South Korean carrier Asiana Airlines has introduced a new membership programme aimed at offering business class travellers low-cost upgrades to first class on select flights.
The Asiana First Membership offering allows customers with eligible business class tickets (fare class J/C/D) to purchase a one-time pass for KRW700,000 (US$611) valid for one round-trip upgrade to first class. Meanwhile, regular flyers can buy an annual membership valid for one year that enables unlimited upgrades to first class, for KRW1.3 million (US$1,135).
Members will earn miles based on their originally purchased fare class, however the new Asiana First Membership does enable access to the carrier’s first class lounge as well as priority check in.
While the membership is certainly attractive for regular business class travellers aboard Asiana, there are some limitations. Aside from requiring travellers have a J/C/D fare class ticket, the membership only provides upgrades for the airline’s Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK) and Frankfurt (FRA) routes.
In August 2015, Asiana announced it would be axing its first class offerings on all aircraft except its Airbus A380 as part of cost-cutting measures. A distant second-place competitor to Korean Air, the carrier has been struggling in recent years, announcing a restructuring plan in January 2016 and cutting a number of its international routes to destinations in Japan, Siem Reap and Kota Kinabalu throughout October this year.