Airline review: Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 business class, Sydney to Seoul

THE PLANE

Boeing 777-200ER. Asiana has nine of this aircraft in its fleet.

THE ROUTE

Sydney to Seoul.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Asiana Club. Points can accrue to schemes of other Star Alliance airlines.

CLASS

Business, seat 2K.

DURATION

Ten hours.

FREQUENCY

Daily.

THE SEAT

204 centimetres (80.4 inches) pitch, 51 centimetres (20.2 inches) width. There are 24 business seats in a 1-2-1 layout.

BAGGAGE

Two checked bags, each to a total of 32 kilograms. For carry-on, two bags of up to 10 kilograms each, plus small personal items.

COMFORT

There's a sign on the bulkhead designating this as "Business Smartium Class", which denotes this style of Asiana business seat: each a small cubicle neatly interlocked with those in front and behind. They alternate between seats opening directly onto the aisle, and those with a shelf between seat and aisle. I've deliberately chosen one of the latter on the right hand side of the plane, as I like the cosy contained space it creates, with an element of privacy. The seat cushioning is firm but comfortable, and it has lie-flat capability; though on this entirely daytime flight I won't be sleeping. There are signs of wear on the leather trim and the decor is blandly beige, and there's not as much storage space as I've encountered on other airlines. However, I can put my feet up and stretch out, so I'm happy.

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ENTERTAINMENT

The movie categories are a bit vague, with the English language flicks spread across "Hollywood", "Favourite" and "Classic", along with a "World Cinema" category which actually contains a lot of TV episodes (including the unavoidable Big Bang Theory). "Hollywood" is the best-populated category with 20 films including recent blockbusters such as Solo and Avengers: Infinity War, along with dramas such as The Commuter and Midnight Sun. There are also subtitled movies in Korean, Chinese and Japanese. A dedicated kids' section contains just three films, along with a bunch of animated episodes and games. The relatively small screen isn't touch-operated, and navigation seems laborious via the seat's handset.

SERVICE

The flight crew is friendly and efficient.

FOOD

Lunch is served promptly after our 9.30am departure, somewhat early for a midday meal. The menu is divided into Western and Korean options, and from the former I dine on the smoked salmon salad, the clam chowder soup and the grilled perch served with a creamy pesto sauce. They're unspectacular, but tasty enough and pleasantly presented. In the Korean list, star billing is given to the beef bibimbap, with a paragraph explaining its cultural origin as a dish which ended the calendar year. From the international wine selection I drink Laurent Perrier Brut champagne with my meal (as you do). The mains are followed by a cheese plate and a choice of strawberry cheesecake or fresh fruit. As a balance to the early lunch, later in the flight we're served a light meal of chicken pasta or assorted seafood.

ONE MORE THING

Because the flight is a Qantas codeshare, you have the choice of using the Qantas lounge or the Air New Zealand (Star Alliance) lounge before the flight. The latter is closer to the gate.

THE VERDICT

A capable business class offering, though with room for improvement.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Tim Richards travelled as a guest of the Korea Tourism Organisation and upgraded by Asiana Airlines.

See also: Airline review: Why this is the best business class cabin in 2018

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