Alaska Airlines announced today that Hainan Airlines and its Fortune Wings Club have joined Mileage Plan as a new partner. From Alaska’s main base in Seattle, Hainan flies to Beijing and Shanghai. There are also additional routes from Chicago, Boston, and San Jose.
Hainan Airlines is one of a few large Chinese carriers expanding its presence in the North American market. Unlike the state-owned carriers China Southern, China Eastern, and Air China, Hainan is privately owned and generally considered to be a notch above. (But despite a 5-star rating from Skytrax, I don’t think most people would consider it quite as good as Cathay Pacific et al.) Doradee on FlyerTalk has a review of a Hainan flight in late 2013 if you’d like to read more about the experience.
The Mileage Plan earning chart for Hainan looks pretty good. Most fares earn actual miles traveled, with bonuses for full or premium fares. Just a handful of discounted economy class fares earn 50% of miles flown. And to celebrate, Alaska is offering Double Miles on all Hainan Airlines flights through October 31, 2015. Just register by September 30. (Note: double miles will not count toward Mileage Plan elite status.)
On the redemption side, it’s still not possible to use Alaska miles for booking awards on Hainan. That ability will be added later this year. But perhaps more exciting is that they will “continue to enhance their partnership by recognizing and extending elite reciprocal benefits to members of Mileage Plan and Fortune Wings Club by fall.” So far I know of reciprocal elite benefits between Alaska and only two other carriers: American and Delta (and the Delta one isn’t faring well). It’s good to see additional opportunities for partner recognition since Alaska isn’t formally part of any airline alliance.