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Crossing the Pacific ocean is a long journey no matter how much you love to fly. Like most people, I prefer longer flights when it’s comfy and this Asiana first class flight delivered in the comfort department and also came with the added benefit of a wonderfully delicious dining experience in a suite with a door.
In this review, from New York (JFK) to Seoul (ICN) on their A380, I will go over one of the most underrated first class products as it provides some of the best food you might try on a plane with a private seat.
Booking Asiana first class
Asiana has only two first class routes from Incheon Seoul – ICN to North America.
Sadly, Asiana is re-naming their first class to business suites September 1, 2019. What we know is, Asiana business suites will be business class service and catering with the first class seat.
- New York (JFK)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
Asiana does service other cities that have two class configurations with economy and business class.
- Chicago (ORD)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- Seattle (SEA)
- Honolulu (HNL)
Asiana Points, miles and fees
Normally it costs 90,000 LifeMiles for a one-way award flight, but because of the sale, I was able to redeem the seat for 72,000 LifeMiles and $30.60 in fees one-way in first class on Asiana.
LifeMiles transfers from Amex Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou Points (and now Capital One). Plus, LifeMiles runs many promotions for buying miles on the cheap, which I ended up doing because I didn’t want to transfer points and instead pay for this flight because of the promotion.
I ended up going to Delta Sky Club – Terminal 4 – after my arrival from Detroit (DTW) to finish up some work.
Asiana uses Swiss business class lounge. Swiss’ lounge is very tiny and offering nothing special. It’s still better than the gate with a quiet section, but the lounge closes about 30 minutes before boarding. This means you are kicked out of the lounge.
Because it’s so busy in the lounge, I opted out to take pictures of the lounge itself. Sorry.
I have no pictures of the boarding process or the complete mess it was at the gate. So, I will do my best to describe the limited amount of space that is given at the gate for all the passengers for the A380.
The seating area at the gate is just not enough. Most people had to sit at other gates or stand. There isn’t enough room for economy and business class lines. JFK or Asiana needs to have a better gate to accommodate this A380!
Also, during boarding economy and first board through the same most forward door. Meaning, all the economy passengers will walk through the first class cabin. Luckily the flight attendants offered to close your suite’s door while economy passengers walk to their seat.
Asiana first class seat
The first class cabin is a 3 row 1-2-1 configuration on the lower deck of the A380. These seats are considered as an enclosed suite. The seat itself will remind you of a lounge chair with the feature of going into a fully lie-flat position for bed-mode.
The seat features storage compartments all along the left side with the tray table. There is floor storage under the ottoman.
When it comes to first class seats, these are standard as they are comparable to Garuda Indonesia first class but better than Lufthansa first class as Asiana picked a more private design with a door. However, colors used for the cabin and seat are very boring, but that doesn’t mean I was bored flying this superb seat.
The seat itself was clean with minimum wear and tear. All surfaces of the seat felt clean and I didn’t think about taking out my wet wipes to clean the surfaces or walls of the suite.
The suite is not fully-enclosed, but high enough where someone has to purposely lean over to actually see into the suite. I am 5’10” (178 cm) and when I visited the lavatory I couldn’t see into the suites. The blind like slats in the suite doors cannot be seen through from the aisle side, but from the seat, you can only see the floor as they are angled down.
As you can see the middle seats have a divider that goes down for taxiing, take-off, and landing, but it can go up during the flight if you wish.
What makes these seats wonderful is the fact they support two-person dining. This allows someone to sit at the other end of the tray table and dine with someone else they desire. Sadly, I couldn’t test it out as I was flying alone but would love to as Asiana has a wonderful dining experience.
I find these seats very private with the door open or closed as you cannot see person or seat across the aisle. The great thing about this seat is the fact that it doesn’t limit you from talking to your seatmate if you’re seated in the middle and it still allows you to see out of all the windows if you’re seated at a window seat.
Waiting at the seat were Bose headphones, a Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kit, two pillows (one in plastic, and a blanket). Once I got settled into my seat, a crew member came over asking what I wanted to drink that is non-alcohol as they want to not pay taxes on alcohol in the US. The crew also made some small talk and went over the flight time, and even closing the doors of suites as we waited to be pushed back from the gate.
I asked for water as they didn’t have my first choice, which is watermelon juice. I got the water with some warm mixed nuts and immigration forms.
The crew came around again with two sizes of men’s PJs. I chose M size, which is medium. I found the PJs nice and still use them to this day, but there are no pockets.
You might have noticed, but there was no wifi card or talk about free wifi for first class passengers. It’s because Asiana doesn’t have wifi onboard. For a 12 hour flight, you might expect wifi, but on this flight, there isn’t any wifi.
You can control everything about your suite from the lighting to the seat position. It’s easy to move and customize or select one of the presets available.
During boarding, I went ahead and filmed a mini seat tour trying to show everything about the seat.
Asiana first class dining
Dining on Asiana makes your mouth water. No, there isn’t a huge menu like Emirates or Singapore book the cook, but with its somewhat limited menu makes for amazing quality in food compared to the former that I mentioned.
I would say it’s comparable to ANA when it comes to quality, but in some areas, it really shines.
The lunch menu reads as followed:
Note that snack is actually the “breakfast” menu.
The beverage menu reads as followed:
Once I ordered my meal, I chose the Korean set, one of the lovely flight attendants came over with a warm towel and then a few minutes later came to set the table.
