Review: Asiana Business Class A380 Los Angeles To Seoul

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Review: The Private Suite LAX
Review: Asiana Business Class A380 Los Angeles To Seoul
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Review: Sichuan Airlines Business Class A330 Chengdu To Jinan
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While I’ve flown Asiana’s first class on this route, this was my first time flying their longhaul business class. I was curious to see how the product stacked up, both compared to Asiana’s first class, and also compared to Korean Air’s business class, which I reviewed on a transpacific flight earlier this year.

Asiana 201
Los Angeles (LAX) – Seoul Incheon (ICN)
Wednesday, October 25
Depart: 12:10PM
Arrive: 5:35PM (+1 day)
Duration: 13hr25min
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 20A (Business Class)

I boarded through the forward door on the upper deck, where the exceptionally polite flight attendants pointed me in the direction of my seat. Asiana’s A380 has a total of 66 business class seats, located entirely on the upper deck. Asiana puts first class on the lower deck of the A380, meaning that business class takes up about two thirds of the upper deck. Behind it are roughly 100 economy seats.


Asiana A380 business class cabin


Asiana A380 business class cabin

Asiana chose a staggered business class configuration for their A380s. It’s a solid hard product, though not amazing — personally I prefer reverse herringbone seats and Apex Suites. The good news is that these are some of the most spacious staggered seats out there. One thing I can’t get over, however, is how horrifyingly bland their cabin finishes are.

Since this is a staggered configuration, the location of seats alternates in each row. For those in the center section, you can select either the “honeymoon seats,” where you’re really close together, or you can select the seats where you’re further apart. Even when I’m traveling with Ford I’m not a fan of the honeymoon seat concept. While it’s nice to sit close to your companion, they’re just too close to one another, in my opinion.


Asiana A380 business class seats


Asiana A380 business class seats


Asiana A380 business class seats

The same is true of the individual seats closer to the windows. Every other row has the console closer to the aisle, with the seat closer to the window. These are the ideal seats in this configuration, since they have the most privacy.


Asiana business class seat A380

However, apparently I’m a total idiot. I was nearly sure that I had assigned myself a “true” window seat, though upon boarding I discovered that I had actually assigned myself one of the seats closer to the aisle. I’m not a fan of these seats at all, since they feel really exposed, and you’re quite a distance from the window.


Asiana business class seat A380

With this staggered configuration, the tray table is attached to the seat in front of you, and can be removed and folded over to be placed in front of you. On top of that, there’s a personal television and then a footrest next to the seat in front of you. That’s why the whole cabin is staggered, and why airlines save so much space by configuring seats in this way.


Asiana business class seat A380


Asiana business class tray table

I found the footwell to be quite tight, though I guess the benefit when you’re closer to the aisle is that you can still easily bend your knees while sleeping.


Asiana business class seat legroom

Immediately to the left of my seat were the easy to use seat controls, as well as the entertainment controls. I found the location of these to be poorly thought out, since both controls are right where you’d rest your elbow, so several times throughout the flight I accidentally adjusted the seat or entertainment settings.


Asiana business class seat & entertainment controls

Immediately underneath those controls was a small storage compartment that was big enough to hold a phone or a pair of glasses.


Asiana business class seat storage

Underneath that was the 110v power outlet.


Asiana business class seat power outlet

Then on the console to the side of the seat were the reading light, headphone jacks, USB outlet, as well as a cupholder, a literature pocket, and another small storage compartment.


Asiana business class seat side-table

In these compartments were headphones, which were above average quality.


Asiana business class headphones

There was also a pair of (flimsy) slippers.


Asiana business class slippers

Also waiting at my seat were a pillow and blanket. The pillow was far too thin for my liking, and the blanket was light and not great. However, the cabin was kept really warm, so in many ways it was a blessing that the blanket was so light.


Asiana business class pillow & blanket

Next to that were the lockers. This is one thing I love about the A380 upper deck. It’s great to be able to have huge and easily accessible storage spaces you can use during the flight.


Asiana business class seat storage

The choice of pre-departure beverages was limited to water or orange juice. That’s cheap on Asiana’s part, since clearly they have this policy because they don’t want to pay the US taxes on alcohol served on the ground (meanwhile they do offer pre-departure champagne when departing Korea).


