Review: Asiana Business Class A321 Seoul To Chengdu

Filed Under: Airline Reviews, Asiana

Introduction: Getting What I Paid For On Sichuan Airlines
Review: The Private Suite LAX
Review: Asiana Business Class A380 Los Angeles To Seoul
Review: Asiana Business Class A321 Seoul To Chengdu
Review: Grand Hyatt Chengdu
Review: Sichuan Airlines Lounge Chengdu Airport
Review: Sichuan Airlines Business Class A330 Chengdu To Jinan
Review: Jinan Airport Lounge
Review: Sichuan Airlines Business Class A330 Jinan To Los Angeles


My connection at Incheon Airport was just over two hours. I headed towards transit security, which took about 15 minutes. That meant I had about 90 minutes until boarding, so rather than trying to find a lounge, I just headed straight to the gate. Both of my flights didn’t have wifi and I had some work to catch up on, so I really needed about 90 minutes to get that done, and the gate area was a perfectly fine place to do that. So I won’t be reviewing Asiana’s lounge this time around, though I’ve done so in the past (and wasn’t impressed).


Incheon Airport terminal

While Incheon Airport is perfectly okay, I can’t wrap my head around how this is rated one of the world’s top airports. I find that it’s consistently overcrowded and even somewhat poorly designed. I don’t get it.


Incheon Airport terminal

My flight was departing from gate 50, which was about a 10 minute walk from the transit security checkpoint. When I arrived the previous flight was just departing, though the monitor was quickly updated to reflect the Asiana flight to Chengdu.


Incheon Airport departure gate

The plane arrived at around 6:30PM.


Asiana A321 Incheon Airport

Then the crew arrived around 7PM.


Incheon Airport departure gate

Anyone know what the person at the top right is doing? Is thinking not allowed at Incheon Airport?


Incheon Airport prohibited behavior

Business class boarding started at 7:35PM, 25 minutes before departure.

Asiana 323
Seoul Incheon (ICN) – Chengdu (CTU)
Thursday, October 26
Depart: 8:00PM
Arrive: 11:00PM
Duration: 4hr
Aircraft: Airbus A321
Seat: 3F (Business Class)

At the door I was welcomed by three friendly flight attendants, and was escorted to my seat. Asiana’s A321 business class consists of a total of 12 seats, spread across three rows in a 2-2 configuration.


Asiana A321 business class cabin


Asiana A321 business class cabin

The seat pitch is roughly comparable to what you’d find within the US. SeatGuru claims the seat pitch is 39″, and that sounds about right to me.


Asiana business class seats A321


Asiana business class legroom

I was seated in the last row, and I got lucky that I had the only empty seat in business class next to me, so I had both the window and aisle to myself. Underneath the center armrest were two 110v outlets.


Asiana business class power outlets

Then in the console between seats was the entertainment controller, though the seatback entertainment is also touchscreen (though in general I prefer avoiding that, so I don’t disturb the person in front of me — there’s nothing more annoying than a seatback TV “pecker”).


Asiana business class entertainment controls


Asiana business class IFE screen

Also underneath the center armrest were headphone jacks and USB outlets.


Asiana business class headphone jack & USB outlet

On the aisle-side of the seat were the manual seat controls. I always struggle a bit with manually adjusting footrests, since they don’t naturally go up. You sort of have to wedge your feet underneath the footrest to make it go up, and that’s not very easy.


Asiana business class seat controls

The tray table folded out of the aisle-side armrest, and could be folded in half.


Asiana business class tray table

Already waiting at my seat on boarding were headphones, the same fairly high quality ones that I was offered on my longhaul flight.


Asiana business class headphones

There were also a flimsy pair of slippers.


Asiana business class slippers

Also on my seat were a pillow and blanket. The pillow on this flight had better padding than the one on the previous flight, even.


Asiana business class pillow & blanket

During boarding, the purser stopped by my seat to thank me for flying Asiana, and she told me that our flight time was 3hr30min, and that I should let her know if I need anything during the flight. She returned a minute later to offer me a pre-departure beverage, with the choice between water, orange juice, and champagne. I selected the champagne. As I mentioned in the previous installment, Asiana doesn’t offer champagne on the ground in the US because they don’t want to pay the duties on it.


Asiana business class pre-departure champagne

I was also given a landing form for China, as well as a pen.


Immigration card for China

I was then offered a warm towel towards the end of boarding.


Asiana business class warm towel

Boarding was efficient even though the flight was full, and by 7:55PM the door closed, and five minutes after that we began our pushback.

At this point the crew lined up throughout the cabin, bowed, and then the safety video was screened.


Taxiing Incheon Airport

We had a pretty quick taxi to the runway, but then just stood there for a while. At 8:15PM the captain announced “we are ready for departure but have been delayed because of air traffic control at Incheon International Airport. We are second in line for takeoff and expect to depart in 10 minutes.”

