Friday Fare Alert (1): Seattle to Shanghai/Beijing From $550 (AA/AC/CA/DL/HU)

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There are some great looking fares for travel from Seattle to China over the next 3 months. On the Shanghai route it looks like Hainan and Delta are battling it out for supremacy with American getting involved too. On the Beijing route its a battle between Air China/Air Canada and Hainan.

This is the first of 2 Fare Alerts today so make sure you come back later if you’re looking for other west-coast fares.

Seattle – Shanghai

Hainan Airlines, Delta and American Airlines all have good deals on this route.

For those looking  for a quick and easy trip, Hainan and Delta are likely to be your best option. For anyone looking for a mileage run, I think the American Airlines fare may be what you’re looking for.

Hainan’s best fare (that you can find with any regularity) is $670 but there is one date where they have a fantastic fare of $550 return!



The $550 fare may only be available on a single day but the minimum stay requirements are generous so, at approximately 4.8c/mile, this could be a good mileage run for anyone looking to re-qualify on Alaska Airlines. See this link for Hainan earning rates on Alaska


As I already mentioned, the more commonly found fare is for $670 and this is available through to the beginning of December:


November has the most availability…..



….but you’ll find the fare available in October and the beginning of December too.

Not to be outdone by Hainan, Delta has a very similar fare on offer ($670 return)….although Delts’s lowest fare doesn’t kick in until 26 October.


Just like Hainan, the Delta flights are non-stop and depart and arrive at reasonable times:


Where Hainan’s fare is valid until 7 December, Delta’s is valid for 3 days more:


The similarity between Hainan’s offering and Delta’s continues with the majority of Delta’s lowest fares being available in November:


The major difference between the Hainan fares and those from Delta are the minimum stay requirements. Delta’s fares all require a minimum of 6 nights stay where Hainan’s fares are more liberal with just the 3 nights required.

The American Airlines Mileage Run

I mentioned that American Airlines is also making an effort in this battle but, if you’re looking for convenience, then these flight aren’t for you. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a way of earning cheap AAdvantage miles then this should be of interest.

American Airlines’ best fare is $642 and, while that’s better that both Hainan and Delta, the flight schedules will be an issue for most.


American doesn’t have any non-stop flights between Seattle and China so they route through their west-coast hub in Los Angeles. And in order to route through Los Angeles one of two things needs to happen:

  1. The flights leave at a horribly early time (click to enlarge):

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2. The flights involve a ludicrously long lay over:


Clearly, for convenience, you’re far better off choosing Hainan or Delta but, for for someone looking to earn/retain status on American this could be helpful.

According to Great Circle Mapper the route the American Airlines fare takes you is 14,877 miles in length:

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And a fare of $642 for a trip of 14,877 miles in length gives you a cost of just 4.3c/mile. 

However, there is an issue with this fare that rules it out of contention for mileage runners – the minimum stay requirement is 7 nights:

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Luckily there’s another fare that’s perfect for a mileage run!

Buried underneath all the $642 fares is an American Airlines fare for $662 (or just 4.4c/mile):

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It still leaves at a horribly early time but everything else is in the mileage runner’s favour. There are plenty of dates to choose from because the fare is valid until early December….

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….and plenty of days you can depart on:

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And the minimum stay requirement is just 3 nights…..

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ITA Matrix Tip: If you’re having trouble finding one of the good mileage run fares when using the matrix search, try using the following advanced routing code for the outbound flight:

“AA+ / maxconnect 240”

That should ensure that you find the $662 fares quite easily.

Seattle – Beijing

As well as the great fares to Shanghai there are also some very low fares between Seattle and Beijing.

Air Canada/Air China and Hainan dominate the low fares on this route although, unlike the Shanghai flights, none of the cheeper fares involve a non-stop service to Beijing.

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The incredible one-day-only $550 Hainan fare is available on this route as well but the rest of the fares are in the $600’s.

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The cheapest flights (leaving aside the $550 fare from Hainan) route through Vancouver and use a combination of Air Canada and Air China (click to enlarge):

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The minimum stay requirement is just 3 days:

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While this Air Canada/Air China combo fare isn’t quite mileage run material, at a cost of just 5.8c/mile it’s very good value.

For those looking to fly Hainan the best fare is $685 and there’s plenty of availability to choose from:

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And, similarly to the Air China/Air Canada fares, the minimum stay requirement is just 3 days:

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If you’re new to using the ITA Matrix search tool the introductory articles you’ll find on my “useful info” page may be of help.

Anyone planning to book any of these fares? I’d be sorely tempted with the American mileage run if I didn’t already have enough flights in place to keep my status – I’d suffer the early morning for a 4.4c/mile fare!


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