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Old Aug 20, 12, 6:21 pm   #1
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2 tickets, lax-pvg, pvg-kwl, how much time?

I couldn't get it all in the thread title.

I've spent 3 days, four phone calls (last one two+ hours) and had three bookings fall apart trying to book one ticket (UA + CA). UA claims CA forces a 'Y' booking class on the UA flights, which practically doubles the UA flights.

So....I'm going to book two separate tickets. How much time should I allow in PVG to be safe? (I'm flying to/from PVG because I don't want to be on UA's overhead screen 747).

I'm tentatively looking 48 hours in PVG on the outbound and 24 hours on the return. Is this likely to be enough?
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Old Aug 20, 12, 7:02 pm   #2
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I suspect the culprit is UA's (CO's) lousy IT system doing the forcing of the CA flight into a Y booking class. Maybe they just didn't load the entire range of CA fares into the system. If your trip is more than 3 months out, it could be because CA hasn't loaded all the discounted fares into its system yet (usually fares are loaded quarterly). In which case the placeholder Y fares are all that UA would be able to access and book right now.

Be that as it may, booking separately is an acceptable (probably better) strategy, and on paper at least, these long layovers in Shanghai are more than enough. I say "on paper" because if you've been following UA's woes, you'll no doubt be aware of the huge problems they've had on the PVG-USA routes, including the one that stranded passengers for 3 days at PVG. The Chinese domestic side isn't a problem.

Make sure that you know what airport you are departing to/from for the domestic. Since you're obviously going into the city and presumably staying somewhere, I suggest that you make the domestic flights from/to SHA (Hongqiao) not PVG. The airport switch isn't an issue with Shanghai stays scheduled like this. And you'll have more choice of flights out of SHA.
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Old Aug 20, 12, 7:55 pm   #3
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Thanks for the quick response, jiejie! I was hoping you'd reply.

Didn't even think about the two different airports, but thanks for that. After all the talking, I blame it on UA's IT - there's no reason that a 'Y' in CA has to force the UA legs to book in 'Y', but that's what happened. It prices out at $1200 more that way - too much to ignore.

Yes, that recent UA episode in PVG is in my mind. However, if I get there more or less on time, make my connection to KWL and join my group, I don't care so much if there are delays on the return. I don't know what kind of track record Chinese carriers have on internal flights, but I'll research the other airport to make sure I know my options.

BTW, would you recommend one carrier over another? Any particular unreliable ones? Air China prices look much higher than the others. Do you happen to know if any of them have a reputation for being particularly tough on baggage? (I'm going to be cycling for two weeks, so more stuff than I usually carry).

Last edited by chollie; Aug 20, 12 at 8:33 pm. Reason: add questions
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Old Aug 20, 12, 9:35 pm   #4
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Originally Posted by chollie View Post
Thanks for the quick response, jiejie! I was hoping you'd reply.

Didn't even think about the two different airports, but thanks for that. After all the talking, I blame it on UA's IT - there's no reason that a 'Y' in CA has to force the UA legs to book in 'Y', but that's what happened. It prices out at $1200 more that way - too much to ignore.

Yes, that recent UA episode in PVG is in my mind. However, if I get there more or less on time, make my connection to KWL and join my group, I don't care so much if there are delays on the return. I don't know what kind of track record Chinese carriers have on internal flights, but I'll research the other airport to make sure I know my options.

BTW, would you recommend one carrier over another? Any particular unreliable ones? Air China prices look much higher than the others. Do you happen to know if any of them have a reputation for being particularly tough on baggage? (I'm going to be cycling for two weeks, so more stuff than I usually carry).
Wow, I didn't realize from your first post that the Y in CA was forcing the Y in UA! I thought it was just the CA leg you were having trouble with. That really must be UA's IT.

Carriers: stick with a mainline that has multiple flights per day. Avoid Juneyao for that reason (and some other reasons I can think of). Avoid all last flights of the day. Delays caused by weather or ATC will affect all of them equally. They are all pretty much the same on baggage handling and other ground matters. FWIW, I haven't found Chinese baggage handlers to be particularly rough--more damage is done to my stuff by USA handlers. Just pack fragile stuff carefully. Or carry with you if it's something that can pass a checkpoint.

