Air China Has Stopped Releasing First & Business Class Award Space To The US

Admittedly Air China isn’t the most aspirational airline on earth to fly, though for a long time they’ve been a pretty reliable option for securing premium cabin Star Alliance award seats. I flew them between Paris and Beijing a bit over a year ago, and was pleasantly surprised by their onboard product in business class.

Air-China-Business-Class
Air China business class

Their service to the US is rapidly expanding, as they now fly from Beijing to Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, with more service to come.

Back in the day Air China would consistently release a good amount of first class award space in advance, and a ton of business class award space in advance. Oddly they would always block out space close to departure which is the opposite of what you’d expect, but I’ve never claimed to understand them.

However, as of now it seems like Air China has completely stopped releasing first and business class award space to/from the US through the end of schedule.

Air-China-Awards

CA-Awards

Air China has been a bit erratic in the past in terms of how they release award space, so I wouldn’t necessarily assume this is permanent.

Air-China-First-Class
Air China first class

I suppose this especially isn’t a huge loss given the lack of attractive options for redeeming Star Alliance miles for first class nowadays. LifeMiles is the best value, though nowadays ANA and Asiana are also good about releasing award space, and they both unarguably have a better onboard product.

Still sort of a sad development, especially since I’ve really wanted to fly their Boeing 747-8.

Comments

  1. While it might not be on their 747-8, you can still fly F/J with them on their route to YVR on a 777. Space is just quite limited. A quick scan shows some space in Aug from PEK – YVR (23rd & 27th & possibly others)

  2. It may come and go. A few years ago CA used to release almost zero F/J award on US routes, but later they started to release much more. KE also used to release very few J award on US routes but now they are a lot more generous.

  3. It will come back. And if it didn’t, no great loss.

    We have flown AIr China in first and business between Sydney and Beijing / Shanghai. Service leaves a lot to be desired… although not quite as bad as your experience with China Southern.

  4. By the way, it seems AA has stopped releasing F/J award on China routes as well (except within 3 days of departure). They don’t even have flat bed seats in J!

  5. hmm interesting enough, I was able to see plenty availability from iah to pek today even far out to december this year..

  6. I flew them in business JFK-PEK and PEK-LAX two years ago, it was very nice! But the IFE movie selection was very lacking, because they can only have movies that can get past the censors! Food was not amazing, but pretty good – I’d say the whole experience is on par with flying United, except that united has better IFE.

  7. Could be until they figure out who is canceling United awards fraudulently since most United awards are premium cabin awards to/from the USA (and I’m guessing a majority of CA awards booking between China and the US are booked with UA miles).

  8. hey, lucky! i find out that air china have some space on first class from sfo/lax/nyc to beijing, do you think this is bug? coz, if its bug ticket, ill just redeem the ticket back to beijing~

    thx!!

  9. so, do you think they will still have those space available next month when i need it?
    or is better i just book the ticket in this two days?

    thx!

  10. @ Enson Hao — If you can lock it in now and your dates are set I’d do it now. No guarantee those seats will be around in a month or so.

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