Asiana Removing First Class From 777 And 747 Fleet

I’ve enjoyed my flights in Asiana first class, including on the Airbus A380, Boeing 747-400, and Boeing 777-200. Asiana has always been great about releasing first class award space, and I’ve rarely found the first class cabins to be full, which is perhaps a sign of weak demand for the product.

Asiana-A380-First-Class-001

For that matter, Asiana has never really had a cutting edge first class hard product. While the service and food have generally been excellent, the hard product leaves quite a bit to be desired.

Asiana-A380-First-Class-077

The 747-400 first class cabins lack privacy. The 777-200 and A380 cabins have more privacy, though the color scheme is borderline vomit-inducing. And the entertainment selection has always been really bad.

Asiana-A380-First-Class-007

Asiana has really been struggling financially lately, due in large part to the outbreak of MERS. For example, between April and June of this year the airline lost ~$72 million, nearly eight times how much they lost during the same period last year.

While the current situation they’re in seems to be at least partly be temporary, it does seem like Asiana is taking steps to make their business more competitive long-term. As part of that, Asiana will be eliminating first class on the Boeing 777-200 and Boeing 747-400, leaving first class exclusively on the Airbus A380.

Via The Korean Herald:

“Considering that our company is at an absolutely inferior position in terms of supply of first-class seats, all other flights will change to a two-class system, while the first class will remain on our four Airbus 380 airliners,” Kim Soo-cheon, chief executive officer of Asiana, told employees via a video message.

Although the latest decision was made as an emergency countermeasure to the stumbling business, Asiana has already been pulling back from the three-class system on many of its flights.

Of the company’s 74 airliners, only 20 provide first-class seats, and 12 others are run on a mono-class basis.

As of now the Airbus A380 operates on their Seoul Incheon to Los Angeles and Seoul Incheon to New York JFK routes.

Star-Alliance-First-Lounge-LAX-42

What makes this move especially interesting is that their biggest competitor, Korean Air, really embraces the three cabin model, as they have a first class product throughout almost all of their longhaul fleet. Though that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s profitable for them, since I find their first class cabins are usually quite empty as well.

Korean-Air-First

Bottom line

I’m sad to see a majority of Asiana’s first class seats removed from the fleet. That being said, from a business perspective I get it. Asiana never completely embraced first class — they always only had it on a subset of their longhaul fleet. And given that it was a fairly lackluster product, it seems like the market for it was pretty limited.

And frankly I’m less sad about first class being eliminated on Asiana nowadays, given that there aren’t as many ways to economically redeem miles for Star Alliance first class.

Are you surprised to see Asiana eliminate first class from most of their longhaul fleet?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

Comments

  1. Perhaps they should try too update their frequent flyer program so that it’s possible to use the points without all the problems they have today, that just might fill up their F cabins a bit.

  2. Any ideas when this will occur? Seems that Korean is hitting them hard and now they are getting ten B748s as well. I think Asiana suffer bit of an identity crisis and have not recovered well from the SFO tragedy.

  3. Yeah, I think “We’re suffering from MERS” really means “We’re suffering from not finding the f***ing runway on a perfectly clear day at SFO”, but of course they’re not going to say that…

  4. funny to see the KE post directly below.
    Star Alliance really doesn’t have much in the way of award travel in business or first now days that are redeemable more than a week or two out.

  5. Noooooo…….! I’ve flown them F, and the seat was perfectly fine and the service and food outstanding. Bugger.

  6. I actually liked the F suites on Asiana and found the hard product to be quite nice (although I probably would have chosen a different color scheme as well). I particularly enjoyed having a 32 inch TV screen. I’m sorry to see this go.

    This probably also explains the difficulty I’ve been having in getting a premium cabin redemption for January for my return from Asia. I’m finding a lot of C and F space when I search through AC’s website , and finding some while searching NH, yet when I call UA to try to pull any of that space, the ICN-LAX segments all come up unavailable. (And I’ve called back several times, as the space continues to show available through AC)

  7. It was very private on their 744 when I was the only passenger in F flying to Seoul from Frankfurt! 😉

  8. hopefully this leads them to revamp their business class seats. i find the Quadrium or whatever it’s called too tight.

  9. First class on Asiana was always excellent. It is subjective to say that the color scheme is “vomit inducing.” To me, it is plain, unfussy, and well executed. And their meal service is perfectly excellent for the Asian palate.

    I would rate Asiana First just as good as SQ F and ANA F. And better than LH.

