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Experiencing Asiana TPE-ICN-LAX in business

Experiencing Asiana TPE-ICN-LAX in business

Old Feb 12, 09, 8:09 am
  #1  
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Experiencing Asiana TPE-ICN-LAX in business



A little background: At the end of 2008, we found out my cousin was to get married in February 2009 in Taipei, Taiwan. I immediately knew that I wanted to go. My father refused to fly that far and my brother could not get off from work. After much debate, my mother decided that she would go as well (it was her sister’s son). So - the next step was to figure out how to get there. My aunt and her family, who live in LA, were flying Asiana through Seoul to get to Taipei. I knew I wanted to fly a Star alliance airline in order to get credit for my miles so this routing worked out quite well for me. I later found out how highly rated Asiana is and that it is not widely reported in the forums, so I was very excited to get the chance to fly with them. We then had to figure out how to get to LA. At first, my mother and I looked at United, but their timing did not really allow us enough time to ensure that we’d make the Asiana flight, so we decided to go with US Air. Our finally itinerary was as follows:

2/4/09 PHL-LAX US Airways 4:00 PM-7:05 PM
2/5/09 LAX-ICN Asiana Airlines 12:30 AM-7:00 AM +1
2/6/09 ICN-TPE Asiana Airlines 10:30 AM-12:10 PM
2/8/09 TPE-ICN Asiana Airlines 1:35 PM-4:55 PM
2/8/09 ICN-LAX Asiana Airlines 8:00 PM-1:40 PM
2/8/09 LAX-PHL US Airways 10:20 PM-6:11 AM +1

US Airways is well covered in the trip report section, and for the LAX-ICN leg I basically slept for the entire flight, plus the flight is entirely in the dark, so there are few pictures from that flight. This report will mainly focus on the return flights of TPE-ICN-LAX in Asiana Airlines business class. At the end of the report I will include a few pictures of the 777 C class cabin for anyone looking for pictures of the 777 cabin.

The report includes many many firsts for me.
- First international flight leaving from somewhere besides PHL
- First 777 flight
- First 747 flight
- First time to Asia
- First time on an Asian carrier

Now to the fun part…

My 2 aunts, uncle, mother, cousin and his fiancée were booked at The Grand Hotel in Taipei. We had reserved the airport bus, conveniently called “AirBus”, to TPE at 9:20 AM. The bus is only 90 New Taiwan Dollars so only about 3 USD, for the hour journey –a very good deal. We didn’t leave till about 9:30 AM and got to the airport in just shy of 1 hour. Now some obligatory shots of Taipei.






Poster at the airport


There was no line for the business class check in, so we walked right up and received boarding passes for both flights, lounge invitations for TPE and ICN, and bags tagged with priority tags, quickly and efficiently.

Business Class check in at TPE


Travel Class check in at TPE


FIDS


Main Board, under is where you enter to clear immigration and security


We went to the second level to get some coffee at Starbucks and chat at Burger King before clearing immigration and security. Over view of check in area and main lobby of terminal 2 at TPE



About 1.5 hours before our flight was due to leave, we proceeded to clear security in order to do some last minute shopping and check out the lounge. (I was the only one who cared about the lounge.) For some reason, Asiana is using the EVA Air lounge at TPE. Singapore has a Silverkris lounge at TPE, so it would seem to make sense to use a Star partner’s lounge, one would think.




The lounge is a decent size and was very quiet around noon on a Sunday. I guess most of the international planes leave later in the day.

When you first turn right after checking in with the agents, you are greeted with a nice overview of the seating


There is a business center with computer immediately to your left


I like the fridge in the business center, so you don’t have to walk to the snack area


I went over to the snack area to see the offerings, being used to RCC’s and US Air clubs. It’s weird seeing the variety of food/drinks being offered in other parts of the world. If other carriers can do it, why can’t carriers in the US? (Rhetorical question of course; I know why – they’re stingy.)


(I was in a rush to take pictures so I didn’t think about opening the lids. So it may be a mystery to my readers, but there is hot food available!)




