I recently had the opportunity to use my frequent flyer miles to upgrade on Asiana Airlines. I upgraded the flight form Sydney to Seoul into Asiana Business Class and the flight from Seoul to LA into Asiana First Class. When I arrived at the airport in Sydney I went to the Business class check-in counter. There was no one else in the line. The agent assisting me seemed to be having a lot of trouble checking me in. She asked her colleague to assist. After some discussion and searching in the computer they came back and said, “oh, you’re a first class passenger, we have a special check-in for you.” The only thing that really ended up being “special” in Sydney was the color of the bag tag – a goldish color instead of the purple that signified business class. In Sydney, all Asiana passengers have access to the Air New Zealand lounge no matter what class of service you’re flying.
On the flight from Sydney there were only two cabins on the Boeing 777-200ER economy and business class. The 10 hour flight is a day-time flight typically departing at 10:10 am, however it was several hours delayed the day I flew and ended up leaving at noon. The seats were configured in a 1-2-1 configuration and having the window seat also meant having an aisle. The seats are comfortable and there is ample space for storage.
On the flight we were served a meal at lunchtime, a light snack a few hours later and a small dinner before landing. The food was good and there was a variety of Western and Korean choices. The crew was friendly and attentive.
Upon arriving in Seoul, I was greeted by an agent who informed me that I’d missed my connection (by 30 minutes) but they’d taken the liberty of booking me the next day. That meant, however, an overnight in Seoul. I got my luggage and headed to a hotel for the evening. The next morning I arrived and went through the first class check-in process. I was greeted and checked in quickly. One of the more unique first class gifts I’ve ever received was a booklet of ten $1 (USD) dollar bills (it wasn’t lost on me that a person flying first class likely doesn’t need a booklet of $1 bills, but it was unique!)
I was escorted through security and customs to the first class lounge. The lounge was well stocked and had plenty of drinks, food, snacks and desserts. There were even miniature Haagen Dazs ice cream cups amongst the many other item.
I left the lounge about 20 minutes before my flight and walked through the duty free shops. As I was headed into Starbucks I heard my name faintly being called. An agent was running to catch up with me. She informed me that the fight was delayed and offered to escort me back to the lounge to wait. With a Starbucks in hand, I headed back to the lounge.
Almost 2 hours later the agent informed me that we were ready for boarding and she escorted me to the plane, past the lines and onto the flight. None of this personalized service and attention would have happened if I’d been flying in Business Class.
Onboard I was greeted and served drinks, given a menu and amenity kit. There were blankets, pillows and slippers at the seat. The service was excellent and the crew was very friendly. The meal was very good and started with caviar, which I love. I think that the meal in Asiana Business Class was good but the meal in Asiana First Class was great. I could have been in a 5-star restaurant.
After the meal the flight attendant made up the seat with a duvet cover, added an extra pillow and arranged the blanket. The seat was similar in feel to the business class seat, but there was much more in-seat storage space and in general, more cabin space. I typically don’t sleep well on flights, no matter what type of seat I’m in, but on this flight I actually got some sleep.
The difference in mileage between first class and business class, using US Airways miles, was only 20,000 miles and I thought it was worth the difference to experience first class. Both options are great for their respective offerings but if you have the miles, and don’t mind spending them, I’d go with First Class. It’s worth having the experience.
Asiana Airlines First Class vs Asiana Airlines Business Class
** Unfortunately many of my photos were lost due to photographer error (that would be me) so a few friends were kind enough to “loan” me some photos