A New Option US-Asia With Alaska Airlines Miles: Hainan Airlines

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan has added China’s Hainan Airlines as a partner. (HT: @TravelJono)

Mileage (including elite qualifying mileage)-earning has started, and award redemption is expected to begin in November. Award charts aren’t yet available. But this will be an option not just for travel to China, but for connections elsewhere in Asia as well.

Hainan Airlines’ primary hub is Beijing and they serve Seattle, Chicago, Boston, and Toronto in North America. Here’s their .pdf timetable.

And with historically good award availability, a reasonably good product, and ultimately another option to Asia this makes Alaska Airlines miles even more valuable than they already were.

Mileage-Earning

Interestingly, deepest discount business class fares (“I”) earn fewer miles than full fare coach (100% vs 125% flown miles). While the top 6 coach fares earn 100% flown miles or more, “Q, X, W, U, V, or E classes of service” only earn 50% of flown miles. P, S, G, O, J, T, and N fares do not earn miles. S is award coach so naturally wouldn’t earn miles.

I’ve written regularly about Hainan Airlines in the past because it’s always been an easy upgrade. Wyndham Rewards points transfer to the Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings club, and they allow mileage upgrades without co-pay from ‘M’ fares and above (not the cheapest, but often sub-$1500). Before the program’s devaluation a couple of years ago the mileage cost was cheap, but got up to 55,000 miles each way for US-China.

Business Class Product

I haven’t flown them (though redemptions with Alaska miles may change that) so I can only speak by reputation. I don’t put much stock in Skytrax ratings, but they’re a Skytrax five-star airline along with carriers like Singapore, Cathay Pacific, ANA and Asiana.

That said, their Boeing 787 is six-across in business class (like United, whereas American in contrast is four-across). That doesn’t impress.

Their Airbus A330s are 1-2-1 in business class, so all-aisle access. And I recall they’ve offered Bvlgari amenity kits in business, which is quite premium.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Don’t forget that HU also serves San Jose, which is an Alaska focus city(sorta).

    Ime, there service is in line with what you would expect from a mainlan chinese carrier, perhaps slightly better. Catering is usually fairly good, they have a somewhat extensive IFE system and the hard product, meh, alright.

  2. Gary,

    Can you please illustrate how to look for availability on HU? Also, your article of UA gold elites and higher Now get free lounge access aat LAX, Dulles and More is no longer accessible, wonder why.

    TIA.

  3. @fan – hainan airlines first and economy space can be searched at expertflyer. we’ll see if alaska makes it searchable on their website

  4. Gary,

    I saw that from expertflyer, but only first and economy award. Is the first class award the same inventory as the business class HU has on 787 routes?

    Thanks

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