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Asiana Airlines Review: 5 Flights

Asiana Airlines review

Rolling to the gate next to an Asiana 747 at Tokyo Narita.

This just wouldn’t be an Asiana Airlines review without mentioning my breakfast choice: spicy octopus with rice. Yes, this is my kind of airline.

This is just eight hours into my handful of Asiana Airlines flights spanning the Pacific, with shorter flights to Jeju Island and Tokyo. During these five flights, I got to know Asiana pretty well. And I have some impressions to share about how Asiana Airlines scores for international flights. I admit, I have no other Asian airlines to compare it to. But it stacks up well for any airline, winning a number of Skytrax awards over the years. To get much better, you’d have to step up to Emirates business class, which has an impressive reputation with flyers.

1. Let’s loop back to that food. Other meals including a traditional bi bim bap, bulgogi, and tempura chicken and shrimp. Most of the meals included fresh fruit. Hands down, it was the tastiest and healthiest airline food I’ve ever encountered. It easily dethrones the Qantas meals, which were decent but nothing memorable. But I’ll never forget spooning marinated beef, bean paste and rice into a huge lettuce leaf, folding it into a burrito and munching away. I was more than a bit amused that, half the time, the flight attendants didn’t ask if we wanted to the squeeze tubes full of tasty hot chili sauce. They probably hadn’t encountered many Arizonans … many of us crave spiciness in any form.

The Travel Class cabin of an Asiana 777, Asiana Airlines review

The Travel Class cabin of an Asiana 777

2. In-flight entertainment was everything it should be for international flights. I caught up on my silly superhero movies, plus the latest Star Trek. No hiccups from the equipment at all, and it was easy enough to work. I might’ve expected Asian airlines to be even more slick and hi-tech. But it was just solid, no-fuss equipment.

3. The cabins were immaculate whether I was aboard an A320 or a 777. Asiana’s 767s are probably no spring chickens, but they looked great. A question for Asiana – I could’ve sworn our 1:30 flight (Oct. 15) from Narita to Incheon was a 767 configured in 3-3-3 rather than the usual 2-3-2. Was I overdosing on the spicy chili sauce, or is that some unusual 767? Bottom line: Whatever I flew, I have to mention the cleanliness in my Asiana Airlines review.

4. From the check-in counter to the cabin, every Asiana employee was helpful and welcoming – no exceptions. They were all efficiency, and they said everything with a smile. They weren’t quite as jocular as Air New Zealand or Qantas, but who is?

Asiana Airlines review

Dinner is served – bi bim bap! I usually take other travel bloggers to task for posting food photos – but I think this warrants breaking my own rule. I mean, steamed pumpkin, kimchi, fresh veggies … that’s out-of-the-ordinary!

5. There was a bit of weirdness the moment our flight pushed back from the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX on Sept. 30. We’d only moved a few feet when I felt the plane lurch. This led to a few announcements about tire changes, which made us a bit more than two hours late. I didn’t mind, even though international flights are long enough with no delays. I took advantage of the time to read and doze. I’m really curious about what it takes to change tires on a 777 at the gate. Kind of cool, really! Oh, and props to my mostly Korean fellow passengers. They took the delay announcements in stride. Does this cost Asiana Airlines review points? Not really. They seemed to make the time up in the air. And really, we still arrived in the early morning hours.

6. There are only two things that prevent me from flying Asiana Airlines every chance I get: First, Seoul is its only hub. Second, I always love trying a carrier based in the country I’m visiting. So if I go to another Asian country, I’d want to fly some different Asian airlines just to sample its airborne culture. Asiana’s competitive fares and excellent in-flight service would give me second thoughts about booking on another airline if it’s possible to use them, though. A follow-up Asiana Airlines review would also be interesting.

Asiana Airlines review

Our ride … with all the sweet hook-ups.

7. Something else odd – most of our international flights were only about 75 percent full. The busiest ones were the flights to and from Tokyo. But the trans-Pacific flights had plenty of empty seats. That’s very nice, of course, since it gave Sarah and I some room to stretch out.

8. In one way, Asiana Airlines might learn from fellow Asian airlines JAL and ANA: Both these Japanese airlines sell small trinkets with their logos on them at Narita. Asiana should do the same at Seoul. I would definitely add an Asiana t-shirt to my collection of airline stuff – if one was available.

I can honestly say that Asiana deserves its Skytrax Airline of the Year award for 2010. I always insist that getting there is part of the fun, and that my vacation truly starts when I step aboard the plane for international flights. Asiana did everything right and put the Republic of Korea’s best foot forward. Maybe next time, I’ll get to try some other Asian airlines, too.

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8 thoughts on “Asiana Airlines Review: 5 Flights

  1. Nichole L. Reber

    You’re far superior to me at knowing not only which airlines to fly and which planes you’re in. All I can say about my flights in the East are that it’s conducive to my vegetarianism. Not only can I rely on getting proper veggie food (I’m ovo-lacto-pesce), I can also opt for a variety of veggie cuisines (because of the local religions, of course). Delight!
    The most recent flight I took with an airline from our own country didn’t even have a single veggie meal on board. “Here, take this. You can just ignore the chicken,” was the response from an airline attendant who at least helped in some sense. Good thing I wasn’t hungry.

  2. Christina King

    what do you think now of this sort of airplane since of the Asiana 777 aircraft crash yesterday? I thought it was uncanny that y ou mentioned that the tires needed to be replaced, im thinking it should have been done before you got there.

  3. WanderingJustin

    Hi, Christina. Thanks for your question. Well, the 777 family of aircraft has been in operation for 18 years, and these are the first fatalities associated with it. That’s an amazing safety record, so I’m very comfortable with the 777. And I’d fly Asiana again tomorrow. There’s inherent risk in everything we do. I’m trying not to speculate, but I did read that the devices at SFO that transmit glide slope info to inbound aircraft was not operating at the time of the crash (there are other systems to back it up, but they’re not quite the same).

    I’m impressed that the aircraft held together well enough to allow most people a very good chance at survival. And it seems the Asiana cabin crew also did very well managing a multilingual passenger load in a very harrowing situation.

    As for the tire replacement, the bump I felt indicated the tire ruptured on pushback. Can’t replace it if you don’t know about it, after all. Thanks again for stopping by!

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