The shuttle ride from the Sheraton took less than fifteen minutes, which surprised me for New York. I had been expecting a long commute, as I've experienced when staying at other JFK airport hotels.
I had arrived to JFK about three hours before departure, figuring on spending time in the lounge vs. my hotel room. As I walked up to the Asiana counters, an agent quickly stood up to welcome me.
Asiana flt. OZ221 First Class Check-in
Just as the agent handed was about to issue the boarding pass, she informed me that my originally selected seat, 2G, was broken, and asked if I would terribly mind switching to 1K (a window). I had hoped to get a window seat (none were available when I booked my ticket), so this worked out positively for me. The agent also let out a deep breath, genuinely worried that I would be mad at having to switch. I was handed an invitation for the SWISS lounge, along with my connecting boarding pass for the flight to Singapore, though the agent recommended I have an SQ agent re-print the boarding pass when we got to Seoul. With that done, the agent bowed and wished me a good flight.
Security was a friggin' disaster, with at least three hundred in line for the four lanes open. I was not able to find the First/Business class line, though I did wander towards PreCheck and was surprised to have the line-guard (AirServ) wave me into the PreCheck lane. My documents were checked and I was sent on my way, though I had to wait for the tub stackers of America to quit gossipping about their co-workers so they could process the bags stacking up on the x-ray belt. Once through, I walked down the concourse for a little bit as I awaited the arrival of my friend who was traveling on the same flight.
HL-8284 - Boeing 777-200ER - Delivered to OZ 7/26/2013
Despite the renovations to Terminal 4, I was disappointed to see that there were no moving walkways installed throughout the terminal. I spent a few minutes browsing the various shops and restaurants, before making my way up to the checkpoint to meet my friend.
Thirty minutes later, my friend made it through security, and then we walked over to the SWISS lounge. Although we were flying in first class, the first class side of the SWISS lounge was closed, and the agent directed us to the business class side.
A light breakfast buffet was being served with the usual items (fruit, various breads, yoghurts, etc). The lounge also featured a small drink selection, with various alcoholic and non-alcoholic items available. Unlike the Lufthansa lounge in Washington, alcohol appeared to be self-serve.
The lack of food items in the lounge was disappointing, though I kept reminding myself that we would be having a feast on Asiana, so it didn't matter too much. Had Asiana paid SWISS to open the first class portion of the lounge during the mornings, the selection would have been much greater.
SWISS Lounge Seating
About five minutes before boarding began, we decided to head over to our gate. Unlike some airlines, Asiana does not offer first class passengers an escort from the lounge to the gate (at least at JFK), so we walked on our own. Boarding had just begun when we approached the gate.
New York/JFK - Seoul
Scheduled Departure: 1:00pm
Actual Departure: 1:17pm
Scheduled Arrival: 4:19pm+1
Actual Arrival: 4:45pm+1
Flight Time: 13hrs 28mins
Two flight attendants stood at the entrance to the 2L door, checking boarding passes and welcoming passengers onboard. When they spotted the yellow top of our first class boarding passes, we were warmly welcomed aboard and pointed towards another flight attendant who escorted us to our suites.
Asiana 777-200ER first class, seat 1K
Asiana 777-200ER first class, seat 1K
Asiana 777-200ER first class, seat 1K
The largest TV in the sky! 32"
The mini-bar was empty at boarding and remained empty throughout the flight. Some report that it is too small to hold any drinks, so the flight attendants just ignore it.
Asiana First Suite Class
As we settled into our seats, a flight attendant came over and offered food and drink menus. She returned just a minute later with a tray that contained several pairs of pajamas. Our pre-departure drink orders were also taken, though we were informed that they were unable to serve any alcohol on the ground.
Pre-Departure Beverage & Semi-Warm Nuts
After delivering the drink, another flight attendant brought over a pair of noise canceling headphones and the landing cards for South Korea. It took another twenty five minutes before the boarding door was closed and we pushed back for the thirteen hour flight to Seoul. The cabin was not full today, with two seats of the eight seats remaining empty.
Korean Immigration Cards
BVLGARI Amenity Kit
Safety Video Featuring Old First Class
Ground Crew Waving Goodbye
Due to the heavy fog at JFK earlier in the morning, several domestic flights had been delayed, so it took us another fifteen minutes until we turned onto the runway.
Virgin Atlantic A330
N712TW - Boeing 757-200 Delivered to TWA 6/18/1997!
Once we cleared ten thousand feet, the seatbelt signs were switched off, allowing for the lunch service to begin. I got up for a few minutes to chat with my friend while the flight attendants came around to take our orders. When they saw me standing and talking with my friend, they tried to have me move to the seat next to her, which I declined, and then suggested that we dine together. The ottoman has a second seatbelt, allowing for two passengers to share a meal or visit with each other.
Of the six passengers in the cabin, everybody went with the Korean choice for lunch. Unlike some airlines, Asiana appeared to have catered the cabin so all passengers were able to receive their first choice, whether Korean or Western.
When serving the first of the starters, the flight attendant suggested we try a glass of the Pol Roger Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill champagne. While I am not an expert when it comes to the various kinds of champagne out there, I knew that I was not a fan. Previous flights on ANA, Cathay and Lufthansa had offered much better champagne (in my opinion).
