South Korean hospitality is a hallmark of the Asiana brand, which operates from its main hub in Seoul to destinations around North America, Europe and Asia. Expect reserved, yet friendly, service from everyone that you meet from the moment you arrive to the airport.
As a member of Star Alliance, ANA enjoys nearly two dozen airline partners with whom passengers can earn and redeem miles for their flights including Air Canada, Austrian, Brussels Airlines, Egyptair, Ethiopian, Lufthansa, Swiss International, Thai and United among others. It also means that Star Alliance Gold members from other partner airlines can enjoy special benefits when flying, even if in economy Class. Asiana has its own loyalty program known as Asiana Club for those that want to earn miles with the carrier.
In November 2020 an announcement was made that Asiana will be aquired by Korean Air, a member of the competing SkyTeam alliance. The merger has however been delayed and Asiana is set to operate as a separate brand and Star Alliance member until at least 2024. Once the merger is completed, the entity will become one of the world’s ten largest airlines.
Operating all of its flights to or from Seoul means the airline is focused on making its Incheon hub one of the best in the world. The airport regularly earns accolades as a place to start your journey or connect along the way.
Business Class passengers have easy-to-navigate terminal and security signage including priority access for Business Class fliers. Once airside, there are countless duty-free shops, restaurants and cultural attractions including free activities that share the regional culture with visitors. Seoul Incheon is regularly voted as the top airport in the world, and Asiana takes advantage of this by marketing it as part of the experience.
Business Class lounges offer further respite with self-service bars, hot and cold buffet options, refrigerators with drinks and refreshments, complimentary Wi-Fi and work stations, magazines, newspapers and massage chairs. There are even napping rooms plus showers.
Views from the main lounge showcase the activity of the airport’s bustling apron, but the lounge in the satellite terminal has neither views nor natural light at all.
In most cities, Business Class passengers receive access to a partner or third-party lounge where they can enjoy pre-flight refreshments or get some work done. When it comes time to board, Asiana has a very civilised gate agent team that allows premium customers to board through a dedicated lane.
The Business Class cabins on Asiana aircraft are bright and airy, but the design of the yellow-on-beige seats combined with lots of grey may not be to everyone's liking. Depending on the aircraft, you will find different styles of fully flat or angled lie-flat Business Class seats.
Some planes are designed in a comfortable 1-2-1 configuration with all-aisle access for everyone. These include the Boeing B777-200ER, Airbus A350-900 and A380 planes that operate most long haul flights. On these aircraft, Asiana brands its Business Class as Business Smartium.
The Airbus A330-300s, Boeing 767-300s and 747-400s all offer angled lie-flat seats, but these aircraft are thankfully used primarily for regional routes. The A330-300s are in a 2-2-2 setup while the aging B767-300s feature a 2-1-2 configuration. On the handful of old Boeing 747-400 aircraft still operated by Asiana, Business Class is offered in a 2-2 setup on the upper deck. With such a variety in configurations, it is wise to check the seat map of your flight.
With the staggered 1-2-1 Business Smartium seating plan on the A350, A380 and B777, everyone enjoys ample privacy and space to work, relax or rest. The design also means that some seats are closer to the aisle than others. For solo travellers, it is best to choose a seat that is closer to the window with the table on the aisle side so you are not disturbed when people walk by during the flight. Most people will be happy selecting the window seats with the seat closest to the fuselage for maximum privacy although some people complain that the footwell is too small for their feet.
In the centre section, those travelling together will find it easier to converse although every other row is set up differently. Rows with the seat closer to the aisle in the centre section, unlike the window seats, are preferable to those with the table closer to the aisle. While it is not ideal for light sleepers since you will find people brush past you as you sleep, those with tables on the aisle have the actual seats very close together. These side-by-side "honeymoon seats" are so close, some people may find that their shoulders can easily touch the passenger next to you. This is not a problem if you are travelling together, but can be uncomfortable if it is a stranger as there is no full privacy partition.
Each seat has a pillow and duvet blanket to help passengers stay comfortable on long flights.
Passengers flying on routes operated by one of the six Asiana A380s have the option of upgrading to Business Suite. These very comfortable suites with closing doors are essentially the 12 former First Class suites located at the front of the main deck. When Asiana announced that First Class would be discontinued back in 2019, the airline decided to keep the First Class suites and sell them as a premium Business Class product. The catering, baggage allowance etc is similar to Business Class, but the seats offer a significantly more comfortable flight, including a massive 32-inch HD monitor and a buddy seat that allows couples to dine face to face. Business Suite passengers may also use the Asiana First Class lounge, which the airline maintains even if it no longer offers First Class.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes images, videos and seat maps for most airlines and aircraft Search results also include details such as seat pitch, width and recline. This way you can see the seat and cabin configuration of the flight in which you are interested, before making your choice.
