A month and a half ago we learned that Korean Air would be dropping first class from many of its routes.
While Korean Air’s first class lags in quality behind many other Asian carriers, I’ve especially liked that I could fly to Asia in first class and connect onward in first class as well because much of their intra-Asia route network offered a first class cabin.
However they haven’t yet removed first class seats from their planes. In fact the seats themselves on many aircraft are virtually identical in first class and business class, but first class is in its own mini-cabin. On their Boeing 777-300 aircraft first class is six-abreast while business class is seven-across. On Airbus A330 and Boeing 777-300 aircraft you can assign yourself a legacy first class seat when booked in business class.
That’s going to change — and in fact Korean Air is considering removing first class entirely from their fleet.
Korean Air plans to reduce and potentially eliminate first class entirely while introducing improved business class seats.
..The South Korean flag carrier has a first class cabin on all 103 of its widebody aircraft. Only Emirates Airline and British Airways have more aircraft with first class cabins, according to latest information from the CAPA – Centre for Aviation Fleet Database.
Thirty airlines around the world offer true first class. Korean Air was especially popular with US-based frequent flyers (1) because they serve more US destinations than any other Asian airline, (2) because they’ve historically offered amazing award availability, and (3) because up until recently they were a Chase transfer partner.
Here are the airlines with the most aircraft offering three- or four-cabin first class seats (American makes the list because of their domestic Airbus A321Ts):
All of the airline’s US routes still offer first class, but they’ve dropped the product not just from intra-Asia flying but also from Auckland, Barcelona, Brisbane, Madrid, Istanbul, St. Petersburg, Toronto, Vancouver, St. Petersburg, as well as Tokyo Narita – Honolulu.
Eventually they’ll remove the seats from Airbus A330s, 787s, and 777-300s (not 777-300ER aircraft) at this point as part of their announced cabin retrofit program. What’s new is that “Korean is also considering removing first class from A380s, 747-8s and 777-300ERs, which would result in the airline not offering first class on any flights.”
Apparently no firm decision has been made, and if a decision in this direction is made removal of first class from the rest of the fleet could coincide with a cabin refresh that’s likely three years in the future.
Before the end of the Chase partnership I transferred a bunch of points to the Skypass program. I’ll still get use out of them but my intention was as a backup way to get to Asia in first class when needed. That plan could… change.