Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cambodia April 2012 - CNAC VIP Lounge HKG and Asiana Airlines 722 Business Class (HKG-ICN)

***This post is part 15 of a full trip report. The index can be found here***

When we stepped off the jet bridge at Hong Kong International Airport, there were multiple carts awaiting the first class passengers to take them through to immigration. Since I only had a quick layover and needed to get to my departure gate, I skipped over this perk and started walking. Looking back, I realized that I basically didn't get to experience any of the amazing ground services offered by Thai Airways despite booking this itinerary specifically for that purpose. Oh well, better luck next time I guess!

As a business class passenger traveling on Asiana Airlines, I had access to the CNAC VIP Lounge, which is located across from Gate 16 on Level 7. This is a shared lounge serving mostly Mainland Chinese airlines, and some other really random airlines like Air Mauritius, Air New Zealand, Garuda Indonesia, MIAT Mongolian Airlines, Pakistan International Airlines, South African Airways, and SriLankan Airlines.

If you're used to Cathay Pacific's The Wing and The Pier lounges at Hong Kong International Airport, I would recommend setting your expectations for the CNAC VIP Lounge low... like, really low. The food was abysmal at best, consisting of a few finger sandwiches with dried-out bread and a single slice of mystery meat, along with some snacks that looked like it had been sitting out for a few hours.

And usually I would cheer at the sight of dessert, but strangely enough, they had small cups of pre-scooped ice cream sitting in a tiny old refrigerator. I just kept wondering how long they had been in there for. There were jugs of chilled juices that I didn't touch, and maybe the only upside, a couple bottles of bottom shelf liquor and wine. I ended up just sticking with water. For the 20 minutes that I was there, I did notice one or two attendants walking around collecting used plates and glasses.

There were plenty of comfortable couches around since the lounge remained fairly empty. The bathroom desperately needed some cleaning, and I didn't even bother checking out the showers. On the other hand, the lounge had wonderful views of the tarmac and Gate 16, which incidentally, was where our A330-300 was parked, waiting for departure.

Asiana Airlines 722
Airbus A330-300
Hong Kong (HKG) - Seoul (ICN)
Saturday April 7, 2012
Departure: 1:10 PM (scheduled) / 1:12 PM (actual)
Arrival: 5:40 PM (scheduled) / 5:48 PM (actual)
Duration: 3h 30m (scheduled) / 3h 36m (actual)
Seat: 2K (Business) 

Business class boarding was soon called, and a few of us lined up at the gate. I could tell this was going to be a very empty flight, which I always enjoy. Upon entering the cabin, I was greeted by a friendly flight attendant who showed me to my window seat at 2K. The fairly large business cabin had 30 angle-flat seats, very similar to those found on many medium-haul aircraft throughout Asia. As suspected, after boarding was complete, I looked around and counted at most eight other passengers.

Pitch was a very comfortable 60", offering plenty of room to stretch out. The flight attendant came by after I had gotten settled and asked if I would like something to drink. I went with orange juice. After take-off, I played around with the seat controls a bit, and thought it was quite comfortable for the shorter route that it serves. However, I can't imagine the angle-flat sleep mode being ideal for getting a good night's rest on longer flights.

Lunch service began soon after departure, with menus distributed and orders taken. There were a decent number of different main courses offered, and I decided to go with the Beef Tenderloin Steak. Typically, I like to try the Asian option when I'm on an Asian carrier, but since I have bibimbap so often at home in the Bay Area, I felt like it would be more adventurous to go with the Western option instead. The drink menu had a good selection of reds and whites, as well as champagne and dessert wines. I'm definitely no connoisseur, so I decided to stick to my usual water.

The Herb Chicken with Apple Salad appetizer was nicely presented, though a bit too creamy for my tastes. It also came with a small side salad. Afterwards, the Beef Tenderloin Steak was served up, and surprisingly, it was cooked perfectly (medium-rare) and tasted great. Garlic bread was also offered throughout the meal service. I was already pretty full after that, but decided to power on with the cheese and fruit plate as well as the tiramisu dessert. By then, I was positively stuffed. A final cup of green tea later, and I was in a happy state of food coma.

After lounging for a bit and watching the airshow, the plates were cleared and I decided to go check out the business class lavatory. Everything inside was pretty standard, although they did have some nice L'Occitane hand cream and body sprays. Wrapped toothbrushes and toothpaste were also available.

I played around with the AVOD and airshow for about another hour, and we soon began our gradual descent into Incheon International Airport. I have to say, the views while approaching the runway were pretty spectacular, and the weather was also gorgeous. After a smooth landing, I was one of the first to disembark and head to immigration. With a 23-hour layover in Seoul, I had just enough time to visit a friend, go out for a drink, and enjoy a one-night stay at the Courtyard Seoul Times Square.

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