Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
& Kellie Jez
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Hainan Airlines, one of China’s largest airlines, is one of the go-to options for millions of travelers.
Although it has an unconventional route network, it has still grown to be the largest privately-owned airline in China (and the fourth-largest overall in terms of fleet size).
Hainan Airlines declared bankruptcy and entered into a restructuring process in early 2021, but most have faith that it will successfully emerge from COVID-19-induced financial woes.
In this guide, we’ll show you the best ways to book Hainan Airlines business class using points.
Although many criticize Chinese airlines for a perceived lack of hospitality and quality products in commercial aviation, Hainan Airlines is generally known as an exception to that “rule,” and it’s widely thought to be the leader in terms of service and catering among the major Chinese carriers.
Hainan isn’t a member of any major airline alliance; however, with a business class ticket, you’re eligible to access its airport lounges at various hub airports.
These lounges include private rooms, showers, traditional tea ceremony areas, plenty of seating, and an abundance of entertainment facilities.
You’ll also get all the bells and whistles of business class flying, including a business class check-in line, priority boarding privileges, generous baggage allowance, and most importantly, a lie-flat seat.
Depending on which aircraft you fly, you may or may not have direct aisle access. Its Airbus A350-900s and new Boeing 787-9s have lie-flat seats with direct aisle access while its older Boeing 787-8s sport a 2-2-2 configuration with forward-facing seats that lie-flat but don’t provide direct access to the aisle at window seats.
Hot Tip: We recommend booking business class flights on Hainan’s newer aircraft — the Airbus A350-900 and Boeing 787-9 if possible. These aircraft have business class cabins that provide direct access to the aisle from every seat.
In the not-so-distant past, Hainan Airlines offered an abundance of nonstop flights to the U.S., including some interesting point-to-point routes to cities like Changsha (CSX), Chengdu (CTU), Chongqing (CKG), and Xi’an (XIY).
Unfortunately, these routes are gone due to the havoc that the COVID-19 pandemic wrought on travel between the U.S. and China.
In the past, Hainan Airlines business class was easy to book, but recently it’s been nearly impossible to find business class availability.
It’s unclear whether this is a strategy shift or just a supply and demand issue with flights to China during the ongoing travel restrictions.
Paid upgrades are typically priced attractively at the airport in the event you can’t find business class award space in advance.
Hainan isn’t a member of any mainstream airline alliance, and its list of airline partners is limited.
Unfortunately, this means that there aren’t a ton of ways to book Hainan business class with points.
However, it’s certainly not impossible — let’s take a look at the best ways to use points to book business class with Hainan Airlines.
The best frequent flyer program to use for Hainan Airlines business class flights is Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.
Alaska is partners with Hainan, and it offers attractive region-based award pricing that can be booked online..
In addition, award bookings may include 1 stopover, which is a huge value-add because they’re allowed even on one-way flights!
Here’s the current award chart for Hainan-operated flights booked with Alaska Airlines miles:
|Alaska Miles Cost (One-Way)
|Taxes and Fees
|North America to China
|~$190 to $205
|~$190 to $205
Unfortunately, Alaska passes on fuel surcharges on flights between North America and China. These will generally be around $200 one-way.
Here are the steps you should follow to book a Hainan Airlines business class flight using Alaska miles:
Alaska miles are slightly more difficult to earn than other frequent flyer miles.
That’s because Alaska Airlines has just 1 transfer partner: Marriott Bonvoy. Points transfer from Marriott Bonvoy to Alaska at a 3:1 ratio, and for every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points you transfer to Alaska, you will receive a bonus of 5,000 Alaska miles. Transfers take around 4 business days to complete.
There are also a couple of co-branded credit cards issued by Bank of America that earn Alaska Airlines miles directly.
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See our in-depth guide that covers the best Marriott credit cards, comparing their benefits and perks.
Etihad Guest is another solid way to book Hainan Airlines business class — and it’s the best way to book these flights using mainstream transferable rewards points.
