Phuket (HKT) – Seoul (ICN)
Sunday, December 14
Duration: 5 hours 50 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 767
After wrapping up a great trip in Dubai and Khao Lak, it was time to head home. I booked us home HKT-ICN-SFO. We decided to fly United Global First home from Seoul, and we needed to fly Asiana Business Class from Phuket to Seoul. While Asiana is known for having some very luxurious cabin configurations, neither their old 767s nor their old A330-300 (A333) planes represent that image.
This flight is typically scheduled for an A330, but we got swapped for a 767. It’s a two cabin plane, and the business class is an older style seat. It was our best option for getting out of HKT late at night (the flight leaves at 2AM) in order to maximize the time we could spend in Khao Lak, a 90 minute drive north of Phuket. It also gave us the added perk of being able to fly United Global First, which while nothing special, would be a fun way for us to sit all the way in the front of the nose of a 747.
We were returning our rental car close to midnight in Phuket, and we were definitely surprised how crowded the airport was at that time. Apparently there are a glut of late night departures. We were also surprised that the airport was a bit trashy and dirty. Luckily, there was a Thai Airways lounge where we could relax before the flight.
Calling the lounge disappointing would be a bit of an understatement. I actually thought it was pretty gross! There were stains all over the carpet, the food offerings were picked over and mostly nonexistent, and there weren’t any great places to lounge or relax. On the flipside, it wasn’t very crowded, and I was able to grab a couple beers in advance of our overnight flight. A little alcohol can go a long way to putting one to sleep on a plane!
We didn’t have too much time to kill in the lounge, and pretty soon it was time to board.
I had read online that the seats were not great, but as we were planning to sleep for this entire flight, we were not super concerned. We just wanted a decent spot to sleep.
I actually thought the seats looked cool! They had a look that reminded me of what people thought the future would be like 20 years ago. It was just a few days before Christmas, and I did think it was nice that Asiana had a few wreaths hung in the cabin.
We got settled in, ready to doze off for the evening. But before dozing, it was time to explore my personal space, push all the buttons, and stretch out!
My first impression was that there was plenty of legroom, but the opinion changed a bit later into the flight when I had to recline.
The seat controls were pretty standard, and there was a familiar remote for controlling the in flight entertainment system. I appreciated that both seats had laptop power and USB power. USB power should be standard in every seat in every cabin on every airline. It’s great to be able to land with a fully charged phone. I plugged in my phone, and I checked out the amenities that were left for us on the seat.
The amenities were a bit weak. Headphones. A pillow and blanket. Slippers. An eye mask. Maybe my expectations were too high on this trip after two flights on Emirates (report 1 and report 2), but it just seemed weak. In the bathroom they had toothbrushes and toothpaste. We took off, and it was time to go to sleep. It was then that I noticed just how poorly designed this seat is. When intending to sleep, typically step one is to recline the chair. Obviously these aren’t lie-flat seats, but check out what happens to your leg room when you recline.
Basically, when reclining into “bed mode,” the chair foot rest pops out, jamming your legs against the back of the seat in front of you. That material your legs bump into isn’t soft leather / pleather. It’s hard plastic. There was so little legroom that if I tried to sleep on my side, I couldn’t actually fit both legs on top of each other. My wife and I were able to fall asleep, though, and we got a bit of rest for our layover in Seoul.
We weren’t that concerned about getting a great sleep because it would only be a few hours before we were back on a plane, ready to sleep again, heading home to San Francisco. When we awoke, I found the following message from the Asiana flight attendant on my arm rest.
Haha I did appreciate the note! This seems like an odd way to request service, as opposed to just ringing the flight attendant call button, but it’s a nice gesture, I suppose. Despite tossing and turning, we actually slept almost the entire flight. It occurs to me that this is potentially one of my most boring flight reports yet, but let’s skip to the point.
The bottom line is that if you’re booking a business class ticket on Asiana that you think might involve some sleeping, do your best to avoid the old configuration 767 or A333. The seat really was not pleasant. If you can’t avoid it, it isn’t the end of the world, but I have had more comfortable sleeps in Economy Plus on United than I got on that plane. Our next stop was the Asiana First Class Lounge, which both James and Brad have blogged about.