I’m always looking for the next “speculative” booking opportunity, and I think we might have one with Asiana. As many of you probably know, I’m making a point of trying every A380 first class product there is, and so far have flown A380 first class on Air France, British Airways, Emirates, Lufthansa, Malaysia, Qantas, Singapore, and Thai. I have flights booked in China Southern and Korean Air A380 first class, which will “complete” my list, since those are all the airlines operating the A380 at the moment.
One of the next airlines to take delivery of the Airbus A380 will be Asiana. Their first A380 completed its maiden flight in December, and Asiana should be taking delivery of it in the second quarter of 2014. They have orders for six A380s, and said that they plan to operate them “primarily” to the US.
Unfortunately we don’t actually know anything about the timeline for when they’ll start operating their first A380 commercially, which route it will operate, or even what their first and business class products will look like (though at a minimum I’d assume they’ll offer First Suite Class and Business Smartium Class).
Business Smartium Class
Given the upcoming United devaluation I’m sure many are looking to make some interesting speculative award bookings.
While I have no inside knowledge of Asiana’s A380 plans, I do feel fairly comfortable speculating in this case. Asiana has said that in terms of longhaul destinations they plan on flying the A380 to the US initially, and their only twice daily destination in the US is Los Angeles. So I’d be willing to bet that their first longhaul A380 destination will be Los Angeles. They only operate 777s and A330s to other destinations in the US, and I can’t imagine they want to double capacity on those routes overnight.
When will the A380 start flying to Los Angeles? Well, Asiana will supposedly take delivery of their first A380 in the second quarter, so let’s be conservative and call that June 30. Typically airlines then run A380s on short-haul flights for a few months for training purposes, so I’d assume that until the fourth quarter they’ll fly it within Asia, probably to Tokyo and Hong Kong (both high capacity routes and destinations that can handle an A380).
Then I would guess that by November or so they’ll be flying the A380 longhaul. For what it’s worth the Los Angeles route has a ton of first class award space.
Anyway, it’s all speculation on my part and I could be totally wrong. Asiana first class is an awesome product to begin with, so even if it’s the 747 I’m sure it’ll be a pleasant flight. But if you have United miles to redeem (or US Airways miles, for that matter) it’s tough to beat the value of redeeming for one of my favorite carriers in first class. And if it ends up being the A380, that’s just the icing on the cake.