China Airlines Dynasty Flyer Program Review

China Airlines Dynasty Flyer Program Review

China Airlines, Taiwan’s flag carrier, began operating charter flights in 1959 with fewer than 40 employees. Today’s China Airlines, which employs about 11,000 people and serves more than 100 destinations across Asia, Europe, North America and Australia, has come a long way from its humble beginnings. It flies to 10 cities in the continental U.S.: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Seattle. China Airlines also serves Anchorage, Honolulu and Guam.

The China Airlines fleet is among the youngest in the world; the average age of a plane is only 10 years. In addition, China Airlines constantly upgrades and modernizes its aircraft. It has lie-flat seats installed in business class on all 777s and long-haul 330s. According to travelers’ reviews, China Airlines offers great food and superb service on board.

Dynasty Flyer, the airlines loyalty program, is a little unusual. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll begin to appreciate some of its nicer features. For example: it offers a discount for redeeming two award tickets.

Still, China Airlines charges higher change fees on award tickets than some Asian frequent flyer programs:

  • 4 percent miles for canceling and redepositing an award ticket
  • $100 for each deviation from the ticket’s routing points except stopovers
  • $50 for reissuing an award ticket

China Airlines imposes fuel surcharges, but they have been cut almost in half since the drop in global fuel costs. Nowadays, the fuel surcharge between New York and Taipei, for example, is $55 one-way. That isn’t bad, given what some other airlines charge.

PROGRAM

DYNASTY FLYERDYNASTY FLYER

ALLIANCE

SKYTEAMSKYTEAM

CURRENCY

MILESMILES

POINTS TRANSFER PARTNERS

AIRLINE PARTNERS

  • Hawaiian AirlinesHawaiian Airlines

How Can You Use Dynasty Flyer Miles?

To anyone who is accustomed to the relative simplicity of redeeming an award seat with a U.S.-based frequent flyer program, using a foreign program like Dynasty Flyer can seem like  a challenge primarily because you can’t book online.

The program itself is relatively simple if you want to use Dynasty Flyer miles for China Airlines flights. It only has a few regions. It doesn’t divide Asia or Europe into many zones as other programs do, and it charges the same amount of miles for flights to North America, Europe or Oceania.

China-Airlines-Chart
China Airlines award chart

Redemption rates for SkyTeam partner airlines are based on a familiar looking multi-zone chart. The challenge is when you attempt to actually redeem an award. You can’t book any awards online for China Airlines or one of its partners.

Program Perks:
  • Affordable premium economy seats
  • Business and first class seats are among the best in the world
  • Excellent redemption opportunities for some flights on SkyTeam partners
  • Unique discount for redeeming two premium awards tickets on China Airlines
  • Low fuel surcharges on China Airlines
  • One-way domestic flights are only 7,500 miles, or 50 percent of round-trip tickets
  • One open jaw allowed per flight
Program Quirks:
  • No free stopovers
  • Dates which have higher prices for award tickets and upgrades
  • Expensive long-haul economy class redemptions
  • Higher than average premium class redemptions compared to most other carriers
  • Non-domestic one-way awards cost 60 percent of the miles of round-trip tickets on China Airlines and aren’t allowed on partners
  • Can’t book award tickets online
Best Value Awards:

One of the most fantastic features of the Dynasty Flyer SkyTeam award chart is a 70,000-mile redemption per round-trip business class flight between North and South America. This amazing redemption is only possible because Dynasty Flyer lumps all of South America into the same region.

Another redemption that’s quite good is 90,000 miles per round-trip business class flight between North America and Europe/North Africa. That beats all U.S. programs and most international programs as well.

Dynasty Flyer offers a unique discount for redeeming two award tickets between the U.S. and Asia on China Airlines. This discount makes the first class award ticket to Asia one of the cheapest redemptions among frequent flyer programs. This is what two round-trip tickets cost with the discount:

  • 240,000 miles for two business class tickets
  • 270,000 for two first class tickets

Without the discount, a single business class ticket costs 135,000 miles and a first class costs 150,000.

Worst Value Awards:

Most economy class redemption levels, with the exception of Taiwan domestic awards and flights between North and South/Central America, are less competitive than what’s offered by U.S.-based programs.

The redemption levels offered on Hawaiian Airlines, China Airlines’ only non-SkyTeam partner have a poor value as well: 25,000 for a round-trip interisland flight and 40,000 between Hawaii and the U.S. mainland.

The worst possible Dynasty Flyer redemption would be an economy class award between the U.S. and South East Asia at 120,000 miles. This is more than many airlines charge for a business class award seat on the same route.

The Good Stuff: Upgrades and Elite Status

Upgrades are available on China Airlines flights, as well as SkyTeam partners. You can upgrade from economy to premium economy or business class, and from business to first. A business class upgrade on China Airlines between the U.S. and Asia, for example, costs 40,000 miles per segment.

The upgrade scheme for SkyTeam partners is more complicated and based on the length of the trip.

Most flights between the U.S. and Asia will cost 40,000 or 50,000 miles each way. Like most other airline programs, China Airlines prohibits upgrades on an award ticket.

China Airlines also has a special program for members over the age of 65. They receive:

  • Priority seat selection and seat upgrade confirmation
  • Check-in at the business class counter
  • Priority baggage handling
  • A 10-year extension for Emerald or Paragon members who fail to renew their membership
Dynasty Flyer Elite Levels and Perks

Dynasty Flyer has an entry Dynasty level and three elite levels: Gold, Emerald and Paragon.

China-Airlines-Tiers
China Airlines elite status benefits

Each level includes the perks of the previous level:

  • Gold: SkyTeam Elite status, 2,000-mile birthday gift, priority reservation, extra baggage, priority baggage, VIP lounge access, domestic ticket discount
  • Emerald: SkyTeam Elite Plus status, a welcome gift, confirmed reservation, discounts on in-flight duty free shop, VIP lounge access for member and one companion, free spouse upgrade
  • Paragon: 10,000-mile bonus when upgraded to Paragon, VIP lounge access for member and two companions, additional 20 percent miles earned on flights, spouse receives Gold status

China Airlines also has a special program for members over the age of 65. They receive:

  • Priority seat selection and seat upgrade confirmation
  • Check-in at the business class counter
  • Priority baggage handling
  • A 10-year extension for Emerald or Paragon members who fail to renew their membership

China Airlines SkyTeam Tiers
Dynasty Flyer and SkyTeam elite status

Associated Credit Cards

China Airlines does not currently offer a co-branded credit card for U.S. residents.

  • Darkie One

    China Airline milelage membership is terrible! They don’t automatically credit your mileage. I flew from LAX to TPE to china 6/7/16 and back to LAX 2/19/16. They only credited my TPE to China for a mere 280 miles!
    Online correction will not even recognize my eTicket to and from LAX to TPE! so I can’t add my LAX to & from TPE flight!
    Called their “hotline number,” and waited for over 40 min! then the customer service say the “hotline number” is ONLY for reservation. Transferred me to another line that just keep on ringing for over 20 min! no one picked up!
    WILL NOT be flying China airlines again!