Qantas brings China Eastern frequent flyer reward bookings online

By Chris Chamberlin, June 6 2018
Qantas brings China Eastern frequent flyer reward bookings online

Qantas Frequent Flyer members can now book China Eastern flights using their frequent flyer points through the Qantas website, covering flights not only between Australia and China but also the airline’s broader network, such as from New Zealand and from China onward to Europe.

Previously, these bookings could only be made over the phone – but from this week, there’s no longer a need to call, with online bookings available for travel in first class, business class and economy, as available.

The number of points charged for booking a China Eastern flight aligns with most of Qantas’ other partner airlines, being slightly more points than to book a Qantas flight of the same length.

For example, a one-way China Eastern flight from Sydney to Shanghai will set you back 78,000 Qantas Points in business class or 42,000 Qantas Points in economy – compared to 72,000 points for business class and 35,000 points for economy on Qantas’ own Shanghai flights.

While many Australian travellers may lean towards Qantas’ Sydney-Shanghai flights, China Eastern’s advantages are in its flight network, and its generous reward seat availability too, as Qantas members can currently nab points bookings on a substantial number of departures, including at the pointy end.

China Eastern's Boeing 777 business class, as flies to Europe and seasonally to Australia
China Eastern's Boeing 777 business class, as flies to Europe and seasonally to Australia

Where can you fly on China Eastern using Qantas Points?

China Eastern offers a variety of flights between Australia and China, which Qantas Frequent Flyers can now book using points via the Qantas website.

From Sydney, this includes non-stop services to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Kunming, Nanjing and Wuhan, while also serving Beijing via Shanghai.

That’s joined by non-stop flights from Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland to Shanghai, plus seasonal Shanghai flights from Cairns. China Eastern doesn’t fly to Adelaide, Perth or Darwin.

Onward from its Shanghai hub, China Eastern jets to a variety of destinations across Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America, some of which include London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Madrid, Moscow, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.

Savvy travellers taking advantage of China Eastern’s great reward availability may be able to pair a flight from Australia to China with an onward flight from China to Europe (or elsewhere), to create a single ‘Australia to Europe’ journey requiring fewer points, as we’ll show you below.

(Of course, you can book other China Eastern flights, too – these are just the routes most popular with Australian travellers.)

Using Qantas Points to book China Eastern flights

As you would for any other frequent flyer reward booking, head to the Qantas website, key in where you’d like to fly, the dates you’d like to travel, click ‘use points’ at the top, and begin your search.

If China Eastern reward flights are available on your chosen date, they’ll appear alongside all your other options:

Provided you’re happy with your chosen flight, you can click through and complete your booking, at which point you can confirm your itinerary (below), and if you have enough points in your account to book the flight, you’ll be quoted the amount also payable in taxes, fees and charges.

It gets a little trickier if you want to book a longer journey, such as from Sydney to Paris, because the Qantas website by default won’t show you any connecting options for China Eastern on European routes.

For instance, searching ‘Sydney to Paris’ returns an error if the website can’t find any reward flights on other partner airlines – although it’s overlooking the many options now available to members through China Eastern.

The good news is that you can ‘force’ the Qantas website to reveal China Eastern European rewards by performing a multi-city search, and entering your trip one flight at a time.

After researching flight schedules – where I noticed that China Eastern’s Shanghai-Paris flights depart just after midnight and just after lunch each day – I changed my search to be ‘Sydney to Shanghai’ on one day and ‘Shanghai to Paris’ on the next, as below, to better-align with flights from Sydney:

When beginning the search, you’re first shown the available choices from Sydney to Shanghai: naturally, we want the business class seat on China Eastern flight MU562 (arriving at 7:20pm on 15/8)…

… and on the next screen, options are given for flying onward to Paris – here, we’ve chosen MU553, departing at 12:10am on 16/8: just under five hours after arriving in Shanghai from Sydney.

That gives plenty of time to clear Chinese passport control, collect and re-check your baggage after clearing Customs as is required in Shanghai, clear security screening, cross the Chinese border once more, and retreat to the lounge until your onward flight is called for boarding.

