Enjoy your time in Japan!

  10. Did you pre-order your bi-bimbap?

    Also, I guess times are tough for Asiana and don’t give out a departing gift anymore? I flew them earlier this year(April) and didn’t get a links of business card holder or any other trinket.

  11. @ Mike — No gift anymore as far as I know. I didn’t pre-order. I believe that’s only possible when departing Korea, no?

  12. So bottom line — Korean Air A380 first class > Asiana A380 first class on this route, correct?

  13. Was the IFE selection of US movies terrible?

    As I’m on LAX-ICN in January on the A380 in F, I was hoping for a bit more. Thanks for the review, I’ll be prepared.

  14. @ Diamond Vargas — That’s a toughie. The Asiana seat is definitely a lot more private, and the Star Alliance Lounge at LAX is a *LOT* better than the SkyTeam Lounge LAX.

    So I do think I slightly preferred the Korean Air soft product, though the Asiana hard product and lounge are still a lot better.

    Not sure…

  15. @ beachfan — I didn’t think it was very good, though I’m also not a movie person. My attention span lasts for a sitcom at most.

  16. Can you pick the size of your pajamas in first class? I’m 5”9 so not sure if i’ll look like i’m wearing a snuggy

  17. Would love to see a detailed ranking/comparison of all the a380 first classes once you’ve completed your trip report for Qatar. Would be cool to have a ranking for all different aspects of the flight, for instance seat relaxed setting, seat for sleeping, cabin/plane amenities, food, service, design, etc.

  18. Thanks Lucky.

    You got a laugh from me when you said you don’t watch TV. True in the contest of a hotel review, but any fan of Real Housewives of Anywhere can’t deny watching TV.

  19. Too bad Asiana can’t fully deliver the top First experience thats within their reach. I’ve also found their ground customer service to be weak. Their ground services used to be incredible; but Asiana has really cut costs in this area also eliminating Asia-regional First that included agent services upon arrival. Sad waste of the upstairs lounge – no bar or self-serve snacks. First/Business bars are fantastic for meeting people.

    Are employees taking the caviar? Surely Asiana can acquire caviar in LA. The pre-order menu is only out of Seoul – it used to be both gourmet Chinese and Korean, but now only the latter.

  20. I had flown the Asiana A380 on two sectors. HKG – ICN and ICN -LAX, though it was in business class. Have to admit the HKG-ICN sector had the best service of any airline/route I have travelled. Then again it could have been due to flight being quarter full. The service on ICN-LAX was slow. My only negative feedback was I had specifically ordered the western dessert to accompany my Korean meal and Asiana made a stink about it. Either way still look forward to board an Asiana flight soon, they’re one of my fav products out there. Glad you still enjoyed your flight Lucky. If you get a chance, check out the Conrad Seoul sometime. Would like a review from you if possible. Enjoy

  21. @ Bill – What agent services upon arrival are you talking about ? I had been flying OZ F multiple times when F was still 2+2 in the 747, when there was still a SQ lounge in the main concourse in ICN (The SQ lounge now re-open at concourse A), never once had agent services upon arrival ! The only ground service is agent escort you from the lounge to the gate at ICN ! The upstairs lounge is very similar to what TG has for the 380.

    The pre-order Chinese was implemented later on, it wasn’t there from the beginning when all long haul routes were served by 744 and 74M. To me it was rather strange to have pre-order Chinese on a Korea base airline anyway, as even for flights to HKG, the meal choice is always Korean and Western, never Chinese.

  22. “Maybe other people enjoy getting on their knees? I don’t…”

    You can’t just always receive you know… Have to give sometimes too. 😉

  23. Is it just me or does the Asiana website (flyasiana.com) NEVER work? I’ve actually considered flying them for SFO-ICN, tried on three separate occasions to book on their website, then gave up and booked SQ instead.

  24. You sure you’re most critical of the ones you love most? I don’t see you being so critical with Lufthansa 😛

  25. “Maybe other people enjoy getting on their knees? I don’t…”

    LMFAO this had me rolling, cmon Ben we all know you love doing precisely that. no need to hide it anymore.

  26. Lucky, did you experience the cattle call boarding at LAX? I was really surprised they mixed F, J, and *G into a single, very long line, with OZ ground staff policing it and literally barking at pax. Not at all the right way to start the journey.

    Agree with your comments overall. Service was gracious and charming. The only part of the meal service that blew me away was the caviar. Snack of spicy noodle soup was pretty tasty, too.

    Loved the *A J lounge at LAX. Much nicer than the F side.

  27. So if you were flying from ICN to another city, and you had to choose between flying on Korean or Asiana…which would be your choice?

  28. @ Kacee — Boarding was an absolute mess, worse than I’ve seen anywhere else in the US. Have quite a bit to say about that in the full trip report. Agree, not a good start to the experience!

  29. @ halapeno — I’d probably give the slight edge to Korean Air. But they’re both so excellent that it’s tough to say with certainty.

  30. Lucky,

    I flew the 777 this Feb, and i didnt receive a gift from them, did you get one on this flight?

  31. I can’t believe I’m just reading the review today (not sure what I was doing Oct 5th) — but I have to ask this question! Did the flight attendant kneel on her knees and close the suite doors when she presented you your pajamas? I cannot help but have that image in mind from a few months ago…. is it safe to say that advertising promo photo was photoshopped? 😉

  32. @ Lucky — how was the cabin temperature, in your opinion? And if traveling onto Tokyo, would you take Korean because they seem to fly better planes ICN-NRT/HND?

    P.S. Pillows are so tiny!

  33. Lucky,

    If you have to choose between Asiana First on A380 (ICN-LAX) or ANA First 777-300 (NRT-LAX), which one would you pick?

  34. Ben,

    Thanks for the Asiana first review. Have you experienced Business class on the Asiana A380? I am deciding between two sets of flights to get from BKK to PHX. Overall schedule is similar (about 22 hours), but unsure if the transpacific leg would be better on Asiana in Business (day time flight) or United in GlobalFirst (night time flight).

    BKK-ICN-LAX-PHX (Asiana A380 ICN-LAX)
    or
    BKK-HND-SFO-PHX (United GlobFirst HND-SFO)

    Which would you do? Thank you.
    Tom

  35. @ Tom Perica — Haven’t done business on Asiana, though all else being equal I’d probably choose United in your shoes, for the more comfortable seat. That assumes the BKK-HND flight is operated by a plane in a longhaul configuration.

  36. Lucky, Which would you rather recommend, Asiana Suites or Korean Air First Class? Looking to fly to Hanoi from LA via ICN.

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