Asiana Airlines business class upgrade guide

Asiana Airlines business class upgrade guide

Frequent flyer points aren’t only useful for booking business class flights: they’re also great for upgrading yourself from economy, such as when your employer or client will only purchase the lowest-priced ticket for your journey.

Travelling on Star Alliance member Asiana Airlines is no exception, and you don’t even need to have frequent flyer points in the airline’s Asiana Club program: you can upgrade with Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus and United MileagePlus miles, too.

Wherever your points are warehoused, here’s how you can use them to swap your economy ticket for a business class bed on your next Asiana flight.

Asiana Airlines business class upgrades: the basics

There are two key ways to upgrade to Asiana Airlines business class: either by redeeming Asiana Club miles, or by using frequent flyer points or miles from a host of other Star Alliance Frequent Flyer programs.

Included on that roster, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus, Air New Zealand Airpoints, United MileagePlus and more.

Each program adopts different upgrade rules and rates, but regardless of the program you use, all Asiana business class upgrades are subject to availability – so just because a business class seat is still being sold on the flight doesn’t necessarily mean you can use miles to upgrade.

You’ll also earn frequent flyer points and tier miles/status credits in line with the economy class ticket you originally purchased, not as would usually be awarded in business class, even if you snag a business class upgrade.

Asiana Airlines business class upgrades: using Asiana Club miles

If you often fly with Asiana Airlines, you may have built up a stash of Asiana Club miles to fund your upgrade.

The number of miles needed depends on whether you’re travelling during what the airline classes as the ‘low season’ or the ‘peak season’. The following dates correspond to the peak season in the remainder of 2017 and in 2018, while all other dates outside these windows resemble the low season:

  • September 30 to October 8 2017
  • December 24 2017 to January 7 2018
  • February 14 to February 19 2018
  • July 14 to August 19 2018
  • September 21 to September 26 2018
  • December 22 to December 31 2018

On a return journey between Sydney and Seoul, 80,000 miles are enough for a round-trip business class upgrade during the low season, while a return peak season upgrade sets you back 120,000 miles.

Jetting all the way from Australia to the likes of New York or London with Asiana? Prepare to part with 140,000 Asiana Club miles during the low season and 210,000 miles during the peak season.

Asiana’s top-level Platinum and Diamond Plus frequent flyers are exempted from the higher peak season upgrade rates, always being charged the lower number of miles regardless of when their journey departs: including during those ‘peak’ dates.

Upgrades are possible from most economy fares, except for group fares (G), the lowest-cost tickets (L, X and N) and on journeys which were initially booked using frequent flyer points.

If your travels were booked through another airline but Asiana is operating the flight, you won’t be able to upgrade from U, Q, K, S, V, L, W, T, or G fare types.

These upgrades can be requested via the Asiana Airlines website (after logging in to your Asiana Club membership account), or via the Asiana Airlines mobile app: also after signing in as an Asiana Club member.

Should an upgrade be available on your flight, you’ll be able to confirm this instantly – and if not, there’s no harm in trying again after a few days or weeks have passed, just in case an upgrade becomes available!

Asiana Airlines business class upgrades: using Star Alliance miles

Your second path to business class is to use miles from other Star Alliance frequent flyer programs.

Unlike the Asiana Club scheme, the number of miles needed for these upgrades doesn’t change throughout the year, although it must be said that it’s rare for Asiana to permit Star Alliance frequent flyer upgrades during the ‘peak season’ dates above.

That means you may not be able to upgrade during what’s often the busy travel periods like school holidays and Chinese New Year, even if you’d be willing to use more miles than normal for that upgrade.

When upgrades are allowed, here’s how many miles you’d burn on a one-way business class upgrade between Sydney and Seoul, the cut-off times for securing that upgrade and the fare types you can upgrade from with each frequent flyer program:

  • Air New Zealand Airpoints: $1,660 Airpoints Dollars from Y and B fares only, when upgrading at least 7 days before departure
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer: 65,000 KrisFlyer miles from Y and B fares only, up to 24 hours before departure
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus: 60,000 ROP miles from Y and B fares only, up to 24 hours before departure
  • United MileagePlus: 30,000 miles from Y and B fares only (now and following United’s November changes), up to 24 hours before departure

Note that Y and B economy fares tend to be the most expensive, that Star Alliance upgrades aren’t possible on any lower-priced Asiana economy tickets, and that the number of miles needed for these upgrades can be comparable to booking a business class flight outright on the same route.

