Alaska & Hainan Announce New Partnership

As y’all know, I love reviewing new airlines, especially those that can easily be booked using points.

While China has more than a handful of “major” carriers, almost unarguably the best regarded Chinese carrier is Hainan Airlines, which is one of only seven five star airlines in the world, according to Skytrax (I don’t put too much weight into Skytrax ratings, though I do believe they’re a solid airline).

Skytrax-Five-Stars

While I’ve sort of reluctantly reviewed Air China and China Southern (did I ever!), Hainan Airlines is one I really want to review. But go figure that up until now they’re also the airline which has had the fewest partners. That meant for the most part there has been no practical way to redeem miles for travel on Hainan Airlines.

China-Southern-Business-Class
China Southern A380 business class

Well, Alaska and Hainan have just announced a new partnership. Effective immediately, Alaska Mileage Plan members can earn miles for travel on Hainan. The earnings rates are as you’d expect, with 50% of flown miles for discounted economy, and up to 150% of flown miles for paid first/business class.

Hainan

Hainan often has very reasonable business class fares out of the US, so it’ll be great to earn valuable Alaska Mileage Plan miles for those flights.

Unfortunately it’s not yet possible to redeem Alaska miles for travel on Hainan, though Alaska’s website indicates it should be possible as of November 2015.

My assumption is that the redemption rates will be quite reasonable. Alaska Mileage Plan miles are extremely valuable, and even their redemption rates on Cathay Pacific are very good. So if I had to guess, I’d say they’ll probably charge 55,000-70,000 miles for one-way business class between the US and Asia.

Hainan’s US destinations out of Beijing include Boston, Chicago, San Jose, and Seattle. That’s why Alaska is such a good fit as a partner, since they can presumably drive a lot of traffic onto Hainan’s San Jose and Seattle flights.

Hainan-1
Hainan Airlines 787 business class

Hainan-2
Hainan Airlines 787 business class

Bottom line

While I’ll be curious to see the redemption rates, this makes Alaska Mileage Plan miles even more valuable, in my book. I love Alaska Mileage Plan, largely because of the hodgepodge of airline partners they have across the alliances.

Are you looking forward to earning or redeeming Alaska Mileage Plan miles for travel on Hainan?

Hainan-787

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

Comments

  1. This is very interesting news. I flew them domestically in China from Beijing to Xi’an and did not know much about them before then. Nice to see.

  2. the pics look like LOT biz class but in red… not much to write home about… probably another airline that paid for their rating with skytrax.

  3. “While China has more than a handful of “major” carrier, almost unarguably the best regarded Chinese carrier is Hainan Airlines”

    Err….Cathay Pacific, perhaps?

  4. I flew them domestically in China, in First Class. Seats were old but for a short flight, totally worth the 50 $ premium over the economy class price!

  5. I’m curious why we hear so little about them despite them being a “5-Star Airline”. Similar to you, I think Skytrax is a crap tool for measuring how objectively good an airline is and generally assume anything they publish is rubbish. I really wish there was a better way to compare airlines and that Skytrax wasn’t the industry hallmark since it’s BS.

  6. I first flew Hainan airlines back in 2008 from Haikou to Beijing and was impressed that there was IFE on each seat in economy!

    Hainan Fortune Wings club is an SPG partner so it is possible to redeem miles on them. Too bad Hainan phased out its first class product when they retired their a340s after the arrival of their 787s.
    For the longest time Hainan had wanted to join an alliance but with air China aligned with star alliance and China eastern/southern with skyteam, the logical choice would have been oneworld, but I heard Cathay blocked them from joining? Anyway it is good to hear Hainan is partnering with AS!

  7. Yes, please!

    And looking forward to your review of Hainan as well!

    Would really want to see how far off skytrax is with their rankings.

  8. Hainan Air is not a 5 star airline. None of the mainland Chinese airlines are. I definitely think you should fly them before taking someone else’s word that they are a five star airline. I encourage people to avoid this airline.

  9. @Lucky @Joey: Does this mean Hainan does not offer a first class product for flights serving the US?

  10. Also on the Alaska webpage you can register for double miles if you fly Hainan before Oct 31, 2015. But first you need to register your Alaska milage number on the Alaska webpage for this offer. The miles received will be Alaska miles.

  11. @Nick, not to my knowledge. I believe Hainan flies their 787s to all of their longhaul U.S. routes, which offers J and Y. I recall they retired their a340 last year.

