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It’s always fun to plan a trip to a city you hadn’t heard of just a few days prior…
A couple of days ago I wrote about Hainan Airlines launching flights between Los Angeles and Changsha as of January 21, 2016.
To celebrate the new flight, they’re offering roundtrip business class fares of just ~$1,350, which is incredible for transpacific business class. Hainan Airlines is a Skytrax 5-star airline, along with only a few other carriers in the world. That’s pretty incredible, given that my experience with Chinese airlines has generally been less than stellar.
~$1,350 is a price at which I couldn’t turn down reviewing Hainan Airlines business class, so I’ll be heading to Changsha in February! I booked the ticket through Orbitz, and paid for the ticket using my Citi ThankYou® Premier Card. That’s because the card earns triple points on airfare, even when booked through travel agencies. I would have used the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, though it only offers triple points on tickets purchased directly with an airline (and in this case I used an online travel agency).
The flight is operated by a 787 featuring six seats per row, which is a pretty standard configuration (similar to the LOT and Ethiopian 787s I flew a while back). Certainly nothing out of the ordinary, and the cabin sure looks… red.
I’ll be spending just two days in Changsha, though to be honest I’m not sure what exactly the city has to offer.
Hainan Airlines’ primary hub is in Beijing, so it’s interesting that their first flight out of Los Angeles is to Changsha, and not to Beijing. Changsha seems to be a decent size city, though not massive, so I’m really curious about the motivation behind the route.
If Starwood’s presence in Changsha is any indication, it seems like it’s a rapidly growing market. As of now there’s just a Sheraton there, though over the coming years they’re opening a St. Regis, Westin, Luxury Collection, Le Meridien, Four Points, W, and two more Sheratons. So if that’s any indication, it seems like Hainan is trying to capture the market early.
I’ll be staying at the Sheraton Changsha, which has very reasonable rates (~$110) and looks quite nice.
On top of that I already have a 10 year Chinese visa, so there’s no added cost to me for that.
One thing I’m curious about is how many miles I’ll earn for the trip. Hainan Airlines is an Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan partner, so you can earn Alaska miles for travel on them (which I value immensely). The flights book into the “R” fare class, which in theory accrue 200% of flown miles (both elite qualifying and redeemable). That means as a non-elite you’d earn ~28,000 elite qualifying and redeemable miles for the roundtrip ticket.
However, oddly Alaska’s earnings page for Hainan Airlines indicates that “R” is the fare class for first class, and not business class. Generally airlines credit miles based on the fare class as opposed to the corresponding class of service, so I suspect it’ll accrue 200% mileage. But the discrepancy is interesting.
Ultimately I’m taking this trip in order to be able to review Hainan Airlines business class, as I doubt I’ll ever see a better deal. Even if it becomes possible to redeem Alaska miles on Hainan, it’ll still be a better deal to book a ticket at this price rather than redeem such valuable miles (I value Alaska miles at roughly two cents each).
If anyone has any tips or thoughts on Changsha, I’d be curious to hear them. The way I see it, there’s nowhere in the world which isn’t at least worth checking out for a day or two, so I’m excited to be able to visit.
Is anyone else taking advantage of this incredible Hainan Airlines business class fare?
If you haven’t yet, this fare can be booked until tomorrow, though availability is much more limited than it was a few days ago.