Review: Asiana Business Class Lounge Incheon Airport

Introduction: Journey To Kazakhstan
Review: Korean Air First Class 747-8 Vancouver To Incheon
Review: Nest Hotel Incheon Airport
Review: Asiana Business Class Lounge Incheon Airport
Review: Air Astana Business Class 767 Incheon To Almaty
Review: Ritz-Carlton Almaty
Review: Air Astana Lounge Almaty Airport
Review: Air Astana Business Class A321 Almaty To Astana
Review: Marriott Astana
Review: Air Astana Lounge Astana Airport
Review: Air Astana Business Class 757 Astana To London
Review: Sofitel London Heathrow Terminal 5
Review: United Lounge London Heathrow Airport
Review: Singapore Airlines Lounge London Heathrow Airport
Review: United First Class 777 London To Los Angeles


I arrived at Incheon Airport at around 10AM, a little under three hours before my 12:55PM flight to Almaty. Upon entering the main check-in hall I checked the monitor to see where Air Astana’s check-in counters were located.

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Seoul Incheon Airport check-in area

Their counters were in row “D,” and I was a bit surprised to see that check-in wasn’t open yet — Air Astana’s check-in only opens at 10:15AM, or 2hr40min before the flight’s departure. As you might expect, there was already quite a queue.

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Seoul Incheon Airport Air Astana check-in counters

Within about 20 minutes of arriving I was checked in, and issued a boarding pass and an invitation to the Asiana lounge, which Air Astana uses for their premium passengers at Incheon Airport.

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Seoul Incheon Airport Air Astana check-in counters

After check-in I headed to the security and immigration checkpoint. In the past I’ve found wait times at Incheon Airport to be highly variable, and unfortunately there’s not a premium queue either. Fortunately this time around the wait was short, and I was through within about 10 minutes.

Then I found myself in the main part of the terminal. Incheon Airport is often regarded as one of the two best airports in the world (along with Singapore Changi). While Incheon is a solid airport, personally I think it’s a bit overrated. The airport is consistently crowded, and the architecture and design are nothing special.

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Incheon Airport terminal

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Incheon Airport terminal

My flight was departing from gate 114, which is in the satellite terminal. This required taking the train. After I passed through security I turned left and followed the signage towards gates 101-132, and then took the escalator down to the train.

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Incheon Airport train to satellite terminal

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Incheon Airport train to satellite terminal

Five minutes later I found myself in the satellite terminal, which looked a whole lot like the main terminal.

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Incheon Airport satellite terminal

At the top of the escalator I took a right turn, and then on the left followed the signage towards the Asiana lounge.

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Escalator to Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport

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Signage for Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport

At the top of the escalator there was the Korean Air lounge to the left and then Asiana lounge to the right.

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Incheon Airport lounge area

I’ve reviewed the Korean Air lounge in the satellite terminal before, so was curious to see how the Asiana lounge compared. I should note that both airlines have bigger lounges in the main terminal, so these are just their secondary lounges, largely contracted out to other airlines. For what it’s worth, the Asiana lounge is also accessible to Priority Pass members.

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Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport exterior

Upon presenting my lounge invitation I was invited to turn right into the business class lounge (there was also a first class section to the left).

My first impression was very positive, as the lounge was significantly nicer than the Korean Air lounge across the way.

The lounge featured several types of sitting areas. There was a traditional lounging area with rows of seats facing one another.

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Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport seating

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Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport seating

Then there was an area with a row of seats facing a TV that was playing CNN International.

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Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport seating

Along the side of the lounge was an area that looked a bit like a library based on the bookshelves, with several types of seating options.

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Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport seating

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Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport seating

Then there were other types of seating scattered throughout the rest of the lounge. The lounge was well designed in the sense that they used partitions to create a sense of privacy between zones, which I appreciate.

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Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport seating

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Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport seating

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Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport seating

Across from the entrance to the lounge was a business center with several workstations.

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Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport business center

Next to that was the lounge’s dining area, which featured lots of dining tables and a self serve buffet.

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Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport dining area

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Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport buffet

The food selection wasn’t great, though it was better than the selection in the Korean Air lounge, in my opinion. I could be mistaken, but I believe there’s a better food selection in Asiana’s lounge in the main terminal.

There was a basic make-your-own salad bar.

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Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport food selection

Then there was toast, croissants, and rolls.

