Hong Kong and Macau Part 2: Asiana Quadra Smartium Business Class LAX-ICN

 

Asiana’s hilariously named Quadra Smartium Business Class was a product I really wanted to try. It’s received great reviews, plus I’ve never flown Asiana before and was looking forward to experiencing an airline that’s won so many awards recently (as they make you well aware of in their TV commercials).

First things first – how did I book my ticket? This one was a bit interesting, actually. I had a stash of AviancaTaca miles that I’d bought at a great price of just 1.5 cents each. As Gary at View from the Wing pointed out in this post, you can use a Cash & Points option to book your flights, which essentially allows you to buy additional points at around 1.3 cents per point. That’s exactly what I did (see an example below).

In this example, a first class award costs 70K points. The "Flexible Payment" option let me buy 42,000 miles for $535.92, or less than 1.3 cents each. A great deal!

In this example, a first class award costs 70K points. The “Flexible Payment” option lets me buy 42,000 miles for $535.92, or less than 1.3 cents each. A great deal!

Before I could book my flight, I needed to know what and when it was available. Asiana has two daily flights from LAX-ICN, an afternoon and a night flight. The night flight is on a two-cabin 777 configured with the Quadra Smartium fully-flat Business Class, while the afternoon flight is a 747 with three classes and a Business Class with the old, angled lie-flat product. My go-to for Star Alliance searches is United.com since their award search is easy to use and usually pretty accurate. I didn’t always see availability there for my flight – Asiana must have continuously released a few seats at a time because there were a few occasions where I decided not to book and found out the space was gone just a a few hours later.

Instead, I decided to put my Expert Flyer membership to use. If you don’t know what that is, it’s basically a website through which you can set up alerts for when a particular award seat becomes available (among many other features). I set up alerts for these flights on all the days I was willing to travel. I finally got an email that one was available, so I decided to go straight to AviancaTaca’s award website to book my flight.

As I mentioned I did the Cash and Points option. I mentioned I paid for the points, so it’s important to make the distinction that this was not a free flight. I paid for it, but the $819.36 I paid would normally be about the equivalent of a one-way Economy price. I essentially got a Business Class seat for the same price as Economy, because I did a little research to figure out the best way to redeem this award.

Now…on to the flight review!

As soon as I got on board, I was offered a water or orange juice and was referred to as “Mr.” Travel Summary. There was plenty of overhead space since the seating is a 1-2-1 staggered layout. If you take a look at the seat map, you’ll see that half the window seats have the seat portion right against the cabin, while the other half have seats near the aisle. I chose a seat that was close to the windows because it gives a much more private feeling. Either way you will enjoy your flight.

I was here for almost every minute of the 12.5 hour flight.

I was here for almost every minute of the 12.5 hour flight.

The seat was pretty nice. It was a little firm and a little narrow, but still very comfortable. I will say this though – if you’re on the heavy side, you may have a tougher time on this seat. Also, I’ve read that side sleepers have an awkward time sleeping because the way the bed is angled to the side. As I mentioned, the seat is a little narrow so you might have an awkward sleep if your curl your legs up so that your knees are bent.

The seat next to me.

The seat next to me.

Seat controls.

Seat controls.

Remote for IFE.

Remote for IFE.

Power!

Power! There was also a USB and headphone jack.

I had dinner before going to bed. The flight attendant lowered my tray table for me and placed the tablecloth on it. When she laid it down she noticed there was a small black mark in the middle of it that she couldn’t rub off, so she pulled it off and put a new one on. The little things matter!

I was determined to try the Korean meal on this flight, and thankfully it was something I liked. I started with shrimp with a pine nut dressing, moved on to bibimbap as my main course, and finished off with fruit and cookies. The food was delicious. The only real gripe I had was with the drinks. I had a diet coke, and the glass was so small that I finished it before even getting close to finishing my meal. It wasn’t refilled until I asked since the flight attendants didn’t really check-in during the meal except to pick up plates. Another small issue was that it took quite a bit of time between courses. Overall, dinner took over an hour from start to finish. Maybe I was just eager to go to bed since it was approaching 3am at this point.

Drinks and silverware.

Shrimp with pine nut dressing.

Shrimp with pine nut dressing.

Bibimbap!

Bibimbap!

Bibimbap 2

Fruit plate. I love pineapple!

