Asiana Airlines Stops Selling First Class

Filed Under: Asiana

Well, this isn’t a very good time for first class in Korea. Just last week Korean Air announced that they’re eliminating first class on 27 international routes as of June 1, 2019. Now Asiana Airlines has announced an even more radical change.

Asiana is eliminating first class

While there’s no formal announcement, Asiana Airlines has stopped selling first class for travel on all routes as of September 1, 2019.

Asiana used to have first class on some 777s and 747s, though the airline stopped selling first class on those planes a while back. The only remaining planes on which first class is being sold are the A380s, which Asiana flies to Los Angeles, New York, and Frankfurt.

Asiana A380 first class

Through the end of August Asiana is selling first class as usual, though as of September 1 the first class cabins on all flights are just zeroed out.

Asiana first class food

What exactly is Asiana’s plan?

Well, we don’t know. The airline hasn’t announced anything yet. We do know the airline isn’t going well financially and is trying to make some significant changes to their business plan.

I’m guessing Asiana doesn’t sell a whole lot of first class seats, based on how readily available first class award tickets are. So my guess is one of two things:

  • The airline isn’t 100% sure they’re cutting first class, but they’re seriously considering it, so for now they’ve stopped selling seats
  • The airline has decided to eliminate first class cabins, and that’s a project they have for this fall

If they do eliminate A380 first class, my guess is that they’ll simply add more economy seats. Asiana’s A380 have 495 seats, including 12 first class seats, 66 business class seats, and 417 economy seats.

Asiana A380 

You’d think they might be considering premium economy, though given that they’re in cost cutting mode I doubt they want to invest in a new product right now. I guess the airline could also install more business class seats, though it seems to me that they already struggle to sell the seats they have, so…

Asiana A380 business class

Bottom line

I’m sad to see that Asiana has stopped selling first class, as they were one of the best options for booking transpacific first class award seats in advance. Then again, that might also be exactly why the airline is eliminating first class, since they just weren’t selling enough seats.

I’ll be curious to see how this unfolds, since the airline hasn’t formally stated their plans one way or the other.

What do you make of Asiana no longer selling first class as of September 2019?

  1. On most airlines there is really very little difference between first and business

    Some people see first as being more exclusive simply because of the title

    On some it’s extremely exclusive such as Air France who only offer it in specific aircraft and routes

    KLM was one of the first to dispense with Royal Class many years ago

    Look at most US domestics. Unless you’re on a wide bodied first is like a premium economy. They don’t even offer a full meal service on shorter routes

  2. I think it is time for some of these carriers to try out all business class, or mostly business class configurations again. Focus on fuel efficient planes like the 787, keep the soft product basic, but nice, offer as many lie flat seats as you can fit, and sell the product for about double the price of an economy fare.Then raise pricing to see what the market will bear. There is a deep market for long haul travel that get the passenger to point a from point B in a confortable, well fed manner that isn’t extravagant.

  3. on OZ 202 first class ( mileage award) last day of oct., booked last jan, wonder what I will end up with? I checked the united site, no change ( yet)

  4. @ Ben — Wonderful. A few weeks ago, I used our Asiana miles, which were nearing expiration, to book F awards for LAX-ICN in October. If they do remove F-class, what do you speculate will happen to our awards? I will definitely NOT be proactively cancelling, as I would hope we might get compensated with cash or some “new” miles that wouldn’t expire for another 10 (?) years.

  5. I guess it is very likely LH will eventually get rid of their F cabins once they will have installed the new seats. They could then rebrand their first class terminal as HON Circle terminal.

  6. Can’t wait to fly @Anthony Airlines, sure to be best experience ever at lowest price.

    Love how people love to give advice to airlines, without having any airline background or knowledge 🙁

  7. I flew Asiana first class LAX-ICN for my honeymoon on 120k United Mileage Plus points each. It was on the A380. The service was great but the seat was really dated and worn out. My tray table and TV screen didn’t work properly and there were chips and dents everywhere. I hope they do keep first class, but they update them.