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Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport food selection

There were also pretzels, chips, nuts, and cookies with a few types of dip.

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Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport food selection

Then there were finger sandwiches.

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Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport food selection

There were also a couple of hot dishes, soup, and instant noodles.

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Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport food selection

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Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport food selection

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Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport instant noodles

Then there was a fridge with soft drinks, juice, and water. I’m not sure if I missed it, but I didn’t notice any alcohol (then again, I also wasn’t looking for it specifically).

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Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport drinks

The lounge also had a few massage chairs, which are an amenity I always love, as much as they repulse me as a germaphobe.

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Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport massage chairs

Back near the entrance was a selection of magazines and newspapers.

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Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport newspapers & magazines

I spent a bit over an hour in the lounge getting caught up on work, and then at around noon decided to head to the gate for boarding. Upon descending down the escalator I turned right and headed towards gate 114.

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Walking to departure gate Incheon Airport

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Walking to departure gate Incheon Airport

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Walking to departure gate Incheon Airport

The departure gate was just a short walk from the lounge. As I arrived at the gate I spotted the beautiful Air Astana 767. While 767s typically aren’t the most gorgeous planes, Air Astana’s 767s are among the newest in the world, and they look pretty snazzy, between the paint scheme and the winglets.

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Air Astana 767 Incheon Airport

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Air Astana 767 Incheon Airport

While boarding was scheduled to start at 12:15PM, it ended up only starting at around 12:20PM. The gate area had a fascinating mix of people, and I was surprised by how orderly the boarding process was. When boarding was announced there wasn’t the usual mad rush to the gate, but rather people stayed seated.

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Air Astana departure gate Incheon Airport

Fortunately I managed to be among the first to board, so I could snap some pictures of the cabin. I was excited at this point!

Asiana Lounge Incheon Airport bottom line

The Asiana lounge was perfectly fine, and significantly nicer than the Korean Air lounge next door. In both cases, I believe the airlines’ lounges in the main terminal are nicer, as most flights out of the satellite terminal are operated by partner airlines, so they don’t try quite as hard.

I wouldn’t arrive at the airport early to visit this lounge, but if you have time to kill, it’s nicer than the terminal. I always try to arrive at Incheon Airport early, given the highly variable security and immigration lines, and the lack of premium services.

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Comments

  1. I was really disappointed in this lounge when I visited a few years ago. I was there at breakfast and the food offerings were almost nothing. A few dense pastries and some rice crackers – that was about it. For the flagship lounge for what is supposed to be one of the worlds best airlines it was a real let-down.
    I agree with your thoughts on ICN airport – I didnt get what the fuss was all about. Its crowded, very large and takes a long time to get anywhere. Doesn’t have any wow factor. Give me SIN or HKG any day.

  2. So far so good. Very excited to read about the next leg on Air Astana — waiting with baited breath. Hurry hurry hurry! 🙂

  3. As someone who frequent ICN, I have to say this OZ lounge (business section) in Satellite Terminal actually has better food selection in general than the business one in the main terminal. (Unless someone is obsessed with the soba noodle served in the main terminal lounge only during dinner time) Also, the alcohol selection is next to the beverage fridge, though not extensive.

  4. I’ve never understood the appeal of Incheon, apart from the fact that it’s very clean and has lots of natural light. The stores are almost all super-high-end brands with little else to see and do. I agree that the lounges in the main terminal are bigger but also a lot busier than those in the satellite terminal.

  5. I’m waiting to see how Incheon’s terminal 2 will be. Apparently KE is going to move ops over there giving OZ more space in terminal 1 and KE a whole new terminal. Hopefully they’ll use this opportunity to give a new touch to their lounges (KE business lounge is kinda lackluster don’t know about OZ).

  6. I think I ICN does really well for who it caters for, which is the majority of passengers that use the airport who fly in coach.

    It’s the little things that make a difference, for example free shower facilities, free coaches to lie down on (just around the corner from the KAL Asiana lounge), fast Internet (no logins required) etc.

    Shopping is also catered towards the Koreans who seem to have no problem falking out cash on luxury items.

    As for things to do, they have a beautiful i door garden, movie theatres, a museum and even an ice rink (although they are all landslide near around the UFO looking building)

    I do admit though their premium flyer experience is pathetic. While all this might not appeal to the premium flyer it does to the other 90%.

