Troubled South Korean carrier Asiana is eliminating first class this autumn and introducing a new “Business Suite” on the Airbus A380.
Earlier today, One Mile at a Time detailed how Asiana intends to stop offering first class effective September 01, 2019. From that point on, Asiana will rebrand its first class product aboard the A380 as “Business Suite” and offer a hybrid service between business and first class. On the ground, Business Suite passengers will have access to the Asiana First Class Lounge in Seoul. But in the air, the soft product onboard will be the same as business class.
Asiana has already drastically cut back first class in recent years, still offering it only onboard its A380s to Los Angeles, New York, and Frankfurt. The new “Business Suite” fares will be 30-40% lower than current first class prices.
A Loss On Two Levels
This is really sad news. First, because Asiana first class was a remarkable product. I flew in first class from Seoul to Los Angeles (full review) and would rate the trip as one of my top-10 first class experiences. The crew was lovely, the seat comfortable, and food delightful. Thus, first class will be missed from a product perspective.
Second, Asiana first class seats were readily available using miles, particularly when booked in advance. Perhaps that was precisely the problem – people just were not buying it. But the loss of first class will likely mean a loss of excellent space using your miles. It is not clear whether the new “Business Suite” product will still be coded first class, though I’m holding out some hope that might still be the case. Malaysia Airlines recently made a similar re-branding move to its former first class product but still codes these seats as “first class” for award redemption purposes.
Another first class product bites the dust. I fear Asiana will certainly not be the last carrier to eliminate first class. If you’ve never flown first class on the Asiana A380 and want to experience the full service, you have through the summer.