Review: Asiana business class, Sydney-Seoul: great service, not so the seat

Overall Rating

By princess fiona, February 18 2013
Asiana business class, Sydney-Seoul: great service, not so the seat

Sydney - Seoul (Incheon)

Aircraft Type

Airbus A330-300





Cabin Class




The Good
  • swift and efficient checkin
  • pre-printed boarding passes
  • good range of meals, both Korean and Western
The Bad
  • last-generation angled lie-flat seats
  • fantastic crew
  • wonderfully presented food


Travelling to Seoul recently, I picked Qantas partner Asiana, a Star Alliance member and the second largest South Korean airline. It runs flights from Sydney to Seoul daily on the A330-300 with business and economy class.

While Qantas adds its QF code to this flight as a codeshare, Asiana was selling the ticket at $1500 less than Qantas, so I booked through Asiana. 

Unfortunately, I knew that the new Quadra Smartium business class seat on the Boeing 777-200 is being introduced at the end of this year, so my flight would be on the older, angled lie-flat seats.


Asiana's web check-in worked well, though you do need to stop by the desk on the way in.

Asiana has an online check-in system with an e-boarding voucher to be presented at check-in. Boarding passes had been pre-printed by the check-in staff which seemed to improve the speed of service.

The check-in agent gave me the standard express passes for immigration and security, and I skipped the queues.


International passengers from Sydney will be familiar with the Air NZ lounge. Image: AusBT

Asiana business class passengers (and many others) use the Air New Zealand lounge at Sydney. It's a large and busy lounge with an adequate range of food and drink.

The lounge Wi-fi seemed to be very slow even for emails and I resorted to using my own mobile connection during the short time that I was there.


Given the cabin layout, window seat fans will need to pick their way across the aisle passenger next to them if the flight is full.

On my flight 11 of the 30 seats were occupied with four cabin crew working in the business class section.

I used the small drink table between the seats for my iPad as the seat next to me was vacant. 

Arrival documentation for Korea was handed out prior to departure from Sydney.

Slippers, socks and a unisex amenity kit with L’Occitane products were on offer. 

During the flight, Asiana kept overhead announcements to a minimum throughout, a big benefit as far as I'm concerned.

Once I got to Seoul, my priority baggage arrived very promptly at the carousel.


The business class cabin on the Asiana A330 has 30 seats in a 2-2-2 configuration.

The seat is well padded and comfortable for sitting and working but for a long flight (Sydney to Seoul is 10.5 hours) the sloping lie-flat mode would be uncomfortable on an overnight flight.

The seat pitch ranges from 58"-62" and the seats have a large and spacious feel. There is ample storage space and a multi-adaptor power point.

The fold out dining table is large and would easily accommodate a full size lap top.

A benefit of the angled lie-flat seat is that the entertainment screen doesn't seem too far away.


Throughout the flight, the food was excellent.

On this flight two meals were served: Lunch approximately 90 minutes after take-off and a snack prior to landing in Seoul.

The lunch menu contained both Western options (choice of three entrees and three mains) or a Korean choice.

I chose the Korean meal and was served Bibimbap which was freshly prepared and presented beautifully with silverware and high quality china.

The wine accompanying the meal was also served very impressively with the bottle being presented, opened and a tasting offered.

The wine list had a choice of three whites and three reds, plus a short cocktail menu and a range of teas.

Drinks, tea and coffee with accompanying Petit Fours were available throughout the flight.

Two hours before landing the lights were turned back on and a substantial light meal was served, described on the menu as a snack.

Again I chose the Korean option, of stir fried Kimchi with Pork. Delicious.

Entertainment & Service

Asiana's crew really made the flight for me.

The business class seats have seat back 15” screens with a large selection of current movies on demand. The range is similar to that offered on other carriers (around 40 movies in English with subtitles) and the quality of the picture and sound is adequate in-flight.

Noise reducing headphones (not active noise-cancelling) are provided. I was able to use my own headphones in the socket.

Extra points for the crew, who were on top of their game in the galley kitchens and during service. This is the hallmark of an excellent business class service.


Overall I thoroughly enjoyed business class between Sydney and Seoul on Asiana. The seat was adequate for a day time flight and the customer service was an exemplary experience of Korean service and efficiency.

