FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.
GT Tested

Asiana Airlines | Business Smartium Class

by Francis X. Gallagher

Jun 1, 2018
Airlines

SEOUL (ICN) TO NEW YORK (JFK)

On the Ground: The Signel Seoul concierge was kind to arrange a car for my transfer to Incheon Airport. As my flight was at a tricky time, close to 10 a.m., a driver and early departure were recommended. At Incheon I checked in at Asiana Airlines’ business-class desk and was swiftly taken care of. I was anticipating my first flight on Asiana’s Airbus A380-800 in its business-class service, as previously I flew its first-class product. I went through security without issues and decided to buy some of the award-winning Johnnie Walker Blue GT readers voted Favorite Liquor Brand in our annual Leisure Lifestyle Awards. (See the 2018 Leisure Lifestyle Edition.)

I have been to the Asiana first- and business-class lounges many times; they are well-run and staffed by friendly employees. At Incheon the business-class lounge offered an array of hot food, scrambled eggs made to order and salads as well as plenty of drinks. Each seat had sufficient electrical outlets, and the WiFi operated properly. At boarding time I walked to the gate and boarded with the business-class passengers. The A380 is a huge plane, but it never felt crowded and there were no delays in boarding or disembarking.

Pre-Flight: The flight team greeted passengers and offered reading material — newspapers and, of course, Global Traveler (other copies were proudly housed in business class). They hung up my sport coat and offered a pre-flight drink, Laurent Perrier Brut Champagne, along with warm nuts. Amenity kits branded with L’Occitane products included a nice selection of all the amenities one desires on a flight, including a toothbrush and toothpaste, ear plugs, eye mask and lotions. The huge onboard bathrooms, a signature of the A380, also offer a fine selection of lotions and sprays. Takeoff was on time and smooth, another A380 signature.

In-Flight: The first thing I do to get organized is to plug in all my electronics, simple on the Asiana Business Smartium Class seat. A briefcase fits under the footrest for takeoff, which I find important. The tray tables are easy to put into place and to pivot when you want to exit your seat for the restroom. Electronic controls are easy to use, and audio and video options are plentiful.

Once the menus were distributed and I was served a Chivas Regal on the rocks, I set my plan for the 12-hour flight: Watch a movie or two, work and have dinner, then sleep as much as I could on the flat-bed seat. My business-class section was located at the front on the A380 on the upper level in a 1/2/1 configuration. I was located on the left in a single window seat. The TV screen was large enough for viewing, and I enjoyed several movies and caught up with some work and writing.

Passengers in business class can choose the traditional Western menu, which included beef tenderloin or codfish with starters of lobster and other canapés. I chose the Korean menu with bibimbap, a traditional meal of rice, vegetables and meat served with Gochujang red pepper paste. Cheese and fruit as well as dessert followed the meal, with Port wine to finish. After my meal, I took full advantage of the comfortable seat and slept until it was time for a light breakfast before landing.

Asiana Airlines has always had wonderful service, and its flight attendants are known as the best in the world (as per our GT Tested Reader Survey). Add the A380-800 Business Smartium seat, and it is a traveler’s dream come true. If you think business class is superb, I encourage you to also try Asiana’s first-class suite.

TOP TAKEAWAYS:
◆ Asiana flight attendants always smile and make passengers feel welcome.
◆ A380 bathrooms are larger than those in many homes.
◆ Traditional bibimbap helps you connect with Korean culture.

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