China’s Hainan Airlines has begun non-stop service from Chicago to Beijing, opening the airline’s newest American gateway.
Hainan Airlines, mainland China’s only certified Skytrax five-star airline, will operate service out of Chicago twice per week, on Tuesdays and Sundays.
In November, subject to government approval, the airline plans to replace the Airbus A340-600 aircraft with which it is initially serving the Chicago-Beijing route with new Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners.
Although the Boeing 787-8 has a lower passenger capacity than the A340-600 (Hainan Airlines operates its A340-600s with cabin interiors configured for 288 seats, whereas its 787-8s are configured with 213 seats), the carrier’s capacity reduction on the route will be temporary. In December, Hainan Airlines will double the frequency of its non-stop service on the route to four times per week. In June 2014, the flight frequency will increase to daily.
Hainan Airlines says it has introduced the new route to meet strong demand for business travel, as well as growing demand for leisure trips, between and beyond the cities. The new routes also complements the carrier’s existing North American service to Beijing from Toronto and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
The airline’s Boeing 787-8s feature 36 Business Class flat-bed seats with each seat row configured 2-2-2, as well as 177 economy seats in seat rows configured 3-3-3. Each seat has a 15-inch touch screen panel and a power outlet. Each business seat also has a USB port.
“Hainan Airlines has been operating the Dreamliner on Chinese domestic routes since July,” says Wei Hou, vice president of Hainan Airlines. “After extensive training and operating experience, we are planning to introduce the Dreamliner on Hainan’s North American routes initially between Beijing and Chicago, and as the fleet grows, to Seattle, Toronto and other new destinations. The increased frequencies will make our schedules more attractive to business travelers as well.”
Currently, Hainan Airlines’ flight HU498 departs Chicago O’Hare International Airport (IATA code ORD) at 3:25 p.m. and arrives at Beijing Capital International Airport at 7:05 p.m. the following day, local time.
In the other direction, flight HU497 leaves PEK at 12:35 p.m. and lands at ORD at 1:25 p.m. the same day, local time.
Business class passengers are offered priority check-in and access to the lounge. Hainan Airlines’ A340 Business Class seats offer 160 degrees of recline and in-flight service features turn-down service complete with fluffy pillows, fine cotton sheets and a duvet, pajamas and slippers.
First class seats recline into fully flat beds and passengers receive the same amenities Gourmet Chinese or Western cuisine and wines are served on fine china, glassware and linens; customers may choose when they wish to dine. Freshly brewed coffee and a selection of teas are available. Amenity kits feature Bulgari cosmetics.
Each premium seat has an individually controlled in-flight entertainment system which offers over 100 movies, audio selections and games on demand.
In Beijing, with advance reservations, Hainan Airlines’ premium-class passengers are offered complimentary private Mercedes-Benz limousine service both on arrival and departure. Those making connections to other Chinese destinations may take advantage of the airline’s new business class lounge in Terminal 1.
Economy class passengers receive complimentary beverages, meals and snacks and access the same on-demand entertainment system as that in Business and First, on individual seat-back screens. If connecting in Beijing, an exclusive transit lounge is open to economy class passengers as well.
Hainan Airlines flights can be booked through all travel agents, travel websites as well as online at global.hnair.com/us or through its call center at 1-888-688-8813.