  8. @Chris Dong: eventually someone will event an angled lie-flat seat that will revolutionize premium economy, and then a few years later an airline will launch new lie-flat premium economy. At which point, Business Class will be phased out and a new intermediate class between premium economy and economy will be introduced and the whole cycle will start over again.

  9. this is great news! In reality this should allow for more availability of business class seats (for awards) or lower pricing on economy seats if they increase capacity. With the level of business class seats these days (compared to 15-20 yrs ago), there’s no real reason for anyone to “need” to fly first class – just like there’s no need for anyone to amass more than $3-billion. It is equivalent of hearing they’re tearing down a golf course more residential zoning!

  10. If they can’t even fill the J cabin they might just keep the F cabins empty. My guess for next F cabin closures is Thai.

  11. Being that I have an award booked in F for travel on the A380 (NYC -> ICN) for Oct 24th, what should I be expecting?

  12. I flew DAD-ICN last year and they just upgraded everyone to F who was in J. I didn’t get to go upstairs on the 747 but being in the nose in F was great.

  13. @lucky
    Asiana isn’t doing that bad, your guess and article is very premature.
    Asiana’s parent company is in big financial trouble, so they are trying to sell asiana and they are looking to boost value of asiana to sell on higher bidding.
    You don’t even know what the hell economics is, your two cents are very childish and narrowed.shows your education level.
    Stop publishing something you don’t even have a clue.

  14. Great….I have the best luck in the world…..Im literally booked into flying Asiana F on September 1 =(

  15. I had a flight coming up in F from Seoul to LAX (on June 8, 2019) and they canceled the flight and changed it to an A350, so be warned, even if you book in F, there’s no guarantee you’ll get it.

  16. FYI….I called Asiana just now and the rep informed me that as of September 1, all flights will change to the A350 that does not have a first class cabin

  17. @ Dr.BadVibes

    That’s good to know. I feel bad for LAX for building that gigantic TB wing specifically to accommodate A380s. Now there will only be KAL, and I’m sure it won’t be long until they bail on the plane.

  18. As Ben has said, the A380 is the only aircraft Asiana operates with F class on board. The 6 A380s in service are all leased and according to numerous sources, one of the cost-cutting measures Asiana is now taking to make itself more profitable (and more attractive for acquisition) is cutting its fleet and reducing seat inventory. Thus, it has been reported that Asiana is not renewing the leases on those A380s and is instead planning to fill the routes with A350s and 777s, which do not have a First class onboard. Asiana is also eliminating its 5x weekly flight between Soeul and Chicago, starting October of this year.

  19. @Andrew

    Lufthansa, Singapore and British Airways are all still flying A380s and will be for many years.

  20. @Cedric. Thai indeed. They may well rebrand along the lines of Malaysia into a Premium Business or some such like. Thai high-ranking officials probably will not want to see their First Class disappear altogether.

  21. Have 1 revenue and 1 award seat (total 2) booked R/T JFK/ICN in Oct. Wonder what they will do with those reservations!

  22. Oh I loved using points for first ftom LAX. It was always so easy. I love the extra space. 🙁

  23. @V

    Who put your knickers in such a big twist?
    He isn’t criticising the Koreans or the airline, don’t be such a snowflake.

  24. I am also booked on 1 September. It’s a Lifemiles redemption booking too. God knows what will happen. @Lucky any chance you can reach out to Asiana to get some clarity on whether they will downgrade or just cancel the booking outright. I wonder whether they will let you shift dates.

  25. Meh.

    As good as business class is these spending money or miles on first is just a waste.

    No loss.

  26. @Lars

    Nope. LH rolls out a new F/Class with the delivery of the second batch of their 777s in 2021/2022. Carsten Spohr mentioned that at the recent HON Circle event.

  27. Apparentlly @Icarus doesn’t fly first class (other than US domestic) very often to make the absurd comment that there is little difference between business and first class! There is a world of difference if you fly non-US airlines internationally, seasoned flyers here will agree!

  28. @glenn t –

    I agree, there is a substantial difference between J and F on premium international carriers. F on SQ, Etihad, or Cathay, for instance, is in a different league than J. The difference is not as big as economy to business, but I certainly see (and hope there is) a continued market for F. Comparing a good international F to US Domestic First is a waste of time, they are similar in name only, but not in experience.

