Asiana Will Sell Memberships Offering Unlimited First Class Upgrades

South Korea-based Asiana Airline has just announced that they’ll be selling an “Asiana First Membership,” which offers unlimited complimentary upgrades to first class. The airline has been struggling financially and hasn’t been able to fill their first class cabins, so they’re hoping that this program helps them fill more first class seats.

Asiana-A380-First-Class-001

This membership offers upgrades to first class on Asiana’s routes from Seoul Incheon to Los Angeles, New York, and Frankfurt. Of course when I first saw this my first question was whether award tickets would be eligible for upgrades. Unfortunately the terms state that only business class fares booked in J, C, and D, fare classes qualify. Oh well!

There are two Asiana First Membership options, as follows:

asiana-first-upgrades

So you can buy a one-time upgrade pass for ~$612, or an annual membership for ~$1,136. Obviously if you’re taking at least two eligible flights, the latter is a better value.

It’s not entirely clear how these upgrades will be processed. I suspect these upgrades can be waitlisted and as long as a first class seat is available you get it at the airport, though the terms don’t state so explicitly.

Star-Alliance-First-Lounge-LAX-42

Bottom line

This has the potential to be a very good offer if you’re someone who flies paid full fare business class on Asiana frequently anyway. However, given the fare restrictions, this isn’t something you’ll be able to take advantage of on super discounted fares or award tickets, so I doubt most of us will get much value out of this.

For what it’s worth, Asiana has actually been offering a complimentary one-way first class upgrade for free to select full fare customers, so it seems both of these promotions are targeted at getting people to book full fare business class on Asiana over their competitors.

asiana-upgrade

Overall I think this is a smart promotion on Asiana’s part. If memberships like this can get people to book full fare business class tickets on Asiana over Korean Air, the airline will come out way ahead.

Are there any Asiana frequent flyers who plan to take advantage of this first class membership?

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. I wish they’d evolve their Asiana Club program – it hasn’t really changed since I joined in ’94.

  2. Pretty clever idea on the part or OZ. However, given that many airlines are either downsizing or completely removing F cabins, this almost has to be a short-term experiment to help them decide to keep, reduce, or remove F.

  3. This would work for multinational executives flying to and from South Korea. They usually book paid business class fares so if I were doing these routes often for business I would be happy to pay the membership to get upgraded to first class.

  4. “For what it’s worth, Asiana has actually been offering a complimentary one-way first class upgrade for free to select full fare customers, so it seems both of these promotions are targeted at getting people to book full fare first class on Asiana over their competitors.”

    I think you meant full fare business class

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