Air China flights from Beijing to Pyongyang, North Korea

Discussion in 'Star Alliance' started by Pat+, Feb 6, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. Pat+
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    Pat+ Silver Member

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    Odd question here for you folks... but I'm going to fly Air China between China and North Korea soon.

    Questions: are miles issued for these flights? As you may imagine these flights aren't exactly bookable online, and one has limited control over the agency that does the bookings. If I show up with my UA 1K card in Pyongyang, will they even know what to do? :)

    Second, any experience with business class service? Is it worth it compared to economy? (Besides the fact that just sittting on the flight will be an experience in itself!)

    Hoping someone out here has done this kind of crazy travel before...
     
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  2. LAXtraveler
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    I believe there was a thread just after Kim Jung Il's death (or perhaps it was BoardingArea bloggers) regarding trip reports and other interesting tidbits on travel to North Korea. Try searching it perhaps and you will find some stuff.
     
  3. HiIslands
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    HiIslands Silver Member

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    I hope you will share your experiences with us! Sounds like a fascinating trip ahead.
     
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  4. YULtide

    YULtide Gold Member

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    We flew Air China business class HKG-PEK (on points) in Nov 2010 and they took good care of us. If it's the same service to Pyongyang, I'm sure it will be fine.

    Look forward to a trip report!
     
  5. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    My guess is no miles for USA citizens and residents just as miles were not awarded for travel to and from Cuba.
     
  6. Pat+
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    Pat+ Silver Member

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    This is why I'm looking for someone who's flown this route, so that I know for sure.

    The situation is different from Cuba. As surprising as it may sound, there is nothing illegal about going to North Korea. It's not recommended, and probably frowned upon, but it's still legal. In fact, I guess that one of my biggest challenges will be the perception that it's illegal.

    As for those you asked a trip report... definitely :)
     
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  7. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Let us know how it goes... did you have a choice of carriers and opt not to fly Air Koryo, or was Air China the only option for your trip?

    Rapid Travel Chai had a series of four blog posts. Here's the last one, with links to the previous. Worth reading.

    http://boardingarea.com/blogs/rapidtravelchai/2011/12/22/north-korea-trip-part-4/
     
  8. Pat+
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    Pat+ Silver Member

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    No choice of carriers in my case. I opted to take the train going into NK (for the experience) and to fly out (to save time.) Air Koryo doesn't fly on my departure date. To a certain extent, it simplified the decision making process... Flying Air Koryo would definitely have been an experience, even though it's not necesserally the smartest thing to do. Since I'm "stuck" with Air China (which I've already flown many times otherwise on more traditional routes), I might as well get the miles ;)

    Yup, thanks for the link, already bumped into his blog :) Worth reading indeed. I'm super excited :)
     
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  9. UA191

    UA191 Silver Member

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    Flew this route in March.
    Tried to credit the miles to UA but had some issues, as FNJ "wasn't in their system"...
    Eventually the miles posted in full.

    Business Class isn't really worth it... not much of an addition.
    The train is a real treat - you get to sit with actual North Koreans & see the countryside uncensored.
    Make sure you post a TR!
    Have a great trip...
     
  10. Rejuvenated
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    Rejuvenated Gold Member

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    +1

    North Korea has always been on my list of places I hope to visit one day.
     
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  11. My wife and I flew Air Koryo in April 2010 into Pyongyang (FNJ) and on our way out CA into PEK. No miles on Air Koryo as they are not partner in any FFP. Leaving FNJ we showed our Star Alliance Gold card for Priority luggage tag and later upstairs they showed us the VIP lounge. To much smoke so we did not enter. Miles did not show up in our UA MP accounts so we requested online "the missing miles". Miles were posted about 10 days to 2 weeks later. I cannot retrieve the exact amount (longer than 18 month ago) but believe it was between 500-600 miles. We had bought the tickets through Koryo tours in PEK. So no problem here. Fares have since picked up. CA flies 2-3 times a week depending on the month. Have a good trip. It is a great place to visit, many interesting people and interesting things bound to happen. Leaving NK by train is also fascinating
     
  12. My wife is US citizen and I am german and we both got the same equal amount of miles collecting with UA.
     
  13. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Sounds like it will be a great trip.