I am looking forward to flying Asiana again with the new Quadra Smartium seating and think they have an impressive offering overall on the direct Sydney to Seoul route.

princess fiona

Fiona is a physician, mother, lover of frequent travel, fine food and wine — preferably in combination.

10 Mar 2011

Total posts 526

Interesting that you mention the Quadra Smartium seats. The last report I read from AusBT that referred to those seats was from Dec 2010 when Asiana was supposed to introduce them on the Sydney to Seoul sector by the end of 2011. I assume that these plans have since changed since a year later they still don't have them on this sector?


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 732

OZ have no plans to introduce the seats on the ICN-SYD route in the near future as far as I know, they backed ot unfortunately.

Having said that, on a day flight the old seat is adequate for a day flight as mentioned, I flew them overnight and that is another story. Mind you, many airlines offer similar seating on long haul.

I love the service and food (again also apparent from excellent review). It is in my opinion a notch above most C class offerings from legacy carriers as AF, TG even SQ and CX.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Feb 2013

Total posts 54

As the report says, the old business class seats aren't the best in the air, but I've found the service to be top notch.

If you are not in a hurry Asiana is a good way to fly from Sydney to London - a daytime flight to Seoul and a daytime flight the following day from Seoul to London. I stay overnight at the excellent Hyatt Regency at the airport. The return is quicker, but in my opinion less attractive, with two overnight flights with a good connection in Seoul.

Last time I flew Asiana to London I used points - 80,000 AsianaClub points business class one way, when Qantas wanted 64,000 points for economy!


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 65

Agreed on the poor seat, it's worse on their B777.  Sydney - Seoul  -Paris;  London - Seoul - Sydney.  Comments apply to all 4 flights.  Pleasant crew, mosly with poor English. B777 with 2-3-2, and very uncomfortable angled seat. Choice of 6 main meals - 3 western and 3 korean but not one of them vegetarian. Vege meals disgraceful - incredibly small, and bizarre (two plates of pineapple - one chopped, the other slliced - served as a 'meal' !) I had to have a special 'vegetarian' ordered salad,  which was just almost-frozen lettuce. No option to have the fresh salad that my colleague received


Smalll video selection on a loop, very low quality screen image. Worst thing (opposite experience to your review) was constant announcement of the seatbelt sign, loudly, in several languages, all thru night flights. Very worse thing, on the two overnights (London- Seoul and Seoul - Sydney) loud announcement to entire aircraft and lights full on to wake all for breakfast at 2 hrs 45 before arrival (which after the incredibly slow  dinner service made for very little sleep time) No last minute breakfast, no discreet lights at half for business - no choice! You will wake up now!


The crew were very pleasant, but the service was a surprising throwback to 20 years ago. No thought for anyone who wanted to sleep (although with angled, lumpy seats, that was not a great option anyway)


The are crossed off my list even if they ever did introduce the new seat (which they fly to Tokyo - a short hop - go figure) due to the  inflexible design of their service. Oh, on 3 sectors, they had people gathering in the galley behind business, waiting until door close. At door close they were shown into the empty seats in business completely filing it up (and strangely more than once, one of the new arrivals would be removed and be replaced by someone else) On all 4 sectors we could only get allocated the last row of business. As a  consequence we we always served last, and my colleague had virtually no choice out of the 6 meal options

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Feb 2013

Total posts 4

I recently flew this route after purchasing a codeshare ticket through Qantas and had a surprise aircraft change to the new 777 with the Smartium full flat seats. I regularly fly with many renowned asian carriers Cathay, Malaysia, Singapore etc and these seats are currently the best in the market in my opinion. The seat width is perfect not too wide and not too narrow unlike some carriers which have ridiculously wide seats or narrow seats. Service is impeccable as you stated and really makes the journey more special. I have flown the older version seats from Seoul to Hong Kong and I agree with you in that whilst they are still very comfortable, the angled seating can tend to be a little awkward for sleeping but I would recommend the airline in a heartbeat as they provide a very consistently high level of service and value for money is excellent.

09 Sep 2014

Total posts 54

I've always heard that they have great service and exellent FA's, but I was never to sure.

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