Shrimp and Cucumber
Though the menu mentions that the caviar service is available upon request, we did not have to ask for it to be delivered.
Asiana Caviar Service
Beef Vegetable Roll
Korean Pumpkin Porridge 'Hobakjuk'
The soup was my least favorite part of the meal, tasting more like a liquified chalk. When the flight attendants came around to clear our tray for the next course, they seemed concerned that we had not finished the soup.
For the next course, the flight attendant suggested I return to my seat due to the size of the main course. Her english was a bit poor, so I wasn't sure how big the tray was until she came around and delivered it to my suite a moment later.
Korean Royal Cuisine - 'Bibimbap' and Beef Short Rib Bulgalbi
All I could saw was WOW! For a meal that is served at 35,000ft above the ground, I was pretty surprised to see how complex it was. The beef short rib was cooked just right, and everything tasted just as it would in a nice Korean restaurant.
While eating the royal feast, I couldn't help but notice the flight attendant that was peering over the walls of my suite, waiting to see the instant that I needed a refill or a dish cleared. Almost immediately once I had finished the meal, I heard a small knock of the doors of the suite (they had been closed when the meal was delivered), and the flight attendant asked if she could clear my tray.
Korean Traditional Cookies
South African 'Rooibos' Tea
Once the meal trays had been collected, the lights in the cabin were dimmed, and the flight attendants came around to delivere a cold bottle of water.
We had another ten hours remaining in the flight, so I took the time to explore the IFE system. Options seemed limited, especially with regards to TV shows. Some titles only had one episode, while others had three or more. Though most of the shows did not appeal to me, I selected NCIS: Los Angeles. To my surprise, each of the episodes I watched came with Chinese subtitles.
Passing over Northern Nunavut on our Polar Crossing
After finishing the few episodes of NCIS, I started searching for a movie to watch. Just like the TV shows, the movies all had Chinese subtitles. Selection was also limited in most categories, with the expection of Korean films.
I settled on Red, a movie about a retired secret agent who is lonely and calls an agent at the GSA Pension office in Kansas City. He eventually goes to Kansas City and the pair go on an action filled adventure.
Red - "Retired, Extremely Dangerous"
While watching the movie, I got hungry for a small snack, so I asked the flight attendant about desert options. I was hoping for some ice cream, but the flight attendant returned a moment later with a plate of cake and a glass of milk.
Red turned out to be a decent movie and by the time it was finished, I got up to change into my pajamas. All of the flight attendants were camped out in the first class galley, eating the leftover first class meals. The second I opened the curtains, they all stood up and one raced over to the door of the bathroom so they could open it for me.
When I returned to my suite, the flight attendant was putting the finishing touches on the bed. Due to the light load in first class, they even brought over a couple of extra pillows.
I slept for the next eight hours, waking up to see that we had another ninety minutes until we arrived in Seoul. The second I sat up in my seat, I heard a knock on the door and the flight attendant came over to offer me a drink and see what I would like to eat for the pre-arrival meal.
I decided to go with one of the western options, choosing the roasted chicken breast with macaroni.
tray table setup
Smoked Salmon, Grilled Scallop and Vegetables
Roasted Chicken Breast
Despite sitting in a galley cart for the past twelve hours, the chicken and macaroni were perfectly cooked, and even had a bit of kick. The dish was a bit heavy on the sauce, but that was my only complaint.
With thirty minutes remaining in the flight, I went off to the lav to change out of the pajamas. As I got up, a flight attendant asked if she could clear away the blankets. I said I'd keep the light blanket for now, as it was a bit cold in the cabin, which she seemed to have trouble understanding. When I returned to my seat, a blanket had been delivered, still sealed in plastic. When I said "I'll keep it", the flight attendant must have thought that I wanted to take the blanket with me. I was a bit confused at first, but was happy to take it with me. It joins the ranks of several American and United blankets currently sitting in my closet...
Asiana First Class Blanket
The seatbelt signs were switched on about fifteen minutes before we touched down. Due to the fog/smog that afternoon, I was not able to see much of Seoul until we were several hundred feet from touching down.
Welcome to Korea
HL-8284, 13:28hrs later
We had seven hours until the flight to Singapore departed, so a visit to the city was clearly in order. I enjoy visiting airline lounges, but seven hours is definitely pushing it. Fortunately ICN has baggage storage services inside the terminal, so we stored our bags, for a small fee, and took the train into the city for an authentic Korean dinner.
Future posts in this trip report:
- US Airways First Class from Kansas City to JFK, via Phoenix
- Sheraton JFK
- Asiana Airlines First Class from JFK to Seoul
- Singapore Airlines Business Class from Seoul to Singapore
- Grand Hyatt Singapore
- Marriott Singapore
- Singapore Airlines Business Class from Singapore to Tokyo
- Lufthansa First Class from Tokyo to Frankfurt, via Munich
- Hilton Garden Inn Frankfurt Airport
- Lufthansa First Class from Frankfurt to Washington-Dulles - B747-8i