Review: Asiana Airlines Business Class, A321-2 Seoul Incheon – Ho Chi Minh Ta Son Nhat
Our connecting flight from South Korea to Vietnam had us on an Asiana Airlines Airbus 321 narrow body. International air traffic in Asia has set wide body jets as the gold standard for international travel between countries, unlike in Europe and parts of North America where this function is fulfilled almost exclusively with narrow body jets. How would our experience be flying a narrow body jet around Asia? Stay tuned to find out. . .
This post is one chapter on our third Round the World trip via South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, the Maldives and India. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) and Hyatt Gold Passport (World of Hyatt) 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.
Read More from This Trip
- Trip Introduction: Vietnam, Maldives and India. Round the World #3 in Star Alliance Business Class via Air Canada, Asiana, Singapore, Air India, Turkish Airlines Business Class
- Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge – Vancouver International
- Air Canada Business Class: Vancouver International – Seoul Incheon
- The Nest Hotel, A Member of Design Hotels, Seoul, Incheon
- Asiana Business Class Lounge: Seoul, Incheon
- Asiana Business Class: Seoul Incheon – Ho Chi Minh City
- The Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers, Ho Chi Minh City
- The Sights and Sounds of Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- Restaurant Review: Nhà Hàng Ngon, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
- Trading at Ben Thanh Market and Street Life in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- Travelling the Mekong River. Travelling Ho Chi Minh City to Thù Thùa, Vietnam
- Travelling the Mekong River. The Canals of Thù Thùa, Vietnam
- Ho Chi Minh City Airport Lounge – Fin Bar
- Singapore Airlines Business Class: Ho Chi Minh City – Singapore
- Westin Singapore
- Shopping at Retail Giants on Orchard Road, Singapore
- Singapore Airlines Silver Kris Lounge: Changi Airport Terminal 2
- Singapore Airlines Business Class: Singapore – Male
- Hotel Jen Maldives Malé by Shangri La, Malé, Maldives
- Street Life in Malé. A Day Walking the Republic’s Maldivian Capital
- Maldivian Moonmia Domestic Lounge, Malé Ibrahim Nasir Domestic
- Maldivan Airlines: Malé – Koodhoo
- Park Hyatt Maldives
- Circumnavigating Hadadaa Island, Maldives
- The Guided Back of House Tour, Park Hyatt Maldives
- Snorkelling the Park Hyatt Maldives House Reef
- Sunsets on Hadahaa Island, Hudavdoo Atoll, Maldives
- The Leeli Lounge – Male International Airport
- Air India: Male Thiruvananthapuram
- Air India: Thiruvananthapuram – Chennai
- Air India Maharajah Lounge: Chennai Madras International Airport
- Air India Business Class: Chennai – New Delhi
- The Leela Palace, New Delhi, India
- Jama Masjid, New Delhi
- Stepping into Chandi Chowk, New Delhi, India
- Overland Travel: New Delhi to Agra by BMW Luxury Sedan
- The Taj Mahal, Agra, India
- The Walled City of Agra, Agra, India
- Air India Maharajah Lounge, Indira Ghandi Domestic, New Delhi
- Air India: New Delhi – Jaipur
- The Rambagh Palace, Jaipur, India
- Walking the Old City of Jaipur, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar, and City Palace, Jaipur
- A Day in the Footsteps of Royalty, Touring Amber Fort, Jaipur
- Air India: Jaipur – New Delhi
- ITC Muraya Hotel, A Luxury Collection Hotel, New Delhi
- The Plaza Premium Lounge, Indira Ghandi International Airport, New Delhi
- Turkish Airlines Business Class: New Delhi – Istanbul
- Turkish Airlines Istanbul Atatürk Business Lounge
- Turkish Airlines Business Class: Istanbul – Montreal
- Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge – Montreal Domestic
- Air Canada Business Class: Montreal – Vancouver
Review: Asiana Airlines Business Class A321-2, Seoul Incheon International Airport – Ho Chi Minh Ta Son That International Airport
At about T-45, left the Asiana Airlines Business Lounge and we headed down towards the gate. Despite the lines and the people, Incheon is an impressive facility all up and we wandered through a crowded concourse down to Gate 34.
Operating with efficiency, we arrived at the appointed boarding time of 8:15 and they were about ready to let us on board. A quick document check and we were on quickly.
