Korea Flights

LAX-ICN Asiana Business one-way using Air Canada 45k points+$450/oneway/person (instead of choosing the regular 75k+$100 option). Booked D-360 when I didn’t have a whole lot of Amex points and was trying to save for future flights.

I haven’t flown internationally in 20 years and never flew business, so this was pretty exciting for both me and my wife. We knew that our Air France business flight next month would be on a whole another level, but this has still got to be much better than economy flights that we have experienced, right?


I read that the Star Alliance lounge was all-day access so we went at 6:30pm for the 11:40pm flight.. we had finished packing in the morning and didn’t have much else to do at home otherwise. Asiana required in-person check-in and unfortunately Asiana was not present in the airport at all because their earliest evening flights did not depart until 10pm.

Lounge and free food was nice. Decent buffet food, udon noodle bar, alcohol, chacuterie corner, pretty comfortable seats! There were a decent amount of seats here and there. The outdoor terrrace was closed. SANspotter’s review is pretty much what we saw. We arrived super early, so we set up my iPad mini on one of the little nightstands, plugged two earphones via a 3.5mm audiosplitter, and watched a movie together. But trying to stay awake until midnight was hard. The airport was cold and there wasn’t a good place to lean back or lie down in the lounge. Closest thing was the dark media room, but the couches there were not exactly for leaning back.

We went to the gate a bit ahead of time just in case. Even though boarding officially starts at 11:10pm, there was already a long line at the gate at 10:50pm. 100+ people in line for economy and 40 people in line for business. While in line and shifting passport and boarding tickets, I accidentally dropped my U.S. green card and didn’t notice it but someone picked it up and came to give it to me. Phew! Thanks!

We originally booked two seats in A350-900 on 1E 1F in the middle column where the two seats are very close to each other, but a few months before flight Asiana replaced equipment and brought back their A380-800 into service. Air Canada didn’t give any warning about the equipmnent change – I just noticed it randomly 5 months before the trip while checking out the reservation. By then, the forward business cabin was all full. I took 12D and 12G in the second cabin, which is the row where they are far apart from each other, each exposed to the aisle. We preferred being closer together but I was hoping it would be compensated by being in the bassinet front row and possibly having some little additional levels of comfort. (Maybe a bigger footwell, or something like the Singapore Airlines business bassinet where your footwell is the entire width of the front row, more ample desk space, etc.)

Nope, it was exactly like every other row. Should have chosen row 13 instead. What Asiana does with their bassinet seat is this: part of the functionality of my chair is in the back of the passenger seat in front of me. So they put half a chair in front of my Row 12. It looks almost like they took a normal passenger chair, cut it in half top to bottom, and attached it to the space between my row and the cabin wall. So even though I’m in the frontmost row in the cabin, I’m staring into the back of another business class seat. I would expect there to be another passenger’s head in that space. But there is nothing there. Just the back half of a herringbone. It’s dead space. And there’s a dead tabletop storage space of what should be my front passenger’s seat. I am not allowed to store anything there though.. at least officially and during takeoff. I just set up a plastic bag there and used it store trash.

The seat and space is very meh. The seat does lie back 180 degrees and does all the angles in between. It has some form of lumbar support where it pushes lower back and mid-back cushions back and forth. This is all very nice and made sleeping comfortable. I slept about 6 hours of the total flight of 13 hours.

The rest of the seat is very lacking.

One big downside is the lack of storage. On a regular economy seat, you have the lower mesh net and the upper documents slit, which you use to store your phone, ipad, water bottle. Asiana business has none of those. Where your foot goes, there are two cubible spaces. The lower one is where you rest your foot while in seating position. You are not allowed to store a backpack there. I assume it’s because it’s not a tight-nit nook like it’s on ecoonomy. On the side desk space, there is a sad attempt of a storage contraption using a little plastic belt that holds together the airplane safety and duty-free booklets.

Once I iunderstood what a weird layout Asiana was using for their business seat, I unpacked things from my backpack and tried to cram them there. Phone, iPad mini, bluetooth keyboard, portable battery, USB cables, USB-C charging block, socks, gloves, hoodie shirt. It took me multiple times of opening and closing the overhead compartment to retrieve my backpack and pull out one more thing that I forgot to finally settle. Then I noticed my USB-C charging block was missing. It probabbly fell from the desk to the dead space under the seat, at which point it’s unreachable.

The seat is a bit narrow, and the footwell was tiny. When I read reviews about Asiana’s seat, I saw photos where people were placing their shoes-wearing foot into the footwell as proof of how small it was. “No wonder they think it’s tiny, these white people haven’t taken off their shoes”, I thought. Turns out it is indeed tiny. Your foot fits, thats not the problem. (Although granted my shoe size is 10.5 so this may vary) The problem is that the footwell is so narrow left-to-right that during sleep you are permanently forced into a triangular angle between your legs and pelvis. It starts to hurt after a while. There’s not a whole lot of wiggle room, so in the midst of the comfort of a lie-flat seat, this rigid discomfort stuck out a lot.

Another unexpected sleep discomfort is their antiquated IFE controller. Both the screen and the controller are touch screen, and the controller is very touch-sensitive. The controller is stowed away in a little cradle in the chair, around elbow level, with the screen facing you, so you can operate it without having to remove it. Which might be well thought out.. until you are sleeping at 3am and multiple times throughout the night, while adjusting during sleep, your hand or arm accidentally touches the remote’s touchscreen,and it wakes up the remote. And along with it, the 20″ IFE screen lits up in all of its high-brightness blue-white standby screen glory, until you turn it off to try to get back to sleep.

Another downside of choosing the front row seat was that the cabin crew staging area was in the curtained-off space in front of us. The plane took off around 11:30pm, and until 2am there was a constant shifting and clacking of dishes in the compartment as they served their 1am dinner and then retrieved the dishes. Ah so this was the yellow-color coded warning from users on SeatGuru about “bassinet seat may have more legroom but noise and lights coming from closeness to bathroom and/or cabin crew supplies may be uncomfortable”. Lesson for next time.

Summary of costs
  • 90k+$900 Air Canada points, LAX-ICN Asiana Business 2 people
  • 10 nights of Hotels and Airbnbs with cash in Busan, Namwon, Gwangju
  • 60k Seoul Gangnam Hyatt Andaz 3 nights (63k – 3k journeys promo)
  • 33k Seoul Myeongdong SLH Myeongdong28 3 nights (36k – 3k journeys promo)
  • 62k+$78 Virgin points (48k MR 30% transfer promo), ICN-LAX Korean Air Economy 2 people

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