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Alaska Airlines miles can be used to book Hainan Airlines flights starting March 30, 2016!

The partnership was announced last year, and the Alaska-Hainan page originally said award bookings would be available in November 2015. That changed to “early 2016.” And now we have (hopefully) the real date: March 30, 2016.

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This is a huge deal because I expect the awards to be cheap, award space to be excellent in economy and flat bed Business Class, and because Alaska miles are easy to get.

The Routes

Hainan Airlines flies from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Seattle to Beijing, Shanghai, and Changsha, China with connections throughout China and Asia. Here are its flights from Beijing, which it serves from Boston, Chicago, San Jose, and Seattle:

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The Product

Hainan Airlines flies 787 Dreamliners to the United States with flat beds in Business Class (the highest cabin).

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 1.07.22 PM The layout is the typical 2-2-2 in each row, so choose a middle seat to have aisle access and a seatmate with aisle access, so he doesn’t have to climb over you.Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 1.07.29 PM

Award Price

Alaska publishes a different award chart for every partner, and it hasn’t published Hainan’s yet. But taking a look at its charts for American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Korean…

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Alaska-American Chart
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Alaska-Cathay Pacific Chart
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Alaska-Korean Chart

 

…here is my guess for the award prices to fly Hainan:

  • One way in economy between USA and Asia: 35,000 Alaska miles
  • One way in Business between USA and Asia: 55,000 Alaska miles

We’ll know soon enough whether those are the prices, whether Alaska makes all of Hainan’s Asian destinations one regions or splits them up, whether one way awards are half the price of roundtrips, and whether we can fly Hainan routes that don’t touch the USA, like Beijing to Tel Aviv.

If those were the prices, they would be a good deal, but not as good of a deal as paying 50,000 miles one way in Cathay Pacific Business Class or 70,000 miles one way in Cathay Pacific First Class.

Award Space

Hopefully award space will be searchable on alaskaair.com as it is for most, but not all, partners. When we get a look at the award space, I expect it to be excellent. Why?

  • Airlines always seem to (at least initially) offer excellent award space to their first American partners. Americans dominate the frequent flyer world, and until Hainan sees how many of us have Alaska miles and want to use them to fly to Asia, it will probably underestimate us and offer tons of award space.
  • Hainan offers really cheap Business Class fares, from $1,358 roundtrip in the past. That’s an airline that isn’t protecting its cabin and probably won’t mind selling the seats at a steep discount to Alaska (which is what happens when we redeem Alaska miles to fly Hainan.)

I’ll let you know whether this prediction holds when we see the award space.

Bottom Line

Alaska miles are so cool because of the diverse array of partners that reaches across alliances and even include non-alliance airlines like Hainan.

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Redeem Alaska Miles on These Airlines. (AeroMexico “temporarily unavailable.”)

Hainan is the newest redeemable partner. Redemptions start March 30, 2016.

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