I just ended a whirlwind round the world trip with my father and brother, which was awesome. Our last long haul flight was in Asiana A380 First Class, a flight I was very much looking forward to. Unfortunately, I encountered some of those pesky first world problems.
In Flight Entertainment (IFE)
Of the three of us traveling, my father in 1E got the worst experience. In the first 3 hours of the flight, the crew attempted to reset his IFE system ~20 times. My brother, sitting next to him in 1F had his system reset a number of times as collateral damage.
The crew, trying their hardest, even resetting the entire plane wide IFE system multiple times.
As far as the usability of the system itself, it was nice to have a touch screen controller however it didn’t have the functionality to do two things at once, e.g. Watch the airshow on the handset and a movie on the beautiful 32″ screen.
Maybe I’ve been lucky, but this trip and most recently have for the most part had fast post-departure service.
My Asiana A380 First Class flight on the other hand didn’t follow suit. It was a half hour or longer before I had my first beverage in the air. Lunch took more than 2.5 hours, and I only had 4 courses. Part of this was no doubt due to the fact that I didn’t have the opportunity to order my entrée until at least a half hour in.
Later in the flight, I requested a refill of Ice Wine, the flight attendant first came with an empty bottle, disappeared and returned 5-8 minutes later with an alternative bottle. Apparently 7 hours in, Asiana had run out of the first class ice wine. I didn’t ask how many bottles they had been provisioned with. In general, however I found the white wine and champagne to be not as chilled as I would have like.
My father–you’ll recall that his IFE didn’t work quite well–had a different but similarly lackluster experience. You see, since the flight attendant call button is on the IFE controller, that didn’t work either. As a result, he made a handful of trips to the galley to request coffee and other beverages. You would think, the crew–who tried what they could to fix the issue–would realize the lack of a call button and check in with him every so often. But alas, they did not.
Asiana’s first class cabin is 3 rows. I was seated in 3E, and thus closest to the galley. Multiple times I was awoken with rather loud clanging of dishes.
Perhaps providing on-ear (not over ear) Bose Noise-cancelling headphones means that you don’t have to attempt to be quiet, perhaps not. But I just felt the overall noise level in the cabin was quite high. I think this was primarily because of the location of the galley, which was right behind First Class — and it was a pretty big galley. I didn’t want to impose, so I only got a small snap of it.
Wrapping up – First World Problems
I realize these are true first world problems, and in reality, only one of these might have been acceptable, but the collection of them together is unacceptable for a world class first class product. We did post request a gesture of goodwill from Asiana, given the inconvenience of the non-functional In Flight Entertainment. The initial offer was 5,000 miles, either Asiana miles or United miles. This was double what they offered for economy. I kindly informed the agent I spoke with that had I paid market value ($4,700 US), I would have been much less pleased, and asked her to go back for additional consideration. She returned with an offer for 7,000 miles. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but is 7,000 miles really a sufficient compensation when a major component of the hard product is nonfunctional?
Again, this was a bit of a rant, but I want to stress: these are small things in the big scheme of life. Of course, writing trip reports means that you highlight the minutiae at times. The fact remains, this trip — which I’ll get around to writing soon — was truly special for all of us. But I could not go without sharing our experience, for fear of others redeeming 130,000 or more of their miles for a product that lacks some of the refinement that you would find on other airlines.