Lost in Translation – Korea/Japan 23-27 Dec 2011
23 December was my last working day of 2011 and I put in a full day’s worth of work before rushing home to do some last minute packing.
My father gave me a lift so I reached SIN T2 with plenty of time to spare.
A faux Temple of Heaven greeted me when I entered T2.
There was already a long line of passengers queuing up to check in for my flight.
I walked towards the Business Class counter and a ground staff in Asiana uniform came over and made sure that I was in the correct line. Perhaps my attire was a tad shabby for the usual Business Class crowd.
Nevertheless the check-in was prompt. Although my usual preference is at the window, I made sure that I got an aisle seat (4D) since it was a red-eye flight. The agent informed that Asiana uses the SATS Premier Lounge, which was located on the left after immigration control.
After immigration control I got some pictures of T2 before taking the escalator up to where the lounges are located.
Although being in business class on a Star Alliance flight entitles me to use SilverKris Lounge, I decided to leave it till next time and went to SATS Premier Lounge.
I thought that it was a great decision as there were no more than 10 guests at any one time while I was there. The only other lounge that I had been to was Turkish Airline’s one at IST and it was way too crowded to my liking.
Being a glutton , I couldn’t resist the buffet.
I remembered that there were chicken rice and satays on offer for the main courses. The food and drinks offerings were adequate in my opinion and showers were available as well.
I left the lounge early for boarding gate F54 which was quite a fair walk away. En-route a lady (from STB I think) approached me for a survey but obviously I wasn’t her target group since I’m a Singaporean.
There wasn’t a separate security queue for business class passengers (as far as I am aware of) so I stayed in line with the rest. While there were quite a few Koreans heading home, most of the passengers seemed to be Singaporeans going to Seoul for holiday.
The lighting condition wasn’t optimal to take pictures of the aircraft and the below two were the best that I could manage.
The boarding was done according to rows and families traveling with young kids were invited to board first together with those flying business class or with statuses. Thus I was among the first few to board the aircraft with the crew welcoming the passengers in Korean.
When I reached my seat, to my surprise there was already a bag placed there. It turned out that the young Korean girl had mistook my seat 4D for her 4C and she just left her stuff on my seat when she went to the washroom. The crew were apologetic when I approached them and reacted quickly by removing the bag (and locate its owner).
One thing that I like about Asiana is that the flight plan was available even when we were on the ground.
The seats weren’t filled up yet so I took a picture across the aisle.
The other passengers started to stream in and all 30 seats in business class were soon filled.
I also checked out what was in the seat pocket.
Halfway through photographing one of the crew approached me with pre-departure drinks. I chose orange juice.
The IFE is AVOD but there wasn’t anything that I was really interested in. I ended up watching a little of Overheard 2 while eating my second supper later.
Our departure was delayed and we didn’t take off until 23:25. I wasn’t quite sure why although the pilot did make some announcements. The pilot’s a Korean and it reminded me of Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Outliers‘ where he linked air crashes to Korea’s hierarchical culture. Not the best thought to have during a flight to be honest.
Shortly after takeoff the crew went around with the hot towel service and distributing menus. The lead crew (purser?) also went around to thank the passengers for traveling with Asiana and wish us a pleasant flight. Like the other crew, she addressed me in Korean first and I had to tell her that I couldn’t understand Korean before she switched to English. It made me ponder why it was so; perhaps the airline’s customers are mainly Korean and the crew find it more comfortable to address the Asian passengers in Korean first.
Soon after the crew went around taking order for our supper.
Since I was flying Asiana, I got to try its famous Bibimbab.
The crew wasn’t sure whether there were enough to go around when she took my order and had to go back to the galley to check. I also asked for some ice wine to go with my supper no. 2.
Unlike SQ, the crew didn’t use any trolley when serving the meals.
I liked the starter since I love seafood.
Looking around the cabin, I realized that most Koreans would go for the Western option while the non-Koreans went with Bibimbab. Did they know something that we didn’t?
I didn’t regret my choice at all though. Bibimbab was definitely unique as an airline food.
After the meal, the crew went around offering coffee and tea as well as pralines which I declined.
The whole service took a tad long; it took more than an hour and it was close to 01:30 SIN time when it ended.
There wasn’t any amenity kit (besides slippers) so I used one of the free toothbrushes in the washroom before turning in.
After returning from the washroom, it was time to adjust the seat.
It was an angled seat with 168 degrees of decline so the sleeping position was kinda awkward. I always had the feeling that I was slipping down. The cabin temperature was also a little on the warm side which made sleeping difficult at first. Eventually my fatigue got the better of me and I drifted to sleep soon.
I was woken up around 40 minutes out of Seoul and the crew were already up offering drinks and hot towels for the passengers.
As the plane was landing in ICN, I began to have some crazy thoughts in my head (similar to what I had in 1998).
What if our plane accidentally strayed into North Korean airspace?
What if some South Korean soldiers tried to shoot us down?
All these thoughts were banished away as we landed safely in ICN at 06:33 local time.
It had snowed the previous day so we disembarked into a white ICN.