    @Cedric – I agree that the smart money is Thai F is the next to go.

  29. @ Icarus – sorry, but if you actually had flown OZ F and C, you would already know there is a huge difference, OZ is not like UA and AA the only difference is the seat.

    @ Gene – if they downgrade you all you will get is the refund of miles and NEVER cash, since you are not on a paid F ticket or you got downgraded on the spot

    @ cooldudez – you didnt get upgraded, many airlines when you fly intra asia flights on a 3 class plane, they are always 3 class sold as 2 class, which means you may get the F seat but it is still J service, this is very common with OZ, NH, and CI

    @ V – Asiana is not doing that bad ? Have you flown Asiana lately ? And compare to 5-10 years ago ? Just last year they had transferred a bunch of intra asia flights to their LCC Air Seoul, the 15 years OZ235 ORD-ICN is cancelling in a few months, many short intra asia flights had replaced from full meal to box meal, even inflight service you seriously are saying nothing had cut ? Tell me where is my versace rosenthal F gift then ??? Perhaps you are the one without a clue.

    @ Bob – if you had flown both OZ F and C you know there is a huge difference, OZ C class is last on the list when it comes to TPAC, there are much better business class hard and soft products out there like BR, NH, JL, CX, SQ, even AA reverse herringbone and UA‘s 777 with real polaris surpress OZ

  30. Booked in F on A380 from JFK to ICN then 747 J to DAD on Aug. 27…..glad I will just make it.

  31. got this reply just now from UNited chat message

    “We did not receive any official notification yet from Asiana. If this flight is no longer operating in first class, then your flight should have been cancelled by now. ^JM”

  32. Wow! With so much of the news in recent months regarding Asiana in a bit of a financial tailspin, after reporting W26.2 billion ($22.4 million) loss for the year ending December, 2018, and what with the announcements since then, including:

    – trading of its stock suspended (March 22)

    – asset sales & route cuts announced shortly thereafter (April 1st), followed by the above referenced by Gary elimination of 1st class replaced with enhanced business class suites on its Airbus A380s & four (4) routes, including Chicago (ICN-ORD; as of October 27th 2019) announced yesterday (May 7th)

    – 33% equity owner Kumho Industrial announcing (April 15th) it will sell its stake in Asiana as part of its own financial restructuring to comply with terms of a loan from state-run Korea Development Bank

    – an anticipated capital injection of W1.6 trillion ($1.4 billion) led by state-run KDB and including “other creditors” (announced April 23rd)

    – route cuts, elimination of 1st class announced yesterday referenced by Gary and myself above.

    Now, with that summary and analysis regarding the possible/likely impacts on Asiana Airlines resulting from its hometown rival benefiting from Delta’s steroids over the past year that very suddenly transformed Korean Airlines into a turbo charged foe, with the subject of the anticipated W1.6 trillion ($1.4 billion) capital/liquidity injection into financially ailing Asiana Airlines on the table, let’s have look-see for a moment at the issue of a government sponsored bailout for an airline that most surely impacts Delta!

    Shall we?!?! 😉

    So let’s jump right in and ask this very relevant question:

    Isn’t a direct liquidity/capital injection by “state-run Korea Development Bank” into Asian Airlines a government subsidy?

    Here’s looking at you, United, as this is your Star Alliance partner, yes?

    And Delta, can we now say that there’s NOT just a wee-bit hypocrisy about all that hyperventilating that is the excessive (and incredibly hypocritical) sound and fury directed at the Big 3 Middle East airlines seeing as several SkyTeam alliance partners, including Alitalia, are kept afloat with government funding, but hate to say it, a bit of let’s just say presents optics (intentional or not) that some might credibly argue as suggesting a tinge, or whiff of ‘bias’ against the religion and cultures of a particular region where the airlines that are the target of your, United, American, and all of your respective European-based alliance partners are the only targets of your intense ire and political/diplomatic efforts single out just that “Group of 3” airlines as unfairly subsidized by their governments?

    I mean, SER-EYE-OUSLY?

