Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Asiana Airlines OZ 203: LAX - ICN Travel Class

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)- Los Angeles, CA: Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT)

Asiana proved to be the most cost effective option at the time of booking, with only Eithad as the only other choice that was less than $2000 roundtrip! This was initially shocking to me and travel agents, who were surprised that Chinese carriers had an exorbitantly high cost for the dates I wanted.

With Asiana and the costs that I wanted, I ended up with two flights in order to get to Beijing: LAX-ICN, and ICN-PEK, with a seven hour layover at ICN! (shock, but also a good opportunity to do some fun things) This blog post covers the LAX-ICN sector.

Asiana Airlines Flight OZ 203
June 2, 2014
Service from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) nonstop to Seoul-Incheon International Airport (ICN)
Travel Class (Economy)

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)- Los Angeles, CA: Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT)
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)- Los Angeles, CA: Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT)

Check-in was friendly and smooth. There was a queue, but it wasn't very long (about 5 minutes or so), and I quickly got my boarding passes and instructions for both flights. Two slight bugs: my luggage was slightly overweight by several kilograms (23 kg was Asiana's limit for Travel class). However, the agent was nice and let it slide; do make sure to weigh your luggage before you go to the airport!

The other bug happened to be seating. I originally had an aisle seat. However, prior to the flight, I saw that an entire row of seats were still available, and thus moved to a middle seat in the row. At the airport, the agent informed me that the flight was actually a full flight! The agent was still friendly about this though, and found an aisle seat at the last row of the plane for me.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)- Los Angeles, CA: Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT)
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)- Los Angeles, CA: Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT)Going through the security checkpoint was a typical experience:  no metal objects on yourself, shoes and belts off, laptops put in a separate tray, etc. The security agents also informed passengers to not bring water in multiple languages. I heard "不要水" (literally translated as "do not want water") quite a number of times!

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)- Los Angeles, CA: Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT)
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)- Los Angeles, CA: Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT)

I was pleasantly surprised by all the improvements that were made with the continued renovations at Tom Bradley International Terminal: lots of famous names around Los Angeles were now popping up at Tom Bradley, like Petrossian Caviar, The Larder at Tavern, LAMillCoffee, Border Grill, 800 Degrees Pizza, Chaya, and more.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)- Los Angeles, CA: Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)- Los Angeles, CA: Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT)Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)- Los Angeles, CA: Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT)
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)- Los Angeles, CA: Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)- Los Angeles, CA: Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT)

The terminal itself was also extremely classy, and on par with other great international airport terminals! Throughout, color displays displayed different scenes and audio tracks, some inspired by destinations, others by nature, dance, and other topics. Moreover, the stores were also more intriguing, with a large variety of different duty-free shops and brands available for perusing.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)- Los Angeles, CA: Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT)
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)- Los Angeles, CA: Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT)
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)- Los Angeles, CA: Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT)

Near the gates, there were plentiful seating and people movers to help people reach their respective gates. Windows were plentiful, but the view of my plane was partially blocked off by a solid wall. Between the bottoms of different seats were also some power ports, enabling people to charge their electronics before flight.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)- Los Angeles, CA: Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT)
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)- Los Angeles, CA: Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT)

Boarding soon commenced with business class and frequent flyers, then travel class, which then the queue stretched quite a distance! Even past the main doors, there was still a queue just getting onboard the aircraft. 

Asiana Airlines LAX-PEK: OZ 203
Asiana Airlines LAX-ICN: OZ 203

Inside, I was taken by surprise by the old interior. Though the business class had lie-flat seats, the Travel class seats were extremely basic: just a beige cloth seat with no adjustable headests, and a very small personal television.

Each seat had a large pocket for storage, and seat pitch was a comfortable 34 inches. There was no need for a remote; rather, all the television, volume, light, and flight attendant request controls were all directly on the armrest. Blankets and pillows were already available on the seat; however, no amenity kit was present. That, however, was quickly turned around as after take-off, slippers, ear plugs, eye-masks were all handed out. Bathrooms also were stocked with toothbrushes and toothpaste, skin toner, mouthwash, and combs.

Entertainment wise, 15 channels were available for movies and TV shows, while other channels provided some destination information, as well as access to some games. Airshow and radio were also available, with the radio stations ranging from Korean pop to classical. This was definitely older than the newer audio video on demand systems, but it made do.

Asiana Airlines LAX-ICN: OZ 203
(Dinner Meal, and Korean Canada Dry Ginger Ale!)

Take-off soon occurred, and the midnight dinner meal service was promptly started! First, hot, cloth towels were provided to refresh oneself, which were then promptly picked up. Then, the flight attendants came over with a Western option and a Korean option, as well as a wide variety of beverages--alcoholic ones as well as juice and sodas. They were all exceptionally friendly and professional, kindly and enthusiastically asking each passenger what drink they wanted as well as what food option they wanted, and to enjoy the meal.

