It’s tricky to figure out all the ways to get to China. Here are some notes:
* United Airlines – Promotions: Air. United is constantly running promotions, but you have to register for them. For instance for fall travel, if you register your Mileage Plus number, you get an additional 5,000 miles for travel booked now and done through the end of the year
* United, ADRIA Airways, Air Canada, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana, Austrian Airlines Group, BLUE1 Air Botnia, bmi, CROATIA Airlines, LOT, Lufthansa, SAS, Singapore Airlines, Spanair, TAP Portgual, THAI, US Airways and Varig. Now the flight miles you earn on all paid, qualifying Star Alliance member-operated flights count toward your Mileage Plus? Premier, Premier Executive? or 1K? membership status.
* “United Platinum Plus”:http://www.firstusa.com/cgi-bin/webcgi/webserve.cgi?partner_dir_name=united_signature_3_15k&page=cont&mkid=60Q3. Too late for me to take advantage of, but United has a really confusing array of credit card programs. They now have a free card that lets you earn United miles. A good deal really. They also have a $140 a year card that gives you a companion ticket, 5,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (that is towards the 25K to become Premier and the 50K to become Premier Executive). This Premier Executive is mainly a big deal because it gets you a go through the line hall pass in Seattle’s security lines.
It takes a while to figure things out, but basically, if you go from Seattle to Beijing, there are just a few airline choices:
* San Francisco as a point. This is what United does. Also, you can sometimes get a lower fare on the United by booking through Air China International. Don’t get mileage points, but they code share the United flight.
* Narita. Both ANA and Northwest go via Narita. This can save you some time, but the risk of course is that if you get stuck, you aren’t in San Francisco with a zillion flights, but in Japan where the delay can be 10 hours.
* Seoul. Korean Airlines goes via here.
For Seattle to Hong Kong, there are more choices
* San Francisco. That’s the obvious one.
* Narita. This is actually shorter by a few hours, but again there is the delay risk.
* Vancouver. There is a nonstop all the way there and it is a short hop to Seattle on Air Canada. A good option because the delays are shorter.