Review: Asiana Airlines Business Class (A350)

asiana airlines business class a350 review featured image

Given the dearth of award seats on transpacific routes to Southeast Asia for two passengers these days, choosing the route and airline will often boil down to what is available on your desired travel date. This is exactly how my wife and I ended up on this flight on our way home following our stay at the JW Marriott Phu Quoc and traveling throughout Vietnam. 

Although Asiana Airlines wasn’t my initial preference, I decided to book this flight as a contingency plan in case no other award availability materialized closer to our travel date. Although some other carriers did open up award availability, they all involved a less ideal routing home. As a result, we decided to just stick with our Asiana booking simply for the sake of convenience. 

While our flight on Asiana Airlines business class on the A350 was a generally comfortable and acceptable flight across the Pacific, it served as a perfect illustration of why Asiana doesn’t get much buzz in the points and miles community. In retrospect, after just having experienced Starlux’s phenomenal business class product on our outbound flight, the noticeable contrast between Asiana and its fellow Asian competitors became even more apparent.

Booking Asiana Business Class

Business ClassAircraftRouteFlight Duration
Asiana 272Airbus A350-900Seoul-Incheon to Seattle9 Hours 30 minutes

Our itinerary was a simple Seoul-Incheon (ICN) to Vancouver (YVR) via Seattle (SEA) on a combination of Asiana Airlines for the first segment, and then a short hop from Seattle to Vancouver on Air Canada. 

I booked this itinerary with Air Canada Aeroplan for 150,000 Aeroplan points + $135 in taxes and fees, for two people. Our route home also included a short positioning flight on a separate cash booking with VietJet Air from Phu Quoc to Seoul-Incheon the day prior. Once I had locked in our positioning flight, we were committed to our Asiana flight. 

Although Asiana wasn’t my preferred choice for returning to North America, I took comfort in at least knowing we’d enjoy a decent airport lounge and the opportunity to relax in a lie-flat seat during our trip.

Transferring American Express Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan at a ratio of 1:1 is the easiest way to make a business class redemption like my Asiana flight possible. Cards like the American Express Platinum card and American Express Business Platinum card often have outsized welcome bonuses, making it possible to accrue a large amount of Aeroplan points in short order.

American Express Platinum Card

The American Express Platinum card earns Membership Rewards and offers cardholders a variety of benefits including an annual $200 travel credit, complimentary airport lounge access, an annual $200 dining credit, and instant elite status with many hotel loyalty programs.

In 2024, we awarded this card as the Best Credit Card for Airport Lounge Access.

BONUS
100,000 Membership Rewards
MINSPEND
$10,000
NET VALUE
$1,401+
ANNUAL FEE
$799
FOREX FEES
Yes
EXPIRY

Ground Experience – Asiana Business Lounge East at ICN

Incheon International serves as Asiana’s global hub, and being one of the busiest and largest international airports in the world, the Korean carrier operates three business class lounge locations (west, central, and east) across the main international terminal. While there are some slight differences in terms of seating and apron views, the three lounges are for the most part identical, offering the same amenities and food options. 

Undoubtedly, the defining characteristic of the lounge we visited, the East lounge location, is its colossal two-story glass-paneled wall stretching across the entire length of the space. While this could have made for some great airplane spotting, sometimes heavy snow and a thick layer of fog obscured the views during our visit.

asiana airlines business lounge east icn seating with fog outdoors

The Asiana lounge is a very large open space with a ton of varied seating arrangements that included dining tables, cushioned armchairs, bar-style, and some semi-enclosed privacy pods.

The food choices were adequate yet unexceptional, featuring a selection of warm dishes, a salad bar, and an array of instant noodle options.

A variety of self-serve beverages were on offer, ranging from bottled water, soda, coffee, and tea to beer, wine, and spirits.

The Asiana lounge also features four nicely appointed private shower rooms. In each shower room there is a sink, toilet, and walk-in shower. Additionally, a useful set of bathroom amenities were provided.

While the Asiana business class lounge provided a comfortable spot to relax prior to our flight, it failed to impress or distinguish itself from the typical airline lounge experience. In hindsight, perhaps this lack of distinction was a foreshadowing of what lay ahead.

Cabin Arrangement

The business class cabin on the Asiana A350 contains a total of 28 seats arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration, each with direct aisle access.

Similar to the layout of Emirates A380 business class, each row alternates between the seat being positioned closer to the aisle or positioned further from the aisle. The window seats in the even-numbered rows are positioned further from the aisle, making them optimal for solo travelers and providing a tad more privacy from the activity in the cabin.

asiana airlines business class a350 seat map
Seat map courtesy of Aerolopa.com

If you’re traveling with a companion, you might want to consider the middle seats in the odd-numbered rows; they’re positioned farther from the aisle, making it easier for you to chat with your travel partner.