ICN-SGN (Seoul Incheon Airport – Tan Son Nhat International Airport)
OZ 735 – rebooked onto OZ 731 – Business Class (J) Involuntary Reschedule
7:10 PM – 10:25 PM – rebooked onto 8:50 AM – 11:30 AM
April 3 – rebooked onto April 4, 2015
Originally Booked: Boeing 777-200
Flown: Airbus 321-200
On Board Asiana Business Class on an Airbus 321:
We had originally booked on a Boeing 777-200 in a three class configuration in the first class cabin (with business class service). We had done this trick before flying Asiana Airlines Business Class Tokyo Narita – Seoul Incheon and it was a really comfortable way to go. Our missed connection left us on the Airbus 321-2 configuration which offered the barca-lounger recliner seats; a definite “lunch bag let down” from our earlier planned flight.
There isn’t much that can be said about these seating arrangements; they are pretty standard business class set ups offering better, but not excellent room. It’s almost borderline flying this equipment type over 5 hours, but indeed we did.
We settled in on board into a typical A321 configuration of 2-2 in business class. The load in business class was 6/12 today. The seats had individual monitors for entertainment, which was appreciated.
The entertainment was controlled with an older school wired remote. While there was a more modern USB connector for devices, the seat did not have Empower plug ins for powering laptops.
Flight Amenities Provided: A Blanket and Headphones with no Amenity Kit
On the seat were headphones, slippers, and a blanket. Eye shades and ear plugs were also offered at a later time during the flight. There was no physical amenity kit offered. Instead, comfort items as above, were offered individually.
Pre Departure Beverage Services:
We were offered a generous pre-flight beverage pour of orange juice or water. We were also immediately offered a hot towel service.
While we waited for take off, I did a little plane spotting and saw that we were parked next to a Jeju Air plane next to us.
After a 15 minute wait for another mis-connect passenger, we were underway without any wait. Today’s departure was on Runway 16L.
We had some great views of the Seoul Incheon International Airport as well approached our climb to altitude.
The Meal: A Full Lunch
A printed menu and wine list were offered. Asiana Airlines always offers an impressive printed menu. Their professional looking menus lead a great first impression into the meal ahead. The menus typically include a calorie count, something I wish other airlines would follow suit on when presenting meal offerings.
The wine list was substantial, in that they offered Cattier Champagne, two whites, two reds, port and in the Asiana tradition, Canadian ice wine for dessert. I have to say that catering and food and beverage is where Asiana makes up ground for the somewhat boring but highly functional hard product.
The appetizer, bread and main course service was presented all at once promptly after take off (within 30 minutes). This was served with a separate condiment tray service offering many spices (Heinz Chili Sauce, Tabasco Sauce, and Korean Chili Paste). I enjoyed the stir fried beef tenderloin with steamed rice, oriental sauce and pimentos, along with Cattier Champagne to dull any spice from the dish.
As usual, the service execution was excellent from Asiana; offering regular and repeated top ups of water, wine and prompt removal of unwanted items. Each of the wine offerings were poured at the seat, with an offer to taste prior to start, with a visual presentation of the bottle. It was, as always, a marked improvement from the usual North American carriers we typically fly.
Dinner was followed up with Jason Californian Pinot Noir along with the cheese plate of Red Leicester, Camembert and Gouda.
I finished off meal service with Sawmill Creek Ice Wine for the dessert. I don’t usually have Sawmill Creek at home, but I applaud Asiana for carrying something different (and more expensive) in their premium cabins.
In Flight Entertainment:
The in flight entertainment was a little weak. It is apparent that the Airbus 321 served their shorter flights and wasn’t loaded for long haul entertainment. There were only 4 Hollywood movies on offer. I ended up settling for the air show while I updated the trip report.
Approaching Ta Son Nhat International Airport, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam:
We had a great approach into Ho Chi Minh City today with some neat city views. Ta Son Nhat International Airport has a bit of history to it as it was completely bombed and rendered inoperable in the Vietnam War.
On arrival at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, it was pretty quiet as far as airfields go. It was neat to land at an airport that was part of history. During the Vietnam war, the North Vietnamese bombed the airport making it impossible for planes to depart. This led to a helicopter escape rescue of many American citizens from parts of Saigon and, in part, the fall of Saigon.
The Eva Airways Hello Kitty Boeing 777-300 plane happened to be on the apron here, which was always funny to see.
Despite some Internet forum and guidebook talk of the airport always being busy, it was pretty deserted and bribe free as we arrived. Our bags turned up, thankfully, so kudos to Asiana Ground handling for actually locating them during our mis connection and getting them on the right flight within 12 hours.
Our experience on Asiana Airlines Business Class A321:
Asiana Business Class was far ahead of the soft product of Air Canada. This should come as no surprise to readers, their service levels have always been high and you’re always treated respectfully and like royalty whenever you fly with them. Today’s flight was no exception. It was a very comfortable way to travel around Asia.