After spending a few hours in the fantastic LAX Star Alliance Business Class lounge it was finally time to board my Asiana Airlines business class flight to Seoul on the incredible Airbus A380. This flight was one of two positioning flight to get me to Vietnam to begin my insane 2017 Qatar Airways Mileage Run.
The flight was delayed about 30 minutes past the schedule 12:00pm departure. Shortly after noon the Asiana lounge attendants made a boarding announcement for our flight and I proceeded down the gate.
Since I was listening to music on my Bose QC35 headphones I didn’t hear our gate number during the boarding announcement. Instead as I walked into the center of the Tom Bradley International Terminal I looked up at the beautiful digital departure board to find my gate number. I’m not sure whose idea it was to put two 12:00pm flights to Seoul next to each other. I ended up going to the wrong gate at first and had to double back to our correct gate. I’m glad I made this small mistake because the walk back to our gate allowed me to get my first look at the massive Asiana Airlines Airbus A380.
Asiana Airlines A380 Business Class Boarding
Once I finally made it to the gate I was among the last to board. I presented my Asiana flight boarding pass printed on United card stock. Apparently Asiana won’t accept a United stock boarding passe, so the gate agent needed to quickly print a copy, but on Asiana ticket stock. After printing the boarding pass, confirming my Vietnam visa, and verifying my passport at the gate the agent ripped my boarding pass and directed me to board.
Once through the gate a sign directed passengers to their seats. Business class takes up nearly the entire upper deck of the Asiana Airlines A380 so the sign directed all business class passengers up the escalator to the upper deck jet bridge. The Asiana A380 also features a few rows of standard economy seats on the upper deck. Those economy rows feature a 2-4-2 layout which is more comfortable than the 3-4-3 economy layout on the lower deck.
Since I was among the last passengers to board the upper deck jet bridge was mostly empty as I boarded the aircraft. We boarded through the second boarding door of the upper deck. As you enter the aircraft through that door you’ll find yourself in galley between the two business class sections. Once on board you’re welcomed by an overwhelmingly beige cabin. The Asiana A380 business class cabin is overall fairly bland and boring.
Asiana Airlines A380 Business (Smartium) Class Seat
Asiana Airlines recently introduced a new business class cabin which they call “Smartium” business class. Smartium seats feature lay-flat seats and direct aisle access from every seat. Seats are arranged in a staggered offset.
I chose seat 17A for my flight which is a true window seat in the rear business class cabin. I specifically chose this seat because it’s a “true” window seat. In the front business class cabin, even numbered seats are “true” window seats, while odd rows feature true window seats in the back section of the cabin. True window seats mean that the chair is next to the window.
All exterior seats also come with added window storage, unique to the Airbus A380 cabin. Each business class seat offers passengers plenty of legroom and a fairly large entertainment monitor.
Shortly after I sat down, the flight attendant for the flight introduced herself and offered a pre-departure drink of either water or orange juice. Alcoholic options were not available prior to departure, most likely due to the taxes airlines need to pay for opening alcohol on US soil.
The center section seats are also staggered to allow for completely lie-flat seats. Some rows put the physical seat next to the aisles and away from one another while other rows feature a “honeymoon” style seating arrangement.
Asiana Airlines A380 Smatium Business Class Aisle Seats
While Asiana Airlines doesn’t offer the most attractive business class cabin in the sky, I found the seats plenty spacious and comfortable for the 13.5 hours flight to Seoul.
L’Occitane Soft Amenity Kit
Asiana Airlines L’Occitane Soft Amenity Kit Contents
As I arrived at my seat I found a plastic wrapped pillow and blanket, headphones, a L’Occitane soft amenity kit, and slippers. Asiana didn’t offer in-flight pajamas on this particular flight. The amenity kit featured tissues (great), industrial ear plus, a toothbrush kit, flight socks, an eye mask, and a comb. The kit also contained a small vial of L’Occitane moisturizing cream.
Asiana Airlines A380 Taxi and Take-Off
After settling into my seat we pushed back from the gate and began the long, slow, taxi to the runway.
Asiana Airlines A380 Taxi
One thing I’ll never get over about any A380 is the sheer size of the aircraft. Because the large size while on the ground the plane doesn’t move around the airport quickly. Also the aircraft generally requires spotters on the ground to monitor the ends of the wings to make sure they don’t hit anything while taxiing. This, coupled with the spacing requirements around the plane tends to lead to a long, boring, taxi to the runway.