(While Australian passport holders normally need a visa to enter China, no pre-arranged visa is required for transit travellers in Shanghai connecting from one country (e.g. Australia) to another country (e.g. France), if remaining in Shanghai for less than 144 hours.)

Once all flights in your journey have been chosen, the number of Qantas Points needed for your entire itinerary is updated at the bottom of the screen.

Here, it’s 139,000 Qantas Points for a business class trip from Sydney to Paris, which is the same number of points as flying Sydney to Europe with other airlines like Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines, too:

Note also that while the Qantas website recently experienced a technical glitch regarding the pricing of multi-city reward bookings, this error has been fixed, and multi-city flights booked via this method are once again being correctly calculated, as above.

On the final screen, you’ll be able to confirm your full journey from Australia through to Europe, before completing your reservation:

China may not be the simplest country to transit, nor is China Eastern everybody's first choice for flights from Australia to Europe: but with great reward seat availability and reward bookings now available online 24/7, it’s an option to keep up your sleeve – especially if you can snag a booking on the airline's Boeing 777 flights, which feature its newest first and business class seats.

Photos: China Eastern's Boeing 777 first class, business class

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

06 Feb 2014

Total posts 119

I thought China Eastern was starting services from Perth in October (it's been in the press a bit) - what is the status of this?

If there was news to report, we'd report it. At this point, there has been no firm launch announcement and we can't see any Perth-Shanghai flights for sale in booking systems.

06 Feb 2014

Total posts 119

WA Premier mark McGowan is in China this week on trade talks, so suspect if there something in Octover it will be annocued in the next few days.

346
346

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2017

Total posts 87

Best thing about China Eastern is the smoking section, in the cockpit!

sgb
sgb

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 745

I don't think much of the pink decor.

21 Aug 2016

Total posts 1

Finally

Not gonna lie, the big 3 Chinese airlines aren't exactly first choice for flying but at least this opens up a lot of direct routes business class seats into mainland China with QFF points

Great for giving more options in using QFF with more availability but as pointed out above, 5 hours transit and have to deal with China Visa humdrums is a killer. I rather plans well ahead or be flexible and hop on a Cathay, Emirates flights instead.

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 544

Wether you pay or use points you're buying potential problems. Other than hard product there is nothing redeeming about flying Chinese carriers. Give me EK, QF CX any day.

23 Jul 2012

Total posts 21

I can see QF reward seats Aus HKG - PVG - JFK in J. But, am worried about the smoking that I will detect.

And, to transit PVG, do I need a visa?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Nov 2016

Total posts 14

Seriously, smoking in the cockpit?


I'm out.

Qantas

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 6

Is it possible to upgrade from Y to J on China Eastern using points?

Has anyone had any luck getting recognition of Qantas status on the China Eastern domestic network?


I have given up trying to get any as I’m sick of being embarrassed when they have no idea who Qantas is and treat me like I’m trying to sneak in. Even at major hubs like PVG no one has any idea.

I would love to hear if anyone has ever set foot in the lounge and if so, how?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Nov 2016

Total posts 1

Re: China Eastern lounge access, I was flying QF Gold with China Eastern in economy last September. Beijing offered a special check in lounge then easy access to the lounge. It was fine. Xian lounge was accessible but Shanghai took 2 attempts with refusal both times. They finally let me and my friend in but only to shut me up. It wasn’t worth the effort. They didn’t have a clue who qantas was.

05 Jun 2018

Total posts 2

Just booked 2 'O' seats INC-PVG-MEL (nearly 12 months in advance), Qantas have issued e-tickets but China Eastern have no record of booking. Qantas suggests I contact China Eastern much closer to departure date. Anyone else in this situation? Should I worry?

Etihad - Etihad Guest

13 May 2019

Total posts 1

I am lifetime QFF Gold. I came back on China Eastern yesterday.

I did Syd- PVG- CAN- KMG-SYD.
Was not allowed to access the lounge.


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