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frequent flyer benefits flying within China

frequent flyer benefits flying within China

Old Jul 27, 10, 4:32 pm
  #1  
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frequent flyer benefits flying within China

So it seems like all the major Chinese airlines are joining the "big 3" international alliances.

On my upcoming trip, I'll be flying domestic flights on China Eastern (Skyteam) and Air China (Star). I hold "Elite Plus" status in Skyteam and "Gold" status in Star. As a practical matter, does this get me anything on these airlines?

I presume I have lounge access. But it's hard to get reliable lounge information. Skyteam doesn't list any China lounges in their directory. Star seems to indicate that Air China has lounges in (at the least) Beijing and Chengdu. Does anyone maintain, in English, a "master China lounge index"?

BTW, in Shanghai, I'm flying to Canada on AC. Is there a Star Alliance lounge there that makes sense to use?

Other than lounge access, do I get anything? I presume no upgrades, right? What about elite seating, or preboard? If I buy my ticket on ctrip or elong (I have no idea the fare class) will I earn ff miles? And will they actually post? I did call China Eastern on their USA phone number and put in my DL ff number. The agent seemed to know what to do. She said no advance seat assignments, however.

Thanks.
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Old Jul 27, 10, 5:45 pm
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Originally Posted by iahphx View Post
On my upcoming trip, I'll be flying domestic flights on China Eastern (Skyteam) and Air China (Star). I hold "Elite Plus" status in Skyteam and "Gold" status in Star. As a practical matter, does this get me anything on these airlines?
You get lounge access. All of the bigger cities you're flying through have lounges... not sure about Lijiang, but I assume the airport is small enough that you can show up at T-45 and easily make your flight. It's also worth noting that some lounges are so depressing (XIY comes to mind) that you won't want to spend more than a few minutes in them.

And, you can check in at biz class counters, just like in the US.

I've never had any problems with miles posting.

Upgrades... very rarely.

Status might help on the seating front a tiny amount, but I always get good seats even when I don't reveal my FFP#.

That's really all there is to it.
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Old Jul 27, 10, 6:00 pm
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Originally Posted by iahphx View Post
So it seems like all the major Chinese airlines are joining the "big 3" international alliances.

On my upcoming trip, I'll be flying domestic flights on China Eastern (Skyteam) and Air China (Star). I hold "Elite Plus" status in Skyteam and "Gold" status in Star. As a practical matter, does this get me anything on these airlines?

I presume I have lounge access. But it's hard to get reliable lounge information. Skyteam doesn't list any China lounges in their directory. Star seems to indicate that Air China has lounges in (at the least) Beijing and Chengdu. Does anyone maintain, in English, a "master China lounge index"?

BTW, in Shanghai, I'm flying to Canada on AC. Is there a Star Alliance lounge there that makes sense to use?

Other than lounge access, do I get anything? I presume no upgrades, right? What about elite seating, or preboard? If I buy my ticket on ctrip or elong (I have no idea the fare class) will I earn ff miles? And will they actually post? I did call China Eastern on their USA phone number and put in my DL ff number. The agent seemed to know what to do. She said no advance seat assignments, however.

Thanks.
I can only comment on *A for elite.

Most of the decent sized airports have a CA lounge that you'll be able to use with your *A flights.

On the Int'l flight from PVG, at check-in, they usually give me a pass to a specific lounge which is near the gate.

On domestic flts, you'll be able to use the *Gold or F check-in lane which often has a minimal line.

I've always gotten mile credit for my CA flts all purchased on elong or ctrip, 50% credit for classes: L Q G S
V U W there's no credit for classes: X I O R N T E, 100% credit for all classes above these. If my number isn't on the record, I show my UA card and they put the number on at check-in, they're pretty used to it.

Though check your BP to see that your FF# is entered correctly, they once entered UNxxx instead of UAxxx and it took a lot to get the miles.

I've also gotten credit for all the flts eligible for DL miles.

No upgrades, no elite seating, no advance seating on discount tkts.
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Old Jul 27, 10, 8:37 pm
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Show your elite cards at check in and you're all set.
You will get EQM as for any *A airlines for
your UA 1P.
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Old Jul 27, 10, 8:53 pm
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Originally Posted by moondog View Post
not sure about Lijiang, but I assume the airport is small enough that you can show up at T-45 and easily make your flight.
I was at Lijiang this summer and didn't see any lounges of any sort--but I don't know that there wasn't one there. But like moondog said, it's definitely small enough you'd be fine with showing up at T-45. If you like walking on tarmac, there are only a few gates--it appeared that most people walked to their planes. Got some great pictures there!

Happy travels!
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Old Jul 27, 10, 9:10 pm
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Thanks.

The elite check-in lines could be useful. There's still no online check-in in China, right?
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Old Jul 27, 10, 11:17 pm
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Originally Posted by iahphx View Post
Thanks.

The elite check-in lines could be useful. There's still no online check-in in China, right?
There is OLCI in China, however, it's only for Chinese nationals. Another elite benefit is early boarding, I was able to board w/1st class at PEK/SHA/PVG by showing the elite BP (CZ flights).
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Old Jul 28, 10, 12:10 am
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Oh, elong shows the fare class on their email confirmations, not sure about ctrip.

Just in case you haven't seen it yet, Ctrip has a new acct that earns you DL miles for your bookings.
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Old Jul 28, 10, 12:42 am
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Originally Posted by fsfguy View Post
Oh, elong shows the fare class on their email confirmations, not sure about ctrip.
This is easy to figure out on your own because every Chinese airline I've flown with has charts (online) that map (%) discounts to fare classes. In other words, a 50% discount always = <X>. It's an extremely simple system.