Hot Dogs! This made me feel at home


A Variety of steamed buns


Boarding passes and Lounge invitations


I wanted to try to make it over to the Silverkris lounge, but after spending so much time browsing the duty-free shops and checking e-mail at the EVA lounge, I didn’t think I had enough time. I made my way to gate C8 to meet up with the rest of my family. Right next to C8 was a “Gamezone” which is just an area set up with multiple video game systems and large plasma TV’s. It looked like a good way to kill some time, but the gate offered too-good views of the runway/tarmac so I decides to take some pictures of the action.





My Plane today being prepared to take us to ICN


An Eva A330 before pushback to Hong Kong


The gates are TPE are 2 levels, so about 30 minutes before departure, we made our way downstairs to where the real gate area is. It also offered a better view of our plane
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Old Feb 12, 09, 8:10 am
  #2  
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February 8th
Routing: TPE-ICN
Flight: Asiana 712
Aircraft: HL7514 Boeing 767-300
Seat: 3A
Departure: 1:45 PM from gate C8
Arrival: 4:46 PM at Gate 39
Take Off: 6
Land: ??
Business Class was 100% filled with 15/15 seats filled

Boarding began promptly at 1:05 PM, exactly 30 minutes before our scheduled departure. There were two separate lines for Business/Gold and Travel class passengers. Both lines led into the same jet way, but not having to queue in a long line is always appreciated. I got to my seat 3A shortly after boarding started.

Plane next to us as seen from my seat



As boarding slowed down, a flight attendant came around with orange juice or water. My mother and I both choose an orange juice.


The next photos will show the features of the business class seat:
Seat controls

Power supply

IFE controller


USB input


Main screen of the IFE. I thought I was going to have a chance to take more pictures of the IFE on my ICN-LAX sector, but as it turns out that was not possible



Leg room on the 767


A look around the cabin


We pushed back at 1:33 PM, 2 minutes early, kudos to the crew for that. We had about a 10 minute taxi to runway 6 where we promptly took off.














At every seat was a pair of slippers and probably the worst pair of headphones I have seen offered to business class passengers. Every flight had a pair of slippers and the same headphones



As soon as we passed through 10,000 feet the seatbelt sign went off and the flight attendants passed out the menus. It is interesting to note that the menus had the meals for both sectors, ICN-TPE and TPE-ICN. The same occurred for LAX-ICN-LAX



After about 5 minutes the FA came back to take meal orders and drink orders, I opted for the seafood and the white wine, and my mother opted for the beef. The flight attendants came around with hot towels which were heavy duty and had Asiana Airlines imprinted in the towel


A tablecloth was set, again with the Asiana Airlines name in it, before the meals were brought out. The tray had the glasses and side items on it, while the hot dishes were brought out separately


Mixed seafood with fried rice and mixed vegetables


Salad


Dessert


Entire Meal


Everything in the beef dish was the same, except the main dish of course


The FA never let our drink go down to empty, constantly walking through the cabin with water and wine for refills (Or going to the galley to get the drink we ordered). One side note, the flight attendants always knelt down to your seat when talking to you. I thought this was amazing, in the US FA just stand there or bend down. It’s nice the see this level of service. I wish it could be more wide-spread (to other airlines), though.

After the meal I went to the bathroom. By the bathroom is a plate with the registration of the plane and the main control panel the FA’s use to operate the lights and IFE.



The bathrooms offer combs, toothbrushes and tooth paste, and some cologne and different lotions. Not really necessary for this short 2 hour flight, but definitely came in handy for the longer flight to LA.


As we got closer to ICN, I took some pictures of the cabin. Its in a 2-1-2 set up which does not feel very cramped at all. Most 767’s I have seen are in the 2-2-2 seat arrangement in business.





On the 777, you could easily get out of the window seat without disturbing your neighbor. On the 767, pitch was a little tighter, and harder to get out without forcing your neighbor to get out of his/her seat. Before I knew it, we were starting our descent and approach into ICN. As it was 4:20 PM and the sun was setting, it offered some great views and we descended.









ICN has these (I guess) dirt mounds that are painted green to look like grass, I assume. It’s kind of funny.


