Date: March 2016
Flight #: 221
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Configuration: 3 class
On Time: Y
Reward Flying Experience : 4.4 of 10 ✈
Ninety minutes into the 800 minute flight I realized the high mark on this trip was to be Ms. Park, the quiet and duteous flight attendant assigned to 8k, who was currently taking my order for the pre-landing meal to be served in about 9 hours. Nothing like preparation. In fact lunch service was complete, seemingly finished faster than lunch service on my quick flight from Chicago to New York. Soon to disappear, the flight attendants monitored the cabin for the first 2 and last 2 hours of the flight. (In fairness they did come if you rang the call button during the 9 hours in between.)
Boarding the beautiful Airbus a380 on the upper deck was cool. The seats at first glance looked excellent. Expectations deteriorated from there. The front upper deck cabin is quite attractive. All seats are very private unless you choose the two seats in the middle, beginning with row 7 and alternating back as these are next to each other which is great for traveling couples. The window seats on the rows with the 2 middle seats together are against the aisle with a table at the window. Even rows in the front cabin have the seat against the window, or in the case of row 8 against the divider between the windows. Row 8 windows are misaligned. Row 10 however is aligned. And the center seats in these even rows are separated by a table. (In the 2nd cabin this row placement is reversed.)
The window seats have a nice storage compartment against the wall. Made of cheap plastic, the problem I had was one of them wouldn't stay closed. The armrest had separated from the table as well. There is plenty of foot space for stretching out and the seat is fairly spacious. However only a couple hours into the flight the seat is getting uncomfortable. It was fairly firm with little cushion.
The meal tray is neatly placed on the back of the forward seat. Just unhinge and it folds out. The problem is it's too small. The tray on yesterday's teeny plane was bigger. In fact as the photo below shows, when the food was served there wasn't enough to room left for a glass of water, let alone water and a glass of wine.
I selected the Korean cuisine with the main course of bibimpab. To begin the amuse was a shrimp canapé along with prosciutto and melon balls (little did I know it was to be the best part of the meal and I would get it again later on!). Then an appetizer called a turnip vegetable roll that tasted like crab, and not fresh out of the sea crab. Next pumpkin soup served with a spoon almost the size of the cup, which was great had it been called flour soup or corn starch soup instead of pumpkin soup. Finally the main course. This is a business class meal? Remember the commercial "Where's the beef?" Where's the food! Okay, saving room for dessert. The grand finale was 4 pieces of fresh fruit served with a knife (may I have a steak knife please) and a glorious dessert of 3 small cookies. I thought it was an a amuse for dessert, not THE dessert. I've had better, more filling meals in coach from Chicago to Cleveland.
Less than 2 hours into the flight all window shades were closed and it's midnight on the plane. Come on, it's 3 in the afternoon and we have 11 hours to go.
In the middle of the flight I requested the ramen noodle soup. Served in a dark cabin the contents looked rather ominous. My initial image was back as a kid watching my dad wash out the maggots from the aluminum garbage cans.
Now over the North Pole, I braved it, not bad.
With 2 hours to go the meal I ordered 9 hours prior was served. A salad course that included prosciutto and melon... Wait, didn't I already have that? Yes, but this time the melon was cut into a stick with the meat wrapped around it. Variety, the spice of life. A bread basket was offered as well as a butter dish, but no butter. Then the beef brochettes. Fairly tasty but nothing I'd ever get again. And finally a fruit tart. The winner!
The IFE monitor was terrible as well. I can't say if the issue is with all monitors or just mine on this flight, but often a blue tint could be seen around the perimeter of the screen. Seen most often as someone's hair being blue it just didn't make for a high quality video experience. And it was not the easiest system to control or understand as evidenced by the error message in the photo below, which is of the seatback screen.
Of course all of this is secondary to the fact the plane arrived safely and the price was certainly right.
Reward Availability: 7 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: 3 of 10 ✈
Sky High: >.08
For me this flight was part of a ticket from Chicago to Singapore. I flew to New York to take this flight as I wanted to fly the A380. Had you simply taken this flight on it’s own, the retail cost was $2,353. It requires 75,000 MileagePlus points, so the value for your points would be 3.1 cents each, not a great use of miles but not terrible. My point valuation for the trip however was 8 cents per mile.
