Welcome! This is the last report in the series covering my trip to Okinawa early in the summer of 2012. I‘d completely forgotten to post this last part and figured I’d do so now for the sake of completion.
Date: 02 June 2012
Airline: Asiana Airlines
Aircraft: Boeing B 747-400
Cabin: First Class
THE LOUNGE EXPERIENCE
The story begins as I make my way to the Asiana Airlines First Class lounge. Seoul airport is not too busy and neither is the lounge. In fact I have the place nearly all to myself.
The lounge is well stocked with amenities, food and drink. Even so, I must admit I am not the greatest fan of the interior design. It is hard to describe really. It reminds me a bit of one of those old chalet hotels you still find in the Alps in some of the less popular resorts. Still, it serves its purpose and even has free wifi.
The shelves in the lounge are stacked with books. Strangely enough though, although the books have titles on the covers, they are in fact empty.
The food selection is rather limited, particularly when compared to what other airlines have on offer for their First Class passengers. But they do have dim sum, which I’m rather partial to.
As the departure time approaches, I start to get that nice fuzzy feeling one gets before getting on a Jumbo. At least I get that every time. So I decide to step out of the lounge and go for a walk-about for some distraction and to take some pictures of my bird.
This bird was parked at the next gate.
Not sure how many IL-62 they see these days in Seoul, unless Air Koryo is about to start a direct link to Pjöngjang…
And they have funky public toilets at the airport too!
When eventually they do call the flight, I make my way to gate 45 and queue up at the back of the line for Business Class and First Class. An Asiana ground attendant is surreptitiously glancing at the boarding passes of the passengers in my queue. As she spots mine, she asks me to follow her to the front of the line and butts in just as the gate agent is about to scan the boarding card of the first passenger – he is only travelling in Business Class – at the front of the line. Sorry about that!
The attendant then escorts me to the entrance of the plane. As we walk she explains to me how she went to the lounge to pick me up and could not find me. And I start to feel guilty – just a wee bit. Before the plane she bows and bids me a safe and pleasant journey.
As I enter the First Class cabin I am greeted by one of the flight attendants working in First Class today and we have a good laugh as we recognise each other from the outbound flight from Frankfurt to Seoul the previous week. We have a nice little natter and I ask her where she has been in the intervening days, while she inquires how I liked Korea and if I also visited other countries. What a charming young woman!
Service is the same as on the outbound. First the newspaper, amenity kits, earphones, pjs and slippers are delivered.
Then come the drinks with warm nuts. This time I have a Perrier with lemon and ice.
And I also receive the first in a whole series of refreshing towels.
Departure is to the north and by the circuitous route we’re flying it’s quite apparent that we must avoid North Korean airspace at all costs.
First up, the table is set for the meal. To drink I have another Perrier and a Chardonnay.
Olive oil with Balsamico and butter for the bread:
First course: Mousse of Foie Gras with truffle, ginger and mixed herbs on blinis
Second course: Caviar service
Third course: Grilled tuna in a pepper corn crust, with chives and carrot julienne
Fourth course: Pickled mushrooms with chickpeas and mixed greens
Fifth course: Cream of chicken soup with a ball of risotto. It tasted alright but it had a strange texture
Sixth course: Tenderloin of veal stuffed with lobster, with a horseradish sauce, mushroom ragout and wilted cabbage
Seventh course: Cheese with an apricot and grape chutney and crackers:
Eight course: Puff pastry filled with vanilla cream on a blackberries sauce
And to finish that, a cup of Earl Grey tea.
And now I am full, for the time being at least, and so I change into my pjs and have a nap.
Around five hours before we arrive in Frankfurt I start to feel peckish again. That – together with my curiosity about the kind of ‘snack’ Asiana has on offer in First Class – entices me to try their ramen noodles in chicken broth.
And here it is: ramen and shitake mushrooms in a spicy chicken broth with kimchi and pickled turnip. It really is divine, but it’s so spicy I have to keep running to the loo to blow my nose (The Koreans and Japanese find it tremendously rude to blow your nose in public).
About two hours before arrival the lights go on and the second service begins. Oh I now I shouldn’t, but it all sounded so nice on the menu!
First comes another hot towel, which is followed by a glass of fresh orange juice.
The meal consists of a salad of grilled beetroot, with heirloom tomatoes (I do not think I’ve ever encountered such a strange looking and tasting tomato before in my live…), greens and boiled quail’s eggs.
This is followed by a Korean dish with spare ribs in a spicy soup, which turns out to be indeed very spicy but extremely tasty!
Sauce for dipping.
Not sure…but tasty.
Two different kimchis.
And then comes dessert. It should be some sort of vanilla parfait with coconut shavings. But it just looks strange really…
And another tea to finish.
After the meal I sit back and relax. I start to watch Thor and end up asking myself what on earth has happened to good cinema and good movies. And to think that such a great actor as Anthony Hopkins should sink so low as to play Odin is simply tragic.
The view outside is far more attractive!
But I digress. The flight attendant from the outbound flight comes to bid me goodbye and wish me a safe onward journey. On this flight passengers can choose between a CD, a handbag and an iPhone holder as a farewell gift. I am now the proud owner of an iPhone holder with ‘Asiana Airlines’ written on the inside cover.
And then we land, and my delightful Asiana experience comes to an end. I bid my goodbyes and disembark. Outside the Asiana rep is already expecting me with a Lufthansa branded reprint of my boarding pass to make sure I get into the lounge.
Frankfurt is nearly pleasant when I arrive, I head for the Senator lounge and wait for my onward flight to Basel. I spend my time in the lounge catching up on emails and talking to my mum on the phone. At around 19h00 I leave the lounge for the long trek back to gate A02 for my flight to Basel. Just as I stand up to leave the lounge, I spot the Asiana flight pushing back for the return trip to Seoul. Farewell and safe journey – it was a fun trip!
This brings to an end this series of my trip to South Korea and Japan.