American And China Southern Introducing Reciprocal Mileage Earning And Lounge Access

Filed Under: American, China Southern

Last year American Airlines invested about $200 million in China Southern, which is China’s largest airline. This move came out of left field, given that American and China Southern previously didn’t cooperate in any way.

While it’s theoretically possible that an airline is just investing in another airline because they think they’ll get a good return, in practice it’s much more common that this is used as a way to develop a closer relationship with an airline, especially when we’re talking about investing in a mainland Chinese carrier.

The airlines had initially announced a codeshare agreement, though SkyTeam forced China Southern to reduce the number of routes on which they codeshare with American from 29 to 16. That’s because SkyTeam allegedly has a maximum number of codeshare routes they allow members to have with non-alliance airlines.

Well, it has now been announced that China Southern is leaving SkyTeam. While they’re not immediately joining oneworld, it was clear that we’d almost immediately see closer cooperation between American and China Southern.

American & China Southern are expanding codeshares

It hasn’t taken long, as American and China Southern have now announced their closer relationship. American and China Southern have announced that they’re increasing the short-haul routes on which they codeshare:

  • American Airlines will now codeshare on 20 China Southern routes beyond Beijing and Shanghai (this is for passengers traveling across the Pacific on American, and connecting onto China Southern)
  • China Southern will now codeshare on 21 American routes beyond Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco (this is for passengers traveling across the Pacific on China Southern, and connecting onto American)

China Southern A320

These are all codeshares on shorter routes, but American and China Southern will also start codesharing on longhaul flights.

American will codeshare on the following longhaul China Southern routes:


China Southern will codeshare on the following longhaul American routes:


American 777

In other words, this means a passenger could book a ticket on American’s website from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles to Guangzhou, and on China Southern’s website from Wuhan to Beijing to Dallas, for example.

Reciprocal mileage & lounge benefits coming

Codeshares are fine, but the reality is that without reciprocal frequent flyer benefits, this is of limited use. It’s great I can fly China Southern as an American flyer, but if I can’t earn miles, get lounge access, etc., that’s of limited value.

So it has also been announced that:

  • American and China Southern will offer reciprocal frequent flyer benefits as of early 2019, allowing members of both programs to earn and redeem miles on the other carrier
  • American and China Southern will offer reciprocal lounge access as of early 2019, giving passengers passengers to lounges of both airlines

American’s Admirals Club Los Angeles

The details of this haven’t been released, so obviously we’ll need to see all the details there in terms of mileage earning rates, under what circumstances lounge access is offered, etc.

China Southern’s Guangzhou Lounge

Bottom line

It’s not surprising to see American and China Southern move so quickly after China Southern left SkyTeam. The airlines will cooperate much more closely, and that’s starting with further codesharing.

However, what’s really going to be telling is what the reciprocal benefits look like for lounge access and earning and redeeming miles.

While I wouldn’t totally rule out the possibility of China Southern joining oneworld (I think it will happen eventually), at least on transpacific flights it sounds like they’ll have proper reciprocal benefits by next year.

I guess the next big question is if China Southern will add service to more American hubs (like Dallas), or if American will add service to Guangzhou.

What do you make of American and China Southern strengthening ties?

  1. If China Southern would add service to any AA hub, my money would be on Chicago. Because it’s the 2nd largest AA hub and has a fairly large Chinese population.

    And I don’t think that AA would add service to Guangzhou anytime soon. They have the least presence out of the big US3 in China currently, and they can’t even make Chicago to both Beijing and Shanghai work, so idk how they’ll make Guangzhou work with any of their hubs except LAX (but China Southern already fly a daily A380 on that route so…)

    When Daxing Airport opens next year, I’m assuming AA will also move there along with China Southern and the Skyteam airlines.

    I’m also wondering if Delta and China Southern would end their codeshare in 2019. Nothing about that has been announced yet, but I’m assuming yes.

  2. @ Ben — Sweet. Let’s hope this becomes the new cheap way to earn EXP! In addition to lazy FAs and cheap F-class champagne, is China Southern know for smoking pilots? I have generally avoided ALL airlines containing the name “China”, but I guess I might want to start distinguishing between the good and bad ones.

  3. @Airways And Travels
    I just checked the Daxing Airport Wikipedia page, and in the planned Airlines and Destinations section, Chicago is listed under American Airlines. Maybe it’s this partnership that’ll let AA bring back the route, idk…

  4. China southern doesn’t have its own lounges outside China. I wonder how they will fare once they leave skyteam.

    Skyteam carriers use the Korean Air lounge here at LAX which is the primary gateway for US China traffic

    The new midfield concourse and gateway building will I believe , provide space for 3-4 new lounges in addition to the current ones. Hopefully there will be a skyteam lounge.

    So which one would China Southern plan to use since AA customers can’t use the Korean Air ? Their passengers walking all the way to and from terminal 4 to use the admirals and flagship lounges isn’t ideal ?

  5. I’m thinking about flying LAX-CAN-KTM next year on China Southern. If I can get AA miles for a flight I was going to take anyways that would be nice.

  6. I wonder if this will go in before March. I purchased the 1300 RT Business class from LAX-PVG PEK-LAX. Originally I was going to credit to Delta but AA would be a much better choice for me.

  7. Why did China Southern leave SkyTeam? No one seems to answer this.

    Why didn’t China Southern and Delta cooperate? Was there not room for both China Eastern and China Southern? If one were Delta, wouldn’t they want partner hubs for connections in both Shanghai and Guangzhou?

  8. @Icarus
    CZ can use the OneWorld & Qantas lounge at TBIT. CZ and QF are already friends and codeshare on some routes.

    There is a rumor that a similar partnership between CZ and BA will be announced very soon. CZ will also launch a route to Helsinki from CAN next summer. Let’s speculate…

  9. @ Jeff — Because Delta invested in China Eastern, so it’s much more beneficial for them to try to funnel everyone onto an airline in which they have an ownership stake.

  10. @ Jeff. I think they were most likely requested to leave although indirectly. China Eastern has a much closer relationship with delta klm and Air France. Plus a small share in Air France and klm

  11. @Icarus
    Actually AF-KLM has a closer partnership with China Southern. They recently renewed their jv and added XiamenAir in.

  12. I will be flying CZ to PVG in March/ April next year. Does anyone know whether I can still credit the miles to my Delta skymiles account?

  13. No one has mentioned the elephant (or Dragon?) in the room here: Cathay Pacific.

    How will they react to this? It’s not enough to drive them out of Oneworld, but they’re sure to be pissed.

  14. JFK T8, with its underutilised gates and even more empty FSL, will gladly welcome CZ from T4. Eventually T8 will be called Other OW airlines and AA 😉

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