An unsponsored Asiana Airlines Business Class Review: cheaper than other airlines, but is there a catch? I will take you through the booking process all the way to the disembarking experience!
The 1st thing you will notice about Asiana Airlines business class is that it's much more affordable. For example, on a trip from Singapore to Seoul, the price is almost HALF that of Singapore Airlines (SQ)! That was enough to convince my family, which usually flies SQ Business, to give it a try.
The first time we took Asiana Business Class was almost a decade ago. Back then, we were very happy with both the lounge in Seoul and the in-flight experience. Let's see how it goes this time!
Note: Asiana will be merged with Korean Air soon. In the 90s, Korean Air was infamous for its crashes so....
Journey: Singapore to Seoul Incheon, South Korea
Duration: About 7 hours (Not a long flight but not short either.)
Seat: We all had window seats on the way to Seoul. I travelled back alone and ha an aisle seat on the way back to Singapore.
Note: Asiana is a member of Star Alliance so you can credit your miles to other Star Alliance airline frequent traveller programmes.
As mentioned, very reasonable compared to other airlines. Half that of Singapore Airlines (Singapore-Seoul), for one!
Booking the Flight
It's not very straightforward as they distinguish between Korean credit cards and foreign ones.
I had to repeatedly attempt to make the booking before it was successful!
At Singapore Changi Airport
There is no Asiana Business Lounge in Singapore.
I've flown Singapore Airlines Business Class all over the world and barely encountered a situation where there's no dedicated lounge! Sure sometimes the lounge is a bit on the small side, but it's definitely better than what Asiana offers for Changi.
We were told to go to the SATS lounge which is shared by a few airlines. It was so crowded, it felt like a market. I was using the loo and people kept banging on the door to get in. (The toilets are single rooms instead of several cubicles in 1 toilet.)
The lounge was so crowded, I actually saw people who entered and left immediately. (As they left, they were saying "too many people" so I know the 2 things were linked!)
Nonetheless we did manage to get seats, and the lounge did offer laksa (a Singaporean specialty) which I love. (They have a tiny buffet.)
At Seoul Incheon Airport
Airlines usually offer the best lounges in their own country, and the Asiana Incheon lounge was OK. Much better than the SATS lounge in Singapore. Nothing fantastic though.
There were some single lounge seats, which I thought were nice but all were fully occupied by other business class passengers during the entire time I was at the lounge.
The food offering was a buffet, and it was better than what I had expected based on online reviews. Most of the offering was generic Western. (I would have appreciated more Korean food since we were in Seoul!)
Note: there is no Asiana staff to greet you as you enter the lounge. Instead, you have to scan your boarding pass to access and exit. I can see this being a problem for some older travellers.
The first class lounge was closed when I visited in April 2023.
The trip definitely did not get off to a good start.
I was travelling with 3 elderly ladies, 1 of whom was in a wheelchair. As such, we boarded early and I was carrying luggage for 3 people (including myself.)
Now, it is pretty much impossible for 1 person to carry luggage for so many people and I was visibly struggling. At that time, the cabin was still deserted and there was no one else boarding.
However, NOT ONE of the air stewardesses came to offer assistance. (Instead they all stood around chit chatting with each other. Didn't see any stewards in the cabin crew.)
I was NOT impressed and was pretty much ready to swear off Asiana Airlines at this point in time. One of the reasons people fork out extra for business class is because they would like some extra care and, believe me, you're not getting any of that with Asiana!
In contrast, even when I travel alone on Singapore Airlines, the air stewards or stewardesses are always very helpful!
Note: for those who do not need assistance, I flew solo on the way back, so I've experienced Asiana Airlines both as a "regular" traveller and as part of a group that needed more help.
On the way back, the flight attendants came over to thank me for flying Asiana. However, I felt that it was mostly lip service (as in they smile at you and thank you, but they don't really take care of you the way Singapore Airlines does.)
Some people may like it though as it might make you feel very important!
Oh and the English standard of the flight attendants was not bad- definitely better than what you experience in Korea!
Next up is the seat which is a lie-flat bed.
In this area, Asiana does well.
It's not the most comfortable business class seat I've sat in as they've decreased the foot area. However, other airlines such as Singapore Airlines have done the same on some of its routes. Moreover, it's definitely better than the economy seats! (And certainly a lot better than the Cathay Pacific Business Class, which I thought looked like Premium Economy!)
Note: you may appreciate that you can use the button to move the seat totally down. On some Singapore Airline planes, you need to press the button behind the back of the seat. (However, the airline also offers a turn-down service.)
The business class cabin features fully flat or angled lie-flat seats, depending on the aircraft. The seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration, which provides every passenger with direct aisle access.
Some aircrafts have a short divider (like, shorter than knee length) between the 2 middle seats (aisle seats.)) Not quite sure what it's for as it doesn't actually provide you with any privacy from your neighbour.
Note: so far, all the flights I've taken with Asiana Business did not have an upper deck.
