January 2011 | Completing our ‘11 innovative airlines’ list is Korea-based Asiana Airlines, the ‘Airline of the Year 2010,’ and one of the just six ‘5-star airlines’ in the world. Asiana has been covered several times on airlinetrends.com, for example because of its introduction of thoughtful services like ‘PreMom’ and ‘Happy Mom,’ which make life easier easier for expectant mothers and families travelling with infants. Since 1999, Asiana also offers a ‘coat storage service’ at Seoul Incheon Airport during the winter season for passengers travelling to sunny destinations.
Cabin crew as differentiator
Other innovative services from Asiana include an onboard chef and sommelier, introduced in November 2010, as well as a sushi chef on select flights to Los Angeles. During summer holiday season of 2009, Asiana cabin crew offered in-flight make-up services and performed magic shows for kids. In fact Asiana’s service standards are so well regarded the airline was asked by the Korean government to share its service expertise with Korean restaurants in Japan, China and the United States in a series of education seminars.
Seats and AVOD upgrade
Besides its focus on the softer human-side of the travel experience, Asiana in June 2010 started an USD70 million upgrade program, introducing new flat-bed seats in Business Class – which reduced the number of business-class seats from 32 to 24. The upgrade program also includes a new AVOD IFE system on both long and short-haul aircraft, making Asiana one of the few airlines to offer free AVOD on short-haul flights.
Although the airline is currently facing some serious liquidity problems due to an overly ambitious acquisition by its parent company Kumho of a logistics company, Asiana just announced it will buy six A380s as it challenges larger rival Korean Air on intercontinental routes. Deliveries of the A380s will begin from April 2014, and Asiana in 2016 will also receive the first of 30 A350s it has on order.