I love writing about great premium fare deals, but this is certainly the weirdest one I’ve seen in a while.
Back in the 1980s, well before I had even taken my first flight, some airlines like American sold lifetime first class travel passes for what was back then, obscene amounts of money. In American’s case it was $250,000 per person, which is more than $600,000 in today’s money.
This is an insane amount to consider outlaying for future flights.
The problem with any lifetime deal, is that it will only be valid as long as you, and more importantly, the airline, are still around.
But those who did take advantage of the deal and are still able to fly have reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of value from this. Especially if you are retired, they had so few restrictions you could fly somewhere different every week if you wished. And there’s good reason they’re no longer offered.
Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines is generally considered to be one of the best carriers in mainland China. Ben has reviewed them and had a great experience.
They have just launched an unusual offer in Australia. It is called their Australian Diamond Family Package, and for $33,000 (Australian), you can purchase 30 round-trip business class flights on Hainan Airlines for flights departing China, or overseas, to Australia only.
Hainan operates the following Australian flights from China, primarily using Airbus A330s with flat-bed seats in business class:
- Xian to Melbourne and Sydney
- Changsha to Melbourne and Sydney
- Haikou to Sydney
- Shenzen to Brisbane
Naturally this deal comes with a few conditions/benefits that are both generous and restrictive:
- The 30 flights must be used within three years (restrictive)
- Passengers can connect from anywhere in China that Hainan flies from domestically by paying the additional taxes and fees (generous)
- They can be shared between four people, one of whom must be under 22 or over 60 (fairly generous)
- No blackout periods (very generous)
- Booked flights are refundable, subject to a 10% refund fee of the amount paid
- R class must be available (restrictive)
- A one year Fortune Wings Club elite membership is included (generous)
- Fees and taxes and not included (restrictive)
- Any flights not redeemed can be used towards Hainan R class revenue tickets for an approximate 20% discount
Now the wording of the offer says it includes flights ‘from overseas’ to Australia, but that seems suspiciously vague. My interpretation of this is that it would be any destination Hainan flies from to Australia, provided you fly Hainan metal.
If that was the case I’m very surprised they are not promoting this worldwide.
I suspect instead it is limited to flights from China to Australia, so I’m basing my analysis on that.
Is this a good deal?
Hainan prices fluctuate a bit, but I can see them charging around $2,000 per person return, as an R class revenue fare between China and Australia. If you were otherwise booking 30 revenue fares, it would be a great deal.
This would be ideal for a family of four that regularly travels to Australia, perhaps to visit relatives, or has a child studying in Australia (education is one of Australia’s biggest industries, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney). Or four business travellers from one company who regularly need to visit Australia and live or work in a Hainan hub city.
For the right people, this could be a great deal. But there are some big caveats/concerns:
- To get the maximum value, all four would need to travel to Australia at least seven times each in three years. I don’t travel there that much and I’m Australian.
- The fees and taxes are a big consideration also. Looking at a Changsha to Melbourne return, each passenger would be hit with almost $400 (Australian) in fees, taxes and fuel surcharges for each trip. Doing that 30 times would add more than $11,000 to the outlay.
This is a very niche deal, but even if they only sell one of these packages it should be advantageous for Hainan given how specifically the customer would need to utilise the offer to gain the maximum value.
There have been rumours that Hainan’s liquidity is in a very bad state, to the point where they can’t take new aircraft because they have no money to pay for them. Pre-selling packs of flights is an easy way for Hainan to hold on to that cash for the three years.
Look, if this does include any Hainan destination worldwide I’d consider rounding up three Australian friends in London and booking this, as Hainan flies from Heathrow to Changsha and it would allow us to visit home in comfort, regularly.
But I suspect it is limited to flights from China to Australia, and I would not recommend anyone purchasing this until they have that clarification in writing from Hainan.
You also need to keep in mind Hainan may well be doing this because they are desperate for cash so may not still be operating in three years to take every one of those 30 flights.
So it’s a big risk, unless you can take all the flights ASAP.
If you wish to book, here are the instructions — you have until the end of this year. With any deal like this you would need to plan in advance how you will use every single flight before you outlay any money to ensure you get value.
Would you consider buying a pack of Hainan business class flights?