  12. Rather unfamiliiar with Hainan.

    Does anyone know why it might be considered a standout among mainland Chinese carriers?

  13. There was a rather detailed review on Airliners recently for Hainan’s service out San Jose, in Business. For those interested, I recommend seeking it out. Seems Hainan are pretty decent, going off that trip report.

  14. Hainan is kind of like Qatar in the ways it treats is employees. I know a few FAs for Chinese airlines and they all agree that Hainan is best avoided like the plague in terms of employment. A lot of the curfew/no marriage/reporting others is much like Qatar. Furthermore, it is rumored that top brass tend to hire “Buddhist” fortuneteller’s and have them pick which FAs they think will bring luck/prosperity to the company.

  15. I thought Hainan flights were bookable with AAdvantage miles because of their partnership? Wouldn’t mind seeing a review of Hainan…

  16. Finally something you want to do that I already did about 2 years ago :-). Was on a C (revenue) flight from Seattle to Beijing and back. Wrote a short trip report in April 2013 on flyertalk and here is a copy. At the time they sold their flights already with AS or F9 at least when you started in Denver. They also offer a car service in Beijing for C which I did use (stayed at the Hilton in Wangfujing).

    ————-

    I finished my trip already a couple weeks ago but forgot to write a short update. So here it goes:

    I booked DEN -> SEA -> PEK -> SEA -> DEN in C with DEN -> SEA on AS and SEA -> DEN on F9.

    AS F check in in Denver was kind of slow early in the morning and they tried to charge me for overweight (53 pounds instead of 50 on one of the 2 suitcases). I showed them my flight confirmation having 2 x 70 lbs allowance and was sorted out. They could not print me the HU boarding pass.

    Arrived in Seattle and had to take the train to change terminal. The lounge they use is shared with BA and quite nice. At the entrance they took my passport and brought me the boarding pass to my seat. I had a 4 hour lay over, free drinks (had to have them open the bar though, I guess nobody wants to drink at 9am yet) and a small ok food selection. Internet was fast and the lounge was empty when I came and never filled up too much.

    Had a seat in the middle so nobody needed to step over me. Seat was pretty good, 180 degree lay flat but felt a bit uneven, can’t really explain it well but I sleep better on either UA C or BA C (not to mention Swiss, ANA, Cathay etc.). I did like their Chinese food and the service was quite good, English language skills a bit lacking but we managed. They did make my bed and I slept decent. Plane was pretty much in time but wait for the luggage was way too long, probably 30 minutes but also had no immigration lines at all.

    I arranged for their free pick up service, somebody waited for me at the gate when deplaning and walked me to immigration, then waited for the luggage and helped me get it through customs and walked me across the street to the waiting Mercedes S class. Was at the hotel reasonable quick (ok Beijing traffic, got stuck for a while) and managed to make it just in time to the dinner we had arranged.

    Return flight I also did arrange for the pick up at my city hotel and worked out very well with the driver showing up a couple minutes early. Somebody helped with my luggage again and walked me to the (wrong) check in counter. Check in was quick and immigration also.

    As somebody else already wrote the lounge at T2 is not up to par, crowded, dingy and food not good.

    Return flight was about the same, in time with no issues. Slept the larger part of the flight and food was quite good again. English was a bit worse this time but still ok.

    The F9 flight to Denver was late and the gate was a mess but can’t really blame HU for this.

    In general I liked the flight. Always got my drink refilled and the food was pretty decent. Seat was ok, could have been a bit better. Service on the ground in Beijing was very good except for the lounge at T2 in Beijing which is pretty bad.

    I would fly it again especially considering the price I paid. Unfortunately not part of any alliance so no miles except their own (they do have AA code shares and then you get miles).

  17. We lived in China for 9 years. Having tried several airlines for the trans-Pacific leg, Hainan became our go-to favorite. Consistent quality at competitive prices. Far better and more comfortable than typical Chinese airlines, especially China Sardine (China Southern). Since returning to Canada we have tried a couple of other airlines, making me yearn for Hainan once again. Since we have two sons in Fairbanks, this alliance is exciting news for us!!

  18. HU is the best airline in mainland of China.It always have cheaper price than Air China.But their A330 product need to be improved.Their North America network is expanding so fast.New routes such as PEK-SJC,PEK-BOS,PVG-SEA,PVG-BOS sells good.

