Via One Mile at a Time, Alaska Airlines partner Hainan Airlines is launching a new flight between Los Angeles and Changsha, China and is currently pricing it at $1358 roundtrip. (Somehow I missed it when Brian Sumers wrote about this a week ago.)
Book by December 31 for travel between January 21 and March 24.
- 3 day minimum stay
- $200 change fee
- $450 refund fee
- Child fares are available at 25% off
Economy is available for $560 roundtrip as well.
Hainan Airlines is the fourth largest Chinese carrier with several US services. Effective January 21 their new Los Angeles – Changsha service begins on Mondays and Thursdays.
The fare is bookable through online travel agency sites, and actually prices at $1358 rather than $1359.
Using This Flight as a Jumping Off Point for Asia
You need a visa to visit China. Much of China offers 72 hour visa free visits, however — as long as you are flying on to a third country rather than returning directly to the U.S.
Changsha doesn’t appear to me to be among those airports in China offering 72 hour visa free transit per TIMATIC. But I did find a reference to that being a new option. I suspect one might have trouble with an airline given that Changsha may not be listed in the resources they use.
You could visit on a Chinese visa, or transit up to 24 hours at least with onward international ticket.
Earning Miles With This Fare
You can credit mileage to Alaska Airlines even though redemptions through Mileage Plan aren’t yet available. Alternatively you can credit miles to Etihad Guest if you don’t want to earn in the Fortune Wings Club (Etihad is a Citi ThankYou Rewards transfer partner). You’ll earn 100% flown miles on this fare with Etihad.
While Etihad correctly lists ‘R class’ as deep discount business class, Alaska’s earning chart has ‘R class’ listed as a first class fare, rather than deep discount business, and earning 200 flown miles. It will be interesting to see if miles actually credit that way. Base and premium cabin bonus miles from Hainan Airlines count towards Alaska Airlines status.
I haven’t flown Hainan Airlines (though redemptions through 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, and while their Airbus A330s offer 1-2-1 seating in business class (so all-aisle access) their Boeing 787 is what services the Los Angeles – Changsha route and it’s six-across in business class (like United, and in contrast to American which offers four-across). That doesn’t impress.