Asiana recently announced that starting on July 22, it would be flying a new 777-200ER daily on its New York-JFK <-> Seoul-Incheon route with the following flight times.
OZ222 departs Seoul-ICN at 10:00 and arrives New York-JFK at 11:00 AM (same day)
OZ 221 departs New York-JFK at 1:00 PM and arrives Seoul-ICN at 4:10 PM (next day)
This is big news because the three-cabin Asiana 777-200ERs have a fantastic first class. See video of the enclosed suite here (in Korean!):
The Quadra Smartium business class also looks incredible in this Korean video showing the staggered fully flat configuration.
I took a look at the award space on the route, and it looks like this will be a great way to get to Asia in first class with United or US Airways miles.
Award Space from New York to Seoul
Using my technique to trick united.com’s award calendar, I was able to get the calendar to display space for just the New York to Seoul route.
There was no award space in any cabin in the end of July when the new 777-200ER takes over the route.
August and September show good award space in premium cabins and no award space at all in economy. Unfortunately the calendar doesn’t specify whether the premium space is in business or first class. I clicked on several of the dates that are shaded blue. All had one first class seat and no business class seats.
October and November showed a lot more award space.
Specifically November 7 has three economy seats, one business class seat, and two first class seats. November 7 is not atypical. These are the days this fall with 2+ award seats in the same cabin from New York to Seoul.
And finally the Christmas and New Year’s space is strong too.
Getting to New York-JFK
Let’s say you don’t live in New York, but you want to enjoy 14 hours 30 minutes of flight from the east coast to Korea. Unfortunately your convenient options are limited. If you are using United mile or US Airways miles, you can fly in on United, US Airways, or Air Canada.
US Airways only flies to JFK from Charlotte and Phoenix. United only flies in from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington-Dulles. Air Canada only flies in from Toronto.
United’s hub in the New York area is Newark. On United and US Airways awards, you are allowed to fly into Newark and out of JFK. It counts as a normal layover. But, of course, it’s not a normal layover. It’s an expensive and inconvenient trip from Newark to JFK. United and US Airways also fly a number of flights into LaGuardia, which is an easier trip to JFK, but still annoying.
The bottom line is that this route is of the most use for people who can use JFK as their home airport.
Connecting to Asia from Incheon
The good news is that this route is of great value even if you don’t want to go to Korea. Asiana flies to dozens of Asian countries from its Seould-Incheon hub with great award space, so you should be able to go anywhere you want in Asia on an award that features the JFK-Seoul leg.
Like all international United roundtrip awards, this would be eligible for a free oneway. Read the Master Thread: Free Oneways on United Awards. Note that even if you arrive in New York-JFK, your free oneway can depart from Newark or LaGuardia, since the three are coterminal.
Like all international US Airways awards, this would be eligible for a free oneway. Read the Master Thread: Free Oneways on US Airways Awards. Note that even if you arrive in New York-JFK, your free oneway can depart from Newark or LaGuardia, since the three are coterminal.
Bulking Up Your US Airways Balance
US Airways has a sweet spot to North Asia. If you are just flying to Korea, the award would cost only 60k/90k/120k US Airways miles roundtrip in economy/business/first.
Unfortunately US Airways miles are harder to come by than United miles. You can earn 30k US Airways miles on first purchase with the US Airways Premier World MasterCard. The card has an $89 annual fee.
You can also earn SPG Starpoints and transfer them to US Airways miles at a rate of 1 point to 1.25 miles if your transfers are in increments of 20,000 points. That makes the 25k point SPG American Express offer worth 30,000 more US Airways miles.
Application Link: Starwood Preferred Guest American Express
Asiana is going to put a three-cabin aircraft on its New York <-> Seoul route starting July 22. The first and business classes are incredible and have plenty of award space that you can snag with United and US Airways miles.