Two of the largest international airlines with headquarters in South Korea are Asiana Airlines (or Korean Air) and Korean Air (or Korean Air). These two airlines could soon merge. Korean Air announced in November 2020 that it would purchase Asiana Airlines. Korean Air, the combined airline, would be called Korean Air. It would become the […]

Two of the largest international airlines with headquarters in South Korea are Asiana Airlines (or Korean Air) and Korean Air (or Korean Air). These two airlines could soon merge. Korean Air announced in November 2020 that it would purchase Asiana Airlines. Korean Air, the combined airline, would be called Korean Air. It would become the seventh largest airline in the world. Regulators are still blocking the deal as of this writing.

Both airlines are currently operating separately. Here’s our comparison of Korean Air and Asiana for anyone considering flying to or through South Korea.

Where they are based and where they fly

Winner: Korean Air

Korean Air flies to more places than Asiana Airlines, which includes more than twice the number of U.S. destinations.

Asiana Airlines

Asiana Airlines, based in Seoul, operates flights to 74 cities in 22 countries.

The company operates a fleet consisting of 73 aircraft — including a regional Airbus A320 aircraft and four massive double-decker Airbus A380s.

Asiana Airlines currently offers flights to five U.S. destinations:

  1. Los Angeles.

  2. New York-John F. Kennedy.

  3. San Francisco.

Korean Air

Korean Air, which is based in Seoul currently has a fleet of 156 planes that fly to 120 cities in 43 different countries. This includes flights to 11 U.S. Airports.

  1. Chicago-O’Hare.

  2. Dallas-Fort Worth.

  3. Las Vegas.

  4. Los Angeles.

  5. New York, JFK.

  6. San Francisco.

  7. Washington-Dulles.

Korean Air, like Asiana, operates a variety of aircraft. These range from 10 140-seat Airbus A220 aircraft to 10 407 Airbus A380 aircraft.

Available Travel Credit Card

Winner: Korean Air

Asiana Airlines has ceased to offer credit cards to U.S. credit cardholders. Korean Air has three options that offer a variety of benefits.

Asiana Airlines credit card

Asiana Airlines offered U.S. citizens two credit cards via Bank of America:

  • Asiana Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card.

  • Asiana Airlines Visa Business Card.

Currently, no credit cards are available for new cardholders.

Korean Air Credit Cards

U.S.-based travellers can apply for one or more Korean SkyPass-branded credit card:

  • SkyPass Visa Signature Card (95 per annum).

  • SkyPass Select Visa Signature card ($450 annually).

  • SkyPass Visa Signature Business Card (95 Annual Fee).

All three cards offer 30,000 bonus Korean SkyPass Miles for net purchases of $3,000 within the first 90 days.

Airline loyalty programmes

Winner: Asiana Airlines

Both Asiana Airlines and Korean Air have amazing redemption rates. Both are not transfer partners of major U.S. banks, making it difficult to earn many miles with either of these programs. Asiana Airlines has a slight advantage as Korean Air’s partner award chart expires March 2023.

Asiana Airlines loyalty programme

Asiana Club miles can be one of the most valuable, but also the most difficult miles to earn. Marriott Bonvoy is the only major transferable point program that can be transferred to Asiana. Each 3 Marriott Bonvoy points you transfer, you’ll receive 1 Asiana Club Mile. You can also get a bonus of 5,000 miles for transferring at most 60,000 Bonvoy Points.

The best redemption rates for U.S.-based travellers include:

  • South America, 35,000 miles per way in business class.

  • Business class from Europe starting at 40,000 miles

  • First Class to Europe for only 50,000 miles per way

  • Africa for 60,000 Asiana Miles each way in Business Class

Korean Air loyalty program

Korean Air, like Asiana offers valuable redemptions, but it is not a transfer partner for Marriott Bonvoy. For every 60,000 points transferred, you will receive 1 Korean SkyPass Mile.

Korean SkyPass offers similar award redemption rates to Asiana Club. Fly anywhere in North America with economy class for 25,000 miles round trip, Europe in business for 80,000 miles roundtrip, or Africa or the Middle East with business class for 120,000 mile roundtrip.


Korean Air will increase award redemption rates starting April 1, 2023. Korean Air has switched to a distance-based chart instead of a regional-based award system. This increases the redemption rates for most redemptions.

Extra fees

Winner: Asiana Airlines

Korean Air and Asiana offer many services that other airlines don’t, such as checked baggage and seat selection. Korean Air has a slight advantage over Asiana because it does not offer free seat selection for its economy tickets.

Asiana Airlines

All passengers flying between South Korea or the United States get two checked bags for free of up to 23 kg (50 pounds) each. Two checked bags are still available for business class passengers, but they can now carry 32 kg (70 lb) more. Economy passengers will need to pay $100 more to check an overweight bag (upto 70 pounds), and $200 to check an additional standard-sized bag.

Standard economy seats are free. You will need to pay an additional fee for Economy Smartium, front zone, and duo seats.

Book online at least 48 hours before your preferred seat assignment to save 5%

Korean Air

Korean Air, like Asiana offers economy passengers two bags of up to 23 kg (50 pounds) each. Extra checked bags are $200, and overweight bags are $100 each. Two checked bags up to 30 kg (66 lbs) are available for business class passengers. This is slightly less than the Asiana offer for business class passengers.

Korean Air offers standard seating selections for all economy passengers at no cost. Premium fare class passengers get extra legroom and preferential seat selection. Passengers on promotional fares (booking codes N or T), however, will need to pay standard seat selection. They cannot buy extra legroom seats.

In-flight experience

Winner: Tie

Korean Air and Asiana provide a great in-flight experience, even in economy. The economy seats are spacious and offer extras that are not available on other airlines such as slippers and coat checks.

Asiana Airlines

(Photo by Asiana Airlines)

Asiana offers a spacious economy seat with 34 inch pitch and an 11-inch screen for in-flight entertainment. The International Travel Catering Association has recognized the high quality food. Asiana also offers economy passengers slippers and toothbrushes on flights to the U.S. and Europe.

Korean Air

(Photo by Korean Air)

Korean Air offers a unique experience in economy that is “full of comfort” and provides a wide range of enjoyment. Although it might seem exaggerated, Korean Air economy has some truly unique features. For up to five days, passengers can leave their winter coats at the airport free of charge. Even economy passengers can request an airport wakeup.

Korean Air business passengers have access to a lounge on the Airbus A380, and can take a shower after their arrival in Seoul.

Asiana vs. Korean Air, recapped

There is no clear winner in the Asiana versus Korean Air competition. Both airlines offer superior cabin experiences, complimentary checked bags and standard seats on most flights.

You can’t go wrong with flying Asiana or Korean Air.

Both airlines offer excellent award charts. However, Korean Air will be devaluing its partner chart in April 2023. Korean Air offers a better route network and travel credit card options for U.S. travellers.

Maximizing your Rewards

A travel credit card should be able to prioritize what is most important to you. These are our top picks for the best travel cards in 2022, as well as those that work best for: