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Best Strategy Flying to China in Business with a Stop in HK (and Earn AS EQM)

Best Strategy Flying to China in Business with a Stop in HK (and Earn AS EQM)

Old Dec 5, 18, 10:41 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Jul 2018
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Best Strategy Flying to China in Business with a Stop in HK (and Earn AS EQM)

Hello,

Newbie here. I'm planning a trip to mainland China around April 2019. Planning on flying business and wanted to make a stop in Hong Kong on my way back. The two transpacific legs will be something like:
  1. Somewhere in North America -> (Stop in Japan/Korea/HK ->) somewhere in mainland China
  2. Hong Kong -> (Stop in Japan/Korea ->) Somewhere in North America
(I'm SEA based, but willing to buy separate domestic tickets to make up the whole itinerary if there's a good deal that doesn't start from or end at SEA.)
For AS EQM purposes, I'm only looking at AA, HU, CX, JL and KE. Is there any route that is more likely to offer business class at a lower rate that I should be looking at? Or is it still too early to start planning? Any direction is appreciated!

Thanks!
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Old Dec 6, 18, 12:09 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Anchorage, AK
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Frankly, if it were me, and since you're Seattle based, I'd take advantage of that new SEA nonstop on Cathay.
Business classes J, C, D, and I earn 225% RDM, and that's if you're not an elite with AS.
Premium economy classes W, E, and R earn 110% RDM.

Either that, or the JAL route through Narita, which (if you're unfamiliar) is a FANTASTICALLY EASY airport to make international connections through. In my opinion, the easiest in the world.

Is it to early to buy? Who knows. Maybe. Maybe not. But it's certainly not to early to PLAN!
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Old Dec 6, 18, 12:25 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
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Deleted (missed the part about wanting to make the stops)

Last edited by VegasGambler; Dec 6, 18 at 12:33 am
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Old Dec 6, 18, 2:22 am
  #4  
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Originally Posted by Legend717 View Post
Frankly, if it were me, and since you're Seattle based, I'd take advantage of that new SEA nonstop on Cathay.
Business classes J, C, D, and I earn 225% RDM, and that's if you're not an elite with AS.
Premium economy classes W, E, and R earn 110% RDM.

Either that, or the JAL route through Narita, which (if you're unfamiliar) is a FANTASTICALLY EASY airport to make international connections through. In my opinion, the easiest in the world.

Is it to early to buy? Who knows. Maybe. Maybe not. But it's certainly not to early to PLAN!
Thanks for replying @Legend717 ! Thanks for pointing out the RDM earning opportunity on Cathaty. I'm MVPG for 2019. That's another 100%. However I'm looking at >$4000 for that nonstop in April. Probably going to look around and wait a bit before making the commitment...

As for NRT, I do agree the connection experience was good. But unless it's at a lower rate I'd prefer nonstop. Right now it's about the same price as Cathay.
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Old Dec 6, 18, 5:59 am
  #5  
 
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I’d just buy a round trip to and from your mainland destination and then add on a cheap mainland-HK-Mainland ticket. Will likely save $1000+ this way.
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travelinmanS is offline  
Old Dec 6, 18, 8:27 am
  #6  
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Many CX business class fares give you a free stopover in HKG on the outbound, but not the return.
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Old Dec 6, 18, 12:49 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
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You might be able to save some money by starting & ending your trip in YVR due to various taxes, fees, etc. and if they charge you in CAD due to the strength of the CAD to the USD.
Not sure if you'll find any directs but it can work even if the first leg just takes you back to SEA

Before DL left the AS partnership in 2106 I booked:
YVR > SEA > PEK > SEA > YVR for CAD $2878 (~USD $2200) in business.

If I had booked just the SEA > PEK same flight, it would've been ~ USD $5000
So I booked a separate SEA > YVR on AS that gave me plenty of extra time to make my connections in YVR on separate itineraries.

Best part is... due to the way SEA is configured on the way home we just didn't get on the last leg back to YVR. We didn't feel like spending another 5 hours flying and rechecking bags. We just grabbed our bags and went to the DL agent who was paging us (tight connection) and told them don't hold the plane for us we've made alternative travel plans. She looked a bit nonplussed but shrugged it off. We then went to the AS desk and said "Hey, we're on the AS flight later tonight from YVR to SEA but we're already here as you can see " and they cancelled that fare and put the funds back in our wallet.
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Old Dec 6, 18, 1:15 pm
  #8  
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Originally Posted by nearlysober View Post
You might be able to save some money by starting & ending your trip in YVR due to various taxes, fees, etc. and if they charge you in CAD due to the strength of the CAD to the USD. Not sure if you'll find any directs but it can work even if the first leg just takes you back to SEA
I don't disagree that flights from YVR may be cheaper than SEA especially with the "weakness" of the CAD to the USD.

As far as taxes go, you will pay more on an itinerary that includes an international arrival into the US than one commencing from within the US. The 9/11, APHIS, Security fees, "et al" add up. YVR also has an airport improvement fee of $20 CAD but that is included in the ticket price. Yes, for flights starting in Canada, the fees and taxes will be in Canadian Dollars converted from the underlying currency at the accepted rate for conversion on the day of purchase. Credit Card issuers may add additional fees on the foreign currency conversion. In essence you could be paying a premium twice.

Looking at an AS award SEA-YVR-SEA you will pay $6 USD Northbound and about $45 USD Southbound.

James
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Old Dec 6, 18, 2:29 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
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For non-award flights, there are relatively cheap flights on HU from SEA or LAX to various parts of China. Around $2100 round trip in business is not too hard to find (although they only seem to release those cheap fares a few months out... right now there is availability up to about mid-late April). Apparently it's a very good product/experience (there is a thread about that). I haven't flown on it yet (though I'm planning a mileage run / vacation later this year) but my general impression from what others have said is that the business class product is very good. Not as good as CX, but 1/2 to 1/3 the price, and earns lots of AS miles.