Just a few minutes later we were cleared for takeoff on runway 34.


Taking off from Incheon Airport

Five minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off, at which point the crew turned up the cabin lights and closed the curtain between the cabin and galley.


Asiana business class cabin after takeoff

A few minutes later menus were distributed.


Asiana business class menu & wine list

The menu read as follows:

The drink list read as follows:

A few minutes after presenting the menu, the crew came through the cabin to take meal and drink orders. I ordered the beef bulgogi and a sparkling water. Despite this being a fairly long flight, the meal service was efficient, and the appetizer, main course, and dessert were all served on one tray.


Asiana business class dinner

The appetizer consisted of mixed greens with black forest ham. I didn’t eat it, but it looked fine.


Asiana business class dinner — mixed greens with black forest ham

The main course of beef bulgogi (soft beef slices flavored with Korean bulgogi sauce served with grilled onion and mushroom and steamed rice) was excellent.


Asiana business class dinner — beef bulgogi

The tiramisu was great as well.


Asiana business class dinner — tiramisu

There was also a selection of bread available.


Asiana business class dinner — bread

Once I was finished with the rest of the meal, the crew removed my main course dish and brought me a cheese plate, which was tasty as well.


Asiana business class dinner — cheese plate

All-in-all it was a solid meal, though the highlight was the service. There were two flight attendants working an 11 seat business class cabin, plus the cabin service manager, so service was attentive and genuine. Asiana’s flight attendants are top notch, and the service didn’t stop after the meal. They kept coming through the cabin every few minutes all the way until we arrived in Chengdu.

It’s nice that Asiana has seatback entertainment on their A321s, so I browsed that selection.


Asiana business class entertainment selection


Asiana business class entertainment selection

The entertainment selection was alright. I’ve certainly seen worse selections, though it also wasn’t Emirates’ ICE system.


Asiana business class entertainment selection


Asiana business class entertainment selection

As luck would have it, they had the episodes of Hawaii Five-0 that I hadn’t seen in my binge watching session on the previous flight, so I watched those.


Asiana business class entertainment selection


Asiana business class entertainment selection

I also kept an eye on the progress of our flight through the Airshow. Asiana has a better airshow interface on their A321s than they have on their A380s, as it’s more customizable.


Asiana business class airshow

After watching a couple of episodes of Hawaii Five-0, I dozed off for a bit, and woke up to an announcement from the captain that we’d be landing in 30 minutes.


Asiana business class airshow


Asiana business class airshow

Before landing I checked out the lavatory, located at the front of the cabin. Despite it being the end of the flight, the lavatory was clean and it had plenty of toiletries.


Asiana business class lavatory


Asiana business class lavatory amenities

Our entire flight, including the descent, was smooth, and at 11:10PM we landed in Chengdu.


AirAsia A330 Chengdu Airport

From there it was a five minute taxi to our arrival gate, where we pulled in next to an AirAsia A330. Unfortunately it took about 30 minutes to get through, so by about midnight I was in a taxi to the Grand Hyatt Chengdu.

Asiana A321 business class bottom line

Intra-Asia flights are interesting when it comes to premium cabin travel, given that many flights within Asia are operated by longhaul configured aircraft. So obviously Asiana was at a disadvantage here, given that this was a regionally configured aircraft.

However, the professionalism of the crew and the good food made this a very good flight.

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Comments
  1. Explanation of the Picture: Illegal Activities and their Punishment

    Top Left: Hitting a Flight Attendant

    Top Right: Obstruction of Work

    Bottom Left: Yelling/Creating a Loud Disturbance

    Bottom Right: Drinking too Much/Drunk Behavior

    Maximum 5,000,000W fine (5,000$ roughly) / 5 Years in Jail

  2. “So I won’t be reviewing Asiana’s lounge this time around, though I’ve done so in the past”

    Yeah but that was from the satellite lounge…it would have been interesting to see a review of the main terminal lounge (assuming that is where you departed from).

  3. @Lucky – The person at the top right of the sign is supposed to show someone obstructing business. At least that’s what it says in the description beneath it

  4. I dont know what to say. This review reminds me of the last flight out after the fall of Saigon. The eats look old and warn – all makes up. The food looked quasi repulsive and the toilets looked like a portable potty after a 12 hour lesbian soft ball game.

    I would be SO pissed if I paid for this experience.

  5. Lets try that again (FAT FINGERS)

    I don’t know what to say. This review reminds me of the last flight before the fall of Saigon. The SEATS look look and warn – and all marked up. The food looked quasi repulsive and the toilets looked like a portable potty after a 12 hour lesbian soft ball game.

    I would be so pissed if I paid for this experience.

  6. 업무방해죄=Obstruction of Business.

    So means don’t get in the way of the airport staff or airline crews

  7. @Ben,

    Unfortunately it took about 30 minutes to get through, so by about midnight I was in a taxi to the Grand Hyatt Chengdu.