For discounted biz/first, things aren't quite as straight forward, but there ctrip shows fare classes in addition to discount percentages.
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Old Jul 28, 10, 1:22 am
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Originally Posted by rdchen View Post
There is OLCI in China, however, it's only for Chinese nationals. Another elite benefit is early boarding, I was able to board w/1st class at PEK/SHA/PVG by showing the elite BP (CZ flights).
I don't think I've ever witnessed early boarding in China. This isn't an issue with me because I usually try to board at last call (so I can snag any open seat, including my favorite, which I've never failed to get).

Rationale (in addition to the aforementioned point):

-the 22" roller board craze hasn't taken hold in China, so the overhead bins always seem to have space
-even when they don't, you're bag is far more likely to end up in the closet than the cargo hold
-more often than not, you're going to sit on the ground for 30 minutes anyway... I see no need to make this number 60
-I can usually snag a seat on the last bus; much better than the subway environment on the first two buses
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Old Jul 28, 10, 1:38 am
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CZ does early boarding quite often, I flew PEK-CGQ last December during the major blizzard, and PEK was a mess w/all the delays. The gate was packed w/people, I just pushed my way thru the crowd when they started boarding 1st class, showed my elite BP & was allowed to board early.

Originally Posted by moondog View Post
I don't think I've ever witnessed early boarding in China. This isn't an issue with me because I usually try to board at last call (so I can snag any open seat, including my favorite, which I've never failed to get).

Rationale (in addition to the aforementioned point):

-the 22" roller board craze hasn't taken hold in China, so the overhead bins always seem to have space
-even when they don't, you're bag is far more likely to end up in the closet than the cargo hold
-more often than not, you're going to sit on the ground for 30 minutes anyway... I see no need to make this number 60
-I can usually snag a seat on the last bus; much better than the subway environment on the first two buses
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Old Jul 28, 10, 3:36 am
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Originally Posted by moondog View Post
I don't think I've ever witnessed early boarding in China. This isn't an issue with me because I usually try to board at last call (so I can snag any open seat, including my favorite, which I've never failed to get).

Rationale (in addition to the aforementioned point):

-the 22" roller board craze hasn't taken hold in China, so the overhead bins always seem to have space
-even when they don't, you're bag is far more likely to end up in the closet than the cargo hold
-more often than not, you're going to sit on the ground for 30 minutes anyway... I see no need to make this number 60
-I can usually snag a seat on the last bus; much better than the subway environment on the first two buses
Would second this. Considering the offerings at most Chinese airports (apart from the ones with dedicated CX/KA lounges) there is really no need or reason to go there but at the last possible moment.

Leave 10 extra minutes if flying international and want to buy tax-free stuff.
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Old Jul 28, 10, 11:35 am
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Can only really comment on STE+ here.

OLCI - Can be done via internet or your cell, but you should know Chinese for the mobile phone version. Cannot do OLCI for international flights.

Cchek-in at airport: as STEP, you can use the business lines to check in. This is actually quite a nice benefit as Chinese don't really do OLCI by habit, so the regular check in lines are quite long. Chinese also like to check all their luggage (since 1st bag is still free) which adds to the lines.

FFM: you will earn DL miles as long as the fare class is eligible on MU/CZ, check the DL website for exact fare classes.

Seating: as STEP, I've had luck accessing CZ's W cabin which is like Y+. You have to check in early though, so if you can't do OLCI you might not snag one of those seats. Often as a STEP, once boarded the FA's will come by to ask me if I need anything to let them know. Nice touch, but not super special as typically on Chinese airlines if you ask they'll help you. So shoot for Y+ (W class on CZ) as you get better food, more legroom, bottled water, and blanket.

Early boarding - sometimes done by CZ for international. Both MU/CZ have FC/J/Elite lines but they really don't work.

Lounges - you can get lounge access for international flights as per STE+ rules in CZ lounges, but not for MU lounges. Most China lounges aren't something to brag about, though some are pretty good.

UG's: Never had one, not ever expect one. China airlines won't even oversell Y and bump people into F. The rule in China pretty much seems if you want an F/J seat, go buy one.
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Old Jul 28, 10, 12:13 pm
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Originally Posted by mnredfox View Post
UG's: Never had one, not ever expect one. China airlines won't even oversell Y and bump people into F. The rule in China pretty much seems if you want an F/J seat, go buy one.
This happens from time to time. I've snagged a few on MU with no status.
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Old Jul 28, 10, 2:48 pm
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China Eastern is not part of SkyTeam, even though they codeshare with China Southern.

Getting lounge access on domestic flights is not always guaranteed. Depends on the knowledge of the ticketing person and the crew working in the lounge. More often than not I have been allowed into CA and CZ lounges in Shenzhen, Zhengzhou, Hangzhou, basically the bigger airports. Although I have been denied CA lounge in Beijing several times.

CZ is the best in terms of service and coverage, I always choose CZ when I can. They also have Premium Economy which is like UA's Economy Plus. CZ does have early boarding in the bigger airports, Beijing, Shenzhen, etc.
CA is my backup, and I rarely have good experiences with them.
MU is the worst in everything, and I never fly them unless I don't have a choice.

In the 4 years that I have flown in China (about 4-6 domestic flights per month), I have never ever gotten a free upgrade to Business class.

Every flight I have been on lately, all overhead compartments have been packed full. If you have a lot of luggage or carryons I wouldn't recommend waiting to board until the last minute.
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