    Finally technically ICN do have a fast track line but not for premium passengers. If you checkin you bags, get your boarding pass and clear immigration in Seoul (Seoul station & city air terminal COEX) there is a seperate gate for you to enter which can get you airside within 5 mins

  7. When I was there a couple weeks ago, I flew into ICN and out of GMP (to HND, before returning to the States). The lounge options were very barebones (my access options were oneworld Emeralds, JAL business class, and Priority Pass). But I was really happy with JAL’s First Class security area. It’s surprising to hear ICN doesn’t have that! More than just a premium lane, it was a dedicated security zone that was enclosed/private with a wood wall entryway & gold JAL First Class lettering. There were three highly attentive screeners who provided surpassingly personal service, helping with bins and my bags, then bowing and saying goodbye as I walked out. I was the only passenger, then another passenger entered as I finished. It was fantastic (for an older, smaller airport)!

  8. The OZ lounge in the main terminal is a significantly nicer space than the satellite. IMO it’s one of the prettier business class lounges in the world. Though the food options are still pretty poor.

    The KE lounge, even in the main terminal, is a disgrace. Worse than a domestic United Club.

  9. I am from Seoul – and have been using ICN ever since it opened in 2000. ICN used to be great until around early 2010s, but is really facing overcrowding nowadays. The security is really getting longer and longer especially because satellite terminal does not have separate security lane. Immigration is also becoming overcrowded. ICN really needs another terminal with its own security and immigration. It seems that Terminal 2 is due open in 2017 – and really hope it doesn’t get delayed anymore.
    Fast track for premium passengers would be very appreciated, but Koreans probably won’t accept that – they are really against giving special treatment to those who spend more money – which is kind of pity.
    I haven’t been to Asiana lounge on main terminal, but Korean Air lounge on main terminal is an unpleasant surprise. I’d take BA Galleria in LHR over KE Lounge in ICN any day.

  10. Remember, those “instant noodles” (just add hot water) is instant high LDL cholesterol, instant salt, instant for-life pills. yuck.

  11. I really liked both Asiana lounges at ICN, but the thing I liked the most about the main terminal one, is the small stalls with a comfy chair in it. Almost gives you a little suite by yourself.

    Food wise, I found it to be basically the same. The main terminal lounge had a chef making some sort of hash brown last time I was there (Feb. 2016), which was great.

  12. Was in the main terminal OZ Biz lounge in August. Lounge is nice, but I was surprised the food was not better. Perhaps it’s true as someone said here that it’s not the same as the early 2000s. I went to the OZ and KE lounges in early 2000s and the food was incredible, very amazing. Now perhaps you have to go to the first class lounge to get the great food? Food in Cathy lounges in HKG seems to be better.

  13. (1) In March, I took a red eye flight on Asiana from Singapore to ICN with a connecting flight (6+ hour layover) on an Air Astana-operated flight with an Asiana code to Astana, Kazakhstan. I took that route (starting in Melbourne) specifically because I was trying to get Lufthansa miles on the flight and their call center said this would be acceptable. They lied and I lost the miles on a full fare business class flight (7 hours) as a result.

    (2) I was supposed to fly on the 767 and at the last minute, it was substituted with a smaller 757 with the slanted seats. While service was excellent in business class, a woman died in economy class on the plane about one hour after take-off. I assume the reason we didn’t divert is because there are large swathes of barren land on that route

    (3) I spent 6 hours or so in the profiled lounge. The massage chair was top-of-the-line one of the very best I had ever sat in.

  14. Lounge in the main terminal has the same options, just more spread out. The main lounge does have decent showers and a few massage chairs. It’s not particularly great, even the first class lounge is just ok.

    The food court is decent, but people like ICN mostly for the landside options (movies, ice rink, etc.).

  15. ever since i found out about the airport city check in in gangnam where you will get your custom stamped and cut the queue, i never have to go early again to ICN airport!

  16. Was at the Asiana main lounge last week ( Nov 2017). The lounge looks ok but the food is dire. Instant noodles were the least awful thing on offer. Basically all the food was stodgy carbs or lousy veg ( think iceberg lettuce). What a difference from the Asiana flight where I was served good quality protein and fresh, crisp, varied veg in both economy and biz.

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