    Is that customs or getting through the gate area?

  8. The highlight of the flight was probably the cute Asiana F/As but Lucky immune from their feminine charms.

  9. “…and the toilets looked like a portable potty after a 12 hour lesbian soft ball game. ”
    -Dan Allen

    “The highlight of the flight was probably the cute Asiana F/As…” -Geo King

    Wow. Quality acts playing today.

  10. “While Incheon Airport is perfectly okay, I can’t wrap my head around how this is rated one of the world’s top airports. I find that it’s consistently overcrowded and even somewhat poorly designed. I don’t get it.”

    I don’t want to get into a rehash of previous arguments, but if you want to understand why Incheon is highly ranked, think of it from the perspective of someone who isn’t going to an airline lounge. What blows my mind is why you think Singapore is so much better.

  11. So asiana = mediocre seat, mediocre food, mediocre airport, and mediocre lounge.

    I said something about how asiana doesn’t live up to other highly rated “5 star” Airlines and the people there got so defensive.

  12. I have to say I’m extremely impressed by the amount of content you produce at the moment, Ben. If only other blog owners had this passion.

  13. ” Quality acts playing today”
    – Joan

    I am not a native growing up here, but if that’s a fact is there anything wrong in saying it?

  14. Anyone know how much the US duty on Champagne is? As in, how much does an airline really save by not opening a bottle?

  15. Explanation of the Picture: Illegal Activities and their Punishment

    Top Left: Using a laser blaster on a prisoner that has already surrendered

    Top Right: Stubborn complaining

    Bottom Left: Rejecting your bowl of ramen by dumping it on the floor

    Bottom Right: Using telescope or binoculars to watch flights take off and land

    Maximum NKW5,000,000 (US$0.25) fine.

  16. “While Incheon Airport is perfectly okay, I can’t wrap my head around how this is rated one of the world’s top airports. I find that it’s consistently overcrowded and even somewhat poorly designed. I don’t get it.”

    I think things will get much better when ICN opens up 2nd terminal, which should be open by next year. ICN was top-rated when it was handling around 20M passengers per year. Now, it is handling close to 50M passengers per year, with only expansion so far being the satellite terminal (without additional security/check-in counter). No wonder it is overcrowded. (Note: KE and most SkyTeam flights will operate out of 2nd terminal – with new lounges, etc.)
    I’m not sure what you mean by “poorly designed” but someone who’s not that into duty-free shopping might be frustrated because everything else is located in the “fringes” and you have to actively look for it.

  17. By the way explanation of the picture you are asking about:
    The one you are asking (top right) is criminal inteference of crew’s duties.

    Others:
    Top left: Battery of crew member
    Bottom left: Use of violent language or unruly behavior
    Bottom right: Hazardous behavior after getting drunk

    All of them are punishable by up to 5 year prison sentence or up to 5,000,000 KRW fine. (Around $4,800USD)

    Sounds harsh but no worries. These are quiet leniently enforced. It takes a lot of atrocious behavior for someone to actually get jailed in Korea.

  18. @Owen: Brilliant. I work in a disaster center helping victims of disasters and that comment had our whole team laughing
    Thanks!
    Scott

  19. @ktc there was nothing factual about anything @joan quoted. She was pointing out bigoted and sexist comments. Or do you have photos of a porta potty after a 12 hour lesbian softball game? And proof that it looks different than after a 12 hour men’s softball game? Or any other event? How could you possibly call that factual? As an aside, I’ll add that that restroom looks as good as or better than 90% of the airline toilets I’ve been in. So maybe @dan was trying to compliment lesbian softball players for their cleanliness. Somehow I doubt that.

    And really, after the weeks and weeks of news about the bad behaviour of American men, do I even have to explain when @Joan was offended by @Geo King’s remarks?

    This is why we can’t have nice things.

    +1 @Joan

  20. Asiana needs to change those seats and refresh their aircraft faster. They are sort of the reverse of China Eastern who has state of the art hardware but shambolic soft product.

  21. I don’t understand OZ’s need to serve a “deep fried” dish on flights within Asia. I’ve had their “deep fried” dish between ICN – BKK and as expected the dish is “very soggy” after reheating aboard the aircraft.

    Not sure if it is because of the route or just a general downgrade/cutback but that meal looks like a total downgrade vs the one I had on ICN-BKK and SIN-ICN.

  22. If you get an annoying pecker: show them that they’ll get quicker response from the touchscreen by gently tapping using a fingernail rather than the fingertip.

  23. Although not a native Korean, this is my home airport. I second you on the always overcrowded and poor design. I don’t get how they won the best airport awards either.

  24. I’ve been on several narrowbody and widebody flights on Asiana in the past few years and while far from perfect they are not bad. Thai and Singapore A/L are usually a bit better. I am booked on several long-haul flights on Asiana next February and want to see if it’s better value for money than the other 2 carriers I take.

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