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China Southern Sky Pearl Club Program Review

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China Southern Airlines, based in Guangzhou, is Asia’s largest airline in terms of fleet size and the number of passengers carried. It has 400 aircraft and flies to 193 domestic and international destinations. In the U.S., the airline flies to Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

Sky Pearl Club is China Southern’s frequent flyer program. It uses kilometers as its currency. That won’t make any difference if you earn kilometers while flying, but you’ll lose value if you transfer points from Starwood Preferred Guest.

Unlike LAN and some other airlines who offer 1.5 kilometers per SPG point, China Southern uses a 1:1 exchange rate for points to kilometers. So you’ll get roughly 30 percent less value per point compared to a program that uses miles.

  • Beijing Capital International Airport
  • Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport

How Can You Use Sky Pearl Club Kilometers?

China Southern Airlines has a number of award charts, including separate domestic and international distance-based charts for flights on China Southern and its affiliate, Sichuan Airlines. The program also has a distance-based chart for domestic flights in China on SkyTeam members. International flights on SkyTeam partners are region-based, as are domestic flights within other countries, including the U.S., Russian and India.

Program Perks:

  • One-way redemptions
  • Free hotel stay if layovers exceed eight hours, including award flights
  • Open jaws allowed on partner flights
  • Low change fees of $16 to $32
China Southern is the largest airline in Asia
China Southern is the largest airline in Asia

Program Quirks:

  • No stopovers
  • Blackout dates for awards on Korean Air and China Airlines
  • Only date and time changes allowed
  • Award flights between the U.S. and most other regions are generally overpriced
  • Fuel surcharges on most partners

Best Value Awards:

China Southern’s domestic award rates for one-way flights in China start at an affordable 6,000 kilometers for short hops. That means you’ll earn almost enough for two short domestic round-trip tickets just by flying between Guangzhou and Los Angeles with a cash ticket. And there are no fuel surcharges on domestic flights.

Domestic award chart for China Southern flights
Domestic award chart for China Southern flights

There are some deals in the SkyTeam charts, too. You can fly roundtrip between the U.S. and Hawaii for 60,000 kilometers (about 37,500 miles).

Domestic flights in Russia are another good redemption option. Because the award chart for those flights is not distance-based, you can fly roundtrip on Aeroflot anywhere in Russia for only 40,000 kilometers (25,000 miles) in economy or 80,000 (50,000 miles) in business class.

Worst Value Awards:

The Sky Pearl Club has expensive redemption rates for premium classes to the southern part of South America. A roundtrip flight between Brazil or Argentina and Australia costs 360,000 kilometers (225,000 miles) in business and 440,000 kilometers (275,000 miles) in first.

The Good Stuff: Upgrades and Elite Status

Since China Southern allows cash tickets to be upgraded more than one class, you can use kilometers to upgrade from economy to premium economy, business or first class. A one-way upgrade from economy to business class between the U.S. and Guangzhou costs 42,000 kilometers. Economy to first costs 56,000 kilometers.

China Southern Sky Pearl Club Elite Levels and Perks

The Sky Pearl Club has an entry-level Base membership, and two elite status memberships: Silver and Gold. They correspond to SkyTeam’s Elite and Elite Plus.

Sky Pearl Club has two elite levels and one basic membership
Sky Pearl Club has two elite levels and one basic membership

Each level includes the perks of the previous level.

  • Silver: Visa application services; 15 percent mileage bonus on flights; confirmed economy reservation 72 hours before departure; check-in at the Silver counter; business class lounge access for member and one companion; extra baggage allowance of 10 kg or one piece; priority standby and upgrade; business class service for flight delays
  • Gold: 30 percent mileage bonus; confirmed economy reservation 48 hours before departure; check-in at the Gold counter; first class lounge access for member and one companion; extra baggage allowance of 20 kg

Associated Credit Cards

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

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