Touch down at 4:46 PM




We taxied to gate 39, passing numerous airlines that I rarely get to see in my travels








Our plane resting after the journey from TPE


We said goodbye to my aunt, uncle, cousin, and his fiancée, as they were staying in ICN for a few days. My mother, other aunt, and I proceeded through the transfer security and up to the departures level. We exchanged our last New Taiwanese dollars for Won to use in the duty-free shops before heading over to the lounge. I also took some pictures of the very interest terminal architecture. I don’t know if this normally happens but one of the duty free shops was giving away free samples of Johnny Walker Blue. Needless to say I had to try some. It is quite delicious, the only problem is the $150 price tag.






My aunt was flying coach so I guested her in with my RCC membership. The lounge attendant first looked at my membership card and said it was not Star gold and I could not guest anyone in. I tried to explain to her that it was not my frequent flyer card but a lounge membership, but she didn’t seem to understand. Luckily the other attendant working next to her recognized the card and told her I was allowed in with a guest. I understand that there are many Star members so its hard to know every rule, but couldn’t they have some sort of “cheat sheet” at the front desk or on the computer so their attendants can easily look it up?




The first class lounge was right next to the business lounge, but utilized a separate walkway


The Business class lounge is very nice, with many food selections and a variety of drinks. As many planes were leaving at this hour the lounge was quite full, so I was trying to be discreet in taking pictures.







I got some pasta salad and regular salad, and poured my self a Johnny Walker Black and diet Coke (or Coke Light)


The lounge offered some great views of the apron, but dusk was setting in so it was getting hard to take pictures



At 7:15 PM we made out way down to Gate 41 to board at 7:30 PM for our flight to LA. I was very excited to be flying on a 747 for the first time and on the upper deck, too! However, when we first got to the gate, I got very worried because the 747 was in the old colors. I got even more worried when I saw the front gear doors said 417. This could only mean one thing: we were on the one 747 that had yet to be converted to the new business/first class seats and PTV’s in coach. Members on Flyertalk had been saying that this plane mainly was flying back and forth to HKG and that Asiana wouldn’t put this plane on any long haul routes, so I had not been too worried. And the seating map up until the day I left the US had shown the new configuration on the upper deck. But of course, things can change. To say I was disappointed is a gross understatement. After being in the new C seat for 3 flights, to have my last flight on the old seats was the worst way to end this amazing trip. As great as the FA’s were throughout my entire Asiana experience this really brought down my feelings towards Asiana.
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Old Feb 12, 09, 8:10 am
  #3  
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February 8th
Routing: ICN-LAX
Flight: Asiana 204
Aircraft: HL7417 Boeing 747-400 Combi
Seat: 9J
Departure: 8:00 PM from gate 41
Arrival: 1:38 PM at Gate 104
Take Off: ??
Land: 24R
Business class was 47% filled with 14/32 seats filled, but 2 seats were for crew rest




The flight attendants came around with water and champagne; also meals and drink orders were taken prior to take off, which was a first out of my 4 flights.





We had a long wait after pushback before beginning our taxi to the runway, but soon enough we were there and rocketed into the sky at 8:22 PM.

The first service was a dinner service. The menu offered 2 western options and a Korean option



Drink Options: a little more extensive than the shorter TPE-ICN sector







I choose the Korean meal, beef Ssam-bab. It was excellent, probably one of my new favorite foods







The meal also came with soup


My mother choose the Halibut from the western menu. The starter was 3-color pasta and vegetables



After the main meal, a cheese and fruit plate was served


Followed by a chocolate brownie-type thing and tea



Overall, I have to the say the food on Asiana is excellent. All of my relatives enjoyed the food immensely. It’s definitely one of the pluses to flying Asiana.

The PTV on this plane is the kind that folds out from the console between the two seats and was quite small compared to the huge screens I had become used to.