If you don’t care for traditional Korean food, you can switch any of the items you desire, so you can mix and match the food. Since I chose to keep the Korean set as it is, I got 3 starters, plus caviar.
The first starter was ginko nut and dried date. The ginko nuts were not for me, but I do like dates and enjoyed half of this starter.
Then came the caviar, which is my favorite part of any first class flight. The caviar presentation is very classic with lots of onions. Notice there is a mother of pearl spoon and the size of caviar. It was a good size. I ended up pairing it with both champagnes which are Barns de Rothschild Blanc de Blancs and Laurent Perrier Brut. I prefer the Rothschild over Laurent as Laurent reminds me of sparkling wine.
Notice the lovely red rose that they gave me. 🙂
After the caviar course, I got turnip vegetable rolls, which is the second starter item.
It tasted fresh and love the tomato carved out for sauce that goes on the rolls. This was my favorite starter after the caviar.
For the last starter, I got Korean pumpkin porridge ‘hobakjuk’. I am not a fan of porridge or pumpkin, but this pumpkin porridge was actually decent.
Then it was time for the main course, the most exciting part of the whole meal, and it was brought on a huge tray. Bibimbap and beef short rib bulgalbi. There were so many side dishes that made me so happy that I was returning to Korea.
In short, the bibimbap was very yummy and definitely worth the whole plane ride as it was just massive. The only complaint I have is the level of spiciness. The gochujang wasn’t spicy and I had to ask for more and they brought a ton for me.
A flight attendant did offer to make the bibimbap for me, but I like to mix it myself so I declined her offer.
It was so massive I had to stand up to take pictures of the whole tray. Actually, it was very hard to take pictures of the bibimbap as it was massive, so I am sorry for poorly framed photos.
For dessert, there was yummy bean jelly with chestnut that I loved. The sweet rice cake was good, but it’s just too chewy. I only had the strawberry and pineapple, both tasted sweet.
After the meal, I had a nice 8 hours of sleep and woke up slightly hungry. So, I asked if it’s alright to eat breakfast now. The flight attendant said of course and took my order. I did ask for my caviar, but they said there isn’t anymore. I then tried to order off the “lunch” menu, the same menu that I ordered off at the beginning of the flight, but the flight attendant said the food isn’t fresh anymore so it’s not available.
Therefore, I ordered off the western menu from the snack menu, which is technically breakfast on this flight. At first, I got a hot towel and some ginseng tea.
For the appetizer, I got marinated shrimp prosciutto. I am not a fan of prosciutto, so I skipped that and only ate the shrimp. The shrimp with the greens was yummy and a good way to start the meal.
Next up was the main course and I ordered a wonderful beef brochette served with teriyaki sauce, vegetables, and steamed rice. It was cooked just right with lots of flavors that made my mouth water while eating it.
It was neat to see the beef on skewers too and the flight attendant offered me gochujang.
Last, but not least, for dessert, I got a yummy fruit tart and some more ginseng tea.
Overall, the whole dining experience tasted great. Even though they have no wifi, I would fly Asiana again for all of the food.
Asiana first class service
The service on my flight was wonderful. The flight attendants didn’t waste time calling me by name, but they seemed to like to be onboard working. They offered many things making sure I was happy, but it wasn’t just me as they did it with every other person in the cabin.
It was sad to leave the flight as they were so nice, but it just makes me want to fly Asiana first class again.
In contrast, I flew Asiana economy a year before this flight and enjoyed it as well because of the flight attendants.
Asiana first class bed
A fully lie-flat bed flying will always be my favorite seat on a plane. With the doors shut, it is great to not see people walk by when you sleep. No, it’s not as private as Emirates new 777 first class, which is my favorite first class seat I have tried to date. However, Asiana offers nice bedding, two pillows, with a thin mattress pad.
I slept about 8 hours on this flight. I found the cabin slightly cold sometimes, but I like it warmer than most people.
To make the bed, just ask one of the flight attendants and they will make it for you. During that time, you can brush your teeth and change into the PJs they gave you for a nice nights sleep.
The only negative about the bed is the thin mattress pad. It was still comfy and I liked it, but if you prefer plush, you might be a little disappointed with the mattress pad they put down. It’s still softer than Singapore first class seats in bed mode, but not as soft as Emirates first class beds, it’s a good in-between product. Otherwise, the bed is good with lots of room and privacy.
I love to travel for food and Asiana first class catered some of the best food I have had on a plane. Even though the flight didn’t have wifi, I enjoyed it more than my Cathay Pacific first class flight that didn’t have wifi as well.
Overall, I cannot wait to fly Asiana first class again and hope I can share the dining experience with someone else. I just hope when Asiana changes their first class to business suites that they keep everything the same, but we will have to wait and see when they rebrand first class to business suites on September 1, 2019.
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Steve is a senior contributor for UponArriving and spends close to 300 nights a year in hotels while traveling the world and trying to eat as much as he can. Steve has spoken at summits like the FBZ Elite Summit in Austin. He holds top-tier elite status with almost every hotel program as a Marriott Ambassador, Hyatt Globalist, Hilton Diamond, IHG Spire, and GHA Black. Utilizing credit card points and miles, Steve takes over 100 flights per year while experiencing some of the top first class and business class cabin in the sky.