The Saga started when I was doing my usual random searches of google flights and I saw a jaw dropping price of $420 for round trip flights from Seattle to Tokyo for the end of summer. As this has been a dream destination for me and my wife since we met, it was a no-brainer, we had to book it. Initially I had two hesitations, I had never heard of Xiamen Airlines before and the flight had 12 hour layovers on Xiamen China in both directions.
So I did some research. It turns out that Xiamen airlines has been around for 34 years and has been operating mainly within Asia until it expanded to flights to Australia in 2015 and later to the US in 2016 (They now fly out of Vancouver, Seattle, LAX, and New York) . Xiamen Airlines has overwhelmingly received positive reviews on all classes of their international service. They are extremely passenger friendly and address the issue of long layovers with their with their “Transfer Accommodation Services.” Xiamen airlines will provide complimentary hotel accommodation for any passenger with a layover of over 6 hours regardless of which cabin you booked yourself in. Being the skeptic I am I called up the airline to confirm that this would apply to the economy booking I was planning on making; they were able to confirm with one caveat, if you are in economy class the rooms are double occupancy (so if you travel alone you will get paired up with a stranger of the same gender, which is quite awkward). Even with shorter layovers Xiamen provides its customers with either free lounge access or a free sightseeing tour.
Xiamen Air’s Seattle route was a new route for the airline and when I booked my flight they were operating 3 flights a week. A few months after my booking I was searching on expertflyer to see how full our flight was and the flight would not pull up. To that date I had not received any notice from either the airline or Chase Travel (I booked my flight through the Chase Portal) so I gave Chase a call. They confirmed that the airline had scaled down to 2 flights a week from Seattle and that my return flight was cancelled. Chase worked with me to contact the airline to determine what our options are. We were informed that we could:
- Be re-booked on the next flight 2 days later;
- Receive a partial refund for the cancelled flight; or
- Receive a full refund.
I asked for a little time to consider my options as both my wife and myself had to clear an extra two vacation days with our employer. By the time we got approval and called the airline to take the flight 2 days later they informed us that that flight two had been cancelled and the next flight was 4 days from our original date. Unfortunately that was too many vacation days and we had to get a full refund. We eventually changed our routing and found a pretty decent option which included a few days in Shanghai in American for only $200 more each.
My Take Away
I was extremely disappointed about not being able to fly on Xiamen Airlines. I have remained extremely interested in this airline and their Customer friendly policies and their extremely low fares. I continued to follow them and over the past 5 months their flight schedules have remained pretty steady at 2 flights a week out of Seattle and the dates have not changes. Given this I would absolutely give Xiamen Airlines another try they regularly have the lowest fares out of Seattle to destinations like Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Singapore, they were extremely nice and helpful throughout the booking, re-booking and cancellation process, and I have yet to read a negative thing about the airline.