Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Asia from £965, Sydney / Melbourne / Auckland / Brisbane from £1,275 with Air China Business

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Every year, Air China runs a special sale around 11/11 to celebrate Single’s Day.   All European destinations are usually included, but from Germany there are always some especially aggressive deals.

(Before you ask:  “Singles Day or Guanggun Jie is a shopping holiday popular among young Chinese people that celebrate their pride in being single. The date, November 11th, was chosen because the number “1” resembles an individual who is alone. The holiday has also become a popular date to celebrate relationships, with over 4,000 couples being married in Beijing on this date in 2011, compared to an average of 700 a day.”)

I’m not sure why Germany always gets the best offers but, year in and year out, it does.  Last year there were some ex-London deals as well, albeit for £300+ more than flying from Germany, but I could not find any advance publicity for these.

How cheap is cheap?

Take a look here and see.

In terms of fares, we’re talking, departing Frankfurt, Munich or Dusseldorf in Business Class:

Around the €1,118 level (£965):

  • Bangkok
  • Hong Kong
  • Taiwan
  • Phuket
  • Tokyo
  • Osaka
  • Seoul
  • Singapore
  • Ho Chi Minh City
  • Colombo
  • Jakarta
  • Manila
  • Kuala Lumpur
  • Hanoi
  • Yangon
  • Busan
  • Fukuoka
  • Nagoya
  • Sendai
  • Hiroshima
  • Okinawa

Around the €1,566 level (£1,350):

  • Beijing
  • Shanghai
  • Wenzhou
  • Fuzhou
  • Hangzhou
  • Guangzhou
  • Xiamen
  • Chengdu
  • Shenzhen
  • Nanjing
  • Xi’an
  • Shenyang

Around the €1,477 level (£1,275):

  • Sydney
  • Melbourne
  • Auckland
  • Brisbane

The last four are, without a doubt, the star deals.  £1,275 to Australasia in Business Class is an outstanding deal.

You must book by 13th November (Wednesday).  As I am writing this on Sunday before the tickets go on sale on Monday, I can’t say how good or bad the availability is.  It won’t last long, however.

Travel dates for the Business Class sale are (OUTBOUND):

  • 13th December – 12th January
  • 18th January – 28th January
  • 27th March – 12th April
  • 28th June – 23rd August

You cannot travel INBOUND between 18th January – 27th January.

You will note that, as usual with Air China sales, Christmas is NOT excluded.

Air China is part of Star Alliance so you could (depending on which booking class the ticket books into) earn miles and status credit with Lufthansa Miles & More or one of the other Star programmes.  Use to find the most generous programme – you are probably looking for ‘R’ class earning which is typically 125% of miles flown.  

I know very little about Air China, so do some research on what planes are flying which route and what kind of seating if will offer.  A typical Air China business class is pictured below.

Air China business class

Some flights use brand new A350-900 aircraft with this impressive 1-2-1 layout:

Air China A350 business class

Last year reader Joel reviewed the Air China Boeing 777 business class service from Heathrow to Beijing for us – see here.

If you don’t have a credit card with 0% foreign exchange fees, your best option for paying is American Express Preferred Rewards Gold which offers triple points – 3 per £1 – when you book flight tickets in a foreign currency.  This is because the transaction triggers the ‘double points for airline spend’ and the ‘double points for foreign spend’ bonuses.  Our review of Amex Gold is here.

These deals end on 13th November.

Comments (147)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • LewisB says:

    Found a fare to Auckland at the advertised price on April 7th. Two different aircraft types with both business class types (click on the aircraft type and it’ll pop up and you can obviously see if its the herringbone 1-2-1 or the KLM style 2-2-2). Only issue is both ends have lengthy connections in Beijing. Will keep digging if I can find a connection in Shanghai, wouldn’t mind a few hours there.

  • bsuije says:

    OT, but as many people are likely to be heading to Japan in near future (Olympics and all), I thought the below could be helpful.

    Have just come back from 2 weeks there, taking in Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Beppu (an onsen resort town) and Tokyo. Had very high expectations and a bit disappointed to be honest, but a lot of it was of my own doing (did not plan daily activities well enough and didn’t consider getting a local guide; had a cold at the beginning of the trip so couldn’t taste food properly, etc.).

    My absolute favourite part was Beppu! Partly because we had no schedule whatsoever and just stayed at the hotel the whole time without worrying that we were missing out on anything. And partly because the hotel was incredible!

    We stayed at the InterContinental – ANA Beppu Resort and Spa in a Premium Suite (or maybe it was a Junior suite – can’t remember) for about £500 a night. The hotel is only about 3 months old and everything was fresh and clean and tidy. Staff were very friendly and significantly more international than at any other hotel we stayed at. As a result, the level of English was much, much better than we found elsewhere. Honestly – people / guidebooks are not kidding when they say that levels of spoken English are poor in most places (even international chain hotels!). The room was spacious (nearly twice the size of our flat!) and the private onsen bath on the terrace was wonderful! Views were amazing, as the hotel is situated on a hill overlooking both mountains and Beppu bay.

