After spending a few hours in the Asiana first class lounge, it was time to board. Well, it was actually time to go through the terminal and buy a bunch of Korean face masks, and then head to the gate for boarding. I’ll be honest, I had really high expectations for this flight. My first ever international first class flight was on ANA from San Francisco to Tokyo last summer, and the bar was set high. Also, my business class flight with Asiana on the Airbus A321 was fantastic, and I knew the standard would be even higher on an international route.
I arrived at the gate just before boarding and had a good look at the Airbus A380 that would be bringing me to Los Angeles. This was my first flight on double-decker, and I was really amazed at the size up close!
To be honest, I can’t remember exactly what time we boarded, but I know we landed in Los Angeles on time, which is really all the matters, right? The boarding process was very, very organized, with premium cabin passengers first on.
Asiana Airlines 204
Chongqing (ICN) – Seoul(LAX)
Saturday, May 13, 2017
Arrive: 3:34pm (Same Day)
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 3A (First Class)
After a long walk down the jet bridge, I was greeted by a friendly cabin attendant who showed me to the seat. My first impression was… WOW!! Not only did the cabin feel huge, but I couldn’t get over how private the suites were. The first class cabin is on the lower deck of the A380 and arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration over 3 rows for a total of 12 fully-enclosed suites.
Tyler had selected seat 3A for me, a window seat at the rear of the cabin.
While I loved the neutral colours of the cabin overall, I wasn’t crazy about the yellow accents on the seats/pillow, though it was still better than the colour scheme in the Thai Airways Airbus A380 first class cabin! The seat is approximately 25 inches wide with 84 inches of pitch, which felt almost too big for my 5’8 frame (ok, it can never be too big).
Before I could even drop my bag I was being offered a pre-departure beverage. I asked for the champagne, and quickly took as many pictures of the cabin before the other passengers boarded.
The aisle kind of reminded me of an old fashioned luxury train (I’ve never actually been on one but I’ve seen a few in the movies).
Within a couple of minutes the cabin attendant was back with some champagne, mixed nuts, and a glass of water, which was appreciated after frantically taking cabin pictures. Asiana had two selections of champagne on this flight, with Barons de Rothschild Blanc de Blancs being served on the ground.
Unlike United Airlines first class (and others), the bottle was brought out and poured at the seat, which I’m sure most people appreciate as a nice touch.
Boarding seemed to take about 30 minutes, which gave plenty of time for me to finish my glass of champagne, take some pictures of the seat, and have another glass before take-off, which was proactively offered by the friendly staff.
Now back to the cabin… While I appreciated the privacy of a window seat since I was by myself, those with a companion will definitely want to choose a pair of the centre seats, which are still fully enclosed with the option to raise a privacy divider if you’re seated next to a stranger.
Waiting at my seat upon boarding was a nice Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kit, full of branded amenities and the other standard offerings. Tyler actually uses the kit now as it’s quite sleek and very functional, but the products included were a little too fragrant for us. There were also slippers and a set of Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones waiting in the suite.
Sitting on the ottoman were blankets and a pair of comfortable pyjamas. Tyler had warned me Asiana was notorious for warm cabins, so I was relieved to find the material light and airy.
Storage at the seat was plentiful, with a couple of deep cupboards on the left hand side, along with a ledge between the seat and suite edge (though I’m not sure it’s meant for storage). There was also space under the ottoman for bag storage during the flight.
The windows on the A380 are smaller than I would have guessed, and very difficult to get good pictures through (sorry for the lack of outside shots).
Each suite also had a personal closet for hanging items, which is appreciated on long flights. It’s nice to have crisp clothes to change into after 10 hours of flying.
The remote for the in-flight entertainment was stored on the left side of the seat behind a door, right next to the seat power source.
Seat controls were via a large touch screen display on the other side of the suite, right below the literature storage and reading light. I found the controls very responsive and simple to use.
The in-flight entertainment screen feels massive for a plane, at 32 inches. Unfortunately between eating and trying to sleep, I didn’t explore any of the offerings. My understanding is Asiana offers a good selection of entertainment, though not industry-leading.
