Flight Review: Asiana Airlines A380 Economy Class from Seoul Incheon to New York JFK

Asiana Airlines A380 Economy Class Review (Seoul Incheon to New York JFK)

Flight Information

Date: November 30, 2016
Route: Seoul Incheon to New York JFK
Airline: Asiana Airlines
Type: Airbus A380-800
Registration: HL7635

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.

Asiana Airlines A380

Passengers waiting to board the flight.
Asiana Airlines A380

One of the five Asiana Airlines A380s – HL7635 – ready to take me to JFK.

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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.

Asiana Airlines A380

Boarding of OZ222 in progress.
Asiana Airlines A380

Main deck economy class of the Asiana Airlines A380 is in a 3-4-3 configuration.

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.

Asiana Airlines A380

Slippers were handed out first.
Asiana Airlines A380

Amenities in the restroom – toothbrushes, a comb, and skin cream.
Asiana Airlines A380

Orange juice and water were served before meal service.

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.

Asiana Airlines A380

Lunch – it had to be one of the largest pieces of chicken I ever had on an aircraft.
Asiana Airlines A380

Bibimbap – a Korean rice bowl – was served with soup. (Photo from return flight.)

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.

Asiana Airlines A380

My “flat-bed” allowed for a comfortable flight.
Asiana Airlines A380

“Welcome to Asiana” – the title screen of Asiana’s IFE 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.

Asiana Airlines A380

Asiana offers its IFE system in four languages..
Asiana Airlines A380

The main menu of OZ:enter.

Overall, the selection of movies, TV shows, music, and games is fairly poor compared to what some other airlines (especially the ME3) offer.

Asiana Airlines A380

There is a separate menu for kids.
Asiana Airlines A380

The movies are split into 9 categories.
Asiana Airlines A380

The Hollywood category contained 20 movies, while the rest had anywhere between 1 and 11 movies.
Asiana Airlines A380

Each of the music genres featured 2 to 10 albums.
Asiana Airlines A380

There was also a selection of “radio” channels.
Asiana Airlines A380

The system contained 10 games.

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.

Asiana Airlines A380

The flight information screen.
Asiana Airlines A380

Selection of airshow views.
Asiana Airlines A380

Map – you can move it, zoom it, and rotate it.

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.

Asiana Airlines A380

The Asiana fleet.
Asiana Airlines A380

Is the 767-300 really the most recent one in the family?
Asiana Airlines A380

Are the A321s and A320s most optimized for medium and long-distance flights?

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

Breakfast – once again, the portion was very decent.
Asiana Airlines A380

The Asiana Airlines A380 resting on rainy JFK apron after the 13h20min long flight.

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.

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