    Especially, you, Delta, what with your anti-trust immunized, joint-venture (“metal neutral”) SkyTeam alliance partner, Korean Airlines, and you, Delta, yourself, in direct competition on an expansive portfolio of extremely lucrative intercontinental routes to/from one of the fastest growing economic regions in the world AND in direct competition at the hub airport, Seoul-Incheon, itself no less, with Korean Air and Asiana BOTH operating their foundational (and only) hubs that is to cornerstone of your, Delta, Asia connections (with Tokyo long gone for that) as well as the even more profitable local Origin & Destination (O&D) traffic for one of the most prominent & important US military strategic partners, that’s also an economic powerhouse in its own right, among other things, that make for Seoul being an important, if not centerpiece of Delta’s current, and future, operations.

    So, the SILENCE on Asiana receiving a “government-led” $1.4 billion BAILOUT by a “state run ‘Development Bank’’” for a financially ailing, directly competing airline that probably is struggling to keep up with its newly formidable (as in like on steroids) hometown competitor (that you, Delta & your partner, Korean Air, now clearly are) now bulked up with an impossible to match “anti-trust immunized, metal neutral, joint venture” global alliance partner as powerful as Delta is that itself likely is the result of that aligned operation taking effect a year or so ago – is so freakin’ ***DEAFENING*** it hurts!

    And yes, in this instance, the “all caps” most definitely ***SHOUTING*** and intended as if shouting from rooftops type of counterpoint to better draw attention to the spectacularly silent Delta, and all of the other big time, raging hypocrites and “fact-fudgers” when it comes to the hysteria about a “certain 3 airlines” based in a certain region of the world which have been, and continue to be your whipping boys – as if Orwellian-like targets of “2-minute hates” (“1984” folks) too – for the government subsidies they allegedly receive that Delta and its phonyAF, hypocriticalAF, fudging their buttsAF, oligopolistic, bullying, cartel club members are, since for sure, if this already announced BAILOUT of financially ailing Asiana Airlines “‘led by’ a ‘state run’ ‘Development Bank’” doesn’t SCREAM FULL-ON, BLATANT, IN YOUR FACE, ***GOVERNMENT BAILOUT/SUBSIDY*** – then nothing will!

    I mean c’mon. Do you really think everyone is THAT stupid that they’ll swallow the fudged facts presented by our big 3 airlines and their EU-based alliance partners that now practically take on a (not so good) “look” as nothing more than unsavory politically tinged propaganda intended to play the “Useful Fool” currently in the White House the same way Boeing attempted to do when it sought to kill-off Bombardier’s C-Series by seeking political intervention in the form of starting a dangerous and unwise trade-war after the 2016 election?

    btw, how exactly did THAT stupidity turn out for Boeing, what with Airbus taking over the C-Series for a buck (imagine that, a singe, solitary buck!), renaming their newly acquired for next to nothing 21st century, state-of-the-art, narrow-body airplane now known as the A220, with Boeing’s long ago obsolete, antique, vintage circa 1967, 737 MAXes …
    well … because, you know just “how well” THAT’s working out for them.

    Don’t ‘ya think?

    Just sayin’

    Of course, political leaders in Seoul are also wise to take whatever measures necessary as a matter of economic policies and consumer protections to prevent Seoul, and de facto the country itself, from becoming prisoners of an impenetrable, super dominant, overpowering fortress hub controlled by Korean Airlines (which Delta clearly benefits from) were that type of hyper monopoly to ever become an albatross around the neck of Seoul and the country.

    I mean, just look at cities and countries (like London, especially LHR) where THAT’s happened to some degree, or our own cities and regions already suffocating under the burden of obscenely high fares aboard badly degraded, overly densified cabins of, and held hostage by, the way too few (pretending to compete on anything other than who can screw its passengers best and get away with it, or who brags about “winning” the “competition” of who has the biggest resource draining share buybacks each year) airlines in the current era of state sanctioned oligopoly and airline industry cartelization.

