Road Warrior Tested: Asiana Airlines First Class
International airlines are well known for superior service compared to their U.S. counterparts, and I recently had the luxury of traveling first class with Asiana Airlines.
Route: Los Angeles to Seoul-Incheon International Airport.
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Cabin/Seat: First Class featuring 10 lie-flat seats with 83 inches of pitch between rows. Seat: 2K.
Service: When I boarded and told the flight attendant my seat number, I was immediately greeted by name and escorted to my seat. The flight attendants serving first class spoke excellent English, were incredibly attentive without being obtrusive and among the best I've experienced in my more than million miles of airline travel. Of particular interest was their ritual of bowing after each interaction — something to get used to if you don't deal with Asian culture all that often.
Comfort: The fully automated seat provided exceptional comfort in both the upright and lie-flat positions. All first class passengers are provided with an amenity kit featuring Bvulgari skin care products, as well as pajamas, slippers and eyeshades. When I decided it was time to sleep, flight attendants were insistent that they "make my bed" and brought out a quilted seat cover/mattress pad, duvet and large pillow.
Entertainment: Large video screens at each seat normally feature on-demand television programming, movies, music and games, though the system was inoperative on my flight. I was provided with $200 in Asiana Airlines credits for the inconvenience that could be spent on future travel or onboard duty-free products. Every first class seat included 110V power ports.
Meals: A multi-course lunch was served shortly after takeoff and I enjoyed caviar and poached lobster to begin, followed by zucchini soup, a mixed green salad and decided to try the authentic Korean meal selection of "bibimbab" — one of four available entrees. It featured soup, steamed rice, various vegetables and minced beef mixed with hot pepper paste and sesame oil. It was simply delicious and followed by a fruit and cheese plate and raspberry cheesecake. Prior to arrival, another meal was offered and I selected the beef brochette that was preceded by marinated shrimp and prosciutto and followed by a tasty fruit tart. An incredible array of wine, champagne and premium liquor was also available. Had hunger struck between meals, mid-flight snacks of udong or ramen soup, sandwiches and assorted fresh fruit complimented the menu.
Asiana Airlines offers flights to their Seoul Incheon International Airport hub from Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Seattle.