22nd August 2012. Written by Xin Li.
SIN - ICN
Named as the world best airline in 2010, beating our own national carrier and even some of those quality Middle Eastern airlines, I have much to look forward to for my first maiden flight with Asiana Airlines.
Checking in with Asiana for the first time at Terminal, my first impression wasn’t good when the receptionist was efficient and slightly impatient instead of the friendly face I would love to see at the start of a red-eye flight.
My flight, OZ 752, departing from Singapore to Incheon International Airport was on an A330-300 which looked rather old and tired. The interior was greyish with some splashes of maroon and subtle hints of blue, red and yellow with a base grey, the colours of Asiana Airlines.
The boarding for the flight was delayed by 25 minutes due to the late inbound flight earlier on and it takes little time to realize the bulk of the announcements were made in Korean and barely legible English. Nonetheless, excellent service by the cabin crew shines through despite the language barrier with plenty of smiles and professionalism throughout the flight.
The flight wasn’t one of the most comfortable flights I had for a number of reasons. Turbulence throughout most of the flight was one reason (but I think this is beyond control). The seat for example was rather tightly packed and the seat’s ergonomics just isn’t great for sleeping.
Thankfully, there the entertainment was decent despite the rather small personal entertainment screens with an adequate amount of movies or TV Shows to last through the flight. It may not be as extensive or up-to-date as Emirates’, Qatar’s or SQ’s but good enough for me.
Food is something I always look forward to in a flight, the Bibimbap was quite popular among the passengers on this flight with a number of Koreans ordering it over its alternative. The Bibimbap Meal came with a bowl of Hot Soup (yeap!), a dish of Kimchi (the Korean essential), Pearl Rice and Fruits.
The Bibimbap came with a set of instructions on how to enjoy it a la how-to-enjoy-Xiaolongbao-in Din Tai Fung-style. The opportunity to mix and adjust the flavours of the dish adds an element of fun in this particular meal compared to a typical airplane meal.
The Bibimbap is a mixture an assortment of condiments such as Sesame Oil and Gochujang (Korean Hot Pepper Sauce) in a tube with vegetable toppings such as bean sprouts, shredded carrots, sliced cucumber and shitake mushrooms and some minced meat. The gochujang was quite spicy but the end result was quite pleasant, and I enjoyed my dinner.
The major disappointment of this flight is the lack of any breakfast service or snack. They only served drinks, hence giving a Cathay Pacific or Thai Airways flights, both airlines not only offers complimentary snacks ranging from cup noodles to hot sandwich, they even offer a meal on a shorter route and flight compared to Asiana’s SIN-ICN route, hence giving them a significant edge if one doesn’t mind transiting in Bangkok or Hong Kong both of which are equally fascinating destinations compared to Seoul.
Overall my experience with Asiana Airlines was a good one, service was above average and the food was good. However, as a former World Best Airline boasting about its number of awards (or the "World's Only Golden Grand Slam Award Winning Airline", the term, "golden grand slam" is apparently a tennis term for winning a series of awards in one go. In the case of Asiana's, Air Transport World in 2009, Skytrax in 2010 and 2011 from Global Traveller), there leaves more to be desired. Perhaps it would perform much better on its transpacific routes between Korea and United States than its regional ones.