One of the cabin crew noticed I was taking a hundred pictures per minute, and politely asked if I would like a photo taken by her.
I can’t remember if we pushed back on time, but I do know that boarding felt really quick. In all honestly, I think it took longer to board my Air Canada flight from Los Angeles to Vancouver on a small narrow-body plane than it did on this huge beast. The seatbelt sign was turned off after about 15 minutes, with the climb out of Seoul very smooth. Even the few bumps I felt were really minor, likely due to the size of the plane! I’ll also say this was, by far, the quietest cabin I’ve flown in.
I decided to checkout the bathroom and get changed before the meal service. The lavatory in this plane wasn’t as big as some, but was perfectly nice and easy to move around in. There were mirrors on both sides and a large bench that folded down over the toilet to make changing a breeze.
Amenities were plentiful, including Evian face mist (my favourite), and toiletries by L’Occitane (not my favourite). There was also a selection of toothbrushes, razors, make-up pads, etc.
On the way back to my seat I stopped and snapped a pic of the stairs to the upper deck. Being my first time on the A380, I was a bit amazed to see stairs on a plane!
I decided to eat after getting changed, as I was starting to get tired and really wanted to get some sleep since I still had a long day ahead of me after arriving in LA. The menu was fairly simple for first class, though I don’t really have a lot to compare it to other than ANA from San Francisco to Tokyo.
Food options included a couple of western options, and the Korean bibimbap, of which I choose the later.
While I wanted to try to Korean dish, I also wanted to have some caviar. No problem! The cabin crew said I could mix and match as much as I wanted, which resulted in me ordering a lot (a lot) of food. To be honest, there was so much food I’m not even sure what some of it was, and I’m pretty sure there were some items not even on the menu that got brought out. The starter was this salad type dish, which tasted yummy!
Next, the table was set for the rest of the meal service, including oil, butter, chopsticks, and a fresh-cut rose!
Next came a selection of fresh bread. The few pieces I tried were soft and tasty.
After that came the caviar! This was my second time having caviar, and I have to say I really don’t like it. I remember having it on our Lufthansa first class flight last summer and enjoying it, but I guess my palate has changed, and I found it really awful. Sure looked pretty though!
After caviar came some…. something. This was one of the mystery dishes, but I concluded from the menu it was steamed scallop, which was very good!
Next up was the shiitake mushroom and wild sesame porridge. While it didn’t look (or sound) that appetizing, it was actually quite nice!
At this point we were about an hour into the meal service and I was stuffed. Just before I could request turndown service, I was brought the main Korean bibimbap dish, which was more food than anyone needs.
I have literarily never seen so much food in my life. I also didn’t know what most of it was, but I tried everything, and with the exception of a couple of interesting flavours, everything was fantastic. I managed to eat about half of it before I threw in the towel.
The meal ended with a nice selection of desserts, which I could hardly look at, though I did manage a few bites…
At this point I was exhausted, so I asked the flight crew if they could setup the bed. The bedding was top-notch, but due to a lot of turbulence, and a full stomach, I didn’t get the best sleep. I loved the small details, like how the rose from dinner was placed on the wall above the seat controls!
I didn’t get as much sleep as I would have preferred, and spent a lot of time gazing up at the starlit sky.
I didn’t realize, but I had my ‘do not disturb’ light on, and as a result, slept through breakfast service (when I did finally fall asleep). I woke up naturally just minutes before the crew came around to notify of our initial descent into Los Angeles!
This was definitely the highlight of my trip to China… While my flight on EVA Air in business class was a close second, this experience was out-of-this-world amazing. I can’t say enough about the service on this flight; it was beyond attentive without being overbearing, and everyone seemed to genuinely enjoy their job, which can’t be said for all cabin crew. On top of that, the seat is the best I’ve ever sat in, with ultimate privacy and comfort. While ANA will always hold a special place in my heart, I have to say Asiana was a bit better. Can’t wait to fly them again the next time I’m needed on the other side of the Pacific!