After a few minutes of taxing to the runway the engines roared to life and we began our take-off roll. One thing that’s always surprising about being in such a large aircraft is just how quickly and smoothly the plane gets off the ground. As you get airborne it doesn’t even feel like you’re moving fast enough to maintain flight.
Once airborne we received our last views of North American soil, a beautiful sandy Los Angeles beach. Before long we arrived at our initial cruising altitude. At that point the cabin crew began circulating about the cabin taking drink orders and passing out the in-flight menus.
Asiana Airlines A380 Business In-Flight Beverage Menu
When the flight attendant visited my seat, she handed me the business class food and beverage menus. Since our flight departed at 12:00pm we’d first get a lunch option and we’d receive a small snack several hours later prior to landing in Seoul.
Asiana Airlines A380 Business Class Menus
The menus offered a fairly nice variety of wines and cocktails and a fairly diverse selection of traditional and Korean beers.
Our flight only offered one type of champagne, Laurent Perrier Brut which retails for approximately $40. I’m not a wine drinker, so instead stuck to the champagne and beer options during my flight to Korea. I mostly enjoyed the champagne and beers I sampled throughout the flight.
Additionally, our flight offered a fairly large selection of teas and a few different coffee options. I opted to stay away from caffeine during the flight as I wanted to try to get a few hours of sleep.
Overall, I was quite impressed with the in-flight wine selection. I am not a huge fan of wine, so I’m not sure if these wines are good or bad, but it’s always nice to see a few options on the menu.
Asiana Airlines A380 Business Class In-Flight Food Menus
Although the in-flight beverage options were plentiful, the in-flight food menus were much more limited.
Our flight featured either western or traditional Korean options. The western option came with a variety of main course choices as seen above while the Korean option was a little more limiting.
Shortly after distributing the menus my flight attendant visited my seat at took down my meal choices. I opted for the traditional Korean meal option; after all I was flying with a Korean carrier. I noticed that my choice of a Korean meal surprised my flight attendant. At that point I should had second guessed myself and switched to a western option, but decided to stick with my original choice (what a mistake).
Asiana Airlines A380 Business Class Meal Service
Shortly after I placed my meal order, about an hour into the flight, the chief flight attendant stopped by my seat to introduce herself and ask if I needed anything. At the same time my primary flight attendant helped lower my tray table into position and covered the table with a table-cloth.
The tray table is actually quite smart in the way it operates. The table stows flat against the back seat in front of you and swivels down and around into position. Because it’s on a rotating hinge, it also swivels toward the seat-back IFE screen which allows you to exit your seat during the meal service. I often feel trapped during meal services since the tray table usually blocks access to the aisles. It’s nice to have the option to get up in between dishes.
Korean Meal Appetizers
A few minutes later the first course of my Korean meal arrived. The first dish of the Korean meal was prosciutto wrapped melon and a stuffed mushroom. On thing I noticed throughout the entire flight was just how small the beverage glasses are on board. The champagne/wine glass only holds a few ounces of liquid while the water glass wasn’t much better. I tend to drink a lot of liquid while on board so I felt as though I was constantly requesting refills throughout the meal service.
I found this particular starter dish delicious. I hoped it would be a good indication for what the rest of the meal service would bring. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.
The cabin crew served the second appetizer on attractive genuine china. I loved the intricately designed tableware. This turnip roll wasn’t the best dish I’ve ever been served on an airplane, but it also wasn’t terrible. I especially loved the sweet and sour sauce filled tomato served on the side.
Following the turnip roll, the flight attendant brought out the terrible pumpkin porridge. This dish was so thick and awful that I didn’t have more than a single bite.
Korean Meal Main Course
The Korean meal main course was a nutritious Ssambap. Essentially the Ssambap consisted of marinated beef, white rice, assorted vegetables, and a few Korean sides like kimchi. The in-flight menu directed passengers to place the ingredients into a lettuce leaf fold the lettuce into a wrap to eat. I didn’t care for the kimchi or spicy sauce so instead I just put the meat and rice on the lettuce and ate that. The meal also consisted of a miso soup that I didn’t quite care for.
One thing that surprised me about this meal was the lackluster presentation. After a bite of the awful porridge the thick pumpkin dish caked to my spoon. The flight attendant didn’t offer a clean spoon when she dropped off the main course which consisted of a miso soup. When I sampled the miso soup the hardened porridge softened and overpowered the flavor of the soup.