    Club Lounge access was included in the rate and the lounge was very good. Breakfast, afternoon tea and cocktails were served at specified times throughout the day and were excellent! Breakfast was ordered from a menu and the afternoon tea was served at your table in the same way you would get in a 5-star hotel in London. Pool was outside, but heated to about 27C. We got lucky and caught some autumn sunshine (about 19-22C throughout the two weeks), which was quite strong, so managed to make use of the pool. Spa was excellent, although pricey (about £450 for 90 mins couple massage).

    We tried the two restaurants and both were excellent, albeit a bit expensive (though not much more than a similar dinner in London would cost you).

    What also added to the great experience was that the hotel was (or at least felt) almost empty. We had the whole pool to ourselves, the Club Lounge too, most of the time, and there were only 2-3 other tables taken in the restaurants when we were there.

    I would very happily go back to the IC for a longer period in the future!

    It was then very unfortunate for the Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho that it had to follow in the IC’s footsteps. For the fact that we paid a similar price and both hotels are supposed to be high-end, the experience could not have been more different! I will spare you the details, but I strongly urge anyone to reconsider staying here; your money or points would be much better spent elsewhere!

    • Andy says:

      £500 a night?! I’d want a fleet of staff to rival Downton Abbey’s at my beck and call for that price. But good to hear you had a nice time in that hotel.

    • Genghis says:

      Beppu is nice but not great. I was a bit of an onsen connoisseur during my two years in Kyushu. IMO you’re much better off going to a ryokan in somewhere like Yufuin, Amagase or even better Kurokawa. They’re still pricy, not quite £500, but provide a much more authentic experience. But yes, Japanese language skills are 95% of the time required in such places.

      • meta says:

        +1 I’m going to onsen ryokan near Kurokawa in the spring. I was also considering Shukubo in Taketa mainly because of friend’s recommendation, but nicer rooms were a bit too pricey. Ryokan experience is a must, but I agree you do need to know some basic Japanese. Also in ryokans breakfast and dinner are usually included, so when you count that in, it’s not that more expensive than hotels. Most of ryokans can nowadays be booked via OTA too, so at least for that you do not need to know Japanese.

        • Genghis says:

          Enjoy. My favourite was Sanga. Don’t forget to try the local delicacy: basashi – horse meat sashimi.

          • meta says:

            Sanga is nice, but going the other end to Hozantei as want to explore Kuju area. The room I booked overlooks small waterfall and a river.

          • Young L says:

            Horse meat sashimi? This will now go on my list. I risked my life trying the chicken sashimi, which turned out just fine.

      • Lady London says:

        And you as a Mongolian would speak dôme Japanese @Genghis?

    • ChrisW says:

      This sounds really good -does anyone know of a good website to find review on Onsens, my wife and I are trying to find some good ones based on Honshu but not Hakone but there seems to be very little choice. We are travelling in May 2020 and it seems not a lot of hotels have put there room on OTAs yet.

      • ChrisW says:

        Sorry a bit better context – Ideally between Kyoto and Tokyo that we can stop at via bullet train.

        • BrotherBear says:

          Kinosaki onsen.

          Beautiful town with about 15 onsens which you can visit for free as long as you stay at a hotel in the town. 1 night enough but highly recommend.

      • Gavin says:

        When I was in Japan recently I just searched 温泉 (onsen) on Google maps for the area I was in and looked at the photos/reviews that came up on there. Google maps seems pretty good in Japan.

        • Lumma says:

          One quirk of Google maps in Japan is that you can’t download the maps to use offline and it’s not usually included as a roaming country in UK mobile plans. You can buy a local data SIM but they’re quite expensive (although if you’re paying £500 a night for a hotel you might not be bothered)

          WiFi is available often though, particularly in stations and 7elevens

          • meta says:

            Both my Vodafone and O2 have world travel type of plans and Japan is included. £4.99 per day all data, sms, calls included as in the UK.

          • Craig says:

            We used b-mobile when we went, it was just over £20 and the sim was activated and delivered to our first hotel ready for collection.

          • Craig says:

            The b-mobile option gave 7Gb and allowed tethering, it was more than enough for during the day for 2 of us. Hotel WiFi served us the rest of the time.