Although it doesn’t offer any “sweet spots” for Hainan flights by any stretch of the imagination, it’s refreshing to have the possibility of booking these flights with transferable points.
Etihad Guest uses a distance-based award chart for Hainan Airlines flights, and keep in mind that Etihad passes on fuel surcharges:
|Etihad Guest Miles (Economy)
|Etihad Guest Miles (Business)
|0 to 500
|501 to 1,000
|1,001 to 1,500
|1,501 to 2,000
|2,001 to 2,500
|2,501 to 3,000
|3,001 to 4,000
|4,001 to 5,000
|5,001 to 7,000
|7,001 to 9,000
|9,001 to 11,000
|11,001 to 13,000
|13,001 to 15,000
Etihad Guest requires a phone call to book Hainan Airlines flights. Follow these steps to book your flight:
Amex, Citi, and Capital One transfer at a 1:1 ratio, while Marriott Bonvoy transfers to Etihad at a 3:1 ratio. For every 60,000 Bonvoy points you transfer to Etihad at once, you will receive a bonus of 5,000 miles!
Amex and Citi transfer almost instantaneously, while Capital One transfers in around 36 hours. Marriott Bonvoy takes around 3 business days to transfer.
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Make no mistake — the Amex Platinum card is a premium card with a premium price tag. With amazing benefits like best-in-class airport lounge access, hotel elite status, and tremendous value in annual statement credits, it can easily prove to be one of the most lucrative cards in your wallet year after year.
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The American Express® Gold Card is a game-changer.
With this card, you can earn 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants and you’ll also earn 4x Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1x.
There isn’t another card on the market that offers a 1-2 punch like this. Of course, there are several other benefits of the Gold Card as well, including extra monthly dining rewards and more.
There are a few other options to book Hainan Airlines business class using points, including using miles from Virgin Australia Velocity or Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings Club, but these miles are much harder to earn and have complicated booking processes.
For this reason, we recommend sticking to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan or Etihad Guest.
Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of good ways to redeem points for Hainan Airlines business class, but we covered the 2 best options (Alaska Mileage Plan and Etihad Guest) in detail.
Here’s how much it would cost to book a business class ticket on select nonstop routes:
|Alaska Airlines Miles Cost
|Etihad Guest Miles Cost
|Beijing-Capital/Daxing (PEK/PKX) – Haikou (HAK)
|45,000 + ~$15
|42,000 + ~$15
|Beijing-Capital/Daxing (PEK/PKX) – Sanya (SYX)
|45,000 + ~$15
|56,000 + ~$15
|Haikou (HAK) – Sydney (SYD)
|140,000 + ~$279
|Shanghai-Pudong/Hongqiao (PVG/SHA) – Haikou (HAK)
|45,000 + ~$15
|42,000 + ~$15
|Toronto (YYZ) – Xi’an (XIY)
|100,000 + ~$400
|212,000 + ~$400
As you can see, this list isn’t exhaustive. In fact, it doesn’t include any U.S. routes because Hainan Airlines doesn’t currently offer regular nonstop service to the U.S.
Still, if you look at the chart above, you’ll see that Alaska Airlines miles are the absolute best deal — you can redeem 100,000 points for round-trip business class flights between North America and China.
Etihad Guest offers slightly better deals for flights 1,500 miles or shorter, which almost exclusively applies to a handful of intra-China flights.
Furthermore, Alaska Airlines doesn’t currently allow any Hainan Airlines award bookings between China and Australia, so keep that in mind.
Overall, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan has the best redemption prices for medium- and long-haul routes, while Etihad Guest has the best redemption prices for short-haul routes of 1,500 miles or less.
Here are each program’s policies surrounding stopovers:
Let’s look at some Hainan Airlines business class redemptions:
Despite Hainan Airlines’ lack of useful airline partners for award travel, the good news is you can book business class flights using many types of rewards systems.
Here’s a summary of all the transferable points that can be used for Hainan Airlines flights:
Finally, Etihad Guest has offered transfer bonuses with Citi, Capital One, and Marriott Bonvoy, but these are generally very rare.