It makes this move one more for business travellers flying on flexible, company-funded tickets rather than leisure travellers taking a family holiday, who could use a similar number of miles to book business class reward flights from the beginning.

Provided you’re still keen for your business class upgrade, you can secure it by contacting your frequent flyer program – not Asiana Airlines – to request a ‘Star Alliance upgrade using miles’.

Have your Asiana Airlines booking information handy, including your confirmation number and flight details, but remember that as mileage-based upgrades are subject to availability, your request may or may not be successful.

If being able to upgrade is important to you, we’d suggest calling your frequent flyer program before booking your paid ticket to confirm whether an upgrade is available on your chosen flight.

Need more Asiana Club or Star Alliance frequent flyer miles?

Asiana Airlines doesn’t offer paid business class upgrades – unless you’re willing to fork out for the full fare difference between economy and business class – so if you don’t have enough miles for your upgrade, you might be able to transfer some across from your Australian credit card.

For instance, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and Air New Zealand Airpoints are attached to a number of Australian credit card rewards programs including AMEX Membership Rewards, among others, which means you can earn points for your upgrade through cards like American Express Explorer and the American Express Platinum Charge Card.

Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus is also an American Express transfer partner, although Asiana’s own Asiana Club lacks any Aussie credit card ties.

The only way to earn Asiana Club miles on your plastic would be to first convert your eligible credit card points into Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints, and then from Starpoints into Asiana Club miles.

For instance, the American Express Explorer credit card provides two Membership Rewards Gateway points per dollar spent on most purchases, which can be converted into Starpoints on a 2:1 basis (giving one Starpoint per dollar spent).

From there, Starpoints can be converted into Asiana Club miles on a 1:1 rate, plus a 25% bonus every time you transfer 20,000 Starpoints – essentially giving you 1.25 Asiana miles per 1 Starpoint, or 1.25 Asiana Club miles per dollar spent on your AMEX Explorer card.

Even though you could be earning more miles in number when converting you credit card points across to other programs (like KrisFlyer), the lower number of miles needed for your upgrade through Asiana Club, plus the larger number of upgradeable airfares, could make this move a go-to option for regular Asiana flyers.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin (ChrisCh)

[email protected] / @ChamberlinChris

Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!


  • MEL737


    28 Sep, 2017 01:39 pm

    Bearing in mind that Asiana Club only requires 40000 miles in 24 months (20000 miles per year) to be a Diamond member which also grants you Star Alliance Gold status.
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  • julius-grafton


    29 Sep, 2017 03:01 pm

    We flew with Asiana in July from Frankfurt; First class to Incheon, then biz class to Sydney. Which is where we were lectured on the effects of alcohol at altitude, and then pointedly asked 'Are you OK?' when we ordered another wine. Suffice to say my wife and I were quiet, polite, and far from drunk and disorderly. Challenged, the flight manager said it was airline policy. My retort was that it didn't happen in First!
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21 Jul, 2018 12:06 pm

Which Qantas lounges can Air New Zealand Airpoints frequent flyer use?

Which Qantas lounges can Air New Zealand Airpoints frequent flyer use?

Air New Zealand's Airpoints frequent flyers will enjoy have access to Qantas Clubs around Australia under the newly-forged alliance between the two airlines.

As of October 28, 2018, Airpoints Elite and Gold members booked on a codeshare flight with Qantas will find the doors swing open for them at the two dozen Qantas Club lounges in Australia's capital cities and regional centres. They'll also be permitted to bring in one guest.

But it won't be as easy as flashing your shiny Airpoints card, as the following conditions apply:

  1. you have to be travelling on a domestic Qantas flight
  2. it has to be booked under the Air New Zealand codeshare (those flight numbers will be in the NZ7xxx range)
  3. and this must be booked as part of a trans-Tasman booking

This arrangement replaces Airpoints access to Virgin Australia lounges following the dramatic bust-up between the two former allies.

However, there appears to be no Qantas Club lounge access for Koru Club members, nor can AirNZ frequent flyers cool their heels in the more upmarket Qantas Business lounges.