Seat

I’m not sure what kind of aesthetic Asiana was going for with the color palette in this cabin, but it has to be the most dated and retro-looking interior I’ve seen in ages. I’ve previously voiced my opinion about Air Canada’s Signature Class for its lack of visual appeal, but Asiana has elevated this critique to a whole new level. 

The upholstery’s combination of beige, brown, and mustard yellow hues felt reminiscent of the 1980s-era couch I fondly recall from my grandmother’s basement.

asiana airlines business class a350 seat overview

The only delineating visual characteristic of this cabin is how entirely generic and already outdated it is. It’s quite astonishing, considering that the majority of Asiana’s A350 aircraft are under five years old. What’s even more startling, is that this is the current cabin design being fitted onto its newly delivered A350s.

There were several amenities placed on our seat prior to boarding, this included a blanket, pillow, headphones, a pair of slippers, and an amenity kit.

Of course, this is still an A350, and all the passenger comforts it affords are evident here. Asiana has done a nice job of creating a bright and spacious business class cabin, opting against installing overhead bins down the center of the cabin.

asiana airlines business class a350 overhead bins

As I was getting acquainted with the seat, a member of the crew came by to introduce herself and offered a pre-departure drink along with an individually wrapped moist towelette. While this initial interaction with the crew was pleasant enough, the overall service fell short on multiple occasions compared to some of my recent flights. I’ll elaborate further on the service later on. 

asiana airlines business class a350 pre-departure beverage with moist towelette

Located directly above the armrest are the seat controls and the handheld entertainment controller.

asiana airlines business class a350 seat controls

Storage options are limited, with only a small pocket tucked under one armrest and a modest amount of space beneath the footwell for a compact bag. Next to the seat is a literature pocket along with a small tray to store the provided headphones, slippers, and a bottle of water. You’ll also find a USB-A port and the headphone jack here.

asiana airlines business class a350 slippers and headset

The tray table is stowed upright against the seatback in front and folds down and rotates into position. Despite being secured with only one hinge, the tray table remained firmly in place without any shaking or wobbling.

asiana airlines business class a350 tray table

Directly across from the seat is a reasonably large entertainment screen. I found the screen’s quality lacking, both in terms of resolution and brightness, based on my first impressions. Underneath the screen is the footwell, which I found to be rather cramped.

asiana airlines business class a350 entertainment console

When it comes to privacy, there’s virtually none to be found in this cabin, regardless of where you’re seated. Even though I was in one of the preferred seats away from the aisle, I still felt quite exposed to the rest of the cabin.

asiana airlines business class a350 lack of privacy view

This situation is considerably worse for those seated directly adjacent to the aisle. There’s hardly any room between the seat and the aisle, so I can envision getting bumped by crew or other passengers passing by quite easily.

asiana airlines business class a350 middle seat overview

Bed

Following dinner, I put the seat into its lie flat position to try to get a bit of rest. No mattress pad is provided, and there’s no turndown service offered. The provided pillow and blanket were both lacking in substance and coupled with the cramped footwell, resulted in one of the worst sleeping setups I’ve experienced in a while.

Amenity Kit

All business class passengers receive an amenity kit that contains all the essentials one would expect to find on a long-haul international flight. The kit included socks, an eye mask, a dental kit, a pack of tissues, a comb, earplugs, and some moisturizer by Aigner.

asiana airlines business class a350 amenity kit contents

Dining

Not long after departure, the flight attendants distributed the food and beverage menus. Passengers had a choice between a Korean or Western menu for dinner. Despite my initial disappointment with the flight, the dinner service pleasantly surprised me with its quality and portion size, leaving me in much greater spirits.

The food and beverage menu for our flight was as follows:

The wine list covered all the basics, which included champagne, red and white wine, along with some dessert wines.

Although I usually order the local cuisine offered by the operating airline, because of some allergy concerns I had with the Korean menu, I opted for the Western menu for this flight. The Western menu features an impressive six full courses, which is honestly way more than I was expecting on this flight. This level of variety is not commonly found among other airlines.

Dinner

Shortly after our food and drink orders were taken, the meal service began with a seared scallop canape dish along with the drink I ordered. The quality and presentation remained consistently superb from start to finish, with the initial course setting a high bar that continued throughout the entire meal.

asiana airlines business class a350 canape

A shrimp salad and a warm bread roll were then served for the appetizer course. Following the salad was a carrot paprika cream soup that really hit the spot. I’ve always found soups to be one of the more reliable items on an airplane menu, as they only require reheating and are generally more difficult to mess up.

