Date: March 2016
Flight #: 104
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400 Combi
Configuration: 3 class
On Time: Yes
Reward Flying Experience : 3 of 10 ✈
The third leg of four from Chicago to Singapore found me on Asiana flight 104 from Icheon to Narita. After the disappointments from New York to Seoul, my expectations for this flight were significantly lowered. I wasn't surprised.
There is always some good so let's get it out. On certain flights Asiana flies aircraft with first class cabins, but doesn't sell first class tickets. That means business class tickets sit in first class seats. My flight on a 747 Combi (a Combi is when half the aircraft is for used for cargo) was one such flight. However they fly the A380 to Bangkok where you can grab a suite for business class and there are flights to London when a 3 class 777 is substituted for the regular 2 class aircraft. The service is business but the seat is first.
This 747 Combi was an older aircraft and it showed. While it was fine for a 2 hour flight, I wouldn't be clamoring to fly it long haul. But the fact I got a first class seat on a 747, as opposed to standard regional business class recliner seat, is a definite plus. The other plus is the attitude of Asiana's flight attendants. They all have been extremely nice and accommodating. Today's attendant, a different Ms. Park, had an excellent command of English as well. Plus there were 3 flight attendants serving 12 people. (On both Asiana flights all flight attendants were female.)
Another minor plus. When flying in the states I've always wondered why (at least on United) starting with 9:30am departures, lunch is served instead of breakfast. Don't they know to make a 9:30 flight you probably have to skip breakfast? Anyway, this flight left at 10am and they offered a choice of lunch or breakfast. While the breakfast was terrible, at least I had a choice.
The seat design reminded me of a business class product with a footwell, only slightly larger. It's a comfortable lie flat seat but past its prime in terms of first class offerings. The tray was very difficult to pull out, and when it was out, you couldn't move the seat to get closer to the tray. There was at least 8 inches between my chest and the tray table. More napkins please.
The IFE monitor was ancient and you couldn't see it with the window shades up. It was definitely analog and probably about 12 inches in diameter. And at 4 feet away, with no way to get closer, I didn't even bother to watch anything. You also had the option to play something from your iPad or iPhone and watch it on the monitor.
Reward Flying's Opinion
Reward Availability: 9 of 10 ✈
A bit of luck
Asiana has great reward availability on all it’s flights both to Korean from North American and within Asia for connections to other cities.
Value for Reward per redemption point: 1 of 10 ✈
Sky High: >.08
For me this flight was part of a ticket from Chicago to Singapore. However on it’s own would require 30,000 miles for business class. The fare is $472.00. That equates to 1.6 cents point valuation, something I would never do. As part of a connection it’s fine as my point valuation for the trip was 8 cents per mile.
Ticketing on United’s website, easy and without issue. Seating different story. Read OZ JFK-ICN for that disaster.
✔︎ Go early
Stay at Gate
The airport in Icheon is new and nice. Departures are from level 3 and once inside security you can go to level 4 which has a transit hotel, shower and rest areas for anyone to use and access to most lounges including Asiana First Class lounge. The lounge for Asiana Business Class is just outside security by gate 28 on level 3. Take the escalator up. It’s a fairly good size lounge with a reasonable selection of food. I was there at breakfast and they even has a station cooking fresh fried eggs. In addition, they have massage chairs in a private rooms, showers and rest areas.
✔︎What were they thinking?
The cabin is long past its time. While no one should complain about sitting in a first class seat for a business class ticket, it would be irresponsible to not point out the exposed insulation between the cabin wall and seat. Hence the “What were they thinking?” check mark.
Just like home
Get me off this plane
It’s difficult to be uncomfortable in a first class seat on only a 2 hour flight. The seat had the bells and whistles.
Seats/Cabin: 3 of 10 ✈
✔︎ Why bother?
Oh, they didn’t. There was however a set of slippers you could keep.
✔︎ Wine Menu
Full bar in cabin
Multiple coffee selections
Multiple tea selections
Food Menu Selections and food extras:
Printed, multiple cuisines
✔︎Printed, single cuisine
Verbal by flight attendant
Mid flight snacks
Compliments to the Chef
Fine dining with a miss or two
No rave reviews
✔︎Get me a meal from economy
The breakfast was not edible, in my opinion. And I typically have a salad with my eggs, don't you?
Food: 2 of 10 ✈
IFE: 1 of 10 ✈ (Being Generous)
Can I stay and watch some more?
Watched a favorite and went to sleep
400 cable channels and nothing to watch
✔︎Glad I brought my tablet
Yes and Free
Yes and Purchase
Crew: 5 of 10 ✈
Made the flight special
✔︎Did their job
Did they board?
All flight attendants were accommodating and pleasant.
Aircraft: 4 of 10 ✈
Didn’t realize was on a plane
✔︎Time for a trade-in
This is one of four remaining Asiana passenger 747-400 aircraft. They also have a number of cargo 747s. My aircraft was delivered to Asiana in August 1996. Happy 20th birthday.
I won't be looking to fly Asiana long haul in the near future, unless it's unavoidable. While there is nothing wrong with their A380 aircraft and Smartium Business Class seats, in my view the amenities, food, technologies and seats on other carriers are superior to what Asiana currently offers. As far as the short hop on the 747 Combi, well....
Do you have any Asiana experiences you'd like to share? Feel free to leave a comment.