Air China is the flag carrier of the People’s Republic of China and is a member of Star Alliance. The Beijing-based airline flies to over 200 domestic and international destinations, including a few non-stop flights to the United States.
See our list of the best credit card bonuses here.
PhoenixMiles is Air China’s frequent flyer program. Members from the United States can stock up on kilometers by transferring from partner loyalty programs, and flying Air China or with any of its airline partners. Kilometers can be redeemed for award flights and upgrades. For all the best ways to earn and burn PhoenixMiles Kilometers, keep reading.
|Airline Alliance||Star Alliance|
|Hubs||Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai|
|U.S. Destinations||Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Newark, San Jose, San Francisco, Washington, D.C.|
|U.S. Credit Cards||None|
|Transfer Partners||Marriott Bonvoy, World of Hyatt|
|Redemption Options||Flights, upgrades|
PhoenixMiles Elite Status
When you join PhoenixMiles, you automatically become a Member. Above that are three status tiers: Silver, Gold and Platinum. To move up a tier, you need to fly a certain amount of kilometers or a certain number of segments in the previous 12 months.
Once you unlock a tier, you have that status until the end of the 24th month thereafter, and you’ll enjoy the following benefits:
|Business class check-in||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|First class check-in||–||–||Yes|
|Priority baggage handling||–||Yes||Yes|
|International lounge access||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Air China business class lounge access||–||Yes + 1||Yes + 1|
|Star Alliance lounge access||–||Yes + 1||Yes + 1|
|Air China first class lounge access||–||–||Yes + 1|
|Star Alliance Gold lounge access||–||–||Yes + 1|
|Extra baggage allowance||20kg or 1 piece||20kg or 1 piece||20kg or 1 piece|
|Priority award tickets & upgrades||–||Yes||Yes|
|Star Alliance status||Silver||Gold||Gold|
Go to the PhoenixMiles member benefits page for more details.
Earning PhoenixMiles Kilometers
Compared to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, Delta SkyMiles and other frequent flyer programs based in the United States, earning PhoenixMiles Kilometers is not an easy task for Americans. Here are all the ways you can rack up on PhoenixMiles Kilometers:
The easiest way to earn PhoenixMiles Kilometers without flying is through transfer partners. Marriott Bonvoy members can convert their points at a three to one ratio, with a 5,000-kilometer bonus for every 60,000 Marriott Points they transfer.
|Personal Cards||Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card|
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card
|Business Cards||Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card|
Keep in mind, you’ll be transferring your Marriott points into kilometers, not miles like other frequent flyer programs. Because one kilometer is approximately 0.62 miles, you’ll be losing more than 30% of the value of your Marriott points by converting to PhoenixMiles kilometers.
World of Hyatt members can also convert their points to PhoenixMiles Kilometers, but at an even less attractive rate. As such, we do not recommend transferring from your World of Hyatt account.
Earn PhoenixMiles Kilometers when you fly with Air China and the following airline partners:
The accrual rate depends on the distance between the origin and destination, as well as booking class.
Unlike most other frequent flyer programs, PhoenixMiles does not have any hotel or car rental partnerships for additional ways to earn airline kilometers.
Redeeming PhoenixMiles Kilometers
Most PhoenixMiles members use their kilometers for award flights with Air China and partner airlines. The program utilizes a distance-based award chart for domestic Air China flights, whereas international flights have region-based award charts. To make it even more complicated, each airline partner has their own region-based award chart. Have a look at Air China’s award charts in detail here.
You can also redeem your PhoenixMiles Kilometers to upgrade from economy to business class, or from business to first class.
PhoenixMiles Kilometers Expiration
PhoenixMiles Kilometers expire 36 months from the end of the month in which they were accrued. If you earned 10,000 kilometers in May 2019, and you use 7,000 kilometers, the remaining 3,000 kilometers are valid until May 31, 2022.
PhoenixMiles Tips & Tricks
Routing rules. PhoenixMiles has very lax routing rules and very few booking fees. Open jaws are permitted on international flights, and two stopovers are allowed on roundtrip Star Alliance partner flights between two zones. Mixed class awards are available on Air China flights.
Award search. The PhoenixMiles site is poorly designed with many pages still under construction. To search for award availability, we suggest using the Aeroplan and the United Airlines websites instead.
Best value awards. For the best bang for your kilometers, opt for Air China flights. Domestic roundtrip awards start at 15,000 kilometers, and flights between the United States and China are priced at 100,000 kilometers in economy and 200,000 kilometers in business. To put it in mileage terms, that’s only 62,000 and 124,000 miles respectively.
There are also plenty of good deals for flying with Star Alliance member airlines:
|U.S. and Hong Kong/Taipei||Business||110,000||176,000|
|U.S. and Hong Kong/Taipei||First||136,000||220,000|
|U.S. and Seoul/Tokyo||Business||99,000||160,000|
|U.S. and Seoul/Tokyo||First||130,000||210,000|
|U.S. and Oceania||Business||117,000||188,000|
|U.S. and Oceania||First||155,000||250,000|
Worst value awards. We recommend staying away from award flights to/from the Middle East because PhoenixMiles lists it in the same zone as Africa. An award flight between Istanbul and Tel Aviv only takes about two hours, but it’ll cost you 115,000 kilometers in economy, 256,000 kilometers in business and 346,000 kilometers in first.
Beijing bonuses. Members get free hotel stays in Beijing for overnight layovers (excluding award flights). A visa-free, 72-hour stopover in Beijing is allowed en route to another country.
Things to consider. You must fly 20,000 kilometers or four segments before you can redeem awards. One-way award tickets cost more than half the cost of roundtrip tickets. PhoenixMiles has loads of blackout dates, and the cancellation fee is 50% of the cost of the award flight.
Air China PhoenixMiles isn’t the most valuable frequent flyer program out there, but it does have some perks. Flexible routing rules are at the top of the list, followed by a handful of sweet spots in their award charts. That said, there aren’t many ways to earn and burn PhoenixMiles kilometers.
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