These routes have been rumored for quite a while, and now they’re finally confirmed. Hainan Airlines will be launching twice weekly flights from Los Angeles to both Chengdu and Chongqing starting in just a few weeks.
As of March 15, 2017, Hainan will be starting twice weekly flights between Chengdu and Los Angeles with the following schedule:
HU469 Chengdu to Los Angeles departing 9:15PM arriving 8:00PM
HU470 Los Angeles to Chengdu departing 12:45AM arriving 6:40AM (+1 day)
Meanwhile as of March 21, 2017, Hainan will be starting twice weekly flights between Chongqing and Los Angeles with the following schedule:
HU467 Chongqing to Los Angeles departing 9:25PM arriving 8:00PM
HU468 Los Angeles to Chongqing departing 12:45AM arriving 6:30AM (+1 day)
These routes complement Hainan’s existing route out of Los Angeles, to Changsha (which I reviewed early last year).
These new routes have been rumored for a while, as Hainan petitioned with the U.S. Department of Transportation for these routes a few weeks back.
The motivation behind these routes is pretty obvious. China has a policy where only one Chinese airline can operate each longhaul route (unless a special exception is made), so Chinese airlines have an incentive to try and beat one another to the punch on new routes.
In the case of Chengdu, Hainan is clearly trying to beat Chengdu-based Sichuan Airlines to the punch. Sichuan started flying to LAX last year, though as of now they don’t have a plane that can fly between Chengdu and Los Angeles nonstop, so they fly via Hangzhou and Jinan. So Hainan started this route so that Sichuan wouldn’t be able to.
There are two reasons I’m especially excited about this expansion:
- Hainan generally publishes excellent business class fares, and they’re a partner with Alaska Mileage Plan, which is a great program with which to rack up miles
- Hainan is good about making award space available, so you can redeem Alaska miles for their flights
While Hainan historically has excellent business class fares, it doesn’t look like they’ve published any great fares on these new routes just yet. I suspect that will change over time, though as of now business class tickets are running $2,500+ roundtrip for most routings. In the past we’ve seen sub-$1,500 business class fares between Los Angeles and Changsha. I wouldn’t be surprised if we eventually see fares like that — if we do, I’ll be sure to post again.
It’s amazing how many Chinese cities are accessible nonstop out of Los Angeles now. The number of nonstop destinations has more than doubled in the past couple of years, and it looks like there’s no end in sight for this growth. I view this as another opportunity to potentially pick up a great business class fare that I can credit to Alaska, or at a minimum, two routes with wide open business class award availability through Alaska.