01. Introduction: One…I mean…two final rides on the United Airlines 747
02. United Airlines 737-800 economy class San Diego to San Francisco
03. United Airlines 747-400 upper deck Polaris business class San Francisco to San Francisco
04. United Airlines 747-400 upper deck Polaris business class San Francisco to Seoul
05. Asiana business class lounge, ICN
06. Asiana Airlines A330-300 business class Seoul to Hong Kong
07. Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel and Towers
08. The Bridge – Cathay Pacific business class lounge, HKG
09. American Airlines 777-300/ER business class Hong Kong to Los Angeles
10. American Airlines ERJ-175 first class Los Angeles to San Diego
The more time I spend at ICN, the more I’m convinced that Korean Air and Asiana are the same airline. Well, I’m probably exaggerating again, but the truth of the matter is that my experiences on these two different airlines have been nearly identical and it’s become increasingly difficult to tell the difference between the two. Both are stellar airlines with amazing staff on the ground in the air, and I’ve walked away from each of my Korean Air and Asiana experiences feeling like a spoiled king (a feeling I quite like) – they are definitely setting the standard for what large international airlines should be.
Unfortunately, the lines between the two becoming so increasingly blurry that it’s hard for me to choose one over the other. A perfect example of how similar these airlines are is their business class lounge experiences at Incheon airport in Seoul. If somebody would’ve told me that both lounges were designed by the same person and catered by the same staff, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit. They are the same darn thing!
Back in January of this year, I made my first visit to the Korean Air Prestige Class lounge here in the heart of this massive airport. It was really nice – big, bright, and well-stocked with gobs of tasty snacks. The entire space was broken up into two separate rooms with the entry lobby separating them right down the middle. It was a good experience, and my time there was comfortable and relaxing. If anything, it made me all the more curious to find out what the Asiana lounge experience was like.
Much to my surprise, The Asiana business class lounge here at ICN is a carbon copy of the KAL lounge – right down to the floor plan. The walls, windows, and square footage is exactly the same – as is the view outside to the terminal. The only physical difference between the two is the interior decor, which to be quite honest, isn’t really all that different. There is a wide variety of seating in both lounges, ranging from that familiar row of tables which faces the outside window, to clusters of chairs arranged in different configurations all throughout.
Another minor difference between the two lounges was the food. I’m not sure if it was just the time of day or what, but there seemed to be more food options in the Korean Air lounge when I was there earlier this year. Here in the Asiana lounge, it was slim pickings and the only thing that I could find to eat at 7:30 AM were a few stale sandwiches and a small cup of yogurt.
Thankfully, by 8 AM, they brought out a steaming hot pot of rice porridge which was a bit more substantial (and a lot more tasty). I had to act fast though, because it seemed like everyone else in the lounge was as hungry as I was, and it was a battle to get in there and get my share. For a moment there it kind of felt like I was a lion feasting on fresh kill in the Sahara…
So what’s the verdict?
I get asked all the time about which Korean airline I prefer, and it’s always been difficult for me to answer because of the carbon copy similarities between KL and OZ. This Asiana business class lounge experience didn’t help me to separate the two in my mind – and as a matter fact, it only confuses me even more. As far as I’m concerned, the ground experience both Korean Air and Asiana are exactly the same. I enjoyed both of their business class lounges equally, and I’m not just saying that to be nice. It just happens to be the only conclusion I can come up with based on how identical the two are, so you can’t go wrong choosing one over the other.
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