The Qantas / Air New Zealand alliance covers selected flights on the domestic network of each airline, however trans-Tasman and other international flights are excluded from the arrangement.

Read more: Qantas, Air New Zealand alliance will take on Virgin Australia

David Flynn

David Flynn (David)

[email protected] / @djsflynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


  • henrus


    20 Jul, 2018 05:31 pm

    Doesn't it seem a bit odd that Koru club won't get access (something that the VA deal provided) . I guess there will be no access for QF Club cardholders in NZ either?
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  • aviation


    21 Jul, 2018 09:27 am

    Correct, it's reciprocal in that QF Club card holders can't use NZ lounges. The VA deal was very unique as they were the only partner lounges Koru members could access without actually flying Air NZ.
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  • Uqsthom6


    21 Jul, 2018 08:05 am

    Looks like air nz ff get the raw end of the deal
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  • aviation


    21 Jul, 2018 08:31 am

    Thanks for the article, however, there are a few errors.
    1. It's not really an alliance, but a straight domestic codeshare agreement. Alliance to me suggests coordination on pricing, schedules, etc, of which is there is none of.
    2. Some codeshare flights on Qantas are in the NZ1xxx range too (namely the triangle routes)
    3. The codeshare flight can be used for any international journey originating in Australia, not just trans-Tasman (i.e. you could fly CBR-SYD-AKL-LAX or MEL-SYD-RAR)
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21 Jul, 2018 12:06 pm

What you can expect from Cathay's new business class dining concept

What you can expect from Cathay's new business class dining concept

Cathay Pacific will roll out its new 'business class dining concept' this month, with the meal service taking a step closer to a first class experience.

Meals will be individually plated and delivered to passengers by hand rather than by trolley, as the airline adopts more personalised and upmarket approach.

Cathay also expects this will result in a "quieter and calmer cabin environment", especially on late night flights.

Passengers will have a choice between three appetisers and "up to six main course choices" on flights over ten hours in the initial launch of the service to the likes of Chicago (on July 30), London/Gatwick (in August) followed by Frankfurt, Manchester and Washington DC (September); Amsterdam, Paris and Johannesburg (October), Madrid, Brussels and Barcelona (November) and London/Heathrow (December). 

And, being very much on trend, light and healthy 'wellbeing options' feature in every main course.

On flights from Hong Kong the menu will be changed every month, with a quarterly menu refresh for flights to Hong Kong.

Fights from Hong Kong (but not, for now, the return leg) will also see a new range of Hong Kong Favourites inspired by local dishes, such as

  • Hong Kong char siu pork with egg noodles, seasoned soy sauce, spring onion and ginger (shown below)
  • Wok fried seafood in lobster soup with ginger, spring onion, crispy and steamed rice
  • Beef brisket with flat rice noodle soup
  • Mango with pomelo and sago

But before all that eatings starts, business class passengers will notice the new-look menus.

Printed as eight pages on quality paper, they not only detail the meals and drinks available on that flight but include foodie-friendly articles such as 'Anatomy of a Laksa' and feature a local chef revealing their favourite eateries both in Hong Kong and around thr world.

There will also be a breakfast menu card which passengers will complete before hitting the hay, so that they can wake to what the airline described as a "hotel room-service" experience.

However, these are set menus rather than allowing travellers to pick-and-mix from a wide selection of items.

In addition to what's described as 'traditional' Chinese and Western breakfasts, there's also a lighter Continental breakfast plus a minimalist Express breakfast of a piece of pastry and a drink, which can be served 60 minutes before landing for passengers who wish to maximise their sleep.

Refreshments will be revamped as a selection of 'most loved dishes' available throughout the flight as a snack between meals on services to North America and Europe, including the airline's signature burger and popular soup noodles. These will also appear on the main meal menu.

Next year will see Cathay's 'new business class dining concept' extend to medium-distance routes, with plans to include Sydney and Auckland in February 2019 and Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Adelaide and Perth in May 2019.