If you are carrying a lot of stuff and are now going to separate tickets, watch out for luggage limitations. On domestic Chinese flights, an economy passenger will be limited to 20 kg (about 44 lbs) of checked bags. The per-kilo extra amount can be very expensive. If you are Star Alliance Gold on any carrier, you get an extra 10 kg. You can also consider a domestic First Class ticket which will allow you 40 kg (I think, maybe moondog can confirm). And in case of IRROPs, probably some special care and handling. Non-discounted Y domestic tickets are also endorseable over to another airline, so in case your plane goes MX and there's another flight on another carrier, you can switch (assuming seat availability).
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Old Aug 20, 12, 10:57 pm   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chollie View Post
I couldn't get it all in the thread title.

I've spent 3 days, four phone calls (last one two+ hours) and had three bookings fall apart trying to book one ticket (UA + CA). UA claims CA forces a 'Y' booking class on the UA flights, which practically doubles the UA flights.

So....I'm going to book two separate tickets. How much time should I allow in PVG to be safe? (I'm flying to/from PVG because I don't want to be on UA's overhead screen 747).

I'm tentatively looking 48 hours in PVG on the outbound and 24 hours on the return. Is this likely to be enough?
Google some Ktown travel agencies in Los Angeles, and shoot for OZ.
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Old Aug 21, 12, 10:04 am   #6
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Originally Posted by moondog View Post
Google some Ktown travel agencies in Los Angeles, and shoot for OZ.
Grrr. No E+ on OZ and the seat pitch is sooo tight on that long flight.

But it looks like UA just had more problems (2 cancellations) on the PVG route.
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Old Aug 21, 12, 2:19 pm   #7
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Are you locked into Star? What about CZ via CAN? I thought they had an E+ aircraft on this route LAX-CAN, or maybe I'm mixed up about that. Are they putting on the A380 on this route fairly soon?

Though I guess that doesn't work if the idea is to visit Shanghai as a stopover.
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Old Aug 21, 12, 3:36 pm   #8
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Originally Posted by jiejie View Post
Are you locked into Star? What about CZ via CAN? I thought they had an E+ aircraft on this route LAX-CAN, or maybe I'm mixed up about that. Are they putting on the A380 on this route fairly soon?

Though I guess that doesn't work if the idea is to visit Shanghai as a stopover.
Yeah, still locked into Star, that's the problem. I think I'm going to finish out this year and then try for a status match to OW or shift to ST. I want to do a lot of TPAC travel to Asia next year, and the old 747's just don't cut it, even with E+.

Re: my earlier post. Yes, the problem is UA's IT - more importantly, they know it's a problem but they are taking the attitude 'live with it or fly someone else'. If I attempt to book in a low-fare economy on UA, I get booked in G/S/L. That sends a request for a G fare to CA that gets indefinitely waitlisted. According to UA, there's no way they can override and send a request for a Y fare to CA without upgrading the entire UA TPAC fare to Y - and you can imagine what that does to the price. Same thing apparently applies to Shanghai Airlines.

The worst of it is that it took four calls, two rebookings, and me finally calling CA to figure out what was going on.

The info you gave me about using the domestic airport is great. You are right, there's a lot more availability on multiple airlines. I'm Star Gold, and I'll probably take your advice and go for an upgraded Y ticket on the domestic flight as added insurance in case of irrops.

I'm was planning on going to China again in December, but I think I'll hold off until next year when I switch alliances.
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Old Aug 21, 12, 4:02 pm   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jiejie View Post
If you are carrying a lot of stuff and are now going to separate tickets, watch out for luggage limitations. On domestic Chinese flights, an economy passenger will be limited to 20 kg (about 44 lbs) of checked bags. The per-kilo extra amount can be very expensive. If you are Star Alliance Gold on any carrier, you get an extra 10 kg. You can also consider a domestic First Class ticket which will allow you 40 kg (I think, maybe moondog can confirm).
While those are the stated policies, on a recent trip with my family we were well over the limits, but Air China, China Southern, and Hainan Airlines all let the bags go free. (2 bags showing 26-29kg, and a third was just under 20kg, so even if we got 60 kg as a family we were over). While I'm *G for Air China, I have no status to use with the other airlines.

