***This post is part 17 of a full trip report. The index can be found here***
Airport Bus 6008 dropped us off directly outside of the main terminal at Incheon International Airport. Once inside, I made my way over to the Asiana Airlines aisle and walked up to the first class check-in counter, which was completely empty. While there was not an exclusive first class check-in area like Thai Airways at Suvarnabhumi Airport, I found the agent helping me to be incredibly personable, constantly smiling and very friendly.
A male assistant came over and took my large checked duffel and wrapped it with a sealed plastic bag before placing it on the conveyer. I thought that was a nice touch - keeping first class luggage clean and safe (despite how dirty and nasty my duffel was already). After my boarding pass and lounge invitation were both printed out, I was asked to follow another female assistant, and she would take me through security.
Security was a two-minute affair at most, and afterwards, I waited in line to clear customs. At this point, I expected the assistant to disappear, and I would find my own way to the lounge once I was airside. But then I noticed she was still waiting for me just past customs. This was definitely a full-service operation by Asiana! I felt kind of bad that she had to walk all that way in her heels, but slowly, we made our way down the concourse, up an elevator, and finally, into the Asiana Airlines First Class Lounge.
I was greeted by multiple agents with a bow, and led into the lounge. The first thing I noticed was how deathly silent the place was. There were at most three other people in the large hall, and I couldn't hear a peep anywhere. The lounge is designed like a library, with tons of wood paneling and actual books sitting on multiple shelves. I don't think a single one of them has ever been read.
At the very end of the hall is a dining area with plenty of tables and a self-service buffet with a wide variety of hot and cold options. There were sushi, smoked salmon, dim sum, scallops, and my personal favorite, stewed pork belly. I didn't want to overindulge since I knew the in-flight meals would be extravagant, so I tried a small sample of each as a late lunch. There was also a small refrigerator with a selection of Häagen Dazs ice cream, which I took full advantage of :)
I found a seat facing the window, but unfortunately, there wasn't much of a view outside. To be honest, I felt really strange sitting in this virtually empty lounge. It was almost like one of those scenes out of a movie where everyone in the world disappears except for you. It became almost uncomfortable. The infamous grand piano was still there, but I think any guest would probably be kicked out if they actually attempted to play it.
There were showers and sleep rooms available for use, but I didn't need either. I played around with my phone for about half an hour, and decided that my ears had had enough of the eerie absence of audible sound. So I packed up my stuff, grabbed a bottle of water, and left the lounge.
While I felt that the Asiana Airlines First Class Lounge was beautifully designed and extremely elegant, one word kept popping into my head the whole time that I was there: "sterile". It just didn't have a very welcoming feel, and then add to the fact that the place seemed perpetually empty... the lounge just exuded a bizarre atmosphere. Perhaps it just wasn't for me. Next time I am there, maybe I will try banging on the piano like a madman and starting a food fight. I'm sure that would liven things up a bit :)