Frankfurt Airport, not too long ago. I'm walking down the good old maze of stairs leading down to the underground walkway connecting the A gates with the B ones. Relaxed. Walking, not running. Can't remember last time that happened, I usually bet on someone inventing the art of teleportation just prior to my flight leaving a B gate, realize it probably won't happen after all and end up running like crazy to make it before they close up the gate, and I always get there just in time, being halfway dead when they blip my boarding pass and wave me through.
But not this time. A nice stroll along the walkway, up the stairs, through passport control, and I'm at the gate. No rush. A few minutes later I make a left when the jet bridge splits in two, three flight attendants thank me for flying Asiana today and one of them escorts me to 3A. The first class cabin on Asiana's 747 fleet has been around for some time and it shows – plastics are in various shades of beige and and the hardware is certainly not on par with more recent first class cabins, but it's not bad by any means. And being in the nose of a jumbo jet is a pretty good thing, regardless. Views are great, the cabin is spacious and there is no through traffic. A perfect place to be when cruising along at 30.000 feet.
We get going, take off, nose wheel comes up with a thud and we're flying through a never ending layer of dense, milk white clouds, it takes forever and I'm gazing into a thick soup of nothingness and boom, in a split second we break through into clear skies, still climbing. Soft, fluffy clouds spread out underneath us, into infinity, draped in pink by a sun just about to dip beneath the horizon. It's the most stunning sky I have ever seen and before I know it my brain jolts into sensory beauty overload mode and my jaw drops, unconsciously, literally. Never had that happen before, ever. My camera is stuck in the overhead bin but then again, no pic would come anywhere close to representing the real-life experience, so let's leave it at that.
After a while the 747 levels off and the brilliant in-flight service kicks in. Anything to drink? Certainly. I opt for a glass of the »1999 Pol Roger, Cuvée Winston Churchill«. Seems like a decent choice. Deep, yellow, tasty. I look through the menu and having tried a range of bibimbaps at 30.000+ feet over the last few years I'm eager to see what this one may be like. Thus, when prompted, I ask to have the western starters and Korean main course, not realizing i'll be pushing the volumetric limits of my stomach right into a nearby galaxy. They proceed to set my table and add a rose to the setup, yellow rather than Lufthansa's red.
The caviar setup kicks off the meal service. Tasty, as always. I ask for way too much bread but manage to shove it all down and start to get rather full with most of the starters yet to come. Clearly I should not have grabbed those German wursts in the lounge before the flight. Bad, bad planning. The rest of the starters are served at a steady pace and they are all pretty decent and not too big, but I'm still going from full to mega full. And then comes the bibimbap.
About two full main courses spread across a metric ton of china. Not bad. And it's tasty. But by now there is no room left for more food. That won't stop me, of course, and I somehow manage to consume pretty much everything save for the big fish thingy. I decline dessert but opt for green tea, the cheese platter and some fruit. A bit insane at this point, sure, but it works out fine, save for the fact that I'm pretty much unable to move. Not much of a problem though since I'm spending the next hour watching what remains of »Zero Dark Thirty« on my laptop.
Once the movie wraps it's sleep time and I head off to the lavatory to change into the PJ pants. A flight attendant intercepts, asking me to hold for a few seconds while she makes sure everything is top notch inside. And while I'm doing some acrobatics getting out of my skinny black jeans and into the Asiana branded pants in a lavatory the size of a tin can, they perform the in-flight equivalent of turndown service – when I'm back my seat has been magically turned into a bed, duvet and all. Again, the age of the hardware is rather apparent and the bed mode is not on par with more modern offerings. I keep hitting my legs on what seems to be a wooden bar folded into the leg rest part of the bed but still, it's fine and I won't blame my chronic inability to get in-flight sleep on the seat.
In the end I do manage to get 30 minutes or so of sleep before they wake me up. I really don't need breakfast given the insane amounts of food I had earlier but hey, breakfast sounds good and I go with the western option, running through granola, yoghurt, fruits and tea and we break through the clouds, Korean islands in sight, touching down at Incheon a few moments later. As per usual they hold up the business passengers until every one of us in first has deplaned, bye bye, and I'm in the jet bridge. Hello Korea.
All in all, a lovely trip in the sky. And even though they managed to miss a few drink orders – not something you'd expect with Asiana – the service was still amazing. Trip reports with tons of pics are available over at Frequently Flying, One Mile at a Time and Flyertalk.
(Oh, and apologies for the crappy focus in some of the photos. Just got myself a new camera and it seems I shouldn't be entrusted with it just yet…)