All done on United’s website, easy and without issue.
Stay at Gate
Asiana uses the Swiss lounge at JFK’s terminal 4. This is a typical lounge. The food was minimal, it was fairly small but had a nice view of the airfield. This was the 11AM spread.
What were they thinking?
I thought the cabin was very attractive. I haven’t experienced some of the other A380 cabins, however from available information it’s pretty clear there are other far nicer A380 cabins in the sky. In the nose of the upper deck are 2 lavatories. One standard airline size and a larger one next to it. There was plenty of room to change into the pajamas they don't give out. On my flight the floor was sticky, otherwise they kept it clean. Opposite the staircase was a couch with a monitor showing the airshow. From my perspective this was wasted space.
Just like home
Get me off this plane
As I said above, I had mixed feelings about this seat. Bottom line is, for me, the Smartium seat looks nice in a photo and when you see it, but the comfort and functionality are disappointing.
Like a Rock
I had a difficult time sleeping in this seat, but I don’t sleep much on planes. It is lie flat but they did not have a mattress pad, only a very small pillow and blanket.
Cabin/Seats: 5 of 10 ✈
✔︎ Why bother?
Oh, they didn’t have one. Just a pair of ear plugs and some eye shades (which weren't needed as the cabin was pitch black) The lavatory has many of the items you’d get in an amenity kit and they kept it stocked.
✔︎ 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 main course probably has a total of 50 cents worth of food, no make that the whole meal.
Food: 3 of 10 ✈
IFE: 2 of 10 ✈
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?
There were some language interpretation issues but overall the flight attendants were nice and did their job. .
Aircraft: 7 of 10 ✈
Didn’t realize was on a plane
Time for a trade-in
Asiana has 4 Airbus 380s. This was the first one they received back in May 2014. While a new A380 would normally get a higher rating, Asiana needs to clean the lavatory floor.
The comedy of errors was using Asiana's technology before the flight to changes seats, check-in and even call their reservation desk. Let's start with the call.
Sometimes the beginning recording would only play in Korean. Hang up and try again. Press 2 for English. For faster service enter your Asiana number. If you didn't or do not have a number, click. I guess that is faster. But if you got the number in fast enough before being hung up on, the recording would go on to say that to get advance seat reservations there is no need to call as you can do it online with your name and booking number. Not really, as I tried and was unable so I'm calling. I tried on the website and it said that unless you made the reservation direct with Asiana, you couldn't reserve a seat until 48 hours in advance of departure. I also tried on the mobile app with the same results (photo below). However once I got an agent who was willing to help, it turns out you can assign a seat on the website. It just didn't work all the time (photo below).
Having changed my flights a couple times I had plenty of opportunity to deal with this mess. To save you the gory details the bottom line is this, Asiana's website does not play nice with Apple. According to the 5th or 6th agent I dealt with you need to use a PC, a MAC doesn't work. Inquiring minds wanted to know why. Apparently most people in Korea use PCs so that's why. Ok then.
But that's not all. You have to be very precise on how you enter your name or it won't work. Specifically the first name has to be exactly the same as your reservation plus "Mr" at the end. For women I'm not sure if it's Mrs, Ms or professionals Drs, etc. For me, if I didn't put in Mr (no period) at the end it didn't work. Then once in you'll find most seats are blocked anyway. If you call in your request, the agent refuses to give out seats that are blocked. They had more seats blocked for my flight than actual passengers once I got on the plane. I was the only person in row 8 and the preferred mini-cabin was only half full.
Buts that's not all part two. I loaded their mobile app. Here is a time saver for you, don't bother. I've never used an application that was so worthless and crashed as often as Asiana's app, but then I'm on an iPhone so maybe Android works ok.
Tomorrow's another day for my Asiana experience. Now I'm glad I changed out of another long haul Asiana flight I had booked as my first experience was less than positive.
Do you have any Asiana experiences you'd like to share? Feel free to leave a comment.