Hainan is a recent transfer partner of Capital One – which is extra awesome because many people got in on the 200,000 sign up bonus! The Capital One transfer rate to Hainan is 2:1.5 and it’s 3:1 from Marriott Bonvoy.
I’m excited to share my first finding today, and will share more later as well.
Here is what the Hainan Airlines “award calculator” shows for Hong Kong Airline’s flights from San Fran (which is identical to the HKG-LAX results):
These would be some of the lowest prices anywhere, and it not only turns out to be some of the cheapest flights to Asia (the cheapest), but also a great use of a ton of Cap1 Miles.
But there are more goodies, and more caveats…
Before I get into the details, note that Hong Kong Airlines has a great business class… Or so I’m told. Check out OMAAT’s review of Hong Kong Airlines Business Class Review to LAX.
And while this post is really about raising questions for a program I have no experience with, I think it safely confirms these above prices with minimal taxes!
There are lots of unknowns and this post is about my research more than conclusions. For instance I can’t confirm how to book multiple segments, how easy it is to call, how to price multiple segments, what availability looks like, etc…
My hope is that some of you will have experience to offer, or someone will be certain they can use the cheap flight to HKG and transfer miles and it will reveal more info. I guess I’m throwing this on the web in hopes that we as a group can figure these details out.
The Crazy Details
While there are many details yet to figure out (like calling, transfers, etc…) there are 5 main issues I already know of which I’ll share here:
- Issue 1: Beware that I have not tested this!
- Issue 2: The “award chart” and “award calculator” show two different prices.
On every Hong Kong Airlines route I’ve searched, the “award calculator” is cheaper, sometimes by a lot.
- Issue 3: Only Hong Kong flights start in SFO or LAX and I’m not sure how it handles connections with a partner, like Alaska (since each partner has a different award chart). However, my guess is that it prices them separately, in which case it’s a really bad deal, as it says JFK-LAX in economy is 40k!
- Issue 4: I can’t find in their T&Cs, nor would the calculator indicate how they price connections on the same airline. In other words, does a ticket connecting in Hong Kong and continuing to Bangkok price as one total distance (like most airlines) or does it price the second segment (HKG-BKK) separately (which would be much more expensive)? I believe it’s the total segment length, and I’ll explain why.
- Issue 5: The website gives me an error when I search any non-Hainan route, and gives me a “not enough points error” when I search a Hainan route. So even if I had enough points, I’m doubtful the website will show Hong Kong Airlines availability online. (But since I have no miles, I still can’t test #4).
The most notable issue (but perhaps minor), is that there is a difference in what the “award chart” for Hong Kong Airlines says, and the “award calculator” says. Look at the two side by side.
Hainan Award Chart for redeeming on Hong Kong Airlines (highlighted row 5 is the distance for SFO to HKG):
Their Award Calculator for redeeming on Hong Kong Airlines, also for SFO to HKG:
While both are good prices, I have reason to believe that the second, cheaper price is correct. Here’s why…
First, know that the frequent flyer program Hainan uses, “Fortune Wings Club”, is a shared program between a few Asian airlines including Hong Kong Airlines (much like Miles & More). I believe this is why redeeming for Hong Kong Airlines flights is a zillion times cheaper than an Etihad flight.
So I created a Hong Kong Airlines account to look for availability, and while my search got an error that would take me back to the home page, I briefly got enough info to see the price for a flight from LAX to HKG:
It barely shows “27,000 pts + HKD 380” (~$48 USD)!
Business class also showed “58,500 pts + HKD 902” (~$115). However, note that the availability isn’t as good as economy, like all airlines, but you can still search on Hong Kong Airlines without miles this way, you just can’t click through to see details.
Can you book via HongKongAirlines?
Also an interesting fact, I was then able to long into Hong Kong Airlines frequent flyer program using my Hainan FWC #. Which makes me wonder, if you transfer points over to Hainan, can I then log into Hong Kong Airlines site and have my points show up? This would be awesome, because I think that Hong Kong Airlines search results do not show up on Hainan’s site… and I really don’t want to call.
Pricing Multiple Segments
Unfortunately, just like the “Points Calculator”, when I search for a flight involving a connection (like to BKK or DPS), it shows no results… Which still leaves a mystery regarding how they handle pricing connections.
When I search for LAX to DPS on Hong Kong Airlines (via HKG obviously), it shows no results on Hong Kong Airlines or Hainan’s “Points Calculator”.
However, both can price out the segments separately, and I can find availability on Hong Kong’s site.
Based on the regions on the award chart, the prices would be way better if it could be priced as one distance. However, I’ve no evidence of this and the published award charts seem wrong.
If you can use a flight from LAX/SFO to HKG, this is a no-brainer use of Capital One Miles. An awesome deal.
However, go ahead and use Hong Kong Airlines site to search for availability before transferring.
My only concern for this route would be if you can login with Hong Kong Airlines and book, or do you have to call Hainan.
For longer routes that involve connections, that’s where the big mystery is. Can you combine partners? How does it price? The award charts are not useful here, but they indicate it could be a great deal if it adds up all the segments to price.
Anyone using this? Any experience?!
If you have any thoughts comment or tweet me @travelisfree.
More to come!