As a very frequent flyer of Hong Kong Airlines (HX) often between Hong Kong and Japan, having accumulated Platinum status and many miles, my eye is always on my next trip and how to maximize my miles and money for the best balance between value, service and mileage. So how is it possible, that if I were to fly 40 business class sectors in the next year I would get zero mileage and zero status??
In the past two years booking a J class ticket on HX website was a no brainer, apart from the issue often with the website deciding not to work at the worst possible moment, but I digress. However, in the last probably three months, the commercial department has decided that offering J class on the website as the lowest bookable business class ticket is no longer what they want to do, instead offering Z class. What does this mean? No Miles…..
Now this wouldn’t be so bad if it was actually possible to book J class through the website, you want the miles right, then why not pay for them. HX has the right to change fares as they wish. Unfortunately not, it’s only possible to book the lowest possible business fare, often Z or the highest most flexible fare, at of course a very high rate! Therefore with a minimum of 9 seats in Z class on most flights according to Expertflyer.com and no way to actually select a mileage earning fare, you are left with random chance that the date you want happens to be selling J class fares after Z has sold out.
Now the smart frequent flyers amongst you will be thinking why not just call the call center? Nope. Can’t book tickets over the phone. After throwing a minor tantrum and speaking to a supervisor and having a fit of DYKWIA, they did offer to do it, once. Now calling back gets a response of “Computer Says No” for all you Little Britain fans.
So not only can I not book the ticket I want, anywhere, I also discover that booking an economy ticket WILL give me miles on the lowest sold fare but not the lowest sold business fare. Hmm…..does HX actually want people to go back to flying economy?
Finally as if this wasn’t annoying enough I thought I’d compare last year’s J class price with this years. Not only is the Z class more expensive than last year’s J but J is now around 2000 HK$ more than last year. Last year was based on an actual booking and this year is based on the Z class rate plus $1000 according to Expertflyer.com
What this all means is a) frustration I can’t book the ticket I want b) questioning the value proposition of the new fare levels on a short intra-Asia hop and c) realizing there’s better value to be had within the HU/HX group with Fortune Wings should I wish to keep my status.
Check out the table below for the comparison of cost per SQP, which is Status Qualifying Point for all your Fortune Wings newbies (we’ll do an explainer on how the loyalty scheme works in another post) but basically the cheaper the better. Not only is there a massive jump to get the points now with J, but a long haul flight with Hainan (HU) offers far better value!
PS It’s also worth pointing out that as far as I know not offering miles on a business ticket is very rare. I only know of Malaysia and Hong Kong Airlines that are doing this. Most airlines chose to reward their best customers with mileage on business tickets of any fare type except group tickets.
HKG-OKA Sep 2016J Class Fare HK$3706
- Ticket cost was HK$3706 for 3790 SQPs in J class
HKG-OKA Sep 2017J Class Fare HK$5576
- Lowest fare for same dates in business is HK$4576 in Z. Expertflyer tells us J is $1000 more
HKG-OKA Sep 2017V/T Economy Class Fare HK$1746
- Economy fare for same dates. Lowest available. Mix of V/T fares for 1166 SQPs
HKG-PEK-MAN Sep 2017J/I Business Class Fare HK$19750
- Hong Kong – Manchester (UK) return via Beijing. Books into J on HX and I on HU. SQPs 25,412
PS. One final thought. The mileage earning rate for HU to the UK on a long haul trip is roughly the same as OneWorld and flights on BA/CX etc from HKG to London. I.e you need around 4 x long hauls in business class to get the top level of status.
Not only has the J class on HX become poor mileage value when compared to their own group airlines.