David Flynn

David Flynn (David)

[email protected] / @djsflynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


  • Skipp


    20 Jul, 2018 12:48 pm

    Look forward to the new meal service in business class coming within the next 12 months - it will make a nice change.
    I just hope (for the future) that Cathay Pacific will stop serving the exact same economy class meals in "Premium" economy class.
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  • MissBasset


    20 Jul, 2018 01:34 pm

    Why bother with the white linen tablecloth if they are serving it on a plastic cafeteria tray? The promo pictures show all set up to eat off the tray. Euww.. I will take it all off the tray and set it up like other airlines J class. FAIL for presentation, CX.
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  • mrj


    20 Jul, 2018 02:42 pm

    I recently suggested to Cathay that their business classs food is amongst the worst of all airlines. Interestingly their response failed to mention this planned revamp.
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    20 Jul, 2018 02:57 pm

    I'm really glad they're going back to classy, glossy paper stock for the menus versus the uncoated groundwood paper they switched to a few years back. Now if they would only bring back that trademark chocolate box at the end of the meal...
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  • David Flynn


    20 Jul, 2018 03:25 pm

    I was on CX a few weeks back and the chocolates made an appearance on every flight...
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  • Manjit Sadhwani

    Manjit Sadhwani

    20 Jul, 2018 03:19 pm

    It's about time
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  • HKAus


    20 Jul, 2018 03:41 pm

    CX Catering is bar far the most outdated and leaves an overall cheap and poor guest experience of most International airliners. CX have unfortunately chosen over the last decade to reduce their overheads where guests can see and feel the difference. Personally after 5 years as a Diamond CX member I have moved to competitors; poor catering, moody crew members, consistently delayed flights (due to over use of planes with no margin for delays) and ridiculous pricing have enabled me to now enjoy such operators as KLM, Virgin Australia, Qantas & Lufthansa; all with an overall better "J"Class experience. Interestingly as a result of my change in travel I was dropped to Gold and this year even though I should have dropped another tier, they obviously are trying to get pax like myself back because they extended my gold status.
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  • Rkwm


    20 Jul, 2018 04:39 pm

    It was taken CX far too long to make changes to the atrocious F&B that has annoyed their long term supporters . The plastic cafeteria tray certainly brings the enhancements down a few levels can’t, understsnd who approved this inclusion . Totally agree with HKAus, supported CX for over two decades but over the last two years the deterioration in service , punctuality and value has been palpable.

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  • Tony OBERON


    20 Jul, 2018 04:48 pm

    Looks marginally better - but CX are you seriously going to use a plastic tray? At least put a cloth on the tray - if for no other reasons than hygiene! I’m a germophobe and I cringe to see cutlery sitting on a plastic tray, which cannot be washed at the same high temps as crockery. Lysteria et al here we come.
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    21 Jul, 2018 11:33 am

    I think everyone who travels Cathay agrees that the dining experience had to be upgraded, this looks the goods.
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21 Jul, 2018 12:06 pm

 Cartier Santos: the original pilot's watch, reimagined

Cartier Santos: the original pilot's watch, reimagined

Very few watches can claim true originality, and the Cartier Santos is among those few.

The Santos made its debut way back in 1904 as a personal timepiece for aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont, making it both the first pilot’s watch and one of the earliest known men’s wristwatches.

The story

As we've previously detailed, the Santos was borne from a request by Brazilian flyer Santos-Dumont, who told his friend Louis Cartier – then a Parisian watchmaker – of the challenge of timing flights using the then-conventional pocket watch, as pilots needed to keep both hands on the aircraft controls.

In response, Cartier designed a large square-faced watch and fitted it to a strap so it could be worn on the wrist – quite a revolutionary concept at the time.

The first commercial Cartier Santos watches went on sale to the public in 1911 with solid gold cases and ultra-thin mechanical movements designed by French clockmaker Edmond Jaeger.

(In order to produce this movement for Cartier, Jaeger worked with Swiss movement manufacturer Jacques-David LeCoultre, a partnership that would lead to the birth of storied brand Jaeger-LeCoultre.)

The enduring design of the Cartier Santos was reimagined in the late 1970s as a luxury steel sports watch, later adding two-tone steel and gold and the now-iconic screwed bezel with exposed gold screws along the bracelet for a modern, industrial aesthetic.

The style

For 2018, Cartier has once again re-invented the Santos.

