Is Flying Hainan The Best Way To Earn Alaska Status?

As regular readers will know, I recently completed a trip between Los Angeles and Changsha in Hainan Airlines business class. This was thanks to some fantastic ~$1,350 roundtrip introductory fares they had in the market.

Hainan-Airlines-Business-Class-787 - 1

My primary motivation for taking the trip was to review Hainan business class, given that they’re a Skytrax five star airline.

Hainan-Airlines-Business-Class-787 - 69

But a secondary motivation was that Hainan Airlines is also an Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan partner. They formed their partnership last July, though as of now you can only earn (and not redeem) Alaska miles for travel on Hainan (though that’s supposed to change very soon).

There’s something curious about the mileage earning structure on Hainan Airlines, though. Per the Alaska Airlines earnings page for Hainan, “R” class fares earn a 100% mileage bonus.

Hainan

That means “R” class fares earn 200% redeemable and elite qualifying miles. If you’re an MVP Gold member that means you’re earning 300% redeemable miles, while if you’re an MVP Gold 75K member, you’re earning 325% redeemable miles. That’s among the highest mileage bonuses Alaska offers on any partner airlines.

But what’s strange is that “R” class is in fact also the discounted business class fare bucket for international flights. In other words, full fare business class earns 150% miles, while “R” class earns 200% miles.

A lot of people have asked me whether the 200% miles actually posted to my Mileage Plan account, and I can confirm they did. My Hainan Airlines flights credited to my Alaska Mileage Plan account about a week after the actual flight, which is pretty quick for a partner airline.

Hainan-Mileage

So my ~$1,350 roundtrip ticket earned 28,000 elite qualifying miles. That’s less than five cents per elite qualifying mile in paid business class, which is pretty amazing.

Hainan Airlines continues to have great business class fares, and I even see some dates which still have the ~$1,350 roundtrip business class fare available:

Hainan-Mileage-1

Given Hainan’s very attractive “R” class fares to Asia, this is a fantastic way to rack up Mileage Plan miles.

While I’m excited about being able to also redeem Alaska miles on Hainan, frankly I’m perfectly happy racking up Mileage Plan miles at the rate of 200% for discounted Hainan business class, and then redeeming them for Emirates first class or Cathay Pacific first class. 😉

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Bottom line

It’s fantastic to see the mileage earning rates for Hainan Airlines with Alaska Mileage Plan. Given Hainan’s great business class fares and solid onboard product, this is a great option for those looking to travel to Asia.

Anyone else tempted to fly revenue tickets on Hainan for the purpose of earning Alaska status?

Comments

  1. Lucky, I’m AA EXP, contemplating a status match to Alaska Gold 75k. While reviewing MVP Gold 75k rules, I noticed that I can get a 50k bonus for hitting that level the “normal” way (ie butt-in-seat).

    The potential 325% RDM bonus on Hainan fares is certainly intriguing, but I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to just hit MVP Gold 75k the old fashioned way? I might be answering my own question here, but curious to know your thoughts.

  2. Just to be clear, the screen shot indicates 13,996 EQM collected for LAX-CSX, correct? Your redeemable miles for that sector would be 22,744? Thanks for the great post. Long time reader here!

  3. Joel, you’ll get the 50k when re-qualifying, as well. If you were to fly enough to make 75k, you might as well START as a 75k, get your 125% bonus on each of the miles you flew, AND get a 50,000 bonus when you qualify (again) for next year.

    The only reason not to (assuming you will fly the miles to requalify anyway) is if you value the ability to status match in the future more than the 56,250 (on Hainan R fares, roughly)-112,500 (on any normal-earning fare) bonus miles you’d get for flying the 90,000 miles to requalify. Assuming you’re not qualifying on 100% Alaska flights, that is, but the general logic holds. Personally, if I were truly planning on requalifying, I’d match now and worry later about the possibility of having to match to AS again the future.

  4. Actually, my numbers are a bit off because you’d earn some amount of miles (I calculated ~25,000-52,500) from MVP and MVP Gold bonus on your way to 75k if not matching, so the total benefit of matching is more like 30-60k redeemable miles.

  5. I think that the best way to earn is BA full fare F earns even more. I believe its a 150% binus or in other words it would earn 250% eqm or a 75k earns 375% rdm.

    But this is not as great as AA program where a full fare AA F earns 300% EQM

  6. So you would need to take 3 roundtrips at $1350 making it around $4050.

    I mean its a cool idea, but I would rather save my time and $4000 and just book a flight where I want to go somewhere with it. But I get that its for status.

    And I guess that’s not including money for the hotel stays.

  7. For those who might be interested to get to Bangkok you can fly Air Asia from CSX to Bangkok (DMK) which is 3h 40m for $199 return if booked far enough in advance.

  8. Greg, I can tell you know your stuff. Unfortunately, my brain didn’t exactly track with your numbers. Would you mind restating in dummy terms? 🙂

    Thanks,

    Joel

  9. Quite new to this. Does this mean that 3 round trips on this particular Hainan route would earn you MVP Gold status because of the 200% elite bonus?

  10. @Joel – I have the same question to Ben as well. The screen shot shows an 100 % bonus 6998 Miles

    @Ben – based on your statement ” If you’re an MVP Gold member that means you’re earning 300% redeemable miles, while if you’re an MVP Gold 75K member, you’re earning 325% redeemable miles. That’s among the highest mileage bonuses Alaska offers on any partner airlines”

    MVP Gold – you should have got 6,998 x3
    MVPGold 75 – you should have got 6998 x 3.25

    What are we missing out here ?

  11. @Joel, I will try to clarify.

    BA F earns a 200% Bonus Elite Qualifying for Alaska Airlines.

    So imagine you purchase a BA F ticket Washington – Cape Town South Africa. Its about 10K miles each way I rounded up for ease of explanation.

    Elite Qualifying Miles would be …
    So each way you would earn 10K EQM + 20K EQM Bonus = 30K EQM (60K for the round trip)

    MVP Gold75K earns redeemable…
    A MVP 75K earns on Alaska 125% of the base. So MVP75 earns 12.5 K redeemable miles + 30K or 42.5 K miles each way (about 85K for the return trip)

    The above is in Alaska’s program.

    I also mention that other programs have quick ways to earn elite miles. Perhaps it was off topic and caused the confusion but American Airlines offers up to a 3x bonus for Full Fare F too.

  12. Could you clarify how many Alaska EQMs and RDMs you earned on this round trip? Also, what is your status with AS?

  13. For R fare LAX-CSX-LAX

    EQM
    13,996 RT Base Miles + 13,996 Class of Service = 27,992 EQM

    RDM
    General Member = 27,992
    MVP 27,992 + (13,996 x 0.5) = 34,990
    MVPG 27,992 + (13,996 x 1.0) = 41,998
    MVPG 75K 27,992 + (13,996 x 1.25) = 45,487

    AS says LAX-CSX one way = 6998 miles which is 7 miles less than the great circle distance.

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