Review: Asiana Business Class B747-4, Tokyo Narita – Seoul Incheon


Asiana Airlines is like an old friend to us. They offer generous award availability to its Star Alliance partners and they offer a pretty reliable product between North America and to cities too and from South East Asia. We were able to get seated in the Asiana First Class cabin for our short international flight from Japan to South Korea where we experienced the usual excellent Asiana Airlines service.

This post is one chapter on our second Round the World trip via Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Poland. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) loyalty programs. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: Asiana Business Class B747-4, Tokyo Narita – Seoul Incheon

“Asiana offers seating in its First Class Cabin for the price of business if you happen to be flying Asiana’s Boeing 747 product. While the seating is first class, the Business Class service is also excellent

We ended up traveling to Dubai via Seoul, via Bangkok in a case of “You can’t get there from here”. There were limited flights to Dubai from Narita if you weren’t flying with Emirates or Etihad, making the Star Alliance connection points Bangkok on Thai Airways, or Beijing on Air China. We opted for Bangkok as we had been through China previously and found the Air China service and catering a little lacking. For some reason, there was no nonstop Thai Airways availability from Japan to Thailand on offer- likely due to it being high demand Airbus 380 service between Narita and Bangkok. So that brought us to a flight to Incheon Seoul, an overnight at the Hyatt Regency Incheon, then a another flight down to Bangkok, a visit to the Royal Orchid Spa and a last Thai Airways flight onto Dubai. 

A trick of the book today. For some reason, Asiana is operating a three class aircraft on a two class route. We had last flown in this cabin on our Asiana First Class Los Angeles – Incheon flight. For today’s flight, we self assigned ourselves seats in the Asiana First Class nose of the Boeing 747-400. The service was usual business class service along with business class menus. It’s a bit of a trick as without knowing, you could also book an Airbus 321 with traditional barca-lounger seats on this route as well which would be a substantial difference and downgrade in comfort. Obviously, not everyone knows or asks about first class seats as there were as 3 empty seats up front tonight (5/8 load). One of the passengers was uniformed staff (male). Unfortunately, it’s also likely the last flight I will take seated in first class in the in the nose of a 747 as most carriers are retiring these aircraft in favor of more efficient models.

Asiana Airlines
Business Class
NRT-ICN (Narita International Airport, Tokyo – Incheon Airport, Seoul)
OZ 105 – Business Class (I)
6:50 PM – 9:30 PM
April 16, 2014
Booked: Boeing 747-400
Flown: Boeing 747-400 Combi

Asiana B747 at Tokyo Narita Terminal One

We left the ANA Lounge at Tokyo Narita Terminal One. We boarded through Gate 41. Today’s flight started with double jet bridge boarding between business and “travel” class.

On Board Asiana Business Class, in Assigned First Class Seats:

We settled into the familiar OZ first class seat. It’s getting a bit dated now but it’s still a very comfortable set up. It’s not showing any wear and tear at all on the suite product itself.

Asiana First Class – Seat 4A
Asiana First Class – Seat 4A

This time we opted for the center seats 4E/F instead of the outer seats of 3A/4A as we had previously experienced.

Asiana First Class – Seat 4E & 4F
Asiana First Class – Seat 4E
View of the Monitor – Seat 4E – Asiana First Class
View of the Cabin – Seat 4E

The monitors were controlled by the old school wired remote. The wired remote was once a common feature but it’s slowly disappearing or being upgraded to better models.

A Wired Remote

The cabin itself is pretty spacious, if not a little dated in color.

Asiana First Class Cabin B747-4
Asiana First Class Cabin B747-4

Pre Departure Service:

While we were at the gate at Narita, business class menus were presented, along with a towel service. A pre-departure beverage of water, juice or champagne was offered. Dinner orders were also taken while on the ground in Narita. 

A Pre-Departure Champagne

Like other shorter Asian Business class flights, no amenity kits were offered. The usual Asiana branded slippers in a transparent case were made available.

Time to Take Off:

On take off, the difference between the ANA Boeing 787 and our Asiana Boeing 747 aircraft became apparent. The B747 transmitted bump and quivers throughout it’s frame as the plane climbed to altitude. These shakes, rattles and rolls were notably present compared to our last flight on the 787 which was shake and rattle free.

Tonight’s flight from Tokyo Narita to Seoul Incheon was a short one. In addition to the groans of the cabin on the climb, there were a substantial amount of bumps and turbulence on the flight. The seat belt sign remained on for almost entire duration of flight. The divider between 4E and 4F has a privacy screen – but it can only be left in place with smooth flight. It has to stay down for most if not all of the flight. Given the bumps, I didn’t get the opportunity to get up to talk to the back to see whether the regular business class section upstairs or on the main deck was being sold. My guess was that at least one section was out of service for this short international flight.  

The Meal Service: Dinner

A short full service meal was provided on this flight. The menus were presented on the ground at Tokyo Narita. The wine lists on Asiana Business aren’t all too spectacular, with one white, one red and one champagne offered. It’s a little more limiting than other carriers, but for a less than two hour flight, I’m certainly not complaining.

Asiana Business – Narita to Incheon
A Simple Wine List
Cattier Champagne

The dinner of beef tenderloin seasoned with red wine sauce, with carrot, potato and saffron risotto presented all at once with prosciutto ham with mixed greens.

Grilled Beef Tenderloin, seasoned with red wine sauce

You can tell how bumpy the flight was by the state of the red wine in the photograph. 

A Simple Steak with Sauce

There were regular refills of champagne throughout the flight. The glass was never less than half full. I’m happy to report that it was classic, reliable, attentive Asiana service. 

Dinner was followed by mixed nuts- in a pouch instead of a ramkin. This was a little entertaining as, at the time of the flight, a Korean Air Executive had just berated the competitors flight attendents for failing to serve the nuts appropriately in a ramekin, resulting in substantial negative publicity.

Entertainment on Board:

The plane had Video on Demand. I didn’t get too into it given the short duration of the flight. I did check out the flight path, which was straight across the water.

Asiana Advanced Video On Demand
Asiana Flight Path

Before we knew it, we were on approach into Incheon. After landing, we had a long 15 minute taxi to the terminal. This was followed by a long line at immigration with no option for fast track. We had another 15 minutes here since several large capacity jets from China appeared to be unloading at this hour. Thankfully, the bags were already on the belt on arrival to the carousel.

Exiting into the public side of the arrivals hall, we were accosted by taxi driver touts like never before. We were approached by four separate taxi drivers at separate times looking for fares on our walk to the Hyatt Regency shuttle bus. The touts were super aggressive. We had just come off a trip across Africa without any troubles similar to this. I actually had to tell one guy to bugger off and leave us alone. He actually followed us for about 5 minutes and wouldn’t leave until we took his business card. It was a bit surprising since I certainly wasn’t expecting this in Incheon!!

Asiana Business Class Impressions:

Asiana Airlines offers a pretty reliable product. The service on board, whether in Asiana First Class or Business Class is typically excellent. The food is often reliable and straight forward. The wine list is sometimes a little limited compared to other carriers but for a short flight of less than two hours, this becomes less of a point of concern. The best trick is to see if you can score one of the First Class Seats if you are flying on a Boeing 747 when First Class is not typically offered as you can get quite a nice free upgrade by just asking for a specific seat assignment.

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