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  • Graham

Asiana Business Class - Hong Kong to Seoul, Airbus A330

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

Review - Asiana 330 - Hong Kong to Seoul - Business

We'll start with a confession; this post is only sort of a flight review. It is that, but it's also a love letter to one of my favourite flight-booking tricks: the 23-hour layover.

You'll find more detail on this trick in our article on "Making Award Rules Work For You", but in short, many airline award programs allow you to choose a "long layover" at a connecting airport. Provided you're back in the air in under 24 hours, it generally counts as a connection rather than a multi-day stop-over, which is often either an additional cost, or simply not permitted.

So, rather than fly Hong Kong-Frankfurt direct, I chose to route Hong Kong to Seoul, spend the night there for my first visit to South Korea, then carry on to Europe the next day.

I couldn't have been happier with this decision, even such a short visit was a perfect example of all the things I love most about travelling everywhere I possibly can. A short flight from which I didn't expect much, was also a pleasant surprise, I'll have more on that below.

As with any perfect travel day departing Hong Kong, I started the morning with cheap, fresh char siu bao (barbecued pork buns) at the IFC Mall, just steps away from the Airport Express train station. I checked in for my flight at the train station, and half an hour of killer views later I was clearing security at HKG.

Hong Kong Airport is one of my favourite travel hubs in the world; it’s got terrific lounges, fascinating plane-spotting and some truly beautiful architecture.

This was my first visit to HKG since the arrival of the new Centurion Lounge, a free benefit to anyone with an American Express Platinum Card. It’s a beautiful space, with sweeping views of the bustling runways, which would be pictured here if I’d remembered to correct my shots for a dimly-lit lounge and a bright-sunny exterior.

As usual, The Centurion Lounge have put together a really excellent collection of custom-designed cocktails, and a buffet that puts most airline lounges to shame, and hired a team of local bartenders who really know the product well. Be warned; these well-crafted cocktails run on the strong side, take care that you don’t end up weaving from the lounge to the gate!

We boarded our Airbus 330-300 right on time, and a dual gangway had a full flight seated very quickly.

On North American airlines, "regional" flights bring to mind cramped, 50-seat regional jets where a six-foot guy like me will often hit his head on the roof. In Asia, high-density air routes mean that "regional" flights might be up to 6 hours long, operated by a shorter-range version of the largest widebodies on the market.

That said, Asian regional business class is often the poor cousin to the glamorous ultra-long-haul routes that inevitably receive the newest premium seats, with regional routes instead feature recliners or “angle-flat” seats that don’t turn into a flat bed, but these were remarkably comfortable. I had no trouble catching an hour of sleep later in the flight.

Asiana’s Airbus 330 business cabins use a 2-2-2 layout which is perfect for couples travelling together, but solo travellers may wish to choose the center pair of seats (D+G) to avoid having a stranger crawl over you mid-flight! I got lucky, and ended up with the A-C pair to myself.

After a pre-dinner glass of decent Laurent Perrier Brut, and the obligatory dish of warm nuts, lunch service was prompt and friendly. I chose the “Korean” menu, because honestly, when else am I going to get the chance to have fresh bibimbap at 30,000 feet?

The roast-beef appetizer was tender and flavourful, and the main course was thoughtfully presented in a way that allows each passenger to make the dish as mild or as hot as desired.

In-flight entertainment was decent but not impressive, with a handful of new-release blockbusters I’d already seen on the flight over to Asia, so I passed the rest of the flight with a quick nap.

We arrived at Seoul Incheon about 45 minutes late, and between that and a dead-slow Customs lineup, I arrived in downtown Seoul nearly 3 hours later than planned, but I spent hours wandering the night markets. This included the always-entertaining process of figuring out street food entirely through Google Translate, after which I am head over heels in love with hotteok pancakes, getting thoroughly lost on the Seoul Metro, and staggering back to my hotel for a few hours of sleep before my first date with the Airbus 380 the next morning!

Safe travels!

- G


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