Saturday, 30 December 2017

Airline Review: Bravo, Asiana Airlines!

Seven years ago, I flew to Tokyo from Seoul and decided to take Asiana Airlines. And since it was my first time to visit Japan, I figured I should see Mount Fuji!  Unfortunately, my holidays were limited and I could not travel outside of Tokyo to see the most famous peak in Japan. But there was another way!

I did some research and I found out that the flight route from Seoul would fly over Mount Fuji! So, when I was buying my plane ticket, I asked the Asiana Airlines staff to seat me on the window that would allow me to see the famous mountain.

And did you know what she did?

To make sure I got the correct seat, she called a pilot!

The same thing I would do! In case of doubt, ask!

And I was able to see Mount Fuji without having to leave Tokyo!

And this time, seven years after I was impressed, I had to run again to Asiana Airlines for a ride home!

You see, I waited for the last minute to get me a plane ticket home for Christmas as I wasn’t sure of my schedule. So, when I started calling travel agents, it was already late! All I got were fully booked flights and expensive plane fare responses.
                (Incheon International Airport)

Armed with my passport and my Asiana Airlines membership card, I headed to the Kumho-Asiana Building in Gwanghwamun area in Seoul. This was the same area where Pope Francis celebrated a beatification mass in 2014. When I got there, I was told that the flights from Incheon International Airport to Cebu International Airport from mid-December until the 31st were all fully booked. I didn’t believe her. An hour before, I visualized that I would be able to get a seat, and what she said didn’t even register; I knew there was seat for me somewhere.

She checked again, and this time, she said there was a seat, not in the economy class, but business class! I then asked her whether my mileage amount was enough. And she said “Yes!”

That was the moment I realized my visualization technique actually worked! Ha-ha-ha!

This was the singular moment the universe conspired to help me!

A week before I decided to get my ticket home, I received tennis rackets that my friends living in Seoul donated. I planned to bring them home so I could give them to the kids whom I taught tennis as a volunteer. But with the limited baggage allowance, I thought of postponing bringing them to the Philippines.
          (The Asiana Airlines check-in counter 
            at Seoul Station's Airport Railroad 
                      Express Terminal)

But with this business class ticket from Asiana Airlines, I had a 32-kilo, check-in luggage allowance! The tennis rackets were flying home with me!

So, on the day I was to fly home, I ditched using the airport limousine bus because it was snowing and the traffic was bad. If it took me almost two hours to get to the airport on good weather, it would probably take me three that day.

And thanks to my friend Andrew, who gave me a lift to the Seoul Station, my trip to Incheon International Airport was a breeze. I simply bought a discounted express train ticket (discounted because I had an airline ticket), checked in my luggage and tennis bag at the early check-in counter of Asiana Airlines at the AREX terminal (how convenient for the passenger!), and took to my assigned seat for a 43-minute train ride to the airport! All I was carrying were my handcarry bags! I already got a boarding pass!

When I got the airport, I didn’t waste any time. I immediately headed to the Immigration Gate. As expected after the final security check and Immigration, my legs were complaining. It was a long walk from the AREX train terminal up to the pre-departure area. It was time to lounge!

After presenting my boarding pass at the entrance of the Asiana Airlines Business Lounge, I went inside and picked a quiet corner where I intended to spend the next four hours in solitude and nutrition! Ha-ha-ha!

I actually asked the lady at the lounge entrance whether they had pizza; sadly, there wasn’t any. But they had fried rice, tofu in spicy sauce with vegetables, a salad bar, different breads, porridge, nachos with cheese dips, and mini-cookies! I was especially happy that they had regular Coke!
  (Nibbling on nachos with cheese dip at the lounge)

As I experienced before, Asiana Airlines’ impeccable customer service started at the ground. From the very helpful lady at the Asiana Airlines’ ticketing counter, to the available check-in at the Seoul Station which made everything very convenient, and up to the business lounge facility which any tired traveler would appreciate, this airline obviously thought through the whole passenger experience.
              (Asiana Airline's Business Lounge)

Although our flight was delayed by almost an hour, I didn’t mind as my connecting flight from Cebu International Airport to Bacolod-Silay Airport was at 8AM the next morning. Whether the flight was early or late, I still had a lot of waiting at Cebu.

As regards customer communications, I received an email and a message in my KakaoTalk from Asiana Airlines advising me that my flight was delayed while I was resting and having merienda. Asiana made sure I knew my flight was delayed and I could stay longer at the Lounge. You’d never get this kind of effort from any Philippine airline.

Well, the in-flight movies weren’t really the ones I wanted to watch. But Glenn Close and Taraji P. Henson did just fine.
                 (Glenn Close as Cruella DeVille joining me
             for a grilled chicken breast dinner)
           (Taraji P. Henson in Hidden Figures)

During the day before Andrew drove me to the Seoul Station, we stopped by the donkatsu restaurant at Nam-san near the cable car station for lunch. Their donkatsu was horrible; people were patronizing them because they have been there since 1960, serving horrible donkatsu (I’ll never go back there again).

But, lucky me! My in-flight dinner was a thousand times better than my lunch. Salmon carpaccio and mixed greens with balsamic vinegar for appetizer, grilled chicken breast stuffed with ham and cheese, and slathered in cream sauce, and served with deep-fried potatoes.

And as I was watching snippets of movie scenes, I nibbled on blue cheese, gouda, and camembert! And to cap my midnight, Haagen Dazs ice cream! I didn’t try to finish my ice cream though. I still had another flight and I am lactose intolerant. You know what I mean. Ha-ha-ha!

Maybe I was just too tired at the end of the day that I forgot to write the crew a ‘Thank you’ note. But I hope this blog could make up for it. After all, a note could just contain about 20 words; this blog is already in excess of a thousand!

So, thank you, Asiana Airlines! You made my journey home convenient, relaxing and memorable!

Bravo and kamsahamnida!

No comments:

Post a Comment