(note that *G applies only to *G airlines in China, which is Air China only)

That said, YMMV. Also, I believe the fees are [1% of the Y fare*the kg over the limit], which is not a huge amount -- even if the Y fare is $350, unless your bags are huge your fees are going to be less than checking your first bag costs on US domestic flights.
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Old Aug 21, 12, 9:20 pm   #10
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Originally Posted by drewguy View Post
While those are the stated policies, on a recent trip with my family we were well over the limits, but Air China, China Southern, and Hainan Airlines all let the bags go free. (2 bags showing 26-29kg, and a third was just under 20kg, so even if we got 60 kg as a family we were over). While I'm *G for Air China, I have no status to use with the other airlines.

(note that *G applies only to *G airlines in China, which is Air China only)

That said, YMMV. Also, I believe the fees are [1% of the Y fare*the kg over the limit], which is not a huge amount -- even if the Y fare is $350, unless your bags are huge your fees are going to be less than checking your first bag costs on US domestic flights.
1) Your experience may or may not be repeatable in any specific situation, depends on the flight loading and disposition of the agent you get at check-in. This example can be countervailed by plenty of other anecdotes where people with a lot smaller overweight got hit. A kilo or so might slide through, but I personally would advocate that the traveler try to err on the side of conservatism--and either be prepared to pay extra or thank Lady Luck if your overweight isn't challenged at check-in.

2) (bolded part) Yes, of course one's *G status is only of benefit if flying a * carrier (Air China). Sorry I didn't make that clearer upthread.

3) I think the per kilo overage is 1.5% of the Y fare. So yes, on a domestic ticket for PVG-KWL at RMB 1300 full Y fare, 10 kg of overweight would be about USD 30 which may be acceptable to the traveler.
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Old Aug 21, 12, 9:35 pm   #11
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Originally Posted by chollie View Post
Yeah, still locked into Star, that's the problem. I think I'm going to finish out this year and then try for a status match to OW or shift to ST. I want to do a lot of TPAC travel to Asia next year, and the old 747's just don't cut it, even with E+.
Since you're not using mileage award but a paid ticket, I'm assuming you are just trying to keep earning miles on *A. Only you know if that's a logic that really makes sense, given your situation. Be that as it may, ditch UA and their website + IT, and try to use an independent booking tool(s) to find something on OZ or NH--just make sure it's in a booking class that earns on UA.

Another idea: EVA has some sort of partner agreement with UA where I thought you could also earn miles at least on the long overwater LAX-TPE. They also have a true premium economy product (unlike UA), and their regular economy isn't too far off UA's E+. From TPE, you can get a nonstop to Guilin on China Southern....which has the advantage of a quicker blitz through Chinese immigration and Customs than in PVG. Then hit PVG with a Chinese domestic flight on the way back to TPE to pickup the return. Or route TPE-PVG-KWL and vv on China Eastern. And start accruing those Skyteam miles to another program. Check EVA and see if they are doing any promos--often that LAX-TPE flight has some very competitive fares.
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Old Aug 21, 12, 11:59 pm   #12
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Originally Posted by jiejie View Post
I thought they had an E+ aircraft on this route LAX-CAN, or maybe I'm mixed up about that. Are they putting on the A380 on this route fairly soon?.
Nonstop Flights LAX to China
CA -PEK
AA-PVG
UA-PVG
CZ-CAN
MU-PVG



China Southern is to add its Airbus A380 aircraft to the Guangzhou-Los Angeles route from October 12.The superjumbo will operate on daily flights CZ237 departing Guangzhou at 2100, and CZ238 leaving Los Angeles at 2330.


http://www.csair.cn/_layouts/GroupPo...ListName=Media
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