          • Lumma says:

            To be fair, I enjoyed Japan more that I wasn’t fully connected. It was just the maps, especially for cities that I didn’t have a travel guide for

      • meta says:

        Selected Ryokans or Ryokan Collection websites are good. Or just do a bit of search into the areas. Not all areas have proper onsen and sometimes it’s just normal water heated up. I would actually look at reviews from Japanese rather than foreigners (you can get the jist from Google translate) as they’ll know what’s good more than we can ever know.

  • bill says:

    OT. I have had a Missed Connection claim declined by Amex Platinum Travel Insurance because the flight that I missed “was not paid for using my Amex”. That quote is from the call centre. The claims handler has left for today so I plan to cal back tomorrow. The flight in question was partly paid using a voucher and the outstanding balance was paid on the Amex Platinum. Does anyone know whether the decline was valid or do i need to specifically draw the attention of the claims handler to the use of the Amex Platinum. ?

    • meta says:

      When you submitted the claim online did you tick the box that you paid/not paid with Amex Plat? If not paid with Amex Plat it will give you an option to explain why not. I had a successful missed connection claim on my trip to Seychelles this spring where the flight itself was paid on another Amex. Some of the related expenses (lounge access while waiting for the new flight) was on a Visa card as they didn’t take Amex, but Amex covered it too.

    • Genghis says:

      The insurance under convenience allows for payment to be made as follows:

      For the benefits under this section to apply travel tickets must have been Purchased in full using:
      a) the Card;
      b) American Express Membership Rewards® points; or
      c) Any travel rewards programmes provided the taxes and/or surcharges have been Purchased using the Card.

      • bill says:

        Sounds like i should not have used my voucher for part payment of flight that i ended up missing. OMG

        • meta says:

          But did you purchase the replacement flight on Amex Plat or you didn’t take the flight at all? From my experience if replacement flight paid on Amex Plat you can get money back for that replacement flight. At least that way you are at the starting point anyway money wise.

          • Bill says:

            I purchased the missed flight with an easyjet travel voucher from flight club and I purchased the replacement flight using amex platinum.

          • Bill says:

            Sorry, to clarify: The missed flight was purchased using both flight club travel voucher and amex. Replacement was solely on the Amex. I’m a bit annoyed since it renders any vouchers issued by easyjet or other airline as worthless

          • meta says:

            Sorry only saw your reply this morning. You should be able to get the cost back of the replacement flight from Amex Plat insurance. They must have not looked it properly, but my case was slightly different as I used another Amex to purchase original flights.

  • Chris says:

    Is there any news on a London Amex Pop-Up Centurion lounge this year? It’s usually about now that we get to hear about it.

  • Grant says:

    OT – Please remind me when the Amex Gold annual spend MR bonus lands? I have it in mind that it is the month after the card anniversary but could be wrong. Just thinking about when I can cancel as my card anniversary was 1st November.

    Linked to the above, and with reference to a question asked the other day about the Marriot transfer bonus, if I also cancel my Plat card and leave myself with just the Green card to keep the MR account active, I figure that my MR account would still be live when the bonuses are dished out and so I won’t miss out. Any flaws in this plan?! 🙂

    • Harry T says:

      Gold bonus lands about a month into the next year.

      I wouldn’t cancel the Gold card until the bonus had landed. Worth 11.67£ of fees in my mind, especially as you’ll have to waste time chasing it up if you cancel and it doesn’t post. I value my time at more than £11.67!

  • bill says:

    Has anyone had any success getting TAP to pay EU261/2004 claim and if so what follow up methods to chase for an update ?

    • Rui N. says:

      They usually “forget” to get back to you. Contact them over facebook messenger or whatsapp around 60 days after you submit your complaint, they will tell you “oh, sorry for not getting back to you, we are still looking into your case” and then 1 or 2 days later you’ll get a response; then payment is usually pretty quick after you give them all needed info. This has been my experience with 3 different cases in the last couple of years, and it’s the strategy presented in portuguese aviation forums as well.

    • Raj says:

      Hi Bill,

      My experience with TAP for compensation was long, arduous and awfully torturous.. my flight from OPO to LCY was cancelled, so a pretty much open and shut case for compensation. They were really non-responsive, slow and incommunicado for a long time. In the end I had to escalate the complaint to the CAA and I finally got recompense a year after my cancelled flight. Good luck with TAP – hope you’ll have an easier experience than me.

  • Lee says:

    OT – how quick the IHG free night cert show up the account after anniversary? Was looking to book a night the end of May with anniversary up till April.

    • Genghis says:

      Will appear shortly after the statement of anniversary.

      My advice: book two nights on points for the night you actually want. Then when voucher comes through: cancel one, it should go back into reward inventory but not always, then use your voucher. If flit doesn’t you’ve then still got a night booked.

  • Axel says:

    3 months premium with £5 per month discount to save £15


    • v says:

      If already on premium, will downgrading result in a credit back and can the code be used thereafter?

