Asiana A380 Business Class Review Bottom Line
My Asiana A380 Business Class review shows the airline is one of the better business class options to get to Northeast Asia from Australia. Their A380 is comfortable, and the food served is good. My only qualms were the limited in-flight entertainment options and the lack of wifi.
The Good: Solid business class food offering, high-quality meal, and comfortable seat.
The Bad: IFE is very limited, add the lack of wifi, and you may very easily get bored during flight.
The Noteworthy: Asiana’s A380 is beautiful. There’s nothing quite like traveling on the second floor of an aircraft.
Note: I took all of these flights in the years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since travel and work slowed down substantially in the last few months, I took time to catch up writing these reviews. Hope y’all enjoy it! This flight was in early 2019.
After spending a day in Sydney, I was ready for my next flight to Seoul-ICN on Asiana Airlines. I had heard mixed reviews about their business class and was eager to try it myself.
I had a small issue with the check-in agents as my second last name was initially written into my first last name. After a quick explanation of how Hispanic naming culture goes, the agent gave me my boarding pass and pointed me toward the premium security lane. The line was quite long, with a few other large aircraft departing around the same time, so I ended up having very little time at the Air New Zealand Lounge.
When I got to the gate, boarding was nothing short of chaotic. For flights to/from Australia, Asiana flies their A380 with two cabins of service, although the aircraft is configured with three cabins. I realized that the First Class Suites are given to Asiana elites at the gate, but they still get business class service and amenities. I had my boarding pass stored in my Apple Wallet, however, when I got to the gate, my phone has a 4% battery. Before making it to the gate agent, I had to part the sea of people to make it to the desk, who quickly got me a paper boarding card in case my phone died. (My phone did die, about 2 people short of scanning my boarding pass, so you could say the flight was off to a rough start).
With everyone boarding at the same time and no rhyme or reason to the boarding process, it took about 10 minutes to get on board. Once my boarding pass was scanned, I took the jet bridge to the upper deck, giddy with excitement to fly on an A380.
Since half of business class had already boarded by the time I made it to the aircraft, I wasn’t able to take a good picture of the whole business class cabin. However, Asiana has its entire business class cabin on the upper deck, divided into two sections. At the front of the aircraft, there is a small sofa that doubles as a lounge area, similar to the one on Qantas’ A380s. Although these usually go unused during the flight, on my two journeys to the front of the aircraft I saw it being used by different families.
Bathrooms were your average aircraft bathrooms, but they had a window to look out of. Personally, I call these a loo with a view, and I always find them amusing on airplanes.
I was seated in 17K, a true window seat. Asiana’s seats are upholstered in a bland beige, not really anything special. I recommend true window seats on Asiana’s A380 since they have extra storage along with the window due to the curvature of the airplane. Each seat has an ottoman, which for some might feel cramped. The IFE screen is directly above it. There are also power outlets next to the seat, and seat controls right above the IFE control. The side table at each seat is useful for storing small items and having extra table space, especially during meal times.
Waiting at my seat was a pillow and blanket, a pair of noise-canceling headphones, slippers, and an amenity kit. The pillow and blanket were high quality. The headphones, although not as good as Bose or Sony, were good enough. It’s sad when airlines don’t offer Bose headphones in business class, since American offered them (and now they offer even better Bang and Olufsen ones). The amenity kit was pretty well stocked with L’Occitane en Provence products, as well as all the basics. The kit also doubled as an Ipad Mini case.
Departure and Take Off
Once it seemed that boarding was done, flight attendants came by offering a selection of water, juice, or champagne. I selected the juice. Soon after, another FA came by with a menu for the flight. There were two separate menus, one for drinks and one for food, and they were printed on high-quality paper. Soon after, the captain came on the PA and advised us of our flying time, an anticipated on-time arrival, and a mostly smooth flight. He did mention that he expected some turbulence over Indonesia, but that he would try to minimize it if possible.
We soon pushed back and taxied to the runway. I noticed two Etihad A380s, which was odd since Etihad’s A380 was not scheduled to land that early. After a quick peek at FlightRadar24, I realized they had both been there over 2 days. It seems they needed maintenance. Two A380s broken? *Yikes* No wonder Etihad is having financial issues!
