CHECK-IN

Business Traveler (USA) - - TRIED AND TESTED - — Jerry Al­li­son

Given the sep­a­rate “First Class” sec­tion, check-in was quick and ef­fi­cient. My carry-on lug­gage was marked with a yel­low rib­bon in­di­cat­ing spe­cial first class han­dling. At se­cu­rity, I went through the “fast track” check point for pre­mium trav­el­ers. No long lines, no has­sles, quick and easy.

From there I was es­corted to the Star Al­liance lounge, which fea­tured com­fort­able seat­ing and a choice of snacks, sand­wiches, soft drinks and other as­sorted bev­er­ages. BOARD­ING I left the lounge just 15 min­utes be­fore sched­uled take­off, know­ing the pre­mium pas­sen­ger de­par­ture gate would al­low me to by­pass the main board­ing area. Not only was this re­lax­ing, it al­lowed me to spend more time in the lounge fin­ish­ing up work. Less time on lines is al­ways good in my book. SEAT­ING Hav­ing just come off a 3-day con­fer­ence, and be­ing a bit sleep-de­prived, I was es­pe­cially look­ing for­ward to my first ex­pe­ri­ence in this First Class Suite. The seat­ing ar­range­ment on the Boe­ing 777-200 was two rows of 1-2-1. The suite was pri­vate, but not iso­lated, set apart by 5-footh­igh walls, with a dou­ble-door lou­ver sys­tem that eas­ily slid open or closed. Op­po­site the wide and cushy lie-flat seat was a com­pan­ion jump seat and ta­ble with room for a guest. Each suite had its own light­ing, per­sonal A/C con­trols and ac­ces­si­ble power out­lets, USB and se­rial ports.

Within mo­ments, flight at­ten­dants stowed my suit jacket and carry-ons. They ex­plained the en­ter­tain­ment cen­ter, and de­liv­ered some snacks with a Johnny Walker Blue to boot.

Din­ing ser­vice be­gan promptly af­ter take-off. Each meal in­cluded sev­eral op­tions, from tra­di­tional Korean (one op­tion) to Western selec­tions (three op­tions), with some­thing for ev­ery­one. In ad­di­tion, the serv­ing sizes were sub­stan­tial and ev­ery­thing was fresh. As a first class pas­sen­ger, I en­joyed watch­ing the on­board crew chef pre­pare my beef ten­der­loin steak to or­der, com­pli­mented by Chateau Gru­aud Larose 2008, aka “The King of Wines ”served at Buck­ing­ham Palace.

Next, I turned my at­ten­tion to the en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem. Now, this is where it gets ex­cit­ing. I was blown away: In my own pri­vate suite, with my very own 32-inch high­def­i­ni­tion TV and the pro­vided Bose noise-can­cel­ing head set – this was bet­ter than most top-of-the-line home en­ter­tain­ment sys­tems.

The 3-by-4-inch touch screen con­trol pad was easy to use and con­trolled ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing your own mini-bar that mag­i­cally ap­peared from in­side one of the panels, as well as your per­sonal “Do Not Dis­turb” sign.

Af­ter lunch and sev­eral movies, it was time to catch up on some much needed sleep and get syn­chro­nized to a new time zone. Once fully flat, you can ap­pre­ci­ate the gen­er­ous size (I’m a six footer). With the ad­di­tion of a com­fort­able mat­tress pad, my shot of Dream Wa­ter, and the closed door, I was now in the pri­vacy of my own space, and well on my way to many hours of sleep. This Boe­ing air­craft also had “mood light­ing” for bet­ter rest and re­lax­ation: no big bright flu­o­res­cents, just hun­dreds of lit­tle sparkling lights, which pro­vided a sooth­ing star­lit night ef­fect.

The cabin crew mem­bers were all cour­te­ous and at­ten­tive, but not in­tru­sive. Ev­ery­one took pride in their role in cus­tomer ser­vice striv­ing to make my flight en­joy­able and mem­o­rable.

The only chal­lenge (not with Asiana) was the lug­gage I checked on the con­nect­ing flight on an­other car­rier didn’t make it to O’Hare by the time of my de­par­ture. Not to worry, as the Asiana staff re­as­sured me sev­eral times that they’d take care of it. True to their word, when I landed, I was told that my lug­gage would be for­warded shortly.

They even no­ticed that it was my birth­day. Some­body must have alerted the cabin crew and at the end of the flight, I was pre­sented with a spe­cial scroll in­scribed in Korean, loosely trans­lated, “It is a plea­sure serv­ing you. ”We’ve all been away from home and fam­ily on spe­cial days, so I got a kick out of hav­ing my birth­day no­ticed. AR­RIVAL The best part about land­ing at In­cheon is the per­sonal ser­vice of Asiana staff. I was es­corted off the flight, quickly whisked through cus­toms and greeted by my driver – all in less than 20 min­utes. BT

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