Just two blocks away from the Park Hyatt in Seoul was a bus station with coaches going to either Incheon or Gimpo Airports. The wait for a bus was only two minutes and we were soon our way to the Incheon International Airport—one of the classiest airports I have ever flown out of. Even with no traffic in the early afternoon, it still took about 40 minutes to get to the airport, but we allowed plenty of time.
Dropped off in front of the impressive Main Terminal, we found the Star Alliance Gold/Business Class check-in line (and like Haneda, much of the departure area) empty.
We were on business class tickets and got a little surprise when we checked in—the agent moved us up to first class. I wouldn’t call it a true upgrade to first class because Asiana operates the 747-400 Combi (the rear third of the aircraft is exclusively for cargo) with two cabins of service on intra-Asia flights, but we did score first class seats in the downstairs front cabin of a 747—my favorite place to sit.
My uncle had his mind set on flying on the upper deck, so it took some convincing to argue that downstairs in first class was better, but once he saw the seats he was happy I refused to give in and fly upstairs.
Allow me to pause for a moment just to point out what a sleek airport Seoul is—absolutely amazing. Hong Kong remains my favorite airport, but Seoul is right up there close behind.
Onboard, the crew was absolutely amazing. The ladies were young and beautiful and very friendly, even though it was quickly clear their English skills were limited. Pre-departure beverages were offered and menus distributed prior to pushback. We only had one other person to share the cabin with.
Unlike the ANA flight a few days before, there was both a western and a Asian choice on this short flight to Japan. I chose the western options—beef short ribs—and enjoyed one of the best airline meals I have had in recent memory. From fresh hot bread to a tasty salad with prosciutto, to the chocolate dessert: everything tasted great (and this was after a fairly substantial snack in the Asiana lounge).
The AVOD IFE system was turned on shortly after takeoff and unfortunately there was not enough time to watch a movie, so I instead watched a documentary on Matt Damon—my favorite actor.
Throughout the flight, the FAs were extremely attentive, not to the point of annoyance, but attentive to a point in which my glass stayed full until it was taken away prior to landing.
The hard product was great—all the seat functions worked and I know I would have slept soundly had this been a longhaul flight.
My uncle and I agreed: this was one of the best flight we had experienced in years. With a flight time of only two hours, I got a taste for Asiana First and now I want more—my next first class award trip will definitely include Asiana First, probably from Seoul to Frankfurt.
In conclusion, Asiana was simply tremendous. In the head-to-head battle between ANA and Asiana both carriers impressed me, but Asiana won me over.