Founded in 1989 as Hainan Province Airlines, the airline adopted its current name in 1993 and has grown rapidly to become China’s fourth largest carrier while becoming the country’s most prestigious. Following the airline’s establishment on China’s popular resort island of Hainan the carrier has aggressively expanded by purchasing part of the island’s airport, merging with rivals and establishing a second hub in Beijing. In 2000 a holding company called HNA Group was formed which owns the airline together with other tourism and retail related operations. HNA Group has invested in other Chinese, Hong Kong and African airlines and through its involvement with Great China Airlines is expanding its freight operations. Hainan Airlines serve 90 cities and on international routes selectively serve routes which other Chinese airlines have overlooked. The airline operates a modern fleet of Boeing and Airbus aircraft while on short distance domestic routes they fly German made Dornier 328’s. The airline has placed a large order for Chinese manufactured C919’s, a future competitor for the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320. Without doubt Hainan Airlines is China’s most luxurious carrier and is winning fans across the globe. Each of the main airline alliances, SkyTeam, Star Alliance and OneWorld are trying to entice the airline to join their club.
First time passengers rave about the service onboard Hainan Airlines. Crew are smartly dressed and smile enthusiastically throughout the flight. Nothing is too much trouble for them and call buttons are answered swiftly. Asking for a coffee top-up will be greeted with a smile rather than a snarl. Crew are professional and formal in both Business and Economy classes. Service for Business travellers is comparable to that of a five star hotel.
Hainan Airlines operate a comprehensive domestic network covering all major Chinese destinations from two major hubs; one at Haikau on Hainan Island and the other from Beijing. In addition to these cities the airline also concentrate services from other Chinese cities, usually ones not dominated by China’s three biggest carriers, Air China, China Southern and China Eastern. From Beijing and Haikau, Hainan Airlines operate international services to the US and Canada, Asia, Europe and they also fly to Luanda in Angola. Hainan’s international route map seems more ad hoc, filling gaps left by others rather than globally comprehensive.
As with all of China’s airlines, Hainan Airlines is highly competitive and provides better value for money than most other competitors. Not only is service superior than carriers like Lufthansa or United, but prices are typically cheaper. Considering the pleasantness of travelling with Hainan Airlines they are excellent value for money.
Western passengers accustomed to minimal or invisible catering will be pleasantly surprised that even on short domestic routes, Hainan Airlines provide all passengers with complementary meals. On short legs passengers receive a boxed meal with a few snack foods in them, while on long distance flights full service Chinese style meals are served. Business Class catering is sumptuous and beautifully presented by skilled crew. The airline’s cuisine is comparable to sophisticated fine dining with a generous alcohol service. The airline’s cutlery and linen is as tasteful as the airline’s food.
On long haul international flights the airline has a modern video on demand in-flight entertainment system for all passengers in both classes. There are 80 visual channels and more than 100 audio channels to choose from, however as the airline’s customers are predominantly Chinese, most choices are also in Chinese languages. On shorter routes with smaller aircraft the airline has either roof mounted drop-down screens showing a single film or no screen option.
Ground services provided to passengers in Chinese airports is excellent. Service is swift, polite and quiet. Check-in agents turn a blind eye to the odd extra kilo of baggage and luggage is handled efficiently and reliably at Chinese airports. Ground service and baggage care in China is far superior to that of the US, UK or Australia for example, however service provided outside China is done by third party contractors which varies greatly. On many routes baggage can be mishandled so Travel Insurance is sensible. Hainan Airlines transfers baggage between connecting flights efficiently and reliably. The airline’s baggage allowances tend to be generous but vary greatly with the route. Check their website for exact information.
Hainan Airline’s Premium Business class is very classy. Aircraft interiors are spacious and feature and unmistakably red and cream Chinese colour scheme. On larger aircraft seats are fully reclinable while on shorter flights there are no lie-flat beds. The airline’s toiletries bag makes a great souvenir as do the airline’s embossed pyjamas. Service is perfect. The airline operates a few of its own Fortune Wings Club lounges at Chinese airports while they use contractor lounges elsewhere. Lounges resemble spacious restaurants.
Interiors are nicely presented and service is excellent while baggage allowance and other services are typical. The overall flying experience in Economy is generally better than all other Chinese airlines and superior to Western legacy carriers like Air Canada or Aeroflot. However Hainan’s economy experience cannot really be compared to that of Emirates, which they compete against on routes to Dubai and Luanda.
Hainan Airline’s Fortune Wings Club loyalty scheme is designed for frequent Chinese travellers and will be of minimal use to anyone else. The scheme is not tied in with Star Alliance, SkyTeam or OneWorld however can be used on selective airlines. A Fortune Wings Club card can earn points at many Chinese hotels, on credit cards and numerous travel product providers. The scheme works like most others but points are generally worthless and considerable travel is required before real benefits are earned.
Hainan Airlines has an aggressive and expansionist corporate mentality and is on a quest to improve itself. The airline takes its reputation and profitability seriously and managers are expected to perform well however the moral judgement of the senior managers can be ruthless. The airline’s associated with currency speculator and convicted inside trader, George Soros shows the airline is more interested in money than morals. Staff generally take pride in working for China’s best airline which however says something very positive about the company.
Hainan Airlines operates a fleet of modern planes which they typically buy from the manufacturer new and maintain them to the highest standards. Hainan Airlines have operated with a relatively spotless record, having had only two minor incidents; one in 1996 and the other in 2005, neither resulting in a fatality.
Their reputation as China’s best airline is deserved by providing excellent value, service and having an unblemished safety record.
Home | Activities | Aeroflot | Aerolineas | AeroMexico | AirAsia | Air Austral | Air Berlin | Air Canada | Aircalin | Air China | Air Europa | Air France | Air India | Air Koryo | Air Malta | Air Mauritius | Air NZ | Air Tahiti Nui | Alaska Airlines | Air Vanuatu | Air Zimbabwe | Alliance Airlines | Alitalia | American Airlines | ANA | Ariana | Asiana | Austrian | Avianca | Bangkok Airways | British Airways | Cathay Pacific | Car Rentals | Cebu Pacific | China Airlines | China Eastern | China Southern | Cubana | Delta | Dragonair | easyJet | EgyptAir | El Al | Emirates | Etihad | EVA Air | Fiji Airways | Finnair | Flights | flydubai | Frontier | Garuda | Gulf Air | Hainan Airlines | Hawaiian | HK Express | Hotels | Iberia | Icelandair | Insurance | Iran Air | Iraqi Airways | JAL | Jet Airways | jetBlue | Jetstar | Kenya Airways | KLM | Korean Air | Myanmar Airways | Myanmar National | Norwegian | LATAM | Lufthansa | Malaysia | Maps | Nok Air | Olympic Air | OneWorld | Our Airline | PIA Pakistan | Philippine Airlines | Qantas | Qatar | Rex | Royal Jordanian | Ryanair | S7 | SAS | Saudi Arabian | Scoot | Sichuan Airlines | Silk Air | Singapore Airlines | Shanghai Airlines | Shenzhen Airlines | SkyTeam | Skywards | South African Airways | Southwest | Spirit | Star Alliance | | Swiss | TACA | Thai Airways | Tigerair | Transport | Travel Tips | Turkish | United | VietJetAir | Vietnam | Virgin America | Virgin Atlantic | Virgin Australia | WestJet | Xiamen Air |