It had been almost ten months since the drunken night in Singapore when I stumbled home to my hotel, got my laptop out and booked the flights that would form the backbone of my New Year’s trip.
I had been looking forward to this flight for a long time. I suppose most of the world was excited for Dec. 25th…I was more excited for Dec. 26th. I wanted to get to JFK, get on board that Asiana 777-200, and get hurtling towards the southern hemisphere.
If you’ve been reading this long, you may have noticed I have an affinity for planes. I won’t call it mental illness, but I definitely like flying more than the average person. While most people are trying to spend as little time on planes as possible, I am usually dismayed when tailwinds cause us to arrive early on a long haul flight. I think 12-14 hours is a pretty ideal flight time, and as we speak I’m planning a trip that incorporates the Newark-Singapore non-stop which clocks in at 18.5 hours flight time. I suppose you could say I come at these trips from a different perspective.
Keeping that in mind, I feel a sense of excitement and anticipation every time I head to the airport to kick off a new trip. It’s not just the flight of course, it’s the desire to see a new place, meet new people and have new experiences. The flight is part of the total package though.
Over the past few years, I have really ratcheted the traveling up, and have been logging close to or over 100,000 BIS (butt in seat) miles per year. Of those many long hours spent in pressurized metal tubes, I have been lucky enough to spend a significant portion of them in the pointy end.
While I have a fairly wide base of competing first class products to use for comparison, I still have to say that Asiana ranks very highly on my list.
Along with Lufthansa, I think they have the best food. Their Pajamas are probably in my top-5 favorites and while their seat isn’t the most luxurious or private, I always sleep incredibly well in it. Asiana really excels with people though. I think Asiana crews are the best of the lot. I don’t like making definitive ranking statements and declaring any one airline “the best,” but Asiana is definitely in the discussion. They are in my personal top-5.
After spending Christmas with my family, I woke up very early on the 26th. I surprised myself by following through on a threat to workout before going to the airport, as I thought it would be best to do some activity before sitting for 14 hours.
I got to JFK about 2.5 hours before our scheduled departure. As is almost always the case when flying OZ out of JFK, the F check-in counter was occupied by a business class passenger who determined that they were too important to wait on the business class line and just needed to be served right away.
I hate whining about such inconsequential things, but really. If you don’t want to wait for the business counters to free up then buy a first class ticket. Why should I have to wait to use the proper counter because you have an inflated sense of self worth. The kind of people who do this are arrogant, inconsiderate and probably molest children or small dogs.
Once the fantastically important master of the universe who needed to cut over to the first class line finished checking in and trod off into the sunset, I was finally able to approach the counter and check-in.
I asked if I would be able to use the F lounge in ICN since I was arriving in OZ F, even though I would be landing in the late afternoon and not departing until the next morning, and I would be leaving on a TG J flight. The girl at the desk said she wasn’t sure. She checked with a supervisor and then told me she didn’t think it would be possible, but to try my luck in ICN.
Last time through ICN I had managed to swing FCL entry by saying that even though it wasn’t the same day as my arrival, my F flight landed less than 24 hours before my departure and it could be construed as same day, since it was within that 24 hour window. No dice this time.
With my ticket in hand, I walked around the terminal for a bit before settling in the pitiful Swiss Business Class lounge. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. This lounge is a dump. It’s basically just a barren room with white walls. At least there’s free wifi.
For some reason I was very cranky on that particular day, and I managed to find something about almost every other passenger in the lounge annoying. Luckily, as OZ F is laid out 1-2-1, and I was in a window seat, I knew I wouldn’t be sitting next to any of them for the next 14 hours.
The lounge at JFK is before security, which is of course a preposterous and lousy place to locate a lounge, so I left early since I remembered my amusing security experience last time I flew to Korea. That experience involved old Korean men trying to take their pants off at the metal detector and flabbergasted 80 IQ TSA mouthbreathers desperately trying to figure out how to manage the situation.
There was no geriatric burlesque this time, and I was soon at the gate. I snapped another photo of our ride and waited for the boarding call.
OZ 221 was operated by a Boeing 777-200 (registration HL7775). I was in seat 2K and the load was 4/8 in first class, with all of the windows occupied, and none of the middle seats. As such, I put one of my carry-ons in the middle seat across the aisle from me, and buckled it in, so it would be more easily accessible.
The FA’s came around with slippers, PJ’s and amenity kits. I asked for champagne. Boarding was still in progress, and the FA informed me that they couldn’t serve liquor until the doors were closed. I had a glass of water.
Once the doors were closed and we got ready to push, the FA swung back around with a glass of Pol Roger Winston Churchill ’99. I had forgotten I even wanted champagne at that point, but good on her. Quality Asiana service.
I sunk my champagne as we taxi’d into position. Then, you know the drill; engines spool up, down the runway, up in the air.
After takeoff, I watched The Bourne Legacy with the meal service. The movie was way too long, and absolutely terrible, however Rachel Weisz is still very hot…holding up well.
While the movie was not to my liking, the meal service was fantastic.
I had the Korean option last time I flew with Asiana, so I thought this time I would try the western menu, and see how it stacked up. Asiana really lays it on thick. I switched to Taittinger with the meal service and found it inferior to the Pol Roger. The ricotta stuffed mushroom was very good, the caviar was caviar, the soup was ok, but not on par with SQ’s soups. The salad was also very good, but I was most impressed by the steak. It was actually pink inside, not the overcooked hockey puck you expect when you eat airplane steak. Again…well done Asiana.
After the meal service and the conclusion of my crappy movie, I nodded out for a few hours.
When I woke up, we still had hours to go, so I watched The Expendables 2. Again, totally terrible, but while Bourne was long and boring, at least Expendables was terrible in the cheesy, predictable way I expected, so it wasn’t an awful experience.
I couldn’t go to sleep and had already seen two crappy movies, so I figured I’d go for the hat trick and I started the Total Recall reboot with Colin Farrell. Surprisingly, this was the best of the three movies I watched on this flight, and both Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel are smoking, smoking hot.
I nodded in and out of consciousness until it was time for Asiana to feed us again. This time I went with the Korean option.
We got into Incheon slightly ahead of schedule. Last time I was through ICN the immigration queues were unbearable. With this in mind, I was quick to deplane and jet to the border, hoping to beat as many people there as possible.
Almost no one was waiting and I was stamped into Korea pretty quickly. I couldn’t get my phone to connect to the local network at all, which was disconcerting. Luckily, before departing I had checked out where to find the shuttle from ICN to the Hyatt.
The whole time I was in Korea I never got my phone to pick up a 3G network, but if I switched to CDMA, I was able to send and receive texts, but no data. Not sure what the problem was.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a un-enjoyable flight with Asiana, which I’m sure is part of the reason they rank so high in my airline pecking order. This was just leg one of the three leg monster of a journey down under. I was in Korea, and now it was time to get some rest before another day packed full of flying.
Asiana Seat & Cabin Photos