And of course there were crappy headphones that Asiana hands out to business class passengers, and I assume are the same for coach


There were overhead monitors showing the moving map/short programming throughout the flight



The flight was 10:27 hours, and the meal serviced ended with a little more than 8 hours left in the flight. I decided to go to sleep at this point. Although the seats did not recline that much and the leg rest was anything but comfortable (or roomy), I was able to sleep for about 5 hours. Probably due to the constant refills of wine throughout the dinner service!
I woke up with about 3.15 left in the flight





I moved to the back of the business class cabin where there was only 1 other person, and took some pictures showing off the seat







Seat pocket contents



Seat and IFE controls


PTV storage


I guess the flight attendant saw my flurry of activity and offered a drink to me. She suggested a guava juice and I couldn’t say no!






The one good thing about having the old 747 was that each seat had an overhead air vent. I feel this is very necessary and really miss it in the newer business class cabin. Airplane cabins always feel hot to me and the vents really help to cool me down. I guess I need to dress lighter.

After waking up at 4:00 AM Seoul time, you could think the next meal would be breakfast. Wrong. The next meal is lunch. I realize they’re trying to get you on LA time, but after waking up it is very odd to be eating a lunch type meal. It almost made me lose my appetite.



I decided to go with the prawns for my lunch



Pea Soup starter


Prawns with noodles


Finished out the meal with fresh fruit and green tea


The meal was so unappealing to my mom that she just opted for some fresh fruit





What’s wrong with this picture?


This maybe?

I guess the light would not turn off. At least they were thinking about their customers.

Before I knew it, we were starting a descent into LAX. I decided to move back to row 13 or 14 to offer a better view of the wing and engines. Because of the sloping fuselage in row 9, you couldn’t see the wing.




Planes taking off from LAX I assume, $100 if you can identify them






Can you spot the Hollywood sign?









We landed at 1:38 PM, 2 minutes early, but taxied around the entire airport before getting to our gate at 1:52 PM











A couple of final pictures of our seats and cabin before disembarking




Of course the obligatory “TBIT is a dump” pictures



We had to walk to terminal 1 to catch our US Air red-eye back home. We passed (I believe) terminal 2, and it seemed like the planes were so close you could touch them!




My goodies from my flights



Amenity kits are only given on long haul flights Ex-ICN, so I only ended up with 1, but on the flight to ICN eyeshades and ear plugs were handed out, along with the other amenities available in the bathrooms



My final thoughts:

Asiana is definitely a 5-star airline. The service is the best I have ever had and constitute the standard of what airline service should be. Although the English of the flight attendants is not the best, they are patient and try very hard to make sure they understand what you are asking of them to the best of their ability. Americans tend to talk too fast and use slang, so that can make it hard for them. After figuring this out, I slowed down and tried to point to things on the menu, and I was fine for the rest of my flights. The FA’s are incredible attentive as well constantly roaming the cabin to see if passengers need anything else. Hot towels are distributed before and after every meal, which is a very nice touch. The only downside to my entire trip was getting the old 747 on the last flight. Either way, I would not hesitate to fly Asiana again and will recommend them to anyone who is willing to listen.

Since I do not plan on writing a report for my flights to TPE, I will post some pictures below.

Seating on the 777








The menu for the 2 meals on the LAX-ICN flight. Since the departure is at 12:30AM the first meal is a “heavy snack” and the second meal is breakfast




And finally, my meal on the ICN-TPE sector, which was also a seafood meal




Thank you for reading my report. Please free feel to leave feedback or ask any questions.
PHLstudent is offline  
Old Feb 12, 09, 8:54 am
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Not for discouragement, but you know your first meal on ICN-LAX is exactly the same offer as for my flights in C for HKG-ICN, except korean option I got bi bim bap instead of sseam bap. They were out of the fish, but then she said she can get the fish for me from F.
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Old Feb 12, 09, 8:56 am
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Thank you very much for your report. I really enjoyed reading it. Reminds me that I wanted to travel to Asia again.
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Old Feb 12, 09, 6:54 pm
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Nice report!

Funny, I got a very similar-looking ssam bap in economy flying ICN-SEA a couple months ago. Obviously I didn't get all the extras like soup, etc, but the main dish looks exactly the same. I was actually blown away by how delicious it was. Probably my best economy class meal.
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Old Feb 12, 09, 7:15 pm
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Excellent report - especially as it covers both the regional and international product.