The distinctive screw-set bezel now tapers at both ends towards the bracelet to create an organic, integrated look.

The satin-brushed case features a wide mirror-polished bevel along its length, extending all the way to the gracefully curved crown guards at 3 o’clock. A square watch the Santos may be, but there’s hardly a sharp edge or straight line to be found.

The case has been slimmed dramatically from previous incarnations of the Santos, allowing this watch to disappear easily under a shirt cuff when needed.

The bracelet is fitted with a new 'QuickSwitch' system allowing for easy swapping with the included tan calfskin strap or Cartier’s alternative crocodile straps, providing some style versatility.

Adding or removing bracelet links has also been made easier with a new 'SmartLink' design which allows the wearer to expand the bracelet during a hot summer’s day without requiring a tool.

While the bezel, case and bracelet have all been modernised, the dial remains classic Cartier. With Roman numerals, a railroad minute-track and heat-blued hands, it’s hard to imagine a more traditional look.

The 2018 Cartier Santos can serve dress-watch and sports-watch duties equally well, and boasts a history that few timepieces can match.

The details

• In-house mechanical movement with automatic winding
• Seven-sided crown set with a faceted synthetic spinel
• Silvered opaline dial, blued-steel sword-shaped hands, sapphire crystal
• Water-resistant to 10 bar (approximately 100 metres)
• Medium version case width: 35.1 mm, thickness: 8.83 mm
• Large version case width: 39.8 mm, thickness: 9.08 mm
• Pricing from A$8,750 for the Cartier Santos Medium in steel, to A$52,500 for the Cartier Santos Large in solid pink gold with matching pink gold bracelet. For stockists, visit

Jason Swire

Jason Swire (Jason Swire)

[email protected] /

Jason Swire is a Sydney-based writer, watch collector and author of 'Timely Advice', a beginner's guide to fine timepieces. His non-watch passions include hi-fi and whiskey, in that order.

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21 Jul, 2018 12:06 pm

Finnair flicks the switch on free WiFi for European flights

Finnair flicks the switch on free WiFi for European flights

Finnair will launch inflight Internet on its European flights this week, with travellers able to enjoy the high-speed satellite service free of charge during a two-month trial period running through to the end of September.

The Oneworld airline has already outfitted six of its single-aisle Airbus jets with technology provided through partner Viasat, which also provided the backbone for Qantas' Australia-wide WiFi system.

By the end of northern summer some 20 aircraft will be upgraded, with Finnair's entire single-aisle Airbus fleet slated for WiFi by mid-2019.

The system will be available on a gate-to-gate basis, so passengers won't even need to wait for their jet to reach level flight – which will maximise time online for many of Finnair's relatively short European hops.

However, parts of some European routes will present black spots to the satellite network, including above the Bay of Biscay and the North Sea, while some restrictions also apply over Latvia, Lithuania, parts of Belarus and Russia.

Over the two-month testing period Finnair intends to "gather information on system functionality and feedback on the overall customer experience."

"In entering the passenger testing phase, we’ll be gaining the critical insights needed to further optimise our service to ensure Finnair customers get a unique experience built around their needs, interests and usage behaviours," explains Viasat vice-president Don Buchman.

The airline has yet to reveal what pricing it will charge for its sky-high WiFi once the trial period ends, although frequent flyers will no doubt hope that some sort of monthly pass is available as an alternative to paying on a per-flight basis.

Finnair already offers WiFi on its long-range 'intercontinental' jets, with the first hour free for business class and Finnair Plus Gold members, then €3 (A$4.70) for three hours or €20 (A$31) for the entire flight. Finnair Plus Platinum frequent flyers are provided with free Internet access for the whole flight.

David Flynn

David Flynn (David)

[email protected] / @djsflynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


  • eight10man


    20 Jul, 2018 06:19 pm

    Not sure how you can have black spots when using satellite internet.. especially when those black spots happen to be above the sea. Could it be this system is actually and ground-to-ground system maybe?
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  • readosunnycoast


    20 Jul, 2018 10:35 pm

    Just flew BKK>>>HEL, A350 with wifi. Couldnt get a connection of any sort. Just kept message, don’t close the browser. I do hope it gets better for the next lot of passengers
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21 Jul, 2018 12:06 pm


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