We rarely talk about programs in China, primarily due to their English sites not working well and there is not much channels outside of China to earn miles from. Furthermore, redemption of miles is almost as troublesome as redeeming Korean Airline miles in the beginning.
We all have different reasons to earn miles but eventually, it all comes down to one goal—redeeming for something. Most people want free flights, some want free hotel stays amongst other things. We all like EK, EY and SQ first class to travel, but to most people, free flights and non-stop flights are more important than other factors, .so hub airlines make big difference
For example, Air China dominates the non-stop route from Beijing to many places and we can use ANA, SQ, UA and all other *A program to redeem CA flights but CA has low season redemption chart for many places. That will put only 12500 to Japan, and even 9000 from China-India in business class round trip! Yes, you read that right. It is only 9000!!! I always ignore the difference between KM and MILE, it is just a unit. Whose miles is of a higher value in this case now? (That is also one reason why Mileslife was built without unit difference)
Next, we have China eastern and I have to say, if you are a frequent flyer based in Shanghai, this is the program that pays you to fly!
- They have packages for international tickets. 5 pairs of China-Singapore business class tickets only cost 7000 RMB each, taxes included! It is booked in C class, allows for free change of flight schedule and you can earn 200% miles.
- You earn SPG points based on the flying distance and not by the amount of money paid. I am not sure how much longer this can sustain, but as of now, it is 4:1 ratio plus double dip based on flying distance. (A RT PVG-SIN earn nearly 20000 km+4500 SPG points)
- Running discounts on redemption everywhere, all year round! Yes, again it is priced in KM, but does it really matter since business class to US is only 50,000km OW non-stop after discount?
- Platinum gets free unlimited domestic upgrades and 4 international upgrades worldwide with no fare restriction. It is not like US where everyone is 1K, EP or Diamond. Upgrading your membership tier is getting harder and there are only a handful of Platinum in China so the clearance is almost 100%. As for international, there is no such thing as a waitlist. As long as there are seats for sale, we will be able to get it.
- 100% awarded with seat without a premium as platinum member and free cancellation. Again, it goes back to getting a seat and yes, you can pick up your phone and redeem at any MU operated flight.
- They all give you 3 free hotel nights as platinum member too.
It really pays me to fly, at least for now. Anyone else wants to give it a try?