Date: November 30, 2016
Route: Seoul Incheon to New York JFK
Airline: Asiana Airlines
Type: Airbus A380-800
Recently, on a trip to New York, I had a chance to try Asiana Airlines – one of the two main South Korean carriers – for the first time. Below is a report about the experience of flying with Asiana Airlines A380 across the Pacific Ocean from Seoul Incheon to New York JFK.
Shortly before 9AM, I arrived in Seoul on Asiana’s flight OZ177 onboard one of its Airbus A321s. As it was still over two hours until the 11AM departure of my flight to New York, I took advantage of my Priority Pass membership once again, and visited the Asiana Business Lounge.
I left the lounge just after 10AM, and headed to gate 43 where my flight, OZ222 to New York JFK, was about to depart from. Boarding started around 10:30AM, and after letting most of the passengers get onboard, I got into the line to get on the Asiana Airlines A380.
Are you interested in trying business or first class for the price of economy?
If so, you might want to check out Four Ways to Try Business Class Without Breaking the Bank - a free guide that I put together detailing some of the ways I was able to do so - and experiment with some of the methods mentioned in it.
Onboard Asiana Airlines A380
The Asiana Airlines A380 is able to carry 495 passengers in a three-class configuration. The first class features 12 suites and is located in the front of the main deck, while the business class features 66 lie-flat seats located on the upper deck. The remaining 417 economy class seats are spread through both the main and upper decks.
The main deck economy is in a 3-4-3 layout while the upper deck is in a 2-4-2 layout. Originally, I had chosen an aisle seat in the middle section of the upper deck. However, when checking the seat map before departure, I found out that someone has taken the other aisle seat and one of the middle seats.
As such, I decided to switch to a main deck aisle seat in a row that only has three seats instead of four – 47G. It turned out to be a good choice, as nobody ended up coming next to me, leaving me with a “economy lie-flat seat” for the 13-hour flight.
The economy class seats are very comfortable offering a 33″ seat pitch, and featuring a leg rest, 11.1″ screen, a USB charging port, and a universal power socket – perhaps the most important thing for me on a long haul flight.
Departing Seoul Incheon
With everyone onboard around 11AM, the doors were closed. Listening to the crew’s announcements gives one a good idea about the scale of the A380.
“Number 1, clear.”
“Number 2, clear.”
“Number 3, clear.”
“Number 4, clear.”
“Number 5, clear.”
“Upper deck number 1, clear.”
“Upper deck number 2, clear.”
“Upper deck number 3, clear.”
With all the doors closed and ready for departure, the captain came on PA and among other things announced that the flight time would be 13 hours and 10 minutes.
At 11:08AM, we were pushed back, and long 25 minutes later, we reached the active runway and took off.
The In-Flight Service Begins
Fifteen minutes after taking off, the seatbelt signs were switched off and the in-flight service begun.
First, the cabin crew handed out all passengers a pair of slippers. While no amenity kits were distributed, inside restrooms there were basic amenities available including a comb, tooth brushes, mouthwash, and a skin cream.
Second, orange juice and water was offered.
The actual meal service started about one hour after departure. Two options were offered – chicken or bibimbap (Korean rice bowl). After asking for chicken (on the return leg I went for bibimbap), the kind cabin crew confirmed, “the chicken doesn’t come with rice, is that OK,” before handing me the tray followed by a cup of pineapple juice.
Exploring OZ:enter – Asiana’s IFE System
Since it was about 11PM New York time when I finished the meal, I “converted my seat into a lie-flat bed,” and slept for good seven or eight hours. While not necessary in this case, if the flight was full, a neck-supporting travel pillow might have been useful.
After waking up, it was time to get a quick drink from the galley before exploring OZ:enter – Asiana’s in-flight entertainment system.
The system, available in four languages (English, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese), offers passengers a selection of movies, TV shows, music, games, as well as information about the flight and airline.
Overall, the selection of movies, TV shows, music, and games is fairly poor compared to what some other airlines (especially the ME3) offer.
The airshow allows users to either select the view they prefer or to autoplay through all the available views and information screens. Furthermore, it also has a “free” mode where passengers can move around, rotate, and zoom in and out of the map as they wish.
One last thing that caught my eye in the IFE was the fleet section. It is nicely designed and features all the aircraft type operated by Asiana as well as details about them. Unfortunately, however, the aircraft descriptions are too generic and outdated at best, inaccurate at worst.
Welcome to New York!
About three hours before landing, breakfast was served. This time, the choice was between fish, and cheese with rice and kimchi. Opting for the fish, the cabin crew once again confirmed that I had no problem with it coming without rice.
After the trays were collected, I watched a movie – Elvis & Nixon – before dozing off for some more minutes. When I woke up, we were already getting close to New York.
At 10:54AM New York time, we landed at JFK, bringing the 13 hour and 20 minute long flight to an end.
Asiana Airlines A380 Economy Class Seoul – New York Summary
Given that I was able to have a whole row of seats for myself, the flight was very comfortable. In either case, however, if you are flying in economy class on Asiana Airline’s A380, I suggest you pick an upper deck seat due to the lower density configuration compared to the lower deck.
As for the food, it did not disappoint either, and if you have the chance, I definitely recommend trying Asiana’s (and Korea’s) signature dish – bibimbap.