I’m always looking for the next “speculative” booking opportunity, and I think we might have one with Asiana. As many of you probably know, I’m making a point of trying every A380 first class product there is, and so far have flown A380 first class on Air France, British Airways, Emirates, Lufthansa, Malaysia, Qantas, Singapore, and Thai. I have flights booked in China Southern and Korean Air A380 first class, which will “complete” my list, since those are all the airlines operating the A380 at the moment.

One of the next airlines to take delivery of the Airbus A380 will be Asiana. Their first A380 completed its maiden flight in December, and Asiana should be taking delivery of it in the second quarter of 2014. They have orders for six A380s, and said that they plan to operate them “primarily” to the US.


Unfortunately we don’t actually know anything about the timeline for when they’ll start operating their first A380 commercially, which route it will operate, or even what their first and business class products will look like (though at a minimum I’d assume they’ll offer First Suite Class and Business Smartium Class).

Business Smartium Class

Given the upcoming United devaluation I’m sure many are looking to make some interesting speculative award bookings.

While I have no inside knowledge of Asiana’s A380 plans, I do feel fairly comfortable speculating in this case. Asiana has said that in terms of longhaul destinations they plan on flying the A380 to the US initially, and their only twice daily destination in the US is Los Angeles. So I’d be willing to bet that their first longhaul A380 destination will be Los Angeles. They only operate 777s and A330s to other destinations in the US, and I can’t imagine they want to double capacity on those routes overnight.

When will the A380 start flying to Los Angeles? Well, Asiana will supposedly take delivery of their first A380 in the second quarter, so let’s be conservative and call that June 30. Typically airlines then run A380s on shorthaul flights for a few months for training purposes, so I’d assume that until the fourth quarter they’ll fly it within Asia, probably to Tokyo and Hong Kong (both high capacity routes and destinations that can handle an A380).

Then I would guess that by November or so they’ll be flying the A380 longhaul. For what it’s worth the Los Angeles route has a ton of first class award space.


Anyway, it’s all speculation on my part and I could be totally wrong. Asiana first class is an awesome product to begin with, so even if it’s the 747 I’m sure it’ll be a pleasant flight. But if you have United miles to redeem (or US Airways miles, for that matter) it’s tough to beat the value of redeeming for one of my favorite carriers in first class. And if it ends up being the A380, that’s just the icing on the cake.

  1. January 12th, 2014 at 6:29 am

    Peter said,

    What about Qatar’s A380? I’ve heard they’re targeting a Q1 launch.

  2. January 12th, 2014 at 6:30 am

    Dax said,

    After US becomes the new AA on OW and after UA devalues their award chart what will be the new best way to earn flights on carriers such as OZ?

  3. January 12th, 2014 at 6:49 am

    Nic said,

    I think there was a CAPA article saying it is LAX, but you are right that that is half the equation. The timing is the question to answer.

  4. January 12th, 2014 at 7:39 am

    lucky said,

    @ Peter — Great question, they’ve been pretty quiet. My guess is that they’ll send it to London first, though they have so many frequencies that I’m not sure which would get the A380.

  5. January 12th, 2014 at 7:41 am

    lucky said,

    @ Dax — Great question, let me write a separate post about that.

  6. January 12th, 2014 at 8:11 am

    Alison Groves said,

    I’m booking a one world explorer award in the next week for August travel and am just trying to figure out which port I want to leave the states on via Qatar. The A380 in the mix will be a fun gamble or a lucky chance. New York, Chicago, or Houston, let’s roll the dice!

  7. January 12th, 2014 at 8:23 am

    lucky said,

    @ Alison Groves — I certainly could be wrong, but I highly doubt they’ll launch the A380 service on a US route. I think LHR or CDG would be far more likely. But I’d love to be wrong, since the US currently doesn’t have any routes with first class service from Qatar Airways, so it would be a nice addition!

  8. January 12th, 2014 at 8:34 am

    Andrew said,

    @lucky since we are speculating here, which of the two flight you think will be up gauged to an A380? And why?

  9. January 12th, 2014 at 8:35 am

    Dan said,

    Am I the only one concerned about OZ/South Korean pilots’ skills after the SFO crash? Lack of manual landing experience, crew resource management? I love OZ premium product but hesitate now.

  10. January 12th, 2014 at 8:57 am

    pssteve said,

    Dan: My feelings exactly. After Lucky’s experience on RJ I’m a little surprised at his being ready to try OZ.

  11. January 12th, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Mike S. said,

    Why not ICN-JFK to compete with Korean air? or on FRA route?

    Since CDG and LHR dont already have F service I cant see them putting it on those.

  12. January 12th, 2014 at 9:06 am

    lucky said,

    @ Andrew — I would guess the 747, and perhaps the 777 frequency will be discontinued (though I doubt it).

  13. January 12th, 2014 at 9:07 am

    lucky said,

    @ Dan @ pssteve — Yeah, it concerns me somewhat as well. And perhaps I’m *too* much over my Royal Jordanian experience as of a few months ago.

    At the same time, statistically flying these airlines is still extremely safe, even if it’s the planes (and not the pilots) flying themselves.

  14. January 12th, 2014 at 9:10 am

    lucky said,

    @ Mike S. — Well the 777 they currently fly to New York has 243 seats, so I have a hard time imagining they’d want to double capacity overnight. I guess it’s possible, but I highly doubt it. Meanwhile the 747 has 359 seats, so it would represent less of an increase in capacity, and therefore be lower risk.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see them eventually fly the A380 to New York, though.

