Asiana nixes plans for fully-flat business class on Sydney-Seoul flights

By Chris C., May 27 2015
Asiana nixes plans for fully-flat business class on Sydney-Seoul flights

UPDATE | Asiana has shelved plans to upgrade its Sydney-Seoul flights to fully-flat beds in business class, which were to appear on the route from May 28.

In their place, business class customers will continue to get 'sloping sleepers' through at least the end of 2015.

An Asiana spokesperson confirmed the change to Australian Business Traveller, attributing the switch to "the schedule for the second half of 2015, which changed at the last minute."

The spokesperson also noted that the airline's next aircraft scheduling decisions for the route would be made in October 2015, covering flights from 2016 and beyond.

PREVIOUS | Qantas codeshare partner and Star Alliance member Asiana Airlines will introduce fully-flat beds in business class on its Boeing 777 Sydney-Seoul flights, doing away with the current angled seats at the pointy end for a better night’s sleep.

First appearing twice per week from May 28 and rolling out to six-times-weekly by late September, the superior ‘Business Smartium’ seats are practically the same as you’d find on Asiana’s flagship A380 aircraft:

Organised in a 1-2-1 configuration, each business class passenger enjoys direct aisle access – a considerable improvement to the current 2-3-2 layout where you're either jumping over somebody or being stepped over yourself.

Look familiar? They’re based on the popular Sogerma Solstys seats also used by Etihad and Thai Airways, along with Emirates which features a heavily-customised version of the same aboard its A380s:

Emirates' Airbus A380 business class seats, based on the same Solstys design
Emirates' Airbus A380 business class seats, based on the same Solstys design

Accompanying the new seats is on-demand audio visual entertainment in both business class and economy – an upgrade to the current and reasonably outdated system of flicking through a handful of TV channels – and also inflight power down the back of the bus.

But the change won’t happen overnight – Asiana’s Business Smartium seats first appear twice per week from May 28: Mondays and Fridays on Sydney-Seoul flights (OZ601) and Thursdays and Sundays on the return (OZ602).

Then from June 28 through to September 21, Asiana will temporarily suspend flights from Sydney on Wednesdays and Saturdays and from Seoul on Tuesdays and Fridays, but will offer the same fully-flat Smartium seats on all five remaining weekly flights.

Restored to an ongoing daily service from September 22, Business Smartium seats will then be offered six days each week, with the older angled business class sleepers making an appearance on Fridays from Seoul and Saturdays from Sydney on smaller A330s:

An Asiana Airlines spokesperson confirmed the changes to Australian Business Traveller, and also shared that the upgraded flights from May 28 through June 27 would have first class suites aboard, but would be sold as business class.

That means you’d buy a business class ticket and could wind up in a first class suite, but with the same food, beverage and service offering as you’d get in business class.

Perch yourself in a first class suite, but pay only for business class...
Perch yourself in a first class suite, but pay only for business class...

The airline is still determining which lucky travellers will be in for the upgrade, although we’d expect that top-tier members of Asiana Club – the airline’s frequent flyer scheme – Star Alliance Gold travellers and passengers on the most expensive business class airfares would have the highest chances.

Qantas frequent flyers can earn points and status credits when booking Asiana’s Sydney-Seoul services as a Qantas QF codeshare flight, although not when travelling on an Asiana OZ flight number.

Virgin Australia Velocity members can indirectly earn points, although not status credits, on OZ-coded flights to Korea and beyond by first crediting those points to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and then converting their KrisFlyer miles to Velocity points.

Also read: Earn Virgin Australia frequent flyer points on Star Alliance flights

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter – we're @AusBT

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 363

Gee, that first image looks like a medieval torcher machine. I'm sure it's much more comfier than that though.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Nov 2014

Total posts 361

Makes a lot more sense that they use Quadra Smartium for this route. It is a 10.5 hour flight which makes no sense that they only use regional business class product, especially the return ICN-SYD flight is a red eye.

I agree that using regional product makes no sense for such a long-haul route. Totally!

But remember, "decisions made by a large company" =/= sensible decisions. Well sometimes they are but often they aren't.

Asiana certainly is proving why people should take their competitor Korean Air instead (who have BE Aerospace Apex suites in their Business class).

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 59

Can't believe its taking OZ this long to upgrade the Sydney flights with the Smartium seats. I flew on them 3 years ago.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Apr 2015

Total posts 5

Finally!  So many premium carriers these days have taken a backward step cutting costs on Sydney routes by replacing newer planes with old ones and the value for money is sharply falling, especially when budget carriers are stepping up their game. Good to see Asiana moving forward and improving their services for Sydney travellers. 

09 Apr 2014

Total posts 11

I flew Asiana a lot over the last Christmas period and can say that the seats on the SYD-ICN route are by far the worst they have in their fleet. Having flown ICN-HNL on the A330 I can compare their angled flat products.

Their A330 business class is not great but not the worst either. It is angled lie flat so you slide a bit but with a bit of work you can find a groove and get a decent sleep. However, with their 777 busines product this is not the case. Coming home from ICN I found it very difficult to get comfortable. Also the video screens were terrible.

After flying 7 different flights with Asiana over Christmas and being very happy with the service and quality of product it was upsetting to be left with the bad taste of the business class on the ICN-SYD route. It is great news they are moving to the QS seat on the route. Pity it didnt happen this time last year...

Seems they canned that decision, I am booked on the Friday over  and the Sunday flight back later this year, seats were originally allocated in Smartium number format , now changed back to old format....without telling me ! , back to almost flat . I also notice they are using the A330-300 i/o 777 recently,(in flight path)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Sep 2014

Total posts 4

the emirates business class seat on the a380 is the zodiac (formerly sicma) sky lounge. the later delivery emirates a380s have the sky lounge 3, which is  a big improvement. The solstys is made by Sogerma. Etihad have these seats on A332, B77W, A333, A340s. 

Their business class price is the same as Korean Air, but Korean Air flies the fully flat bed to Aus.

I flew on Asiana, a month ago on the 777-200ER and it was terrible. The load was pretty light too, only 12 people in the cabin out of 28 seats.

Crew were great, lounge had 1 cold pasta dish at dinner time, food was average, entertainment not on demand and on a 2-hour loop, seats were hard and uncomfortable, pillows were economy size - not exactly what you expect 5-star Skytrax award winning airline.

So it wasn't suprising that the load was light with only 12 seats occupied. Next time, I'll fly back via HKG or SIN, at least its a fully flat bed on Cathay or Singapore.

Leaves a bit of a sour taste in your mouth when you specifically book the airline and the flights they announced they were converting from May

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Apr 2015

Total posts 5

I've flown Asiana a handful of times over the past year aross several continents and it was only on the Sydney legs that had this outdated equipment. Even a short hop from Seoul to Hong Kong (3 hours max) was on the A380 smartium, and regional flights had AVOD touch screens!? Don't understand why their high yield 10 hour flights have inferior equipment to low yield 2 hour flights. I knew it was too good to be true when I booked this route in a Smartium class. The thought of me getting some sleep on the return leg had me giddy like a 5 yr old. At least it's the A330 seats which is supposed to be "better" than the current 777s they fly. Once again, we're left with our fingers crossed...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2013

Total posts 170

Asiana to Korean Air?

A client has asked me to see him in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (Sakhalin Island, Russia). The best way in and out is via Seoul, (Moscow's a ong way round). Would AustBT people fly Korean Air or Asiana? (I'd overnight in Seoul, where?).

Appreciate any counsel.

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