Soon enough, we were airborne and on our way to Seoul after a cloudy take off from Sydney.
About 20 minutes after takeoff, the flight attendants came by and asked passengers for their choice of the main course. They then began to distribute hot towels and set tables for the meal service. The table setting was not much to rave about, however, the cutlery had a small paper tie-up that had the Asiana logo. It was a small thing, but it’s those small details that differentiate a business class experience.
The menu read as follows:
The drink menu read as follows:
The amuse-bouche consisted of a cracker, with smoked salmon and about 5 caviar pieces. Although it was small, smaller than a half-dollar coin from the US, it was flavourful, with garlic aioli on the inside that hit the spot. The main appetizer was a “beef vegetable roll”. I would classify it as a vegetable wrapped in roast beef. It was underwhelming and bland.
The soup course, a zucchini cream soup, was amazing. It was so good I was left wanting more.
For my main course, I ordered the Bibimbap. Asiana describes it as Mixing and Harmonizing. Boy, are they right! The amount of food was massive. There was hardly any space left on my table for drinks. The Bibimbap came in a large plate, with all the fixings as well, but not yet mixed (or harmonized for that matter 😉 ). There was also kimchi, fried tiny fish, and Gochujang sauce. The meal came with rice and soup. By the time I was done, I was 10% Bibimbap by body weight. It was one of the best meals I have had in the sky.
I was so full I did not have dessert and reclined my seat to sleep instead. More on that later.
After I took a nap, I woke up a bit hungry, which was odd as I had eaten so much before. I decided to order the noodles, which were spicy and served with kimchi. They hit the spot, and after that, I fell asleep until the next meal service, one hour and twenty minutes before landing.
The pre-arrival meal was a small salad with prosciutto, followed by the main dish. I ordered the stir-fried kimchi with pork, which was underwhelming and tasted sort of like what you would expect from a fast-food Chinese restaurant in the US.
Sleep and Seat Comfort
The Seats were surprisingly comfortable. I was able to get a solid 6 hours of sleep, divided into two sets of 3 hours. I will warn, however, that the cabin is kept very warm, and I did not use the blanket after 5 minutes of snoozing.
The IFE screen is not as high resolution as in other carrier’s business class, and their selection of shows is underwhelming. There were only a few movies I had not seen, and 3 series of TV shows I liked (the Big Bang Theory was the only show I was in the mood to watch). There was a solid selection of Korean Shows (K-Dramas and K-Movies, as well as K-Pop videos). I ended up watching a K-Drama that, although I could not understand what they were saying, was extremely dramatic and bordered on funny. It is also worth noting that there is not WIFI on board Asiana’s A380s.
Notes on Service
The service was good, but not great. I was expecting the crew to be as good or almost as good as on competitors like JAL, ANA, and Cathay Pacific. I was sadly disappointed. The crew did not proactively walk through the cabin and took a while if you rang the call button. They were very nice, don’t get me wrong, but they were not as polished as on other carriers. However, every interaction I had was kind and well-intentioned, even when there was a language barrier.
Landing and Arrival
About 20 minutes after I was done with my pre-arrival meal, the captain came on the PA to announce we would be landing in about 40 minutes. He anticipated an early arrival at the gate and thanked us for flying Asiana. I was surprised that cabin lights were not turned all the way on, kept at a reasonable level given it was already night time outside. The FAs came by and made sure all the windows were open, seats were upright, and that nothing was plugged into the power ports. We landed at Seoul-ICN and in 5 minutes were at our gate. I bid farewell to the majestic A380 and proceeded to immigration at the airport.
I say that Asiana is one of the better options, and not one of the best because there are areas of improvement for the carrier. I still think they are way better than my experiences in Air China, but the airline is not as good as JAL. Overall, I would rate them better than my experience with Cathay Pacific to Australia, mainly due to the food. If the airline added Wifi, improved their IFE selection, and invested a bit more in crew training, I think this would have been a world-class business class experience. Would I fly Asiana business class again? Of course! My issues with the flight were minor, and some of their newer aircraft, namely the A350, address half the issues I had here.
What do you think? Have you ever flown on Asiana’s A380? Did you get to fly them in business class? What was your experience like? Let us know!
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