Asiana business class pre-departure drink

A few minutes later flight attendants passed through the cabin with L’Occitane amenity kits, which include socks, eyeshades, earplugs, a comb, tissues, body lotion, and a toothbrush and toothpaste. It was an okay kit, though pretty basic — for example, it didn’t even have lip balm.


Asiana business class amenity kit

A few minutes later the crew passed through the cabin with landing cards for Korea. Since I was just in transit, I didn’t need one.

Then the purser came by each business class seat to greet everyone. She informed me that the flight time was 12hr55min, thanked me for flying Asiana, and asked if I wanted a newspaper. Across the board the crew was exceptionally kind, poised, and gentle.

While still on the ground I decided to check out the rest of business class, including the forward business class cabin, which has 20 seats.


Asiana A380 business class cabin

In the nose of the plane were two lavatories. One lavatory was quite spacious, while the other was a more standard size.


Asiana business class lavatory A380


Asiana business class lavatory A380

The bathroom had a good number of toiletries, including a toothbrush and toothpaste, a razor, etc.


Asiana business class lavatory amenities

In the very right front of the cabin was a small lounge with four seats, and a large monitor across from it near the cabin. The lounge seems like wasted space, as I never saw anyone sitting there.


Asiana business class lounge A380


Asiana A380 business class lounge TV


Asiana A380 staircase

At 12:10PM the cabin manager made her welcome aboard announcement, at which point the door closed. I’d say business class was about 80% full. The crew lined up throughout the cabin, and then did a synchronized bow. Once that was complete, they walked by each seat, stopped for a moment, said “hello,” and kept walking.

One thing I found annoying is that they provided all the codeshare flight numbers every time they referenced our flight number. So any announcement involving our flight was 30 seconds longer than it needed to be.

A couple of minutes later we pushed back, next to a Korean Air A380 also headed to Incheon.


Pushing back LAX

As usual, it took a while to pushback and start the engines, and we started our taxi by 12:20PM. The business class seat has a shoulder harness, so during our taxi out the crew came by each seat to make sure passengers had it on.

By 12:30PM we made it to runway 24L, where we were immediately cleared for takeoff. The A380 is such a gentle beast, you barely realize you’re taking off.


Taxiing LAX

Bye beautiful SoCal!


View after takeoff from LAX

As we climbed out I browsed the entertainment selection, which wasn’t great.


Asiana inflight entertainment selection

There were a total of about 20 Hollywood movies, and then some TV shows as well.


Asiana inflight entertainment selection


Asiana inflight entertainment selection

Usually I don’t use airline provided entertainment much, though I ended up binge watching Hawaii Five-O, as they had about a dozen episodes of it, all of which I hadn’t seen before. What a good show (though I have horrible taste in entertainment, so I’m not sure what that says about the show).


Asiana inflight entertainment selection


Asiana inflight entertainment selection

I also checked out the airshow. Personally I don’t love the version Asiana has, as it can’t be customized much in terms of getting an overview of the whole journey, etc.


Airshow enroute to Incheon


Airshow enroute to Incheon

The seatbelt sign was turned off about 10 minutes after takeoff. At that point I checked out the back of the cabin. In addition to the two lavatories at the very front of business class, there were another two lavatories right behind business class.


Asiana A380 business class cabin


Asiana business class lavatory

The lunch service began about 20 minutes after takeoff, starting with warm towels.


Asiana business class hot towel

Menus and wine lists were also distributed at that point.


Asiana business class menu & wine list

The menu lunch read as follows:

The drink list read as follows:

About 45 minutes after takeoff a cart was rolled down the aisle with drinks. I ordered a glass of champagne — Laurent Perrier was on offer. I was impressed by how it was served. The glass was placed on my tray, then I was poured a taste, then the bottle was held in front of me, and then the glass was filled up.


Asiana business class champagne — Laurent Perrier

I was also offered the canapé, which consisted of melon, parma ham, and mushroom.


Asiana business class lunch — canapé of melon, parma ham, and mushroom

About 20 minutes later the appetizer was served, which consisted of prosciutto, vegetables, and melon. I was a bit surprised that both the canapé and appetizer had prosciutto and melon.


Asiana business class lunch — appetizer of prosciutto, vegetables, and melon 

Next up was a zucchini soup, which was good.


