This post covers two flights in economy class on Asiana Airlines from Beijing Capital Airport (PEK) to Seoul/Incheon (ICN) to Cebu, Philippines (CEB) in March 2018. Both flights were on A321-200 aircraft. I remember the flight from Seoul to Cebu because of the second worst airline seat I have ever wedged myself into.
The seat was a surprise because Asiana is uniformly rated as one of the best airlines in the world and because the seat maps I reviewed before selecting a seat didn’t identify major drawbacks for it.
Asiana Airlines A321-200 Economy Seat
The A321is a very popular airframe and has been flying for nearly 30 years. More than 2,100 have been built and production continues. American Airlines, the airline I fly most and where I maintain my primary frequent flyer account, flies more A321s than any other airline.
I’m very familiar with this aircraft. So I thought. While the location of doors and emergency exits remains fixed, seating configurations vary within those limitations. There are even different configurations for the same model on the same airline.
Asiana operates A321-200s with business and economy class that have 171 or 174 total seats. My seats were 11K on the first flight and 14J going to Cebu.
According to Asiana’s website, standard economy seats are 18 inches wide and have 31 or 32 inches of space between rows. That is customary for A321s.
Going to Seoul my seat was 11K, a window seat. There’s nothing wrong with this seat.
In economy, Asiana provides USB power at each video monitor and two A/C power outlets for each set of three seats. Each seat has a nine-inch video screen and better than usual non-noise-cancelling headsets.
Asiana also supplies each passenger with a pillow and blanket that are larger than most airlines allocate to economy class.
While far from the lie-flat experience in first class on an Asiana A380, for economy class Seat 11K was satisfactory in all respects.
So far so good. But for the flight from Seoul to Cebu, my seat was 14J, technically a middle seat but with the window seat missing. That is different from the set up on American Airlines. The seat maps I checked made it appear as if the missing window seat afforded plenty of room for 14J. That was not the case.
In the photo above, 14J is the seat on the extreme left in the third row. There are only two seats on that side in Row 14 because the rear-facing jumpseat for the flight attendant is next to the fuselage. 14J was probably only 16 inches wide and the space between rows seemed to be less than 31 inches. The photo shows that the seat back for 14J is substantially smaller than the others.
The rigid flight attendant seat leaves very little shoulder room. With the aisle seat occupied, anyone in 14J is wedged into a very small space.
As bad as this seat is, Seat 44A on a Korean Air 747-400 is even worse. That seat is in a bulkhead row but the housing for the slide at the exit takes up almost all of the room for legs and the pocket for the flight magazine that normally goes on the back of the seat in front is mounted on the wall next to the seat right next to the face.
The service on Asiana is excellent in economy but it did not make up for the horrible seat I selected.
Asiana Airlines and Korean Air are both outstanding airlines. It is ironic that by far my two worst seats have been on these two Korean airlines. I thought I was choosing a good seat, but in this case I go tricked not treated.
Do you have any horror stories about seats or flights you’d care to share in the spirit of Halloween?