Alaska Airlines has a new airline partner and it’s Hainan Airlines! Yay! Wait. . . What? Hainan who?
If you have never heard of Hainan Airlines, don’t worry. The majority of us have not either. But since they are Alaska Airlines’ new airline partner, I decided to do some research on them, figure out what I could about them and this new partnership and share with you all.
As you guys know, Alaska Airlines doesn’t belong to an airline alliance. Instead, they partner with 13 international airlines to form their own little alliance. When you fly Alaska Airlines or any of their partner airlines, you can earn both elite qualifying miles and award redeemable miles towards Alaska’s frequent flier program – Mileage Plan. And when you have enough miles, you can also redeem your Mileage Plan miles for flights on those partner airlines as well.
As of today, their partner airlines include:
- Air France
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Delta Air Lines
- Fiji Airways (formerly Air Pacific)
- Hainan Airlines
- Korean Air
Mileage earning on partner airlines vary depending on your elite status, fare class of ticket purchased and travel distance. It’s very important that you pay attention to the fare class of the operating carrier as that will determine how many elite qualifying and award miles you will earn. Their partner airline mileage earning chart can be found here.
Looking at Hainan Airlines specifically, you can start earning Mileage Plan elite and award miles effective immediately. Elite benefits and the ability to redeem Mileage Plan miles towards travel on Hainan Airlines will begin in November 2015.
Earning Mileage Plan miles on Hainan Airlines travel is as follows:
- Economy Cabin: Earn actual flight miles* flown in Y class of service, plus 25% Bonus Miles.
- Earn actual flight miles* flown in B, H, K, L, or M classes of service.
- Earn 50% of actual flight miles* flown in Q, X, W, U, V, or E classes of service.
- Business Class Cabin: Earn actual flight miles* flown in C class of service, plus 50% Bonus Miles.
- Earn actual flight miles* flown in D class of service, plus 25% Bonus Miles
- Earn actual flight miles* flown in I class of service.
- First Class Cabin: Earn actual flight miles* flown in R and F classes of service, plus 100% Bonus Miles.
- Earn actual flight miles* flown in Z class of service, plus 50% Bonus Miles.
- Earn actual flight miles* flown in A class of service, plus 25% Bonus Miles.
- Earn 500 minimum miles on flights less than 500 miles. Actual miles flown = 1 mile per flight mile flown. The following classes will be excluded for accrual by Mileage Plan members: P, S, G, O, J, T, or N. Some deeply discounted, and industry fares are ineligible to earn miles. Flights must be marketed and operated by Hainan Airlines.
And to celebrate their new partnership, Alaska Airlines is offering a double award miles promotion for travel on Hainan Airlines from July 23, 2015 to October 31, 2015. You can sign up for the promotion and find additional details here.
But wait. Who the heck is Hainan Airlines anyways???
Hainan Airlines is the largest privately owned airline in China. With their main hub at Beijing Capital Airport, Hainan Airlines flies to more than 90 cities on 4 continents – including nonstop service between China and Boston, Chicago, Seattle, and San Jose. Hainan Airlines is not part of any airline alliance either but they do partner with other airlines such as Air Berlin and Etihad. Hainan operates a fleet of Airbus A330s and Boeing 787-8s to all their North American destinations. Their North American-bound planes are configured with two classes of service: business and economy.
Business class on the Boeing 787s look pretty decent and can be compared to Lot Polish Airlines’ Boeing 787 and Air China’s Airbus A330 business class seats. They are true lie-flat and are configured in a 2 X 2 X 2 layout. There are two business class cabins totaling 36 seats. Each seat offers 22.5 inches of width, 74 inches of pitch and a 15 inch IFE personal monitor.
And because this is a 5-star Skytrax rated airline (whatever that means), each business class passenger will also receive an amenities kit containing Bvlgari products, pajamas and bed turndown service.
However, in the back of the bus, economy class seats don’t look all that great. Shoving in 177 standard economy seats in the dreaded nine across, 3 X 3 X 3 layout, each economy seat offers 17 inches of width, 31 inches of pitch and a 10 inch IFE personal monitor.
As for the Airbus A330s. . . Hainan operates a similar business class seat on their Airbus A330-200s whereas the Airbus A330-300s get an upgraded business class interior. I couldn’t find this information anywhere else but according to Seat Guru, the business class seats on the A330-300s are configured in a 1 X 2 X 1 layout similar to Asiana or Thai’s new business class seats.
But the biggest difference between Hainan’s Boeing 787s and Airbus A330s comes in for economy class passengers where the A330 seats offer 19 inches of width compared to the 787s 17 inches of width. Fortunately for you Seattleites, Hainan flies their A330s to Seattle and offers non-stop service to both Beijing and Shanghai.
I personally haven’t flown Hainan Airlines yet but I was able to find this trip report on FT. It’s a pretty good read detailing the entire flight experience from lounge access and in-flight comfort to transiting through Beijing Capital Airport.
Overall, I think this is a positive addition for Alaska Airlines. Even if you don’t plan on flying Hainan Airlines, having more partner airlines and flight options is never a bad thing. What do you guys think? Ready to give Hainan Airlines a try?