KOREAN AIR, the largest airline and flag carrier of South Korea based on fleet size, international destinations, and international flights, has made the difficult decision to remove first class on 76 of their 111 routes.
This means only 35 routes, some 30 percent of Korean Air’s international flights, will still have first class.
According to The Korea Herald, the change was due to low demand for first class tickets and a need to maximize profitability and efficiency. With this change, Korean Air will only have economy and business class on 76 of their 111 routes.
“We decided to apply two class seat options for flights to tourism destinations where there was low demand for first class. We will do our best to minimize the inconvenience of first class passengers and maintain quality service for prestige-class passengers,” a Korean Air spokesperson said.
For example, the Brisbane to Seoul and Sydney to Seoul flights are set to lose first class. This will be joined by the Toronto, Vancouver, Barcelona, Madrid, Istanbul, Zagreb, Brisbane, Auckland, Nadi routes as well, according to FlightGlobal. The changes will come into effect from June 1, 2019.
Currently, there is no first class seating for most of Korean Air’s short-haul routes but the airline will maintain first class on routes to Beijing, Osaka, Hong Kong, Taipei, Bangkok, Singapore, Manila, Jakarta, Hanoi, and a handful of its long-haul routes.
Korean Air uses the same seats for first and business class for flights operating on their Boeing 787 and Airbus A330 aircraft. The only difference between these classes is the food and service. On the airline’s Boeing 777, Boeing 747, and Airbus A380, however, the first and business class cabins are very obviously different.
Korean Air is not the first airline to do away with first class. In recent years, a number of airlines including British Airways, Delta, and United have traded in their first class seats in favor of more business class and economy seating.
This is because the demand for first class travel has dwindled over the years despite luxurious perks like fine dining-standard inflight meals, more legroom, privacy and exclusivity, 180-degree lie-flat seats, individual wide-screen movie theatre, and more.
According to The Economist, executives are opting for business class and many former first class customers are choosing to fly private. To add on, the quality of business class seating has seen impressive improvements as well so travelers will be seated just as comfortably for less.
For more information, visit Korean Air’s website.