Air China is the primary flag carrier of the People’s Republic of China and is a member of the Star Alliance. The Beijing-based airline flies to 200 domestic and international destinations, including several non-stop flights to the United States.
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PhoenixMiles is their frequent flyer program. Members from the United States can rack up points by flying Air China or with any other Star Alliance partner. Points can be redeemed for award flights and upgrades. Continue reading to see if this frequent flyer program is right for you!
Table of Contents
PhoenixMiles Quick Facts
|Hubs||Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai|
|Redemption Options||Flights, upgrades|
|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|
PhoenixMiles Elite Status
Upon joining PhoenixMiles, you will automatically become a Member. Above that are the three Status Tiers: Silver, Gold and Platinum. To move up a tier, you need to earn a certain amount of Status PhoenixMiles (FR) Points within a 12-month rolling period.
Once you’re a member of a status, you have that status for the next 24 months 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|
Earning PhoenixMiles Points
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|
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card offers 3 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
• Up to 17X total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy & 2X Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
• New Benefit! Earn 3X Bonvoy points per $1 on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on grocery stores, gas stations, and dining.
• New Benefit! Earn 1 Elite Night Credit towards Elite Status for every $5,000 you spend.
You gain an automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year. Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
You'll receive 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year & an additional Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
This card does carry a $95 fee; there are no foreign transaction fees.
The Marriott Bonvoy Bold offers 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
This card earns up to 14X total Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy & 2X points for all other travel purchases. You’ll receive 1X points per $1 spent on all other purchases.
This card comes with no foreign transaction fees and you'll get 15 elite night credits each calendar year!
The Marriott Bonvoy BrilliantTM American Express® Card offers 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points and 1 Free Night Award after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
In addition, you can enjoy up to $300 in statement credits each year of Card Membership for eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott BonvoyTM program.
With this card, you'll earn:
• 6X Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott BonvoyTM program.
• 3X points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines.
• 2X points on all other eligible purchases.
This card comes with a $450 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. However, you can receive 1 free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees. (See Rates & Fees)
Furthermore, enjoy unlimited airport lounge visits when you enroll in Priority Pass Select membership.
The Marriott Bonvoy BusinessTM American Express® Card offers 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 of eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 5/18/22.
You can enjoy a complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status with your Card. Plus, earn Gold Elite status after making $35,000 in eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year.
You'll earn 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott BonvoyTM program, 4x points at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping, & 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
You'll receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
This card does carry a $125 annual fee. (See Rates & Fees)
Unlike most other frequent flyer programs, PhoenixMiles does not have any hotel or car rental partnerships for additional ways to earn airline kilometers.
However, Air China does provide limited-time opportunities to earn rewards that doesn’t involve flying. To keep updated, make sure to follow the carrier’s Facebook, Twitter and Special Offers page.
Redeeming PhoenixMiles Points
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 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. It’s advisable that you stay 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 compared to others, but it does have some perks. Flexible routing rules are one of their best features, followed by a handful of sweet spots in their award charts. Other than that, there aren’t many ways to earn and use PhoenixMiles kilometers.
However if you realize that this is not the reward program for you, feel free to check out our latest list of the best credit card bonuses.