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China Eastern Airlines this week took delivery of its first Airbus A350-900. Before you brush this off as an airline you aren’t likely to fly, it’s worth noting that China Eastern is a SkyTeam partner that oftentimes offers bargain prices on business class seats. In other words, this may well be your best shot to affordably fly up front on one of the world’s most acclaimed widebody jets while still earning miles on your airline of choice.

The new aircraft — configured to fly 288 passengers — will start operations domestically before flying to international destinations next year. The A350 is configured with four classes of service: Four First Class seats, 36 Business Class seats, 32 Premium Economy seats and 216 Economy seats. China Eastern is the largest operator of Airbus aircraft in Asia and the second largest world wide — outpaced only by American Airlines.

China Eastern First A350-900 Delivery. Image courtesy of Airbus
China Eastern First A350-900 Delivery. Image courtesy of Airbus

For Delta SkyMiles members this is an opportunity to fly on what is still a pretty rare aircraft — Delta only operates the aircraft on seven international routes, mostly based out of Detroit — and earn Delta SkyMiles in the process. Booking a flight on the China Eastern A350, and crediting earnings to your SkyMiles account, will earn you 100-200% on Medallion Qualifying Miles depending on your class of service. However, the best you can expect to earn for Medallion Qualifying Dollars is 60% according to Delta’s Partner Reward charts.

Of course, if Delta isn’t your carrier of choice, you can credit flights to other SkyTeam airlines such as Air France, KLM, Virgin Atlantic and AeroMexico.

Delta China Eastern Reward Chart
Delta China Eastern Reward Chart

China Eastern Airlines is known for having some great deals for business class. As the airline starts moving forward with international flights with it’s newest A350s, its worth keeping an eye out for deals from China Eastern if you want to fly on what’s still a rare set of wings for the moment. Delta has taken delivery of less than half of its total A350 order — 11 of 25 planes.

China Eastern A350-900 Routes
China Eastern A350-900 Routes

SkyMiles members — or other SkyTeam Frequent Flyers — heading to or from Asia who want to check this newest wide-body off the bucket list should keep an eye out for deals on China Eastern flights when they start flying internationally with the A350 next year. It could be a great way to earn SkyMiles while logging a few hours in a shiny new Airbus. Starting next year, the A350s will be operating routes to Amsterdam (AMS), Frankfurt (FRA), Vancouver (YVR) and Sydney (SYD) from Shanghai (PVG).


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