Delta Upgrades China Eastern to Tier 1 with Better Earning, Still Big Fuel Surcharges on Awards

SkyTeam has a dominant position in China with 4 of China’s airlines.

Star Alliance has Air China and Shenzhen Airlines. OneWorld has none unless you count Cathay Pacific.

Ok, I don’t want to get into a Taiwan debate, so for the record, SkyTeam has China Airlines and Star Alliance has Eva.

Delta loves state-subsidized airlines that it owns a stake or partners with and following last year’s investment in China Eastern, new in 2016 we get improved SkyMiles earning of miles, MQMs and MQDs on China Eastern. Compare the before and after here. This is not new news, but I had not yet posted it.

China Eastern A340

In recent years I had pushed my China domestic flights to Air China, where possible, because of better earning with United. This brings it closer to parity.

Awards on China Eastern are still limited value because of huge fuel surcharges on international flights, while cash rates for domestic flights make awards hard to justify.

Shanghai Pudong has a long way to go to be the Asia hub Delta wants. Flights are frequently, massively delayed due to air traffic control (military exercises, etc) and weather. International transfers are a pain requiring passing port of first entry style through immigration, baggage collection, re-check-in at departures level, and departure immigration, even when connecting in the same terminal. And many domestic flights are at Shanghai Hongqiao, a minimum 1-hour, with no traffic, away, and there usually is lots of traffic.

I like China Eastern flying experience, except the old A340. The gate recently flew the 15-hour JFK-PVG flight, recapped here.

What we really need a way for Delta and Korean to kiss and make up. Does not seem likely.

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  • Ben

    Maybe you don’t care about a debate on Taiwan but some of your readers do, like me. HKG technically is part of China now since UK returned it to China. So There’s indeed a oneworld airline in China and that’s CX. For SkyTeam, you can just use the term “Greater China” for geographical reason to include CI. That’s how ST site/FB handles the situation and sell their Greater China pass. However, I do appreciate the info on the transit situation at PVG as I plan to book MU J class revenue tix.

    You can read my comments on Brian Cohen’s blog that you link to in this article. It’s interesting that DL plans to buy more of AM, includes KE CEO on Sky Mag cover, as well as CZ. Do you have further insider news on this new relationship development btwn DL and KE? Thanks!

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Ben – I don’t have inside info on the DL – KE situation, it has always seemed a culture clash of arrogant, tone deaf DL and proud, stubborn KE, will take a lot to repair that.

    The issue with the political versus the practical is including those Greater China airlines does not make a lot of practical sense for the traveler without point to point flights in the mainland. But I did mention all to fill whatever conception of China people want to adopt.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Ben – I forgot to add that in T1 there is a MU transfer desk, I have never seen them do anything and never transferred intl to intl on MU only. There is a small chance they can get you through without all the hassle. This would be MU only as most SkyTeam are at T2.

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