Mileage (including elite qualifying mileage)-earning has started, and award redemption is expected to begin in November. Award charts aren’t yet available. But this will be an option not just for travel to China, but for connections elsewhere in Asia as well.
Hainan Airlines’ primary hub is Beijing and they serve Seattle, Chicago, Boston, and Toronto in North America. Here’s their .pdf timetable.
And with historically good award availability, a reasonably good product, and ultimately another option to Asia this makes Alaska Airlines miles even more valuable than they already were.
Interestingly, deepest discount business class fares (“I”) earn fewer miles than full fare coach (100% vs 125% flown miles). While the top 6 coach fares earn 100% flown miles or more, “Q, X, W, U, V, or E classes of service” only earn 50% of flown miles. P, S, G, O, J, T, and N fares do not earn miles. S is award coach so naturally wouldn’t earn miles.
I’ve written regularly about Hainan Airlines in the past because it’s always been an easy upgrade. Wyndham Rewards points transfer to the Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings club, and they allow mileage upgrades without co-pay from ‘M’ fares and above (not the cheapest, but often sub-$1500). Before the program’s devaluation a couple of years ago the mileage cost was cheap, but got up to 55,000 miles each way for US-China.
Business Class Product
I haven’t flown them (though redemptions with Alaska miles may change that) so I can only speak by reputation. I don’t put much stock in Skytrax ratings, but they’re a Skytrax five-star airline along with carriers like Singapore, Cathay Pacific, ANA and Asiana.
That said, their Boeing 787 is six-across in business class (like United, whereas American in contrast is four-across). That doesn’t impress.
Their Airbus A330s are 1-2-1 in business class, so all-aisle access. And I recall they’ve offered Bvlgari amenity kits in business, which is quite premium.