I left the Star Alliance First Class lounge a little more than an hour from the scheduled departure time of 1:40pm. Stretching my legs and walking around a bit was refreshing given how long I spent in the lounge and I was curious to see what the gate area looked like. The lounge agent said theyâ€™d make an announcement if they were unable to fix the entertainment system and would provide compensation there at the gate. Also, given the delay, they provided me with a $20 refreshment coupon that I never ended up usingâ€¦ the offerings in the First Class lounge were enough to tide me over.
I noticed a full gate area, but proceeded past gate 121 to get a few pictures of my â€œQueen of the Skies,â€ a Boeing 747-400.
That zoomed in picture of the First Class section was important to me. My useful windows ended up being numbers five, six and seven when starting from the front. My TV monitor blocks the view from window four and window eight is blocked by the monitor behind me in row three.
No mention of the entertainment system was made until boarding began and then it was something to the effect of, â€œWeâ€™re terribly sorry, but the entertainment system has malfunctioned and you will receive compensation when you land in Seoul. We apologize for the inconvenience.â€ I was told at check-in that First Class passengers would receive $200 in Asiana credits, so I looked forward to those in Seoul.
Boarding was underway and I was probably the fifth or sixth person in line on the First/Business side. I was quickly scanned and on my way to the aircraft door. Upon approaching, the flight attendant asked for my seat assignment to which I replied, â€œ2K,â€™ while showing her my boarding pass stub. â€œOh, Mr. Boothâ€¦ right this way, please.â€ Loved the name recognition, and she never got a good look at my boarding stub.
I was shown to my seat and noticed another passenger was already seated in 4K. He wasnâ€™t in the line to board and I eventually surmised he was an off-duty employee (more on that later). The flight attendant stood by while I arranged my carry-ons and once I took my coat off, she offered to hang it. Then she went away for a while. I settled into seat 2K and started browsing through the Asiana magazines and other items.
Within moments, another flight attendant approached with my amenity kit, pajamas and slippers on a tray and delivered them to me. She selected XL PJs and I asked for medium given Iâ€™m such a skinny guy. As it turns out, I shouldâ€™ve asked for large as the mediums ended up being a bit short on me, but they were fine so I didnâ€™t say anything. (Side note: My Cathay Pacific mediums are a perfect fit.)
Boarding continued and only one other First Class passenger arrived. He was seated in 1A, by far the most spacious and desired row on the airplane. The flight attendants were particularly accommodating of him, so he was likely a Korean VIP. He had one of those VIP rooms in the lounge, I noticed too. Soâ€¦ it ended up being the three of us in First. One (probable) revenue in 1A, me on mileage in 2K and an employee in 4K. Very spacious.
In a bit, I was asked what Iâ€™d like as a pre-departure beverage. She preceded the question by mentioning they canâ€™t serve alcohol on the ground at LAX (why?), but I was more than fine with that and asked for a Coke. Shortly, I had my drink and some nuts.
Boarding completed and I settled in for the flight. The First Class blanket is heavy and wonderful and I noticed the F/As didnâ€™t say anything about me putting my shoulder bag underneath the ottoman across from my seat. The placard specifically said that was a â€œno-no.â€
Since there was no IFE, the safety demonstration was live and whenever they are, I tend to watchâ€¦ in part just to acknowledge them since other passengers in the cabin otherwise ignore the whole thing. I wonder if F/As appreciate it or not? Anyone know? We pushed back and were on our way to the runway. I have oodles of video shots of this flight that I need to edit down, so will eventually post those here and on YouTube. Stay tuned.
After takeoff, I changed into my PJs and brought my folded clothes back to my seat. One major difference between Cathay Pacific and Asiana is that the latter doesnâ€™t offer to hang your clothes, nor is there an individual closet to do so. I did sort of expect them to come by and offer, but it never happened. No biggie, but I think they should consider offering it as the closet at the front of their 747 cabin is HUGE!
What I did find surprising is after takeoff they didnâ€™t come around to offer drinks. My first interaction with a F/A was to take my Lunch order and as youâ€™ll see, it was an eight-course delight. After she took my order, I asked for a bubbly water with lemon. Hot towel service preceded the meal and then it was underway.
I was feeling adventurous and went with the Korean option of â€˜Bibimbab.â€™ First, though, several beginning courses arrived. To start, Melon, Parma Ham and Egg with Salmon Roe:
Then it was onto the caviar portion, complimented with garlic toast:
Following that, poached lobster and salmon gravlax arrived:
Then it was on to zucchini soup:
Ah, here finally came the main courseâ€¦ the Korean â€˜Bibimbabâ€™ with steamed rice, veggies, minced beef and assorted side dishes and soup. It was incredible! The flavors on that beef were just amazing:
I didnâ€™t eat that nasty looking strawberryâ€¦ eww. Dessert followed shortly and I enjoyed the raspberry cake:
When dinner was finally done, they came around with eyeshades and earplugs.
Without the moving map, I just guessed at how long I should sleep. I got up, asked for my bed to be made and went to the lav to refresh. Itâ€™s a standard 747 lavatoryâ€¦ nothing expanded about it for First Class, unlike many other carriers. There were additional amenities there, though, including lotions, creams, eau de toilette, facial mist, cotton swabs, full-sized toothbrushes with paste, and combs.
I slept for a good four or five hours and when I woke, I couldnâ€™t believe I was hungry, but I was. Asianaâ€™s First seats are identical to Unitedâ€™s â€œoldâ€ sleeper seats in First, those currently flying on the unmodified Boeing 777s. Theyâ€™re okay, but nothing special. Hereâ€™s the snack menu:
I went with Ramen and she asked if I wanted it â€œSpicy or just little spicy.â€ I replied â€œjust little spicyâ€ and was served in about 10 minutes.
Apparently, â€œlittle spicyâ€ is pretty bloody hot to my palate, as it was so. I really enjoyed it, though, but it was definitely â€œhotâ€ by my estimation. Glad I didnâ€™t ask for full flavor! I asked how much time was left and was shocked at the answerâ€¦ four hours. Oh boy. I was still tired, so reclined back and slept for a while. Now is when I missed the entertainment feature with the moving map.
Two hours out of Seoul I re-awoke and prepped for the final meal, a â€œsnackâ€ according to the menu.
I went with the beef brochette this time, but started with the shrimp and proscitto:
Dessert was a delicious fruit tart:
Approaching Seoul I was brought a gift and again on a tray like they do everything else. The purser crouched down and asked how the flight was. My reply was â€œfantastic,â€ and she continued that she was very happy to hear that. She went onâ€¦ â€œI have a very small token of our appreciation for you flying with us todayâ€¦ I hope you accept our gift to you.â€ It was a delicious smelling scented candle and I thanked her and again mentioned how much I enjoyed the flight.
Throughout the flight I noticed the passenger in 4K didnâ€™t have all of the amenitiesâ€¦ the First blanket, no sign of an amenity kit and I heard him eat quickly during meal service and was done quite soon. He had what looked to be a business class blanket (later confirmed as such) and never did snuggle in with the same bedding as I had (or Mr. 1A). He was definitely an employee.
We soon landed in Seoul and Iâ€™ll have an incredible amount of video of that coming soon. When I looked at my phone, we touched down at 7:28pm and my connecting flight left at 7:45pmâ€¦ did I make it? Stay tuned!