Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Asia from £965, Sydney / Melbourne / Auckland / Brisbane from £1275 with Air China Business

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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.

Air China business class sale germany

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 wheretocredit.com 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)

  • pablo says:

    OT: IHG Cyber Sale now live. Up to 25% off Best Flexible Rate at selected properties around the world. Book between 11 November 2019 and 17 December 2019 for stays until 31 May 2020. Rate is non-refundable and full pre-payment is required.

    • ankomonkey says:

      Thanks for this, Pablo. I found a hotel I’d looked at last week for £30! Great price!

  • memesweeper says:

    Most of the interesting places you can credit Air China flights (eg Cathay Asia Miles and Singapore) to have expiry policies on the resulting miles. Aegean is one of the few that doesn’t.

  • Metopes says:

    OT: Triggered a spend £200 get £50 back offer yesterday, but didn’t get the email. Then on the way home lost my card, cancelled online and this morning all my saved offers have disappeared. Does anyone know if it will post now, don’t seem to have any evidence I ever had the offer now. Thanks

  • Jon says:

    Does anyone have any experience (or tips) for getting these sorts of deals in the opposite direction?

    Sadly they seem to be direction-specific, as well as route-specific. Sale fares *to* Europe from Asia are not so good, as far as I can find (in general – and on Air China’s site it just returns “No fares found” if trying from the German site – you have to switch to one of the Asian sites, and they don’t have the same sale offers apparently).

  • james says:

    tried several date, no discount at all, shame on Air China

    • Sam says:

      Same- can’t find a single fare at these kinds of prices on any dates I could do.

      • Jon says:

        When I was looking about an hour ago, there was quite a bit of availability to various cities in Asia ex FRA, but it looks like only on certain days of the week. Also looks like there’s a minimum stay (one week?). I found Sunday to Sunday (two weeks trip) was showing well. Other outbound flights seemed to be Wed and Friday, whereas return was showing all days except Saturdays. Make sure the ‘Flexible dates’ box is checked – should give you a grid of all the available dates and prices.

        Hope that helps.

        • Sam Bessey says:

          Thanks – the issue seems to be nothing to MEL. SYD for example shows quite a few tickets

          • Jon says:

            At those prices, I’d probably grab a flight to Sydney if you can get your dates. SYD-MEL is only 90 minutes, after all. Actually at those prices I’d probably even go to Auckland and hop back if that was the only way I could make it work 😉

    • Rob says:

      They are definitely bookable. Certainly not every seat every flight but definitely there.

  • Russ says:

    What do we think of traveling to Hong Kong at the moment? Anyone got any thoughts on how likely it is one will get caught up in the protests?

    • Shoestring says:

      highly unlikely unless you go looking to join a protest, very easy to avoid and you’ll get a good deal on hotel prices

    • Brighton Belle says:

      Was there a few weeks ago. The rioters we spoke to were very helpful in telling us which areas to avoid. On tv it looks violent but seeing the real thing it wasn’t so bad. A few crates burning in the road and a few bits of road pickaxed for missiles. The police all looked under 25 and dressed like storm troopers festooned in civil disorder tools. They stood ready at key metro interactions.

      I have been to HK many times over the last 40 years but it just seems one giant high end shopping mall now for rich mainland Chinese day trippers. If you’re going that far Japan is far more interesting.

      • BJ says:

        Except this is China we are talking about, it could go extremely nasty extremely quickly. I would go for business but would not choose to go for leisure at this time, tgere are loads if other places to choose. However, if I had my trip booked already I would still go, don’t think situation is bad enough to cancel a pre-existing trip although I think I heard that another protestor was shot yesterday.

      • ankomonkey says:

        Great use of ‘festooned’ 🙂

    • Jon says:

      I was also there for the weekend a few weeks back, staying right in the centre, in Admiralty. Aside from one piece of graffiti on a roundabout, I didn’t see any indication at all of trouble – if it hadn’t been all over the news, I would never have known there was anything going on.

      I found myself wondering how much the TV footage was being, ahem, ‘carefully curated’ to convey an impression worse than the reality… That said, if today’s news is anything to go by, it does sound as though, where/when trouble happens, it’s getting more severe.

      Advice I was given: if you see any sign of protests, just turn left or right a block or two and continue on an adjacent street. Don’t hang around to watch, don’t take photos of them or of the police. Don’t wear black or white.

      Probably also worth planning your transfer to/from the airport in advance (they do apparently sometimes close the Airport Express and MRT). I used Klook to pre-book a taxi (a Tesla, having not ridden in one before), but going back I had no trouble getting a regular taxi from hotel to Hong Kong station and then the Airport Express. Oh, and have your boarding pass handy (printout or phone etc) when you arrive at the airport (outbound) – when I got off the train, they were checking, and would only let boarding pass holders into the terminal.

