My flight on Asiana First Suite Class was at 1pm, but I didn’t get out of my hotel room at the Four Points in Chelsea until about 10:15am. I walked to Penn Station and took the Long Island Railroad and AirTrain, putting me at JFK Terminal 4 at about 11:30am. I quickly found the check-in area for Asiana. I detailed how I booked this flight in this post.
I was quickly helped and my boarding passes to Tokyo-Narita were printed out (I had an overnight stopover in Incheon, then continued the next day to Tokyo and Bangkok). The agent confirmed my seat 2G, which was unfortunately an aisle seat. By the time I booked this ticket and went to select seats, all 4 window seats were taken. However, I was the only passenger in a non-window seat, so I would have 2 suites to myself. I usually book window seats, so I was curious to see what a center seat feels like. I also like that at Asiana check-in, they display a seat map so that you can confirm where exactly your seat is.
I was given directions to the SWISS lounge, which is now behind security after the Terminal 4 renovations. Unfortunately, without Pre-Check, I had to stand in the long half-hour security line, which was mostly because several TSA agents were standing around chatting. Your $2.50 segment fee at work, folks!
After security, I quickly headed to the Wingtips lounge – I have access with my Priority Pass Select via the American Express Platinum Card. I won’t bother with a review since it’s the Oasis lounge but with a new name (and management). From my brief tour, the hardware and food looked almost the same. You can read a review of the lounge (back when it was called Oasis) here.
Afterward, I headed downstairs to the SWISS Business Lounge, which was pretty full with Star Gold, Business, and First Class passengers. I think it’s really cheap to give First Class passengers access to the Business lounge and keep the First Class side closed. Considering how full it was, I left within a couple minutes to wait at the gate instead. I honestly think the new Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 is better than the SWISS lounge, and wouldn’t come early to the airport for the lounge.
The gate was a short walk, and boarding was set for 12:30pm. I was a gate louse in the First Class line since I wanted to take as many photos onboard as possible. They spent about 8 minutes pre-boarding families, all the while I was thinking I should have brought a baby with me or something. I was allowed to board shortly after 12:35pm — 25 minutes to board a 777?
Asiana Airlines #221
New York (JFK) – Seoul (ICN)
Arrive: 5:30pm (next day)
Duration: 14 hours, 3o minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Seat: 2G (First Suite Class)
I boarded first at door 2, and a flight attendant showed me to my suite, but two other First Class passengers were immediately behind me, so I had to be creative with how I took photos.
My first impressions of the suite were quite pleasant – I’ve flown suites on the Emirates A380 and Singapore Airlines A380 – this Asiana suite isn’t huge, but it’s still fairly roomy. You can easily stand up in the suite and move slightly about. The seat looks rather rectangular and boring, but it was acutally pretty comfortable. There was ample storage space next to the seat on both sides, and intuitive touch controls. The bench across the seat has a seat belt, so I’m guessing another passenger could come to have dinner for 2, but why would they since behind them, THERE’S A FREAKING 32″ TV. ON AN AIRPLANE. IN THE SKY. That’s larger than the pitch in coach on many airlines!
I was also glad to be the first one onboard, as I had my roller bag and my fairly large backpack. The seats above the windows don’t have overheard bins, but there are a few bins over the center seats. There is one set of bins that are directly above Suites 2D and 2G, so much so that if you want to access the contents of the bin, you have to be inside the suite. The guy in 2K was eying those bins but I stuffed everything I had in the one above mine and closed it, forcing him to use another overhead bin. Sorry, man, but that’s my space.
Back to the suite – next to the seat is a fairly intuitive touch screen control system:
I was so excited about the prospect of a mini-bar until I realized that it’s not used at all during the flight. In fact, the bottle of water they give you during the flight won’t fit in the mini-bar. I used it as a place to store things like my camera, since I didn’t want them getting lost in the storage next to the seat (and because I wanted to use the mini-bar!).
After I was done snapping photos, a flight attendant came by and offered a set of pajamas, either medium and large. Someone told me that Asiana doesn’t believe in vanity sizing, so I went with the large – they were pretty comfortable. She also asked if I wanted something to drink, but Asiana is doesn’t have champagne (or any alcohol, for that matter) on the ground at JFK. Not even Duc de Paris! 😉 I went with water instead.
The purser came by to introduce herself and confirm that the flight would take 14 hours and 45 minutes (even longer than time blocked due to headwinds – not that I’m complaining in First Class!). Without windows, I sat back and watched the moving map. At around 1:10pm, the doors finally closed and after a tour of JFK, we were up in the air at around 1:35pm, about an hour after boarding.
Once we were in the air, I played around with the IFE to see what movies were available.
While Asiana had a fairly decent selection of movies (I recall watching Jobs, Gravity, and Rush), their selection of English-language TV shows was rather elementary. As in, the only show they had was “Elementary.”
For some reason, my movies had Chinese subtitles which I couldn’t take off. But what bugged me the most was that despite the large 32″ HDTV, all the source material was 4:3 and around 480p resolution. It’s a little bit of a pet peeve of mine to have such a nice TV but not have good quality source material.
Soon afterward, a flight attendant came by with the menu and wine list, and asked what I’d like to drink now that we were in the air.
As well as the wine list, all decent selections in my opinion:
I obviously went with the Korean bibimbap for my main course, but selected starters from the western side. Lunch was promptly served, and I asked to taste the champagnes since I didn’t get to try on the ground. Both were good, but I actually preferred the Charles Heidsieck Millesime 2000 slightly more.
First was the caviar course – so far this year, I’ve had caviar on Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa, but I was more impressed with Asiana for one simple reason – they have a proper caviar spoon! Go Asiana!
Afterward came the salad and soup courses
And after that – the star of the show: bibimbap! Now this is how you serve a main course!
Immediately after serving the main course, the flight attendants closed not only my suite door, but the door of the adjacent suite, as if I was going to do bad things to this meal that no one else should ever see.
Nevertheless, the meal was delicious, probably one of the best I’ve had on a plane. Afterward, dessert was served:
After the flight attendants cleared the table, I asked to have my seat changed into a bed, while I changed into my pajamas. Unlike other first class suites, the Asiana suite doesn’t have a wardrobe, so a flight attendant placed my clothes in a closet near the flight deck.
I slept for a good 6+ hours. After waking up, a flight attendant knocked on my suite and asked if I’d like a beverage or snack. I was hungry for some ramen! I also turned on ‘Gravity.’
With a couple hours remaining in-flight, the snack was served. Shortly after putting in my order for the Korean dish, I asked for a glass of orange juice.
For the remainder of the flight, I finished up movies and kept an eye on the airshow. Even though it was “only” 14 hours and 40 minutes, this felt like a very long flight. I watched 3 full movies and got 6+ hours of sleep! Not to mention, but for fairly obvious reasons, the plane made a rather circuitous approach into Seoul.
We approached Incheon from the west and landed at around 6pm, half an hour after our scheduled arrival due to headwinds (not that I’m complaining!).
The jetway attached to Door 1L, but I walked behind to check out the Quadra Smartium cabin before making my way off the plane.
Despite a slow start at the beginning of the flight (terrible terminal, lousy lounge, and paltry pre-flight potations), I really enjoyed Asiana First once in the air! The suite is a great hard product, and the service was genuine and attentive. And the food – definitely some of the best I’ve had on a plane!
Has anyone else flown Asiana’s First Suite? What did you think?