Fruit plate. I love pineapple!

Korean cookies for dessert. Someone get these people some chocolate!

Korean cookies for dessert. Someone get these people some chocolate!

After dinner I decided to take a nap. It’s a pretty long flight from Los Angeles to Korea so I was hoping the bed would be comfortable enough that I’d be able to get a decent amount of rest. Sure enough, I slept an amazing 7.5 hours, waking up just once to go to the restroom in between! That ended up being the perfect amount of sleep, because it was time for breakfast just a little after waking up and about 2.5 hours remaining in the flight.

The pillow was a bit too thick and firm for my taste, but the blanket was perfect.

The pillow was a bit too thick and firm for my taste, but the blanket was perfect.

Amenities by L'OCCITANE (which I don't dare try to pronounce).

Amenities by L’OCCITANE (which I don’t dare try to pronounce).

For breakfast I decided to go with the Western option, and it was pretty average. Breakfast was the same as dinner in terms of timing. It took 20 minutes from the time I got my fruit plate to the time I got my croissant, then another 15 minutes to get my French toast.

Fruit plate and strawberry yogurt.

Fruit plate and strawberry yogurt.

Croissant

French Toast

All things considered, this was one of the better flights I’ve ever taken. Getting 7.5 hours on this flight was so important because it ended up helping with my jet lag. My flight left at night, I slept 7.5 hours, and when we landed in Korea it was about 6am. If you ask me, that’s perfect because all I have to do was stay up all day and I was good to go with no jet lag!

I have to admit that I expected a bit more service-wise. There are about 24 Business Class seats so there are definitely a lot of people to take care of, but there were many instances in which a simple check-in would have gone a long way for me (such as to get a refill on my diet coke!). But I must say, the movie selection was amazing and the TV was large enough that you could easily enjoy whatever you were watching (though definitely nowhere near the biggest in the sky). I would HIGHLY recommend taking this flight on your way to Korea, as long as you can guarantee you’re getting the Quadra Smartium seats!

I’ll leave you with the full menu and a few other shots of the cabin in case you’re interested. If you have any questions, just let me know and I’ll help the best I can!

Asiana Menu 1

Asiana Menu 2

Asiana Menu 3

My Row

Cabin

TV and foot rest.

_

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Comments

  1. What is the best resource to use to figure out what kind of seat is on what route (not just Asiana)?

    • Travel Summary says:

      I assume you mean award seats only? To search for Star Alliance awards, the easiest is to use united.com. Searching for Oneworld awards is a little tougher, but the British Airways site is still useful. There are also some paid services like ExperFlyer that can be useful, and there are lots of other airlines that provide search tools but aren’t always the easiest/best to work with.

      Check out the two posts below I made for Star Alliance and Oneworld redemptions and hopefully that helps a little.
      http://travel-summary.com/beginners-guide-to-redeeming-points-united-airlines-and-star-alliance/
      http://travel-summary.com/beginners-guide-to-redeeming-points-british-airways-avios-and-oneworld-alliance/

      I hope that answered your question. If you were talking about the actual physical seat, I did a lot of googling and reading on FT and other blogs. I haven’t found a consolidated list of them anywhere.

      • I have the same question as M above,

        I know what M meant with the seat question, I use seatguru but I find it not completely informative.
        first no describetion to the seats of each airlines, just the general describtion to all airlines seats.
        do you have another source of seat research ?

        thanks

        • Travel Summary says:

          I honestly just google the route to figure out the seating configuration of a particular aircraft and route. For this one, I’d search for something like “LAX-ICN quadra smartium” and check the results. Usually a thread on FlyerTalk pops up that has information on someone that’s taken the flight or a resource to where I can figure out what planes/routes have what configuration.

          That’s where I found out that the 747 on the LAX-ICN route had the old business class, and how the 777 version had the new Quadra Smartium product. It’s all about research.

          If you’re really in a bind, I recommend asking Lucky from One Mile at a Time. That guy knows as much as anyone and is very responsive. You can ask him on his “Ask Lucky” page here: http://boardingarea.com/blogs/onemileatatime/ask-lucky/

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  10. […] of privacy. It’s actually almost exactly like Asiana’s Quadra Smartium Business Class that I reviewed last year. I made sure to select one of the seats that was closest to the window because I enjoy looking […]

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