They also are very slow in dimming the cabin lights after the meal. On 1 journey, they dimmed it, then switched it on again, which is quite disruptive.
Each business class seat is equipped with a personal entertainment system. However, there are VERY few shows on offer compared to Singapore Airlines.
There are a couple of Korean options and a handful of international shows. However, I could not even find 1 show to watch on the business class flight back to Singapore, which makes for a pretty boring flight. (And this is coming from someone who watches Korean entertainment usually! So you can see how bad/ backdated their offering is.)
Moreover, whilst there is Wi-fi on board, you need to pay for it. (It's free for Singapore Airlines Business.) If you're a business traveler who needs to work on board for long haul flights, you should probably calculate how much you need to spend using the Wifi before deciding if the Asiana flight is really cheaper.
The cabin is pretty well-lit, providing quite a relaxing and comfortable environment for passengers.
The seats are equipped with power outlets and USB ports, allowing passengers to charge their devices during the flight. However, the charging system is SO slow. I charged my Iphone for the entire 7-hour return flight and still could not reach full battery status!
We were provided with a wet wipe (no hot towels) and a (pretty good) pair of slippers to wear during the flight. (You also get the standard pillow and blanket.)
Other than that, there was no amenity kit.
Note: SQ offers sanitary pads, combs, razors and toothbrushes/ toothpaste in the toilets. Asiana only offers toothbrush set. There is a large L'Occitane hand lotion for you to use.
At the beginning of the flight, you're offered drinks such as orange juice.
For meals with dinner service, the airline offers a choice of 2 meals: 1 Korean and 1 Western. (This comes with appetizer, main course, dessert and beverages, including red and white wines.)
My party had the Bibimbap on the way there and weren't fans. I had the Bulgogi on the way back and it was not bad. (I'm not sure if there's any difference from the meal service on Economy though- my friends travelled Asiana Economy Singapore-Seoul and were offered the same meal of bibimbap!)
If not, you can get instant ramen.
I asked for snacks and chocolate but they didn't have any as part of their standard offering. However, kudos to the flight crew for hunting down 4 chocolate truffles to offer to me.
In comparison, you have much more food choice with Singapore Airlines (and better food too.) SQ also has a lot more snacks: they usually have packaged nuts, packed biscuits, chocolates, crisps, sandwiches etc to offer. (They walk around with a basket of snacks during long-haul flights to see if anyone wants anything.)
AND they always offer you a bottle of water. Asiana does not so you need to repeatedly ask for a top-up.
We were allowed 2 bags, each up to 32 kg. This adds up to 64kg and is pretty generous.
However, even if you don't use up the 64 kg, you can't add a 3rd bag without incurring a penalty of a few hundred dollars.
COVID-19 Policies and Travel Tips
Asiana Airlines has implemented several measures to ensure passenger safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline increased cleaning and sanitation procedures on all flights.
However, as of March 2023, Asiana Airlines no longer provides hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes to passengers. Passengers are no longer required to wear face masks.
Comparison with Other Airlines
In this section, we will compare Asiana Airlines business class with two other major airlines in the region: Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.
Now I've already been comparing the 2 airlines throughout the post but if I had to sum it up, it would be:
Singapore Airlines makes you feel like you're taken good care of. This is true of both economy class and business. For example, when we did a trip with my Aunt in the wheelchair between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur on economy, the staff were still super helpful.
In comparison, we travelled business on Asiana on a longer flight and na-dah. I would say, for Asiana, you're pretty much just paying for the seat space to get you between countries. It's a no-frills experience.'
Between the 2 airlines, if you can afford it, definitely go for Singapore!
Cathay Pacific is another premium airline that offers fully flat beds with direct aisle access for all passengers. However, Cathay Pacific's seats are narrower than Asiana's, which may be a consideration for larger travelers.
The way the seats are angled on some flights are also very weird. Instead of being in the 1-2-1 horizontal configuration, there are MANY seats in a line, angled towards the centre. (This is obviously an attempt to squeeze in more passengers.)
Between these 2 airlines, I would go with Asiana.
While Etihad is not based in the same region as Asiana, it is a major international carrier that competes in the same market. Etihad's business class product is known for its luxurious amenities, including a personal chauffeur service and access to private lounges in some countries.
One area where Etihad edges out Asiana is in the in-flight amenities department. Etihad offers a range of luxury amenities, including designer bedding, noise-canceling headphones, and high-end toiletries. Asiana's amenities are more basic, but still comfortable and well-suited for long-haul flights.
Overall, while Asiana Airlines may not have the same level of luxury as some of its competitors, it offers a solid business class product that is comfortable, convenient, and well-suited for long-haul travel.
In conclusion, if money is not an issue for you, definitely go with another airline, such as Singapore Airlines.
If you're trying to save, Asiana is something you can consider if you just want a comfortable seat to get from A to B in comfort. (If you will need extra assistance beyond the norm from flight attendants, you may want to ry a different airline.)
For more information about other airlines, such as Delta, click here!