  15. January 12th, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Steve said,

    Hi Lucky – Just as a discussion pt…

    I was curiously looking @ JFK-ICN flight per ANA tool and on Asiana itself… what I found was the new FC class cabin plane that’s miscategorized as 77W, was changed to 772 on both website… Even revenue ticket $$ is $3000 cheaper when picking out a random day… just interesting point to note

  16. January 12th, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Brad said,

    Do you have plans to try the EY and QR 380s this year?
    Another interesting TR would be the new Air Austral all Y 380s coming this year as well. ;)

  17. January 12th, 2014 at 11:05 am

    lucky said,

    @ Steve — Noticed that as well when looking far in advance. My guess is that Asiana just hasn’t “optimized” their schedule that far out yet.

  18. January 12th, 2014 at 11:05 am

    lucky said,

    @ Brad — Absolutely, as soon as they announce routes I plan on trying the Etihad and Qatar A380s.

  19. January 12th, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    ffi said,

    The airbus is even more automatic than the Boeings
    In the AF 447 crash, the 2 pilots each pulled up the nose at different times, as the controls are not synchronized on Airbus, so each did not know the other had already pointed the nose up!

  20. January 12th, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    Susan said,

    This is totally totally OT but you have to see this:


    Don’t suppose you’ll be in Sydney before Jan. 26?

  21. January 12th, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Elroy said,

    I booked JFK-ICN next Nov. I hope to end up with a 1st suite either way [....]

  22. January 12th, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    The Global Traveller said,

    OZ will need 2 A380s for ICN-LAX to be daily. So until it has 2 any speculative booking only has 3 in 7 chance (at best) of getting A380.

  23. January 12th, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    Seth said,

    Curious if anyone knows rights of award traveler when asiana swaps aircraft and you were booked in first and the new aircraft no longer has first? Can you require them to put you in first on another aircraft originating from another US gateway city? Too complicate matters more what if you’re using another airlines miles (united) for such award flight.

  24. January 13th, 2014 at 7:28 am

    lucky said,

    @ Susan — Hah, saw it when it was in Hong Kong!

  25. January 13th, 2014 at 7:28 am

    lucky said,

    @ The Global Traveller — Well, and I think that’s another reason they do training flights within Asia first — they wait till they have their second A380 and then start longhaul operations so that the route can be daily.

  26. January 13th, 2014 at 7:30 am

    lucky said,

    @ Seth — It’s a bit of a grey area, and rather tricky when dealing with partner miles. Assuming there’s not first class award space on an alternative route I think it would reasonable to request that United contact a Star Alliance liaison to have Asiana open up first class award space on another route. The process will be an absolute pain, but it shouldn’t be impossible.

  27. January 13th, 2014 at 7:48 am

    Susan said,

    @ lucky — Excellent! :-)

  28. January 13th, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Joey said,

    Thank you for this reminder! I agree with you that the first route will most likely be ICN-LAX and hopefully it will be!
    @Brad, I thought Air Austral cancelled the all Y A380 order, no?

  29. January 13th, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Carlos said,

    Do you know if any other A380 will feature an exclusive feature, like the shower and bar of EK or the suite of SQ?

  30. January 13th, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Carlos — Nope, don’t think Asiana, Etihad, or Qatar have announced any onboard amenities yet.

  31. January 14th, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Greg said,

    Is there any flights in the fall with 2 first class award seats? Using United’s website I didn’t notice any in November or December?

  32. January 14th, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Greg — Yep, I see plenty of dates with two first class award seats for LAX-ICN for November. I’d suggest trying the ANA tool.

  33. January 17th, 2014 at 1:35 am

    Shanghai9 said,

    Hi Lucky,

    According to a CAPA article (http://centreforaviation.com/news/asiana-airlines-will-be-12th-operator-of-a380-to-use-a380-on-us-routes-299970), A380 service will begin May 2014 and on US routes. Does that mean the expected short-haul “training routes” within Asia will occur prior and be random (unscheduled)? CAPA cites Asiana’s weibo feed, which may be something in and of itself.

  34. January 17th, 2014 at 6:23 am

    lucky said,

    @ Shanghai9 — I didn’t read that article to mean they’ll start A380 service to the US in May, but rather that they’ll start flying the A380 in May and plan on operating it to the US (eventually). I highly doubt it’ll make it to the US by May, unfortunately.

  35. January 21st, 2014 at 7:49 am

    NYCWahoo said,

    I was flying Asiana F over the weekend and a FA confirmed A380 ICN-LAX route in August. She said the company has sent out internal communication already

  36. January 26th, 2014 at 7:21 am

    The OZ A388 - Page 5 - FlyerTalk Forums said,

    […] This is like triple hearsay but…. Someone on Lucky's blog reported speaking with an OZ flight attendant who reported that an internal memo confirmed A380 service LAX/ICN will commence in August. http://boardingarea.com/onemileatati…s-award-seats/ […]

  37. March 27th, 2014 at 7:24 am

    Hunt3r said,

    Just booked LAX to ICN Business Class(Award Miles)on OZ201 for Nov and it will be the A380-800!
    More information is now available on Asiana’s website.

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