After a smooth flight from Tokyo I landed in Seoul Incheon airport with a few hours to kill before my connecting flight back to London Heathrow.
Logic would suggest that I typed this post as I went along, but the truth is that I’m relying on the notes I made in my phone as I complete this write-up a few weeks later from the comfort of my apartment in the Basque Country! My notes were detailed, for what it’s worth.
Flight: Seoul Incheon —> London Heathrow
Airline: Asiana Airlines
Flight duration: 11 hours 20 minutes
I had around two hours to play with for my connection, and rather predictably I headed straight for the Asiana Airlines lounge. As a Korean airline I assume their HQ is at this airport, and they actually had separate lounges for the business class passengers and first class flyers. I’d been outdone.
Interestingly when passing through the connections part of the airport I noticed that there was an option to take a ‘transit tour’ of Seoul. There were a number of different plans to choose from starting at around an hour long with some lasting much longer. A nice idea for travellers with significant layovers and something I’m surprised not to have seen in more airports.
As it stood though there was no way I could take such a risk and decided to play it safe and stay in the airport.
I was more impressed with the Asiana lounge than I was with the United Red Carpet offering at Narita. The much wider selection of food – including a chef cooking pasta along with the standard buffet fare – certainly helped.
In addition to this there a number of different seating options including more secluded, private booths as well as the standard armchairs and upright chairs. There was also the option of a shower for those coming off longer journeys.
I settled my craving for rice porridge as well as shovelling down a bowl of mapo tofu, all of which was washed down with a few glasses of the local Max beer. I can never be accused of not embracing the culture.
The first thing that struck me as I got on board was just how much room we were afforded in business class.
The seats were set up in a 1-2-1 formation, and I’d opted for seat 4K which was a window seat completely on its own. Seats C and K are situated directly next to the window with their table closer to the aisle, while seats A and H are the other way round.
Waiting for me on my seat was a duvet (not the usual blanket, but an actual duvet), a pillow, a free bottle of water and a L’Occitane toiletry bag including moisturisers, hand cream, a toothbrush and so on. Basically, stuff I would never buy but if it’s there I’m sure as hell going to use it!
My only gripe was that there wasn’t a great deal of storage space. There was a small compartment for items such as a wallet, but laptops and other big items had to be stowed in the footwell which wasn’t particularly spacious.
The pre-takeoff drinks made an appearance again and this time included a glass of champagne. Don’t mind if I do. The cabin crew also came round with landing cards for those who needed them and to my amazement actually handed out pens to fill them in with! An underrated courtesy. Hands up who usually finds themselves scrambling around for a pen 20 minutes before landing? It can’t just be me.
Finally, we were given hot towels and these well and truly lived up to their name as they were too hot to even pick up. I suppose they do what they say on the tin.
Around 20 minutes into the flight our food order was taken and again we had a choice of Korean or western. It was a case of second time lucky for me as they hadn’t run out of my meal of choice this time: the Korean ssambap.
I was intrigued by the idea of a kind of ‘build your own’ meal, as the meal came with the rice, beef and bean paste separate from the salad leaves they were supposed to be wrapped in.
It was maybe a little messy and I wasn’t quite sure I had the right idea. In the end I decided to use a technique that has helped me through many tough times time the past: wait for the old dear next to me to eat hers and copy.
This was all washed down with another Korean beer – Cass – and before I knew it the window blinds were being closed and the lights dimmed. Apparently it was bedtime.
I was a little surprised by how many people were lying down after such a big fill, but it seemed I was in a minority. I was asked for my second meal order for later in the flight, before settling down with a few episodes of Power and its terrible acting before trying to get a bit of shut-eye.
Setting up the bed couldn’t have been any easier, I simply pressed the button on the side of the seat and voila! My chair was now a bed.
Although a little narrow, the bed was comfortable and the duvet in place of a blanket made a difference. It was also nice to wake up without an aching neck, as I refuse to wear one of those neck pillows. All in all I got a couple of hours, but I was in and out of sleep for large periods.
I woke up around halfway through the flight, bang on time for refreshments. I have a well-trained nose. We were given the rather varied choice of fruit, ramen or a burrito. Seeing as I’d stuffed my face with ramen a few times in Tokyo, I went for the burrito. I was still on holiday.
The paper in which the burrito came had turned see-through, which was a good sign that I wasn’t being short-changed on the health scale. It was hard to see what was inside but I made out chicken, peppers and a ton of cheese. Solid, if unspectacular.
We were served our final meal in the late afternoon/early evening, which confused matters somewhat as it was a breakfast style offering. To be honest I’d forgotten what I’d ordered, which turned out to be the abalone porridge. I had also forgotten what abalone was, which didn’t really help matters.
According to Google abalone is some sort of sea snail but you could have fooled me. It felt more like tongue, but maybe that’s why I’m not a food critic.
It was tasty, and the serving of fresh fruit alongside it made me feel a little less guilty for the burrito I’d eaten a few hours earlier. Fear not though, as the warm pastry on the side didn’t allow me to get too proud of myself.
With another two hours to landing I settled back into the dint my arse had made on the reclining chair and cracked on with a bit more TV. There’s not a great deal else to say, really.
Oh, apart from the fact I’ll probably struggle to ever fly economy on a long haul flight again.