Additionally, I couldn’t believe that the lettuce and vegetables remained in a plastic wrap when served. I suppose that could be the correct presentation, but it just didn’t feel right to me. I also didn’t love the layer of tin foil found under the marinated meat. Overall, the plastic and foil made the entire meal service seem much less premium than a typical business class meal.
Korean Meal Dessert
finishing picked through the less than impressive Korean Ssambab the flight attendant served the Korean dessert. The Korean meal dessert consisted of a bean jelly square and a deep-fried rice cake. I didn’t particularly enjoy either dessert option and only had a few bites of each.
All in all I found the primary meal service quite disappointing. I loved the decorative rimmed table wear, but really didn’t enjoy much of the traditional Korean option meal. I didn’t get much of a look at any of the western options so I’m not able to comment on those, but I’m guessing I would have liked the western options much more than the Korean meal.
Mid-Flight Light Snack
About halfway through the 13.5 hour flight the flight attendants offered awake passengers a light snack. Flight attendants presented snack options verbally as they aren’t listed in the in-flight menus. I chose a hot ham and cheese croissant which ended up being very delicious. I was happy to receive this snack mid-meal as I didn’t eat much of the Korean lunch and started to get quite hungry around hour 6 of the flight.
Final Pre-Arrival Snack
Shortly before beginning our initial decent into Korea the flight attendants once again circulated the cabin for the final meal service. This meal service began with a fresh roll and a marinated shrimp dish.
After finishing the shrimp dish, which actually tasted good, the flight attendant brought the main course of the snack meal service. For my meal I chose the creamy mushroom chicken dish garnished with a puff pastry. That dish ended up being quite tasty as well.
Following the main course of the snack the flight attendants distributed the snack dessert. The dessert consisted of a cream filled fruit tart which was excellent!
My Overall Impression Of Asiana Airlines’ Business Class Meal Services
I’m overall fairly torn regarding my opinion of the business class meal service. Meals were served on a strict schedule and flight attendants came by at pre-determined times to serve food and remove completed dishes. Beyond the meal services the cabin crew seemingly disappeared into the various galleys located on the upper deck.
In addition to the assembly line like service, the food itself wasn’t anything to write home (or a blog about). The meals served their purpose, but I won’t be going out of my way to eat Asiana’s business class food any time soon. I’d say about 50% of the dishes were fine while the other 50% were terrible. Obviously the business class meals are superior to what you’ll find it economy class, but they definitely weren’t close to the restaurant quality meal options found in other airlines’ business class cabins.
Asiana Airlines A380 Business Class Cabin and Lavatories
One of my favorite aspects of flying the A380 is the vast amount of interior space offered to passengers. Of course the actual business class cabin is quite large, but there is also a communal lounge located in the front of the aircraft which is available to passengers throughout the flight.
I opted to sit in the second cabin of the upper deck business class area. This may have been a mistake because of how many people sit in this section. 13.5 hours is a long time to remain in a dark cavernous airplane cabin, especially during a daytime flight. I found many window passengers opened their window shades at various times throughout the flight. Not only that, but many other passengers opted to keep their reading lights on while eating or reading on board.
Both of these things lead to a somewhat bright rear business class cabin which made it slightly more difficult to sleep. I noticed when I passed through the smaller front cabin the space was much darker than the rear area. If I had to fly this flight again, I’d instead choose to sit in the front half of the business class cabin.
Asiana Airlines A380 Business Class Lounge Space
After spending a few hours in my seat and taking an hour nap I needed to stretch my legs. I decided to walk to the front of the upper deck and check out the communal lounge.
The lounge features two fairly comfortable love seat couches. Their are seat belts in these couches as well so you won’t need to rush back to your seat during turbulence. In front of the couches is a small magazine rack with a few magazines for passengers to read.
The famous Airbus A380 grand staircase separates the lounge area from the huge forward lavatory. A large TV monitor rests at the top of the stairs and displays the airshow map throughout the flight.
While I like the idea of the communal lounge, I don’t really see the point of it. The space doesn’t feature a bar like other A380’s nor do the flight attendants really come around to serve you while you’re sitting in there. During the flight I chose to sit up their for about 30 minutes (just to do it) and was never once approached by a flight attendant.
As far as I could tell I was the only passenger to make use of this space. If traveling in a group passgeners may choose to hang out in this area and chat for a bit, but considering the TV only shows the flight map and the magazines are similar to what you’ll find in an airline lounge (executive golfer) I again just don’t really see the point of this area. I’d like to think the space would be better used as a second forward lavatory similar to the layout found on other A380s.