I opted for the halibut paired with risotto for my main course dish, and it was perfectly prepared. The fish was wonderfully flaky and moist, complemented by the delicious sauce drizzled on top.

asiana airlines business class a350 halibut with risotto

To conclude the meal, I was served a cheese plate that was followed by a fruit plate and a cup of ginseng tea. This served as the perfect finale to an exceptionally delicious dinner. Though I was starting to lose a bit of steam by the time the cheese plate arrived due to the sheer volume of food that was delivered, I did manage to power through the rest of the dessert.

Even though there were six courses, they were served in rather rapid-fire fashion, which suited me well. Initially, I was worried about the number of courses on the Western menu, but I was pleased to see them served efficiently.

After dinner, as we were getting ready to go to bed, the crew were going through the cabin to take orders for breakfast. This led to one of more awkward encounters I’ve had with any cabin crew in a while. For reasons I don’t understand, both of the menus were collected after placing our dinner orders.

A member of the crew, now wanting my breakfast order, just handed me the menu open to the breakfast page without saying a word and then continued to stand over me waiting for my selection, which I quickly realized I had to make on the spot. Feeling a little rushed, I just chose the omelet. 

My wife had the same interaction right after me and this left us wondering why the passengers just couldn’t keep the menu throughout the flight. This is especially strange to me because Asiana offers a dine-on-demand snack menu, which means business class passengers will need to request the menu each time they want to order anything.

Breakfast

About 90 minutes before landing, the breakfast service began with some more fresh-cut fruit, cherry yogurt, and a croissant. Following that was the omelet dish that was accompanied by a sausage, mashed potatoes, and some grilled vegetables.

Both meals were outstanding, which helped compensate for the outdated hard product and lackluster amenities aboard the Asiana A350.  Lastly, despite the attentive crew ensuring the meal service flowed smoothly, the overall service was perfunctory and entirely lacking in any level of energy.

Entertainment

Entertainment Console

In line with the rest of the cabin’s outdated fixtures, the entertainment screen also falls short of modern standards. Although the display size is sufficient, the resolution and interface leave much to be desired.

asiana airlines business class a350 entertainment console main screen

The entertainment system offers a selection of movies, TV shows, music, and games. However, compared to some other Asian carriers I’ve recently flown with, the collection of Western content is very poor. I only counted around two dozen new and classic Hollywood releases available. 

I always ensure to have my laptop stocked with content for situations like these, so I wasn’t without anything to watch. So instead, I just left my screen on the interactive map for most of the journey.

Wi-Fi

Asiana offers Wi-Fi across all of its A350 aircraft for an additional cost. The pricing was fairly reasonable, particularly for the full flight, at a price of $21.95 USD.

asiana airlines business class a350 in-flight wifi pricing

I did not purchase Wi-Fi during our flight, so I can’t comment on the speeds or signal coverage over the Pacific Ocean.

Conclusion

At one point, Asiana’s business class cabin could have been seen as a competitive product, but a lot has changed in the past five years. While I feel that flying in the comfort of business class is always a treat, and by means was our flight on Asiana a negative experience, it’s hard to ignore the considerable disparity in quality compared to some of its Asian rivals. Competitors like EVA Air business class, Japan Airlines business class, and ANA’s “The Room” business class are constantly raising the bar with impressive new offerings in their business class experience, highlighting a very noticeable gap in comparison.

The high point of the flight was without a doubt the six-course meal for dinner. The food was well prepared and fulfilling. If only Asiana could put as much effort into the rest of the business class experience as the meal service. 

I’m glad that at least fairly reliable availability on Asiana redemptions exists; however, I certainly won’t be going out of my way to look for a transpacific flight on Asiana anytime soon. Sometimes we just have to take what we can get and make the best of it when it comes to certain situations.

Jeff Jamieson

Jeff Jamieson

Contributor at Frugal Flyer
Jeff stepped into the ring of points and miles in 2018, this was during his first trip to Italy where he had only just dipped his toe into what was possible with loyalty programs. After eating pizza twice a day for two weeks straight and taking in all that Tuscany of Rome had to offer he knew he was hooked on “la dolce vita” of points and miles. Always fascinated with aviation, Jeff obtained his Private Pilot’s License in 2006. Now he fuels his affection for travel and aviation by seeking out new strategies while building upon existing opportunities along with the help of his close circle of fellow travel enthusiasts.

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