  10. Aside from the abysmal IFE (excluding the wonderful size of the TV) and the placement of the outlet, I’ve found F on the OZ A380 to be a wonderful product the few times that I’ve flown it.

    Service is exceptional, bedding is comfortable, doors (!), and spacious.

    Would take OZ F A380 > KE F A380 all day long.

  11. We found the OZ F on a 777 from LAX-ICN last year to be a decent hard product with a horrible IFE. Food and service were good, but overall it wasn’t any more impressive than UA’s GF. Until OZ remedies its IFE, though, we are more than happy to fly UA in F/J as needed to Asia.

  12. What I was surprised recently about, was that Asiana 747 on INC-PVG route (55 mins) with business AND first seats. Still, saw few people taking those.

  13. Well, glad I tried them out last summer (HKG-ICN A388 & ICN-JFK 777). it was nice alright, but the FA walking the aisle every 2 minutes seem like a warden and me in my cell. I’m looking forward to trying Korean Air A380 and 747-8i on next year’s RTW.

  14. Sadly, Asiana’s First has declined since they introduced their A380s (and I like the suite colors). Many of their First seats and suites needed renovation. They removed the service from their 747 from ICN to NRT after I already had a a ticket, downgrading the service to business class. Their worn First seats are still in the 747 nose (with a cool view if everyone opens their windows) sold as business. Asiana’s main problem has been very poor insular Korean management. Their First service and food has been in decline due to reduced funding. They are still much better than UA if you ignore the possibility of another crash (two in that last couple years).

  15. I see this as the future of Air Travel really.
    I’m sure most airlines will eventually eliminate first class altogether and put in more business class seats that people most of the time pay for.

    A sad day for Asiana though.

  16. Yeah, MERS, SFO, and that scary crash in Hiroshima in April that didn’t even seem to make the news in the US. It actually shut down the whole airport for several days… It’s been a rough couple of years for them.

  17. Listen to your whiney self: “The 747-400 first class cabins lack privacy…..the color scheme is borderline vomit-inducing.”

    My god, what an entitled snob you are. Pathetic.

  18. The color scheme might be ugly to some.
    I can understand that. It’s a subjective thing.
    But it causes borderline vomiting?
    Is the color coordination that important?
    Is that actually a gay thing?
    Because personally, I don’t care about the seat color. I just want it to be comfortable.

  19. To all of the negative and downright bigoted posters above, I say look inward. If you don’t like what Ben has to report, stop following him. Trust me, you won’t be missed! His comments are purely his own observations, experiences and thoughts on the subjects he writes about. You may not like or agree with them and that’s fine…it’s not your experience. It’s not an “entitled snob” thing and it’s most certainly not a “gay thing” so stop trying to make it so. Perhaps most of you are struggling to live vicariously through Ben and his luxurious travels having never traveled that way in your life and probably never will.

    It’s a blog people…an electronic journal of a person’s passions and joys in life. Stop reading too much into it. Like it or shove off. Heck you don’t even have to like it but be civil and mature. Take whatever information you need or want from it and move along. As an avid reader, fellow aviation enthusiast and world traveller, I personally enjoy the detail and amount of time Ben spends describing his experiences. There have been times that I’ve taken them into consideration when booking my own travels. However, as a citizen of SFO who witnessed the horrid aftermath of OZ #214 and the cruel, insensitive, not to mention racist, fake names of the crew that were released live on local news…it will ALWAYS be too soon for them to be repeated. It’s offensive to the Asian community, insensitive to the people directly involved in the crash and just shameful.

    Thank you, Ben, for sharing your experiences with us and taking the time to keep those of us who care updated on what’s happening in the world of travel. While I may not be concerned about the color of a cabin interior, I may actually want to be in First so now I know to look elsewhere than OZ. Unfortunately, many of the world’s airlines seem to be going this direction. It is sad to see it go but it’s a sign of the times. The good news is many foreign airlines’ business class products far surpass any First product you’ll find in the USA so there are still luxurious and fun-filled adventures to be had.

  20. @Bill “Their worn First seats are still in the 747 nose (with a cool view if everyone opens their windows) sold as business.”

    Dang. In Y on the 747, the windows don’t open at all. That’s right: they’re permanently sealed shut. Poor steerage customers like me just have to suffer.

    Time for me to upgrade to First and get some fresh air.

  21. @Franck – Wow, you must be very accustomed to your productive comments driving real results in the community in which you reside. Good job, well done, and yeah…whatever.

    @Lucky – Sadly I really opened this post to see what the color scheme looked like, I really wanted to know how bad it was!

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