Asiana Airlines A380 Lavatories
The Business Class (upper deck) cabin of the Asiana Airlines A380 features 2 lavatories found toward the font of the aircraft. There are an additional 4 lavatories found toward the rear of the business class cabin, but these aren’t intended for business class customers.
The two front restrooms are quire different from one another. The most forward lavatory is a huge walk in space. If you need to change or spend a significant amount of time in the lavatory, the forward most option is your best bet.
Asiana Airlines A380 Forward Lavatory
The forward lavatory featured a large sink and counter area which was stocked with various amenities. The toilet and padded bench is found toward the front of the lavatory and offers a great space to place items down while inside. I found this area especially good for changing into more comfortable clothes during my flight.
Just outside of the forward lavatory is a much smaller more traditional airline lavatory. This option isn’t quite as large as the restroom featured above, but did offer a window to the outside world which is always something I enjoy inside an aircraft lavatory!
Asiana Airlines A380 Second Forward Lavatory
The views of out of the rear lavatory windows are fantastic!
Asiana Airlines A380 Lavatory Views
The smaller lavatory also offered the same amenities found in the much larger forward bathroom.
Flight attendants managed to keep both forward business class restrooms clean and tidy throughout the 13 hour flight from Los Angeles to Korea. Business class passengers in both sections of the upper deck cabin primarily shared these two lavatories. Once the pilots announced that we’d be landing within an hour there was a mad dash for the restrooms. At one point 4 other passengers were up in the forward lounge waiting on a restroom to open. My takeaway was if you’re hoping to change back into normal clothes before landing make sure to do so about an hour and a half prior to landing.
A Summary Of Our Flight To Korea
After the first meal service ended, approximately 2.5 hours after takeoff, the cabin crew came around and asked all passengers to lower their window shades. At that point I converted my seat into a bed and tried to take a long nap. At first the cabin temperature was comfortable, but as the flight progressed the interior cabin temperature increased to an uncomfortable level. I found it incredibly difficult to sleep given how warm the cabin was. When I finally did fall asleep I ended up waking up covered in sweat, gross.
Asiana Airlines A380 Smartium Class Seat Controls
Although I didn’t love the temperature of the cabin I did find the Smartium seat plenty comfortable. The seat was easy to adjust into various positions ranging from upright to a lie-flat bed. I also loved that you could move the seat forward and backward while upright. I often find it difficult to eat meals from a business class seat since the tray tables are often too far away. This feature lets you pull the chair up to the extended tray table and eat comfortably, if only the meal was better.
Lastly, I was quite impressed by the in-flight entertainment options. There were plenty of new and old movies, tv shows, and music loaded on the IFE to make the 13.5 hour flight pass incredibly quickly. Also the touchscreen handset made it very easy to navigate the IFE options. The only issue with the handset was that you couldn’t view the in-flight airshow map while media played on the screen. This meant that you needed to close what you were viewing in order to view the flight information. A minor issue I know, but worth noting.
Asiana Airlines A380 Business Class Final Thoughts
Overall I was less than impressed with my Asiana Airlines business class flight. I had done a little bit of research before taking this flight so I knew what to expect. Had I not, I would have been much more disappointed by the flight since my expectations would have been higher.
The only reason I choose to fly with Asiana Airlines in business class on the Airbus A380 was the convenience. Asiana business class award flights are easy to come by when using United MileagePlus miles to book. One-way flights cost just 80,000 (now 90,000) miles and around $90 in taxes and fees.
When I began my search for a positioning flight to Vietnam I noticed these Asiana business class flights were available on nearly every day I searched. From the time of booking until the time of departure the flight remained available, but other options opened up as well. I think if I had to do it all over again I would have rather flown with EVA Airlines or possibly Thai Airways instead.
Another reason I chose this flight was because my connecting flight was on an Asiana Airlines Boeing 747-4. I’ve never had the pleasure of sitting up in the iconic hump of the 747 before and figured this may just be my last opportunity to do so as most airlines are eliminating the old gas guzzler from their fleets.
I definitely wouldn’t go out of my way to fly with Asiana Airlines in business class again. If I were paying cash I’d much rather fly with Singapore Airlines from LAX to Seoul, but that wasn’t an option I had when booking with points. I was happy to experience Asiana’s new Smartium class, but have very little interest in returning any time soon.
Asiana Airlines A380 Resting After A Long Flight To Seoul