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Asiana Airlines is officially axing first class from its Airbus A380s, although the upmarket private suites themselves will be retained and sold under the new brand of Business Suites.
From 1 September 2019 the South Korean carrier and Star Alliance member will treat the twelve private suites at the nose of its superjumbo fleet – which currently flies to New York, Los Angeles and Frankfurt – as an upgrade business class offering, moving to what industry boffins sometimes tag as a Business Plus model.
Business Suites fares will be pitched as 30-40% lower than first class fares, Asiana says, but still at a premium above business class.
The main lure for paying that extra money will be the vastly superior first class cabin, with its spacious and comfortable private suites, compared to the larger and busier business class cabin. Access to Asiana's flagship first class lounge at Seoul's Incheon Airport is also included.
That aside, Business Suites passengers will be served the same meals and drinks as business class, along with the same mileage earning rates in the Asiana Club frequent flyer program and with other Star Alliance partners.
The ability to book Asiana's new Business Suites using frequent flyer points remains unknown at this stage.
Asiana's move borrows from the playbook of Malaysia Airlines, which adopted a similar strategy – including an identical name for its primo Airbus A380 and A350 cabins – in December 2018, although everything else such as meals and drinks, inflight amenities and pyjamas remained as they would in first class.