I had the Korean bibimbap option, which came with hot steamed CJ rice, a dried fish pollock soup, a honeydew and cantaloupe bowl, marinated sweet black beans and walnuts, and kimchi. All the cutlery was metal (great!), with a large spoon specially packed for enjoying the bibimbap. Moreover, inside the cutlery packet were hot pepper paste, Otogi sesame oil, and a small instruction booklet on how to enjoy bibimbap.

Asiana Airlines LAX-ICN: OZ 203

The bibimbap was composed of cold carrots, shiitake mushrooms, cucumbers, radish kimchi, soybean sprouts, zucchini, carrot, and ground beef. It was all generously heated up when mixing the hot short grain steamed rice, hot pepper paste, and sesame oil-- you could hear the entire cabin go "ting-ting-ting" with their metal spoons as it hit the ceramic bowl from time to time!

Originally, the vegetables and meat were lightly flavored, but with the addition of the hot pepper paste and sesame oil, the seasoning was fine. I greatly appreciated the generous portion size-- this was definitely a filling entree!

Asiana Airlines LAX-ICN: OZ 203

In between bites, the sweet marinated black beans and walnuts and the spicy, somewhat sour napa cabbage kimchi provided some flavor contrasts to the lightly spicy, fragrant bibimbap.

Asiana Airlines LAX-ICN: OZ 203

Further complimenting the bibimbap was a small, hot paper bowl of dried pollock soup. This was rather ingenious: the soup originally comes freeze dried in the paper bowl. As the flight attendant served the bibimbap, she then took the bowl and added hot water, thus re-hydrating the freeze-dried components. After a few minutes, the savory soup, which had pieces of dried pollack, wispy pieces of egg, and green onion, was ready to serve.

Overall, this was an excellent dinner, especially for economy class. The chilled melons were a tasty light dessert to cap things off, and coffee and tea requests were later fulfilled by the flight attendants before all the trays were taken away.
Asiana Airlines LAX-ICN: OZ 203

The cabin soon went into sleep mode, but the flight attendants were still very proactive, coming around with water and orange juice from time to time. I found their service to be quite unique and friendly; not only did they speak English and Korean, most of the staff also spoke some Mandarin as well. In fact, one of the flight attendants I talked to actually went to a language university in Beijing, China prior to working as a flight attendant.

I greatly appreciated that there was always a flight attendant available in the galley for assistance, for I went over to the galley a number of times to refill my water bottle with cold water. This was also interesting, for they almost always defaulted to providing hot water at the galley, for most of the customers would bring their own insulated bottle and fill it up with hot water.

During the middle of the flight, one could always go to the galley and get some snacks and additional drinks. The snacks available on this particular flight were Lay's Classic potato chips and Asiana Airlines' snack mix, which was composed of honey roasted peanuts, pretzels, and cheese sticks. Unlike some other Asian carriers, they did not have any instant noodles.

Asiana Airlines LAX-PEK: OZ 203

With several hours left in the flight, lights were turned on, and a friendly flight attendant announcement was made for breakfast. People began bustling around the cabin in preparation for breakfast and the last few hours of the flight.

Asiana Airlines LAX-ICN: OZ 203

Two options were yet again available, and I went again with the Korean option. Regardless, the options came with yogurt, fruit (honeydew and orange slices in this case), and a blueberry muffin that reminded me of pound cake.

Asiana Airlines LAX-ICN: OZ 203

This kimchi and pork belly stir fry went quite well with the rice, even if it was a tad spicy. Yet, I saw other passengers still add additional hot pepper paste (provided again but in a smaller tube size) to the rice before enjoying it! Another tasty meal by Asiana.

More coffee and tea were brought around before the end of service.

Asiana Airlines LAX-ICN: OZ 203

I was asked to complete a survey of flight, and received some cool gifts afterward-- some Lotte candy and an Asiana child's plane model puzzle.

Asiana Airlines LAX-ICN: OZ 203 Asiana Airlines LAX-ICN: OZ 203

Soon, it was time to disembark into a rainy Incheon, and thank you for flying Asiana screens were posted onto the screens. 
Seoul Incheon International Airport (ICN)- Incheon, South Korea

Overall, it was a great first flight on Asiana! Though I was not particularly impressed by the older seats other than the legroom, I was impressed by the enthusiasm, professionalism, and flexibility of the flight attendants, as well as the quality of food served on the flight. Looking forward to newer in-flight products for all flights going to LAX from ICN, and continued excellence in the food and service.

No comments: