WRITTEN WHILE ON BOARD ASIANA AIRLINES FLIGHT 728 FROM HANOI TO SEOUL: Two weeks ago, I departed LAX bound for Saigon, Vietnam. The first leg of the journey was aboard the double-decker A-380 to Seoul, South Korea. I used miles and booked business class. (Gentle readers, I haven’t flown coach across an ocean since the 90s, and I pray that you haven’t either.) I settled into my comfy lie-flat “Smartium” business class seat and waited for the Asian-airline service experience. I’ve flown enough in my life to know that Asian airlines don’t have to worry about age discrimination so you get attractive 20-something flight attendants instead of the United Airlines aged flight crew who got to pick the jaunt to Asia based on seniority and a mild case of rheumatoid arthritis. I only mention the arthritis because they can’t seem to pick up my wine glass to refill it as much as I’d like.
I got on the plane and the expected young, attractive flight attendant came around with the tray of pre-flight drinks (for those of you who have only flown in coach, business class people become parched the moment we get on a plane). Imagine my horror when they were offering just water and orange juice. I understood the water. I needed it to wash down the sleeping pill and anti-anxiety medicine I planned to take at the start of that 13-hour flight. But juice? Really? I’m not a child, and unless I’m Shelby having a diabetic seizure at Truvy’s hair salon, I don’t need orange juice. You feel me?
A proper flight begins with champagne, and I’m not talking the $7 a bottle Prosecco that US carriers try to give you for pre-flight. I mean the fancy French stuff that can actually be called Champagne because it’s from that region in France.
Strike one for Asiana.
We sat on the ground at LAX for about thirty minutes before take-off, so it was an hour from the time I sat down on the plane before I got my first drink. I asked for Champagne, and it arrived with my meal. WITH MY MEAL?!?!? It should have been at the ready and on my tray table seconds after I asked. And there were no nuts. I’m pretty sure that in the Geneva accords, or whatever contract of carry every airline has to sign up for, there is something about the right of business class passengers to have mixed nuts. But I guess Asiana was not a signatory to that agreement. (And for the record, when I got my glass of Champagne, it was warmer than the coffee they served later in the flight).
Strike 2 for Asiana.
For the record, the flight from Seoul to Ho Chi Minh City was acceptable. The arthritis-free flight attendant kept my red wine glass full the entire flight so I couldn’t complain.
Asiana hadn’t struck out with me. Yet. The return flight would be the decider. So that’s where I am. Sitting on board Asiana flight OZ 728 from Hanoi to Seoul.
I settle into my seat, a wonderful old-school business class seat on a wide-body jet, something much nicer than one might expect for a four-hour flight. I see the young attractive flight attendant with her tray, coming down the aisle towards me. Wait! One of the glasses contains something that looks gold in color. Apple juice? I thought at first. No! It’s got bubbles. Could it be champagne?
Hallelujah! The plane is on the ground, and I have my glass of champagne. I am finally able to enjoy that most delicious of moments where I’m drinking champagne as the people walk past me to their seats in coach.
I started to think I might consider Asiana in the future.
And then, the flight attendant came by to take my order for the meal. I asked her about champagne and nuts, and before we were a thousand feet off the ground, I had my glass of champagne and two bags of mixed nuts. (I could complain they were not warmed, nor were they in a ceramic dish, but I’m a simple kind of guy so I would never.)
With my glass of champagne in one hand, I figured out the complicated schematic to recline my seat like I was in a Lazee-boy commercial. I thoroughly enjoyed the champagne and nuts, but I had to question. Why the change? Did the universe hear my desperate cries for champagne and nuts? Does God exist?
I’m finishing this blog post as I’m finishing my meal, and the flight attendant just brought me a black coffee. If it’s hot, and if she has “diet sugar” and cream (not sweetened condensed milk – if you’ve been to Southeast Asia, you’ll know what I’m talking about), then I’ll know that God exists and that my next trip to Asia will be on Asiana Airlines.
Oh, the joys! I have hot coffee with cream and Equal!!!! God truly exists!
Lessons from this experience. In life, I suggest you don’t try too hard at first. If you lower the bar, it will be much easier to jump over that hurdle later.
And if you’re an airline CEO reading this: business class passengers have the right to warm nuts. And cold champagne. And a hot towel at least once every hour.
And no obligation to use their paper towels to wipe down the wash-basin for the next passenger.