    • Nate1309 says:

      Spoke to my friend who lives out there this morning, he said its is continuing to escalate and getting harder to avoid.

      • Tony says:

        I see Pacific Place Mall is closed right now. I think you need to pick areas very carefully if visiting. As noted above this could get a lot worse very quickly.

    • Nick_C says:

      Nice to see some reassuring comments from recent visitors. I’ll be there for three nights at the end of the month on my way to Japan.

      Any idea how much cash I’m likely to need? Are cards widely accepted?

      • Shoestring says:

        more widely accepted than anywhere else on the planet 🙂

      • Jon says:

        I don’t think I used any cash at all the entire time I was there, lol. Oh maybe 50 HK$ for the taxi ride to the MRT station. Cards for everything else.

        Japan on the other hand may take you by surprise – I spent some time in Tokyo and Kyoto recently, and there are a lot of cash-only restaurants. On the other hand, ATMs are widespread and can be found in more or less any 7-11 store. Some charge a withdrawal fee, some don’t – if I remember correctly, the ones in the 7-11s usually do not, but obviously keep a close eye on the on-screen info (all have English as an option).

        • Nick_C says:

          Thanks Harry and Jon.

          I’ve been to Japan before and will need more cash than last time as I’m not getting the JR pass, and I believe you can only top up Suica Cards with cash.

          I rarely use cash, and I’ll try to get away with as few HKD as possible as I’m unlikely to return.

      • John says:

        Taxis only take cash, Uber is illegal (although the police have other things on their mind now).

        Public transport is cash only except airport express (and tickets linked to airport express). The octopus smart card can only be topped up with cash unless you have one of 4 hong Kong credit cards.

        Markets and small shops/cafes are mostly cash only or they may take octopus – which as I said is cash only for tourists. Western chain restaurants and bigger shops all take card.

        • Nick_C says:

          Thanks John, that’s really useful. We will be spending at least one day in Macau. Presumably the same applies. (I know HKD is not the official currency in Macau, but I believe it’s widely accepted.) Do you know if the Macau Ferry is cash only?

          I suppose it was a daft question because the answer depends on where you will be spending money. But we won’t be going to high end restaurants. I’ll draw £200 when we get there and see how far it goes!

        • AndyGWP says:

          Interesting. I used Uber in HK about 2 months ago

        • CV3V says:

          Hong Kong still shows up on Uber app.

    • Oxonlad says:

      Came back from HK seven days ago. Had four good days over the weekend when trouble usually kicks off. We were staying on Kowloon and were told things might kick off on Sunday so we spent the day on HK Island.

      When we got back there were skirmishes going on with protesters playing cat and mouse with the Police. We just walked around where the scuffles were going on. Unfortunately they continued into the evening and our event in the cultural centre got cancelled which was the most annoying part of it all!

      Press reports said about 1000 mostly young people were involved. Some tear gas used and water cannon but we didn’t see any of that although we did see the cannon and supporting convoy of Police wagons chasing around.

      Didn’t feel unsafe or concerned at any point. And there was less hassle than when there’s a big demo in London. You just have to be sensible and steer clear of trouble.

      • Martin says:

        Police are shooting protestors, protestors are setting government supporters on fire and worst of all you cultural event was cancelled. How rude of the locals to disrupt your plans.

    • CV3V says:

      The coverage on CNN today has been very good. I’d have a read and decide.

  • KBuffett says:

    Are there any other singles day offers going on?
    I’m looking to book a couple of holidays.

  • Concerto says:

    Just did Air China business last month. It was really good, excellent service.

    • Aston100 says:

      Are the other passengers generally well behaved / mannered?

      • John says:

        In business, probably. But don’t leave valuables in overhead lockers.

        • Aston100 says:

          I was thinking more about the attitude. I’ve been on some airlines from that part of the world where it’s been like going to a football match with the amount of noise, things being flung around, people standing around not moving, people even sat on the floor by the exit doors eating food.
          Admittedly I didn’t get to look in the premium cabins.

          • Nick_C says:

            I’ve been on Western airlines that are like that too.

            The last time I flew BA Long Haul in Economy (a few years ago now), the aircraft pulled back from the gate while passengers were still standing, trying to fit hand luggage in the overcrowded overhead bins. The crew offered no assistance and merely shouted at people to sit down. Many bins were open.

            I think you can have good and bad experiences with any airline. A lot will depend on the pax and crew you find yourself with.

            I understand the trepidation of flying Economy on a Chinese airline though. I have some friends who went on a far east cruise where the majority of pax were Chinese, and who had a tendency to expectorate more frequently and publicly than one might hope.

          • Rob says:

            I was set next to a Qatari local in Qatar First Class (A380) who decided to watch a football match on his iPad. Without headphones.

          • ankomonkey says:

            I took a few long-distance train rides in China about 15 years ago. It was the volume of belches (both frequency and audibility) that most surprised me.