    The one thing to check is your booking class. Certain fare classes on CA are ineligible for UA miles credit.

    http://www.united.com/page/article/0,1360,50614,00.html
     
  14. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Welcome to MilePoint, Thomas!
     
  15. United747&777Expert

    United747&777Expert Silver Member

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    I've flown to fnj before and they do not give you miles, even on a Star Alliance flight like CA.

    Here's a bit of advice: If you want a little adventure, take Air Koryo (JS). The experience is once in a lifetime, and the food is better than most USA JCL flights.
     
  16. NYBanker
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    Did you have your trip?
     
  17. Pat+
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    I did. Thanks for asking. And I came back with hundreds of gigabytes of pictures and video, including pictures of stuff that's rarely seen overall, as far as I know. A highlight was taking the 24hr sleeper train from Beijing (I flew back)... that alone was a surreal experience.

    It was so fascinating that I'm returning in a couple weeks.

    For those who asked for a trip report, well, I'm writing a blog. At the current pace, it's going to take years I'm afraid, but I want to spend enough time to process my pictures, document my experience, summarize my research and create something that's hopefully valuable and interesting. The blog is anonymous for various reasons (among others, I don't want it to be about me) and I've been kind of hesitating before posting the link here... but there you go: http://www.humanitybesideus.net.

    If anyone has been to the DPRK and wants to chat please let me know. I've read I don't know how many books and still can't take enough. Fascinating place.
     
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  18. NYBanker
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    Great website. Thanks for sharing.
     
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  19. Tad's Broiled Steaks

    Tad's Broiled Steaks Silver Member

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    Quiiiite OT, but this thread makes me wonder, has anyone currently in Beijing ever done a visa run to the DPRK?
     
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  20. Pat+
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    As far as I know, this isn't remotely possible. I'm not an expert on chinese visas, but for the multiple-entry types, you need two entries to go to/from the DPRK. So your visa run would cost you an entry. If it's about resetting the duration of your stay, possibly.... but...
    • There's no free travel to the DPRK. You can't book or plan on your own; the government needs to approve all details prior to issuing a visa and letting you in. This needs to be arranged weeks or months in advance with the help of an agency.
    • There are few transportation options, with a daily flight at most and two trains a week that each take 24hr.
    • It's extremely expensive. Air China charges $600 FNJ/PEK in coach, and that's in addition to the cost of your stay in the DPRK.
    Not exactly an everyday travel experience... and there's always some form of risk (although far more minor than what most folks would believe.)
     
  21. Pat+
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    Thank you! Look for updates... I haven't even started posting the bulk of what I really want to talk about... so many pictures, so little time! I bought a new lens just for this trip :)
     
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  22. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    Thank you for sharing your impressions/knowledge. North Korea is on my to-do list, but with work and other plans, it will be a while and while on the one hand I hope to be able to make the trip, on the other hand I also hope that the situation improves for the people of North Korea.

    Added to Google Reader :)
     
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  23. LAXtraveler
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    Love the blog so far - can't wait to keep reading.
     
  24. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    Done with all the posts on the blog now... more, please :)
     
  25. Pat+
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    Pat+ Silver Member

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    Just wanted to close the loop here and answer my own initial question. Yes, this route is indeed eligible for miles. As you may imagine, they don't post automatically (then again, partner miles hardly seem to post on their own these days.) After waiting a couple months, I finally submitted an online request and got the miles in 5 days. 500 RDMS and EQMs. No questions asked, no paperwork, and FNJ does show up on my statement

    I'll repeat the experience shortly (one way, flying Air Koryo in the way in.)
     
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