    • Harry T says:


      1MONTHFREE also worth a punt. Free month of Premium.

      For anyone topping up at the Post office and PayPoint, how much are you topping up a month and how are you spreading the top ups? Do you always use the same card to top up or do you spread across cards?

      • Bazza says:

        I do 500 per time and use different Amex card each time. I got 4 to cycle through.

        • Harry T says:

          Thanks, I have three and one of my partner’s. Should be able to cycle through.

          Any rejections at the PO? I’ve had a couple and it’s made me a little apprehensive.

          • BJ says:

            There have been warnings from @Genghis and others about the risks of falling foul of amex so while I would use Monese in this way, I would not go crazy with it. Tge benefits from Monese may yet prove to be short-lived but those from amex are definitely not.

          • Harry T says:

            How much are you topping up, BJ? I don’t want to draw attention from Amex – as you rightly say, the long term consequences of that are dire.

          • BJ says:

            I will probably do under £1000 a month or less. The Monese middle plan with £800 may suit me. My idea is not to use it to earn loads of miles or points but just to get me to targets like 241 etc when regular spending might need a helping hand to get there. I use Curve in much the same way with non amex cards. I don’t blame people who may want to make hay while the sun shines but a steady approach to earning and burning has always worked for me so that’s how I’ll continue. And even in Edinburgh city centre running out and in to post offices and co-op every day is a pain I can live without.

          • Harry T says:

            I’m lucky that I have a small PO round the corner – makes it easy to stand out though, if visiting multiple times. I only have around 300k points in total between my partners and I, so I need a little help. It’s a shame I got into Amex churning late and only recently got a partner who was interested in the points game. Still, referrals from Plat should help us make up the gap a bit next year.

            You don’t make large Curve deposits with the government bank then?

          • Harry T says:

            Partner* not a Mormon, I promise!

          • BJ says:

            We burn 225-270k avios per year so obviously need to earn at least that, preferably a bit more to insulate against devaluation. Our balance is usually around double that to provide a two year buffer. We pay cash for other flights taken. The government deposits you mention go into hotel points not miles for us. They are much more comfortable than running to the PO or shops.

          • Harry T says:

            You’re doing well to continue earning and burning that many Avios a year in the current climate – do you mainly use them on long haul 241s?

            Ah, I don’t have the IHG card. My only non Amex rewards card is the Virgin Atlantic Rewards + – earning some good interest on my deposits. Hoping the KLM/AF tie in works out well, as that would be more convenient than redeeming Avios for a Newcastle resident. Agreed that armchair based earning is better than trying your luck in PO.

          • BJ says:

            1x 241 exINV open jaw to Asia per year and 1x 1 pax out to BKK per year exEDI. Tge variation is due to peak pricing sometimes, and sometimes need 300k if my partner cannot get a cheap return cash flight from BKK. Use bot IHG and Virgin with Curve, Virgin goes to to Hilton. I am not expecting the FC AF/KLM to be good, I’ll be hugely disappointed if it is lol.

          • Genghis says:

            ” and only recently got a partner who was interested in the points game.”
            Mrs G has no interest whatsoever in points. It doesn’t stop her having multiple accounts all managed by me.

          • Harry T says:

            @Genghis – fair point! It’s a bit more fun when your partner enjoys collecting points too – more willing to shop through the BAEC Avios store etc helps too. But I see your point!

        • GoldmanBanker says:

          I thought it was £249 per transaction? so I have been doing transactions of 200 + 200 + 100

      • Harry T says:

        You must really like Asia! Thought you said 241s were best not used for Asia?

        I hadn’t considered transferring my Virgin miles to Hilton – is it good value?
        Why would you be disappointed if KLM/AF turned out to be great?

        • Shoestring says:

          because he’s dumped all his Virgin miles

        • BJ says:

          My partner is Thai so we go visit his family at New Year, and he also has stuff he has to help with family business. Usually try to add a few days in other Asian countries like Japan or Malaysia with each trip. Focussed other travels during last few years doing road trips to get to know UK very well. Would like to do the same in Europe now: waiting for the £ to go back up but seems little chance of that now given the country is overrun with…

          • Harry T says:

            That’s lovely – it’s great you can use Avios to make those flights cheaper and more flexible.

            Mainland Europe is terrific but I have felt the sting visiting there recently. Let’s hope Boris doesn’t get the result he wants – maybe we can then work on a sensible deal or stick with the present situation.

        • Polly says:

          241s absolutely best used for Asia. Esp if you get F. Real treat.

          • Harry T says:

            @Polly thanks for the advice. Where would you recommend travelling to in Asia with the 241?

      • iain says:

        Sorry if this sounds daft, but what is the benefit of topping up monese with an Amex?

        Am I missing a trick here? Does that not count as a cash withdrawal?

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