Asiana business class lunch — zucchini soup 

For the main course I ordered the grilled salmon, which was served with pesto cream sauce, risotto, and vegetables. The sauce, vegetables, and especially risotto were good, though the salmon itself was dry and fishy-tasting.


Asiana business class lunch — grilled salmon main course

Next up a cart was rolled down the aisle with a cheese course. For business class I thought it was a pretty nice presentation.


Asiana business class lunch — cheese plate

Lastly the dessert trolley was rolled down the aisle, with the choice between fruit and mango cheesecake, along with coffee and tea. I chose the cheesecake, and also had a cup of coffee.


Asiana business class lunch — coffee and cheesecake

Once the meal was done there was another round of warm towels, and bottled water was also distributed.


Asiana business class lunch — water and warm towel 

The meal service was slow, and was only completed about 2hr30min after takeoff. That’s not a huge issue given that it’s such a long flight and it left in the middle of the day. I thought the food was alright — the soup, cheese course, and dessert were great. I don’t really eat pork, so the canapé and appetizer didn’t have much appeal to me, while the salmon main course was dry, even though the accompaniments were good.

On Korean airlines I almost always select the Korean meal, though I find it’s almost always the same thing, which is why I went with the western option this time.

The highlight of the meal service was the friendliness of the crew, as I have nothing but great things to say about them. After the meal the cabin lights were dimmed and mood lighting was turned on, though the lights were never fully turned off.


Asiana business class mood lighting

I managed to nap for about three hours, which was more than I was expecting to be able to sleep on a flight leaving so early in the day. I was woken up partly because the cabin was so hot, and unfortunately there were no individual air vents. After waking up I worked for a bit, and the crew constantly came by to see if I wanted anything.

After a couple of hours I decided to order a snack from the refreshments menu, which read as follows:

There were three ramen options, and I chose the spiciest… and boy was it spicy.


Asiana business class ramen snack

I then watched some more Hawaii Five-O, and soon enough we were over Japan, just 2hr30min from arriving in Korea. At that point the pre-arrival meal service began.


Airshow enroute to Incheon

The menu read as follows:

Service began with the choice between orange juice, tomato juice, and water.


Asiana business class meal — orange juice

After that tablecloths were brought out, and a cart was rolled down the aisle with the appetizers.

The appetizer consisted of marinated shrimp, and was much more up my alley than the appetizer served with the previous meal. I was also offered a selection of bread.


Asiana business class meal — appetizer of marinated shrimp

While the appetizers were served from a cart, the main courses were brought out directly from the galley. None of the options sounded especially appealing to me, though I selected the potato crusted orange roughy. Meh.


Asiana business class meal — main course of potato crusted orange roughy 

Lastly a dessert trolley was rolled down the aisle, off of which I selected a delicious fruit tart, and also ordered a coffee.


Asiana business class meal — fruit tart dessert

At around 4:50PM local time the captain announced that we were starting our descent and would be landing in 40 minutes. At this point the crew started to prepare the cabin for landing. During the descent they came by each seat to thank everyone for flying Asiana.


Airshow approaching Incheon


Airshow approaching Incheon

While the seatbelt sign was only turned on about 10 minutes before landing, the cabin already had to be prepared over 30 minutes out.


View approaching Incheon


View approaching Incheon

We had a smooth touchdown at Incheon Airport at 5:30PM, and from there a lengthy taxi to our arrival gate.


Touchdown Incheon

At 5:45PM we made it to our arrival gate, where we parked next to another Asiana A380.


Asiana A380 Incheon Airport

We had an awesome view of our chariot after deplaning — I love the A380 from this angle.


Our Asiana A380 upon arrival

Asiana A380 business class bottom line

Asiana has a solid, but not exceptional, business class product. The highlight of flying with Asiana is the excellent cabin crew, who are consistently friendly and professional.

The rest of the experience is pretty average. The seats are comfortable enough, though there are better seats out there, and I don’t care for the cabin finishes. The amenity kits and bedding are pretty basic. The entertainment is limited and there’s no wifi. And the food is good, though not amazing.

So while I’d like to say it’s an above average product, I’m not sure that’s true anymore, given how much other airlines have improved. For example, off the top of my head I’d say that ANA, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, EVA Air, JAL, and Korean Air (at least on planes featuring Apex Suites), offer superior transpacific business class experiences.

If you’ve flown Asiana A380 business class, what was your experience like?

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