Alas, duct tape seems to get everywhere on 747's ... Its amazing what you can fix with the stuff though

I've been looking for some good solid ideas... And along with stargold you've just finished furnishing me with some.

Time to cash in those miles I suspect
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Old Feb 12, 09, 8:17 pm
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Originally Posted by Kevincm View Post

Alas, duct tape seems to get everywhere on 747's ... Its amazing what you can fix with the stuff though
Duct tape only exist in this particular 74M with old seats, other 747 are fine. Many stuff in this particular 74M can't be fix at all even with duct tape as the seats are more than 10 years old.
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Old Feb 13, 09, 12:02 am
  #9  
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Great report. The text and the pictures really gave a great view of the entire trip.
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Old Feb 13, 09, 3:38 am
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Great TR. Seems strange that the Asiana 763s had new seats fitted but the overhead bins were not updated to the Boeing Signature Interior. The retro & new mashup looks out of place.
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Old Feb 13, 09, 7:07 am
  #11  
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Originally Posted by grizu View Post
Thank you very much for your report. I really enjoyed reading it. Reminds me that I wanted to travel to Asia again.
Thank you, I really want to go back, I was only in Taipei for 2 days and was running around most of the time for the wedding. I think a trip to Japan may be in order sometime soon.
Originally Posted by bombayhog View Post
Nice report!

Funny, I got a very similar-looking ssam bap in economy flying ICN-SEA a couple months ago. Obviously I didn't get all the extras like soup, etc, but the main dish looks exactly the same. I was actually blown away by how delicious it was. Probably my best economy class meal.
Thank you, The Ssam-bap was easily the best meal I have had on a plane. The beef was not dry at all and was delicious. I don't know healthy it was, but eating it in the lettuce wrap sure made me feel like I was being healthy

Originally Posted by Kevincm View Post
Excellent report - especially as it covers both the regional and international product.

Alas, duct tape seems to get everywhere on 747's ... Its amazing what you can fix with the stuff though

I've been looking for some good solid ideas... And along with stargold you've just finished furnishing me with some.

Time to cash in those miles I suspect
I would definitly check them out, try and book a 777 flight to be sure you will not get that one bad 747. The service and food are great reguardless.

Originally Posted by SanDiego1K View Post
Great report. The text and the pictures really gave a great view of the entire trip.
Thank you very much
Originally Posted by Nick C View Post
Great TR. Seems strange that the Asiana 763s had new seats fitted but the overhead bins were not updated to the Boeing Signature Interior. The retro & new mashup looks out of place.
thank you, I'm more worried about the seats than the overhead bins!
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Old Feb 13, 09, 9:53 am
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Originally Posted by Nick C View Post
Great TR. Seems strange that the Asiana 763s had new seats fitted but the overhead bins were not updated to the Boeing Signature Interior. The retro & new mashup looks out of place.
I don't think any airlines when they refit the seat would also update the overhead bins to the Boeing Signature Interior. It is costly, and not sure if they can redo the interior at all. Unless if they deliver with one, otherwise old stay old. I only know 737 and 757 can do a refit of bigger overhead bins, lighting, and drop down LCD screens, but neverheard anything for 747 and 767.
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Old Feb 13, 09, 5:01 pm
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Great and informative TR - thanks!

Wow - Asiana business on the upper deck looks just like Virgin Atlantic premium economy (except the food and drink!!)

JAT
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Old Feb 14, 09, 9:17 pm
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Originally Posted by ORDnHKG View Post
I don't think any airlines when they refit the seat would also update the overhead bins to the Boeing Signature Interior. It is costly, and not sure if they can redo the interior at all. Unless if they deliver with one, otherwise old stay old. I only know 737 and 757 can do a refit of bigger overhead bins, lighting, and drop down LCD screens, but neverheard anything for 747 and 767.
I recall HA fitting the 4 763EMs that it bought from DL with the Heath Techna interiors (while not BSI it's along the same lines)
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Old Feb 14, 09, 10:31 pm
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Nice work. Too bad you didn't have time to enjoy the flight because of your trip report.
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