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.

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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. 

Colorful Flowers at Incheon
Departure 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. 

Beautiful Atriums for Boarding at Incheon
Asiana Airlines
Business Class
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. 

Asiana Airlines Business Class A32 Recliner Seats
Asiana Airlines Business Class A321 Recliner Seats
Asiana Airlines Business Class Seats

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.

Individual Seat Back Screens for Entertainment

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.

Wired Remote, USB ports and triangle headphone connectors

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. 

A Blanket and Headphones were provided

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.

Pre-Departure Beverages: Orange Juice
Jeju Air Boeing 737-8 on the apron at Seoul Incheon

After a 15 minute wait for another mis-connect passenger, we were underway without any wait. Today’s departure was on Runway 16L.

Departure on Runway 16 from Incheon

We had some great views of the Seoul Incheon International Airport as well approached our climb to altitude.

A great view of Asiana Operations at Seoul Incheon International Airport

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.

Asiana Airlines Business Class Menu
Asiana Airlines Business Class Menu ICN-SGN

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. 

Asiana Airlines Business Class Wine List
Champagne and White Wine List
Red Wine List
Dessert Port and Ice Wine List

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.

Stir Fried Beef Tenderloin with Pine Mushrooms with oriental pimentos, steamed rice and asparagus
Stir Fried Beef Tenderloin with Steamed Rice
Great Sauce Offerings with Meal Service: Gochujang Korean Hot Pepper Paste

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. 

MrsWT73 enjoying a refill of champagne

Dinner was followed up with Jason Californian Pinot Noir along with the cheese plate of Red Leicester, Camembert and Gouda.

Assorted Cheese Plate: 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.

Asiana Airlines In Flight Entertainment: Advanced Video on Demand
Settling for the Moving Map for today’s entertainment

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 approach to SGN in Vietnam

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.

Landing at Ta Son Nhat International Airport

The Eva Airways Hello Kitty Boeing 777-300 plane happened to be on the apron here, which was always funny to see.

Eva Air “Hello Kitty” Boeing 777-300

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.

Arrivals Hall SGN Airport

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.

If you’ve flown Asiana Airlines Business Class Long Haul on a Narrow Body aircraft, what was your experience like?

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