Back in 2017, American Airlines made a $200 million investment in China's largest airline, China Southern. Roughly a year later, the airline left the SkyTeam airline alliance and started working more closely with American Airlines.
While the airlines have been working together since late 2018, it hasn't been possible to earn or redeem American Airlines AAdvantage miles for travel on China Southern. That Changed on Wednesday (March 20, 2019) as the airlines rolled out the ability to earn and redeem American Miles for flights on China Southern.
If you are flying on China Southern on a cash fare, the mileage earning rates are as follows. As you can see, you will receive a 50% mileage bonus if you are traveling in a first or business class cabin and a 10% mileage bonus in a Premium Economy cabin. However, you will not earn elite qualifying dollars towards American Airlines status for China Southern flights.
Using AAdvantage Miles for China Southern Flights
Perhaps the most exciting part of this news is it is now possible to use AAdvantage miles for travel on China Southern. It's generally been tough to get to China using AA miles, as the airline doesn't have any mainland China partner airlines.
The redemption rates for China Southern travel will follow American's standard partner award chart which can be found below. It will cost 37,500 miles in economy, 70,000 miles in business, and 110,000 miles in first class each way if you are traveling to or from the United States. Per One Mile at a Time, First Class awards on China Southern won't initially be available, though they might be in the future.
Thrifty Tip: See our review of China Southern's Premium Economy cabin.
As of writing this article, China Southern award space is not yet showing up on American Airlines' website. I would imagine that this will be added at some point in the future as we recently saw with Qatar Airways award space. You can search for availability on China Southern's website and then call American to book or find space using the website ExpertFlyer.
The user experience on China Southern's website is pretty awful so until these awards show up on AA's website, I would suggest using ExpertFlyer to find award space.
Where Does China Southern Fly?
China Southern might not win big awards, but it’s a firmly four-star airline as ranked by SkyTrax, securing a spot among the top 15 carriers in 2018. It's one of the largest airlines in the world, with 750 cargo and passenger planes.
The airline has played a huge role in China’s aggressive aviation industry expansion in the last several years, and we’re constantly seeing great fare deals from the U.S. to Asia on China Southern through our Thrifty Traveler Premium service, so your chances of getting onboard are only growing.
China Southern currently flies nonstop to six different US destinations out of China. The routes can be found as follows:
- Los Angeles (LAX) to Xiamen, China (XMN)
- Los Angeles (LAX) to Shenyang, China (SHE)
- Los Angeles (LAX) to Shanghai, China (PVG)
- Los Angeles (LAX) to Guangzhou, China (CAN)
- San Francisco (SFO) to Guangzhou, China (CAN)
- San Francisco (SFO) to Wuhan, China (WUH)
- Dallas (DFW) to Beijing (PEK)
- Dallas (DFW) to Shanghai (PVG)
- Seattle (SEA) to Beijing (PEK)
- Seattle (SEA) to Shanghai (PVG)
- Detroit (DTW) to Beijing (PEK)
- Detroit (DTW) to Shanghai (PVG)
- New York (JFK) to Guangzhou, China (CAN)
China Southern operates plenty of flights within China but also has service in and out of the Middle East, Africa, Europe, North America, and Australia. Not interested in visiting Guangzhou or Beijing? No problem – connect onward throughout Asia or elsewhere on China Southern.
Is China Southern American's best partner? No, absolutely not. That distinction belongs to the likes of Qatar, Etihad or Cathay Pacific. However, if you have a stash of AA miles and China is on your list, this is a great new opportunity that wasn't previously available. I suspect award space will eventually be bookable on American's website but until then, using ExpertFlyer is your best bet for finding space.
Lead Photo (CC BY 2.0): Steve Walsh