Asiana wins praise for its Business Class menus, which have a mix of Western and Korean options. A nice touch is the calorie information next to many of the menu items. Meals operate on a set schedule with the main choice usually right after takeoff with a lighter meal before landing.
The meal begins with aperitifs from the bar and canapes. Appetisers and salads are up next with everything served directly on linen-lined tables rather than using trays. This lends a more restaurant-style experience to the service rather than trays. There are usually two or three Western choices as well as a Korean set menu, but you cannot mix and match between menus.
For the Western service, triangular bread plates come with separate ramekins for olive oil, and on many routes, the airline serves tasty garlic bread. On longer flights, a separate soup course is often served, which is lovely since this is often a detail reserved for First Class.
The main dish arrives with beautiful presentation, which is the result of crew preparing and plating dishes in the galley rather than reheating meals in the oven. Korean meals have separate dishware and come with chopsticks. The airline serves beautiful Korean meals with short explanations on their background and how to eat them. They include popular dishes like bibimbap and ssambap. Asiana has partnered with the Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine, which passes on the context of traditional Korean cuisine.
A sweet dessert follows with after-dinner drinks, coffee or tea. On long flights, there are refreshments set up in the galley or available upon request from the crew. Roughly two hours before landing, a second meal offers hot and cold options and is served in multiple courses. It ranges from breakfast to dinner depending on the time of day.
Special meals are available including options for vegetarian, religious or other dietary restrictions. Asiana also provides special child meals for passengers under the age of 12, but this should be requested at least 24 hours before departure.
Before takeoff, passengers can choose between Piper Heidsieck Champagne or water. The printed menus detail the many options available including multiple types white, red and sweet wine. Unfortunately, the wine glasses are laughably small, which requires more refills than necessary.
A variety of beer, spirits, liqueurs and digestifs are on all flights with flight attendants especially attentive throughout the meal service. Other typical drink choices include juice, sparkling water, coffee and selection of regional and international teas.
During the flight, Business Class passengers receive a bottle of water at their seats although beverages are available at any time.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on which Champagne is served in Business Class and First Class on many airlines. We do our best to keep track of any changes, but feel free to let us know if there is something we missed.
Asiana crews are exceptional albeit occasionally reserved, perhaps due to less proficiency in English. All are attentive, friendly, genuine and very welcoming. All crews speak English and Korean, but it is less likely that you will find them speaking a third language related to the destination - French or German, for example.
Large entertainment screens are activated via touch as well as remote control, which is a handy option to have if you are reclining. The programming variety is decent, but it is low on short-subject programming. Don’t expect to binge watch your favourite sitcoms or drama programs. There are Hollywood, Asian and international films as well as a global selection of music. While the selection is not vast, you can choose to enjoy it using the noise-reducing headphones available at each seat instead of bringing your own.
On the A350, Wi-Fi is available for a fee based on time use with a full flight pass not much more than a few hours.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on WiFi and inflight entertainment.
Amenity kits come stocked with a range of L’Occitane toiletries, and a pair of slippers is available at each seat. More goodies await in the lavatory including razors, cologne and mouthwash showing great attention to detail. Between uses, flight attendants keep the bathrooms looking fresh and clean.
Families traveling with infants can request seats suitable for a bassinet; these should be reserved in advance to guarantee availability.
On shorter flights, the airline still distributes printed menus outlining the Western and Korean choices. These offer plenty of variety as well as an open bar service. The primary difference is that meals are served on a tray rather than course by course directly on the linen-covered table. Asiana still uses table cloths and fine silverware, but the service is condensed on shorter flights with main dishes simply heated in the oven rather than plated in the galley. What does not change, however, is the kind-natured hospitality of flight attendants.
The entertainment systems on older planes like the Boeing B767 and Airbus A330 often used on shorter flights is less comprehensive than the A380 and A350. On narrowbody planes like the A321, the seats are limited to recliner-style design, but these flights usually only last a few hours.
The airline has a motto where it wants to “treat the Earth like a customer,” and its slow shift to more fuel-efficient planes like the A350 demonstrate that commitment. The airline has a long way to go to become as sustainable as some of its Star Alliance counterparts in Europe, but it is implementing fuel reduction and recycling programs to help it improve every day.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on CO2 emissions for each flight. Our quality algorithms also give a higher score to flights operated by the most modern and environmentally friendly aircraft.