Hainan

Hainan’s Two New LAX Routes Are Now Bookable

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These routes have been rumored for quite a while, and now they’re finally confirmed. Hainan Airlines will be launching twice weekly flights from Los Angeles to both Chengdu and Chongqing starting in just a few weeks.

As of March 15, 2017, Hainan will be starting twice weekly flights between Chengdu and Los Angeles with the following schedule:

HU469 Chengdu to Los Angeles departing 9:15PM arriving 8:00PM
HU470 Los Angeles to Chengdu departing 12:45AM arriving 6:40AM (+1 day)

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Great Business Class Fares To China On Hainan!

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Last January Hainan Airlines began twice weekly flights between Los Angeles and Changsha, which is an interesting new route. They had some incredible ~$1,350 roundtrip business class introductory fares when the route first launched, which represented an incredible deal, especially since the tickets came with chauffeur service on both ends of the trip.

So I flew Hainan from Los Angeles and Changsha and Changsha to Los Angeles, and really enjoyed my flights on them. In spite of the mediocre hard product, the soft product was excellent, among the best offered on any Chinese carrier (perhaps along with Xiamen Air).

The icing on the cake with these great Hainan fares is that they’re an Alaska Mileage Plan partner, and “R” fares (which is what these tickets book into) earn 200% elite qualifying and redeemable miles. That means the roundtrip ticket from Los Angeles to Changsha earned about 28,000 elite qualifying miles.

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Hainan’s U.S. Expansion Continues — This Time Out Of Chongqing

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As I’ve explained before, China’s aviation policies are a bit odd. The country has a rule where only one Chinese airline can operate any individual longhaul route. Given the pace at which Chinese airlines are growing, this is causing many of them to scramble in order to launch routes before their competitors do.

Hainan Airlines is based in Beijing, but early last year they launched flights between Los Angeles and Changsha. That’s because Air China already operates a flight from Los Angeles to Beijing, so Hainan can’t replicate it. So instead Hainan’s U.S. destinations out of Beijing include cities like Boston, Las Vegas, San Jose, and Seattle, since Air China doesn’t fly to those cities.

In early December, Hainan Airlines filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation to request the right to operate new flights from Chengdu to both Los Angeles and New York. This was an interesting case of them trying to beat a competitor to the punch.

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Hainan Wants To Add Routes From Chengdu To LAX & JFK

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China’s aviation policies are bizarre to me. The country has a rule where only one Chinese airline can operate any individual longhaul route. Given the pace at which Chinese airlines are growing, this is causing many of them to scramble in order to launch routes before their competitors do.

For example, Hainan Airlines is based in Beijing, but earlier this year they launched flights between Los Angeles and Changsha. That’s because Air China already operates a flight from Los Angeles to Beijing, so Hainan can’t replicate it. So instead Hainan’s U.S. destinations out of Beijing include cities like Boston, Las Vegas, San Jose, and Seattle, since Air China doesn’t fly to those cities.

Well, Hainan Airlines has just requested a couple of new U.S. routes from the Department of Transportation, and they have a pretty hilarious strategy here.

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Great Hainan Business Class Tickets From Los Angeles To China

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This January Hainan Airlines began 2x weekly flights between Los Angeles and Changsha, which is an interesting new route. They had some incredible ~$1,350 roundtrip business class introductory fares when the route first launched, which represented an incredible deal, especially since the tickets came with chauffeur service on both ends of the trip.

So I flew Hainan from Los Angeles and Changsha and Changsha to Los Angeles, and really enjoyed my flights on them. In spite of the mediocre hard product, the soft product was excellent, by far the best of any Chinese airline (conversely, airlines like China Eastern have incredible hard products but underwhelming soft products).

The icing on the cake with these great Hainan fares is that they’re an Alaska Mileage Plan partner, and discounted business class fares earn 200% miles (both elite qualifying and redeemable). That means the roundtrip ticket from Los Angeles to Changsha earned about 28,000 elite qualifying miles.

While the fare isn’t quite as good as the introductory one they had a while back, there’s still an excellent fare at the moment.

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Hainan Airlines Launching Nonstop Flights Between Las Vegas And Beijing

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Hainan Airlines is generally regarded as the best mainland Chinese airline (I agree, based on my experiences), and they’ve been expanding very nicely in North America.

Earlier in the year Hainan launched flights between Los Angeles and Changsha, which I reviewed. They also recently kicked off a frequent flyer partnership with Alaska Mileage Plan, giving US based flyers a great way to earn and redeem miles for travel on Hainan.

Well, Hainan Airlines has just announced their newest US route. Hainan Airlines will be launching 3x weekly flights between Las Vegas and Beijing as of December 2, 2016.

The flight will be operated by a Boeing 787, with the following schedule on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays:

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Lucky Air Is Kunming To Los Angeles!

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For obvious reasons I’ve always been intrigued by Lucky Air, even though I’ve never had the chance to fly them. Lucky Air is based in Kunming, China, and as of now just operates flights regionally. They’re essentially the low cost subsidiary of Hainan Airlines, and have the same parent company as them, as well as a few other airlines.

I’ll still never understand the Chinese aviation industry as such, given that you have a couple of dozen airlines that are largely government owned, and none of them are allowed to compete directly on longhaul flights. In other words, only one Chinese airline is allowed to operate in a single longhaul market, unless an exception is granted. That’s why we see so many inefficient routes being operated.

For example, Hainan Airlines is based in Beijing, and wanted to start service to Los Angeles earlier in the year. Since Air China already flies between Los Angeles and Beijing, Hainan instead decided to start service between Los Angeles and Changsha, even though a vast majority of passengers are connecting onwards from there.