    Yes, my dear, Delta (you know you’re the Belle of the Ball in the USA and you’re our family’s favorite, too), but your equally hypocritical “let’s all fudge the facts together with your alliance and cartel club member ‘friends’” SILENCE about this FULL-ON, MASSIVE GOVERNMENT “LED” $1.4 billion BAILOUT of Asiana Airlines puts in stark relief not just your jaw-dropping, gobsmacking hypocrisy regarding the VERY LIMITED AND SELECTIVE APPLICATION regarding the subject of government subsidies and bailouts for foreign airlines, but hate to say, this DEAFENING SILENCE leaves one with no other choice but to begin wondering if there’s not just a wee bit of “other motives” and “other reasons” that some airlines (like perpetually ailing Alitalia, Asiana, or some of those cross-owned equity partners around the world where your fellow equity partners are government owned/controlled entities, too) get free passes when it comes to being showered with government goodies and largesse those airlines receive (without being the object of your, and others’ hairy eyeballs)…

    …while a very limited few, 3 in fact, airlines, that just so happen to be in one particular region of the world where their religions and cultures (perhaps even races?) not only don’t get the free passes you so generously give when you look the other way at others (like Alitalia or Asiana, for example) when their own sovereign governments participate in the ownership, control or restructuring of their countries’ airlines, these particular 3 airlines are singled out and brutalized with doom and gloom scenarios that portray them as job stealing, other airlines’ company jeopardizing threats so great that it’s as if they’re “Public Enemy’s #1”.

    Which simply doesn’t even pass the laugh test anymore what with Asiana on the ropes and getting its government’s direct assistance AND participation via its STATE-RUN DEVELOPMENT BANK.

    I mean, HELLO – can it get any more blatant and obvious that this is a government sponsored AND funded effort than that?

    To wit, our country HAS THE SAME TYPE OF “OPEN SKIES” AGREEMENT WITH SOUTH KOREA THAT MAKES YOUR ANTI-TRUST IMMUNIZED, JOINT VENTURE, TRANS-PACIFIC ALLIANCE POSSIBLE that you (and your equally shameful and hypocritical ‘friends’) constantly whine about when it comes to a certain group of 3 based in a region of the world that some conveniently find useful to scapegoat for their own very narrow and parochial political purposes by blaming that region, and its leaders, for all the world’s ills (when our country, and many others, are hardly the “innocent [and therefore blameless] bystanders” our current administration, and those like it elsewhere around the world, likes to portray us, or themselves, as being).


    Can it get anymore hypocritical than THAT: reaping/exploiting the benefits of a government blessed, anti-trust immunized arrangement to legally collude (imagine that, LEGALLY COLLUDE with a former competitor to better crush others like, say, Asiana?) on pricing, scheduling, inventory and more arising from the same “Open Skies” treaties the “ME3” airlines exploit through their happening to offer geographic advantage along the world’s busiest trade routes?

    Imagine that!

    The nerve of them for seeking to exploit whatever advantages they have geographically with, perhaps, alleged government help using the same aviation policies you and Korean Airlines are using that’s crushing Asiana now that two of the biggest names in the industry can lawfully combine resources to crush competitors by taking advantage of “options” as afforded by Open Skies treaties after the era of rigid bilateral treaties dating back to the Chicago Convention (practice a million years ago) began being replaced by the same type of Open Skies treaties around the world that has allowed Delta and its “Charter” alliance partners in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere to erect their own very cartel-y anti-trust immunized alliances that now practically print money on the world’s most traveled routes (LHR-NYC anyone?)

    How dare those ME3 airlines take advantage of the same Open Skies policies as WE do?!?!

    Just who do they think they are?!?!

    You get the point?

    Can’t have it both ways! Rrrrriiiight?

    Perhaps this is all a big misunderstanding; but with Asiana Airlines scheduled to get $1.4 billion worth of “government led” TLC as part of its now underway restructuring, and it being a direct competitor of Delta’s cornerstone partner for its Asia/Pacific operations, I’d say its high time you and your pals begin to take a long, hard look at the stark contrast that is how so many airlines around the world, including ones you own and/or align with, or even those that are direct competitors of your alliance partners, receive such generous government “love and support” while 3 in a currently political charged region are the only ones you’re putting the screws to?

    Hmmmm. Indeed-y.

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