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.
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.