Anyway, we’re getting off track here. While Lucky Air presently only operates shorthaul flights, it looks like they’ll be expanding to longhaul flights shortly.

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Hainan Buys A Stake In Virgin Australia, Strategic Partnership To Follow

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Despite their snazzy new business class product, Virgin Australia isn’t an airline which has been performing especially well the past several years. They finally turned a modest profit last year, which represents quite a change of course from previous years.

What also makes Virgin Australia unique is the number of airlines which are major shareholders of the company — these include Air New Zealand, Etihad Airways, and Singapore Airlines, which combined hold more than half the shares of the company.

Well, it looks like Virgin Australia can soon add another airline to the list of their shareholders, or at least the parent company of another airline.

HNA Group, the parent company of Hainan Airlines, will buy 13% percent of Virgin Australia for 159 million AUD, with hopes of raising their stake to 20% over time. The 13% purchase reflects newly issued shares, meaning the percentage stakes of existing shareholders will be diluted.

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You Can Now Redeem Alaska Miles On Hainan Airlines — Availability Is INCREDIBLE!

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Last July, Alaska Airlines and Hainan Airlines announced a new partnership, allowing Mileage Plan members to accrue miles for travel on Hainan. This was a pretty cool new partnership, given that Hainan is generally well regarded among Chinese carriers, and doesn’t otherwise have many partner airlines.

Hainan has flights out of Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Jose, all of which are Alaska Airlines hubs and focus cities, so this partnership opened up plenty of opportunities for cooperation between the two airlines.

The partnership was initially limited to reciprocal mileage accrual, with no option of reciprocal mileage redemptions. Alaska promised that mileage redemptions would soon be possible on Hainan, though the start date for that kept getting pushed back. In February we learned that Alaska redemptions on Hainan would be possible as of March 30, 2016, and Alaska stayed true to their word on that.

It’s now possible to redeem Alaska miles for travel on Hainan.

Here’s the redemption chart for travel on Hainan:

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Redeem Alaska Miles On Hainan As Of March 30, 2016

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Last July, Alaska Airlines and Hainan Airlines announced a new partnership, allowing Mileage Plan members to accrue miles for travel on Hainan. This was a pretty cool new partnership, given that Hainan is generally well regarded among Chinese carriers, and doesn’t otherwise have many partner airlines.

Hainan has flights out of Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Jose, all of which are Alaska Airlines hubs and focus cities, so this partnership opened up plenty of opportunities for cooperation between the two airlines.

The partnership was initially limited to being able to earn miles, with no option of reciprocal mileage redemptions. However, at the time Alaska’s partner page for Hainan indicated that award travel on Hainan Airlines would be available as of November 2015:

Eventually that was changed to indicate that these redemptions would be possible as of early 2016, and then just yesterday the award page was updated again, and this time it’s a bit more definitive. Alaska Mileage Plan award travel on Hainan Airlines will be available for booking as of March 30, 2016.

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Is Flying Hainan The Best Way To Earn Alaska Status?

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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.

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

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.

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Review: Hainan Business Class 787 Changsha To Los Angeles

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After a fantastic flight on the outbound, I was excited to see if the service level I experienced was an exception or the norm. Well, this flight sure was “different.”

I boarded through the very forward door, and upon presenting my boarding pass was escorted to my seat, 15H. The 787 business class cabin has a total of 36 seats, spread across six rows in a 2-2-2 configuration.

I was seated in the last row of the forward cabin, in an aisle seat on the right side. On second thought that probably wasn’t a good seat choice, since it was immediately in front of the lavatory.

I took a picture out the window, where I saw a nice variety of plane — Changsha Airport does have some cool traffic.

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Review: Changsha Airport Lounges

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After a quick two night stay in Changsha, the Hainan Airlines limo driver picked me up at the Sheraton at 9:30AM, as requested. That was a bit earlier than necessary, but I wanted to be sure I had time to review the lounges, so figured I’d rather leave too much time rather than too little time. The limo driver was the same one I had on the way out, and even though he didn’t speak any English, he was very professional.

We made it to the airport by around 10:10AM, where he dropped me off at the international terminal.

The terminal was beautiful, much nicer than I was expecting. Then again, I’ve found several Chinese airports to boast gorgeous architecture, but still be very poorly designed (I’m looking at you, Beijing Capital Airport!).

I checked the departures monitor, and saw that Hainan Airlines uses check-in counters D74-78 for their flight to Los Angeles, which was towards the far end of the terminal.

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Review: Hainan Business Class 787 Los Angeles To Changsha

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I boarded through the second door on the left, where I was greeted by two of the flight attendants. Upon presenting my boarding pass they pointed me right towards the second business class cabin, where my seat was located.

Last week I wrote a post entitled “Chinese Airlines’ War On Cell Phones,” about the issues I had with taking pictures on this flight. I’ll mention it now so I don’t have to bring it up again in this review. Basically there was a language barrier with the crew, and they initially didn’t want me taking any pictures. Later it became clear that the policy was actually:

— Cell phones aren’t allowed to be used on any Chinese airline, even when the phone is in airplane mode
— The crew didn’t seem to want me taking any pictures of them, but was apparently fine with me pictures otherwise (it took a while till I was on the same page as the crew on this)

With that out of the way, let’s continue with the actual review.

Hainan’s 787 business class cabin consists of a total of 36 seats, spread across six rows in a 2-2-2 configuration. The first three rows are in the forward cabin, between doors one and two, while the other three rows are behind that cabin, separated by the business class lavatories.

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