Oct 14, 2013

Trip Report: Asiana First Class Suite JFK-ICN

Back in February I was ecstatic to find award space on Asiana First Class Chicago to Seoul and ANA First Class Tokyo to Chicago on the same award, so I quickly booked a redemption to Australia with a stopover in Asia (140,000 US Airways miles, for about $29,000 “worth of” flights, and a pretty good sweet spot on their award chart). Asiana ended up moving their private suite route from Chicago to New York, so I had to shuffle around some flights to keep my private suite, and I’m really glad I did. They’ve only got the suite product on two 777-200ER planes, both now servicing JFK only. Note that Asiana codes this plane as 77W, which shows up as 777-300ER to other airlines, but is really a 777-200ER.

I started the trip on an uneventful United flight IAD-JFK, and quickly wandered over to JFK Terminal 4 to an empty check-in line for Asiana First Class.

Asiana Checkin Asiana Boarding Pass

Since I had never been there, I did some walking around Terminal 4 and found some interesting planes: El-Al 747, Singapore A380, Emirates A380, and others.

JFK Planes

Asiana contracts with Swiss for their lounge, which had very little food and no separate first class section, but did feature a great view of the tarmac. I ended up seeing my Asiana 777-200ER plane taxi in, immediately noticing how the front of the plane had one window blocked out, creating two groups of three windows. I believe only the private suite-configured Asiana 777-200ER’s have this, since each suite has three windows. I would be seated in the second group of three windows on the right side of the plane.

Swiss Lounge Entrance Swiss Lounge Inside
Swiss Lounge Asiana 777-200ER

I went to the gate early, as I always do, to catch some better views of my plane and get ready for boarding. Beacuse I always like to snap a bunch of pictures, I prefer boarding first before other passengers enter (at which point I have to be more discrete).

Boarding

Boarding was a breeze and upon entering the plane, a flight attendant personally escorted me to my Suite 2K, which was gorgeous:

Full Suite Suite Seat
Seat Controls Seat Controls: Minibar

I was immediately impressed by the screen, which at 30” doesn’t sound that large, but looks enormous in the context of the seat. I guess I’m accustomed enough to small screens on planes that this felt really out of the ordinary. Apparently at 30”, this is largest screen in the skies.

Suite Screen

Shortly after sitting down, a flight attendant came by to introduce herself, serve me my pajamas, and take my drink order, which was promptly served with some warm nuts. The purser also came by for an introduction and wished me a wonderful flight.

Once we were up in the air, I was handed a drink and food menu, which featured a Western option and a Korean option, and I chose the latter.

Menu Menu
Menu Menu

Although the menu says “Caviar service available upon your request”, they served caviar to everyone without request. As my first time eating caviar, I felt pretty embarassed not really knowing how I was supposed to eat it, but I did my best. ur

Caviar Service

Also some other appetizers, which were great:

Appetizer Appetizer

The Korean babimbap and banchan plates were delicious, but the kimchi was pretty dry. My connecting flight in business class departing Seoul had outstanding kimchi, and I suspect the whole meal is probably much better departing Seoul than departing New York, but I was happy nevertheless.

Babimbap Ben Eating

My champagne glass was never empty.

Champagne Fill

I was then served some Korean deserts with coffee, then I did some work on the computer.

Desert Work

By this point, the cabin lights were dimmed and some other passengers seemed to be sleeping already, so I went to the bathroom to change into my pajamas.

Bathroom Pajamas Bathroom Products

I then toasted my champagne glass to the world below, closed the door to my suite, and relaxed with a movie and some sleep. They had turned off the cabin lights and activated the “star lighting” above, which was a really nice touch.

Toast
Suite Stars Suite Night Screen Suite Bed Suite Feet

After a few hours of sleep, I woke hungry and decided to try the ramen “snack” from the menu:

Ramen

The cabin lights were turned on about 2.5hrs prior to landing, and a delicious final meal of beef rib soup with side dishes was served:

Wake-Up
Final Meal Final Meal Desert

And some more relaxing in my suite before landing:

Suite Relax

On our approach in, we took a pretty major detour, so either the pilots were asleep, or they were working really hard to avoid North Korea ;-)

Avoiding North Korea

Upon deplaning, I explored Seoul Incheon airport after clearing transit security, then made my way to the Asiana First Class lounge. The lounge was very tasteful, if a bit empty, with a grand piano and lots of seating. I didn’t try any of the food since I was still quite full from the flight, but it looked great. Instead, I took a much-needed shower.

Asiana Lounge Entrance Asiana Lounge Asiana Lounge Asiana Lounge

The experience on Asiana First Class was phenomenal. Although the flight attendants could probably use some more English training, the service was outstanding: warm, always courteous, and often anticipating my needs. The new Asiana First Class Suite is a wonderful hard product, I’d say even better than the Emirates A380 Suite hard product, and I would definitely go out of my way to fly this JFK-ICN route again over Asiana’s old first class. I hope Asiana quickly retrofits this new product into their other 777’s so other routes to the US might feature this outstanding first class cabin.

Trip Report Index for Six-Week Journey to Australia & Asia:


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