In the past, Hainan Airlines was pretty straightforward to book — you would just search on Alaska Airlines’ website or use ExpertFlyer. Then, depending on which frequent flyer program you used, you’d complete your booking there.
Today, though, Hainan Airlines business class is very difficult to find award space for.
This is likely due to the travel restrictions for flights arriving into or departing from China, so we can’t be completely prescriptive at this time about when you should search for award space.
Still, we always recommend starting your search on Alaska Airlines’ website or by using ExpertFlyer.
Hainan Airlines has a number of long-haul, wide-body aircraft, including the Boeing 787-8 and -9, the Airbus A350-900, and even the Airbus A330.
Luckily, all these aircraft feature lie-flat seats up front. Some have forward-facing seats in a 2-2-2 layout while others have reverse herringbone or staggered seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.
Let’s look at what sets Hainan apart from other players in the space.
Most airlines that fly to China offer hub-and-spoke routes to gateway cities like Beijing and Shanghai.
However, Hainan Airlines (at least before the pandemic) was known for flying out of second-tier airports, both in the U.S. and China.
If you reside outside of Los Angeles, San Francisco, or New York and want to fly to cities like Changsha, Xi’an, or Chengdu, Hainan Airlines is — or was — a very convenient choice.
These point-to-point routes are truly an underappreciated perk of flying aboard Hainan Airlines — in more normal times, at least. Importantly, Hainan Airlines typically also offers traditional hub-and-spoke routes to Beijing and Shanghai, too!
Chinese airlines aren’t generally known for good service. However, Hainan Airlines is privately owned, which means it places greater emphasis on a strong service culture than many of its peers.
You’ll be greeted warmly and escorted to your seat. Then, you’ll be offered a delicious predeparture beverage and brought a full dining menu.
And, you’ll be treated to responsive service throughout the flight, often within seconds of pushing the call button.
One of the other highlights of Hainan Airlines business class is a masterful catering program.
As we mentioned, there’s a predeparture beverage offered to kick off your luxurious flight.
Then, menus are distributed, and you’ll find a solid list of wines, plus many choices of liquor, tea, coffee, and juice.
Hainan Airlines boasts a dine-on-demand concept, which means you don’t have to confine yourself to set meal times or dishes.
You’ll also find an onboard chef that plates and serves high-quality dishes on hefty tableware.
Overall, Hainan Airlines is one of the best airlines to fly to China. Although it doesn’t currently offer regular, nonstop service to the U.S., you can use this guide to do some forward planning.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan and Etihad Guest are the 2 best frequent flyer programs to use to book flights.
The former is transfer partners with Marriott Bonvoy, while the latter has more transfer partners in Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Capital One Miles, and Marriott Bonvoy.
However you book your business class flight, you’ll have a comfortable lie-flat seat, direct aisle access on some aircraft, excellent service, and a robust food and beverage offering, complete with an onboard chef and dine-on-demand.
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For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
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For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, click here.
Hainan Airlines is still in business, for now. It declared bankruptcy in early 2021, but the airline is still flying its planes to various cities in China and North America.
Hainan Airlines is owned by HNA Group, a conglomerate that owns other airlines like Hong Kong Airlines.
The best way to book Hainan Airlines business class with points is to redeem Alaska Airlines miles or Etihad Guest miles.
Alaska miles are ideal for long-haul and medium-haul flights, while Etihad Guest miles are ideal for short-haul flights.
However, Alaska is only transfer partners with Marriott Bonvoy, while Etihad Guest is transfer partners with Amex, Citi, Capital One, and Marriott.
Some of the best cards to earn Alaska Airlines miles are Marriott co-branded credit cards or the co-branded Alaska Airlines cards issued by Bank of America.
Some of the best cards to earn Etihad Guest miles are The Platinum Card® from American Express, the American Express® Gold Card, the Citi Premier card, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, and the American Express® Business Gold Card.
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UP's Bonus Valuation
This bonus value is an estimated valuation calculated by UP after analyzing redemption options, transfer partners, award availability and how much UP would pay to buy these points.