  19. Hi! I flew Hainan at Christmas, HK-Bejing-Chicago. It was the worse flight ever. The food was absolutely horrible for all meals. They even ruined eggs. They also don’t allow any phone use, even in airplane mode during any part of the flight. Tablets are ok, but phones are not. My question is what is the difference between my phone in airplane mode and my iPad in airplane more. Unfortunately I hadn’t brought my iPad and the entertainment on the plane both ways was really bad, I wanted to listen to my own music and wasn’t able to.

    Overall, not worth the price and definitely not a five star airline.

  20. For getting to that part of the world in J, hell would have to freeze over before I use valuable AS miles for this airline over CX.

  21. @David W – are you a time traveller from pre-1997 era? If so, for your info, Hong Kong has always been part of China since time immemorial, save for 100+ years, where it was forcibly robbed from China after the Chinese government burnt up the opium that UK had used to drugged the Chinese people in exchange for tea. The robber had returned Hong Kong to its rightful owner in 1997. Time to wake up.

  22. @Alvin – “When spoken in terms of the business industry”, in Hong Kong itself (where presumbly you are from, based on your user name), it’s “MAINLAND CHINA” versus “Hong Kong”, never “China” versus “Hong Kong”. It’s “Mainlander” versus “Hong Kong people”, never “Chinese” versus “Hong Kong people”. And that’s because, to remind you, you are a Chinese (by nationality, and most likely by ethnicity) too.

    And this has always been the way it was spoken “in terms of the business industry” even before 1997, let alone post 1997. Or perhaps, you meant to say “in terms of the *western* business industry”? Geez, are you a Chinese wishing to be a westerner? Get over your colonial mentality, dude. It’s over, since 1997, for more than a decade already…

  23. “While China has more than a handful of “major” carrier, almost unarguably the best regarded Chinese carrier is Hainan Airlines”

    No, my friend, the best regarded Chinese carrier is Cathay Pacific, followed by EVA Air. The former is from Hong Kong, China. The latter is from Taiwan, China.

    When you rank or rate US domestic air carriers, do you exclude Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Air? The former is from Hawaii, USA. The latter is from Alaska, USA.

  24. @Jamie Liu, I like the way you put it: “HU is the best airline in *mainland* of China.” (emphasis mine). Too bad Lucky / Ben has not woken up from his colonial-era mentality. That’s why he often travel from Hong Kong to China, and back. I wonder if that’s similar to travelling from Alaska to USA, or is it more similar to travelling from Hawaii to USA. Hmmm…

  25. @John – wow, touchy much? I think it is interesting to point out that, for the purposes of transit visa qualification, even (Mainland!) China doesn’t consider the SARs to be China (and the wording in the qualification rules doesn’t seem to use the word ‘mainland’ anywhere).

    And, before you get too sanctimonious, you might want to stop using Alaska Airlines as an example of an airline “from Alaska” – they are based in Seattle. Not to mention the fact that the comparison is flawed, given that Alaska and Hawaii are just regular states (no different than North Dakota or Florida), whereas your two China examples (HK and Taiwan) are in fact special administrative regions with unique governmental allowances/structures when compared to other (Mainland!) Chinese provinces. If you wanted to try to make a point, using Guam or Puerto Rico would be more fitting.

  26. John, pls chill.

    HK is part of China, but there is still a distinction. It is SAR.

    More importantly, in the context here, HU is a Chinese airlines that has domestic rights, i.e. they can fly PEK-PVG, while CX does not have it. Everything needs to run via HKG. Will this change some day? Maybe. Maybe not.

    I get your point.

    But in this context, I get Lucky’s as well.

  27. @John. Take a chill pill and a clue. Most of us don’t care to feed on your agitprop.
    Taiwan, China? Give us a break! Pretty much only Mainland China claims and believes that. Most of the rest of the world takes Taiwan for what it is, an independent country. All your little rants do is just come across as annoying.

  28. @John:
    “No, my friend, the best regarded Chinese carrier is Cathay Pacific, followed by EVA Air. The former is from Hong Kong, China. The latter is from Taiwan, China.”

    That should be Hong Kong SAR, PRC and Taiwan, ROC.

  29. Please ban John and his hardcore nationalist Chinese idiocy. No one wants to read it. Native Hong kongers and native Taiwanese do not consider themselves Chinese in the same vein as mainland Chinese do. More importantly, they look down on the other, for good reason.

  30. Oh flew it so many times in extra-short haul economies. Everything was terrible. Imagine that you are onboard a plane and you are told to stow your headphones away!

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