Basically, the transpacific legs (booking into R) will earn 100% eqm and 200% RDM (plus elite bonus). Anything within China will book into C (full fare business) and will earn 250% EQM and 350% RDM (plus elite bonus). You should be able to find cheap flights to hong kong from there.

It seems to me that, unless you really don't care about the cash at all, the "winning" strategy here is to fly HU when paying cash and use your miles for awards on CX.

Of course, there are other Chinese carriers that are even cheaper, but they are not AS partners and I'm not sure of the quality of the product.
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Old Dec 6, 18, 6:13 pm
  #10  
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Originally Posted by VegasGambler View Post
For non-award flights, there are relatively cheap flights on HU from SEA or LAX to various parts of China. Around $2100 round trip in business is not too hard to find (although they only seem to release those cheap fares a few months out... right now there is availability up to about mid-late April). Apparently it's a very good product/experience (there is a thread about that). I haven't flown on it yet (though I'm planning a mileage run / vacation later this year) but my general impression from what others have said is that the business class product is very good. Not as good as CX, but 1/2 to 1/3 the price, and earns lots of AS miles.

Basically, the transpacific legs (booking into R) will earn 100% eqm and 200% RDM (plus elite bonus). Anything within China will book into C (full fare business) and will earn 250% EQM and 350% RDM (plus elite bonus). You should be able to find cheap flights to hong kong from there.

It seems to me that, unless you really don't care about the cash at all, the "winning" strategy here is to fly HU when paying cash and use your miles for awards on CX.

Of course, there are other Chinese carriers that are even cheaper, but they are not AS partners and I'm not sure of the quality of the product.
Thanks everyone for your input so far and thanks for sharing your comments @VegasGambler. I do care about cash and that's the reason I started this thread

I agree that in general I enjoyed HU's business experience. Not as good as what I would expect from a skytrax 5-star, but not bad. A quick search on google flights shows some availability in April departing from LAX at around $2400. Not bad but I'd expect something cheaper (at around $2000). (Their own website is super flaky and barely usable...) Probably going to wait a bit and see if more options become available in the next month or so if I go for this strategy.
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Old Dec 6, 18, 10:06 pm
  #11  
 
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Originally Posted by Domo5 View Post
Thanks everyone for your input so far and thanks for sharing your comments @VegasGambler. I do care about cash and that's the reason I started this thread

I agree that in general I enjoyed HU's business experience. Not as good as what I would expect from a skytrax 5-star, but not bad. A quick search on google flights shows some availability in April departing from LAX at around $2400. Not bad but I'd expect something cheaper (at around $2000). (Their own website is super flaky and barely usable...) Probably going to wait a bit and see if more options become available in the next month or so if I go for this strategy.
I'm not sure what destination cities you are looking for but for example: https://www.google.com/flights#flt=L...03*.USD.220803

That shows as $2209 but for some reason when you click through to "book with Hainan" the price drops to $2082. I'm not sure where the discrepancy comes from.

It's not exactly the direct route... this is LAX-PEK connecting in CTU in each direction. You can also connect in CKG or CSX. You can also stop in each direction for about $7 each. Good for mileage earning and visiting places LAX-PVG has similar fares. I'm going to try to combine this with cheap business class round trip fares from China to Male (different airline) to do something like LAX-CKG-PEK-MLE-PVG-CTU-LAX, stopping for a week in the Maldives and 2-3 days in each Chinese city.

PA01* /VIA THE PACIFIC/ PUBLISHED RTG 2033 DOM ROUTE VALIDATION APPLIES WITHIN ORIG/DEST COUNTRIES
1. LAX-HU-CKG-HU-BJS
2. LAX-HU-CSX-HU-BJS
3. LAX-HU-CTU-HU-BJS
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Old Dec 7, 18, 11:37 am
  #12  
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Originally Posted by VegasGambler View Post
I'm not sure what destination cities you are looking for but for example: https://www.google.com/flights#flt=L...03*.USD.220803

That shows as $2209 but for some reason when you click through to "book with Hainan" the price drops to $2082. I'm not sure where the discrepancy comes from.

It's not exactly the direct route... this is LAX-PEK connecting in CTU in each direction. You can also connect in CKG or CSX. You can also stop in each direction for about $7 each. Good for mileage earning and visiting places LAX-PVG has similar fares. I'm going to try to combine this with cheap business class round trip fares from China to Male (different airline) to do something like LAX-CKG-PEK-MLE-PVG-CTU-LAX, stopping for a week in the Maldives and 2-3 days in each Chinese city.
​​​​​​​Thanks for sharing. This is very interesting. I have been searching for their nonstop routes (LAX - CSX/CKG/CTU) and they all show as around $2400. However LAX-PEK/PVG is cheaper although with an extra leg.
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Old Dec 7, 18, 3:46 pm
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Originally Posted by Domo5 View Post
Thanks for sharing. This is very interesting. I have been searching for their nonstop routes (LAX - CSX/CKG/CTU) and they all show as around $2400. However LAX-PEK/PVG is cheaper although with an extra leg.
They used to have the same fare for the direct routes as they did for PEK and PVG. I think they expired. They may be re-published though. They have only just recently (within the last couple of weeks) re-published the cheap LAX-PEK fares (until then, they expired at the end of December). If you just want to go to CSX, CTU, or CKG, I'd wait a couple of weeks and check again (or set a fare alert in Google flights or something). R and I availability seems pretty wide open so if they publish them, you should have no problem finding dates that work.
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