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Air China - What Are They Like To Fly?  
User currently offlineAirWales From UK - Wales, joined Oct 2004, 453 posts, RR: 0
Posted (10 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 9023 times:


I am flying going to China in September - flying economy. I am flying out of LHR into Shanghai and back to LHR from Beijing. I have flown to Beijing last month on BA and was very impressed. However I would like to know what Air China are like - I may need to fly them to get good deals etc on internal flights once I am in China.

What Aircraft do they fly, whats the service/IFE and general standards of the Airline like?

As I said, never flown them but keen to find out what they are like.

Thanks in advance for any information recieved.

5 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineDavid31998 From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 79 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (10 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 8940 times:

I have flown to China often from the US leaving from SFO, LAX, and DTW, among others. I used Air China a few times, but no longer fly with them. The flights were ok, but they were not flexible or accommodating about changing tickets. Several times I changed my flight schedule after buying tickets (to and from Beijing) on NW and CO, and had no problems. I think the Chinese are still struggling with the idea of pleasing their passengers so they develop confidence and loyalty in a company. Also, I go to China every year, sometimes more than once a year, so the ff mileage programs are important to me. Air China's program does not help me. So, my suggestion is: stick with BA!


User currently offlineDolinja777 From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 37 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (10 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 8918 times:

Hey AirWales,

I flew Air China back in May JFK-PEK-CTU-PEK-JFK (The JFK-PEK legs were the 744s and the internal flights to Chengu and back were 733 and A343). I'm still planning on writing a trip report at some point but haven't gotten around to it!

I picked Air China as it was basically the only affordable flight at the time I was going. With that in mind the flights were not bad at all. I had heard horror stories but honestly they were completely unfounded.

The biggest benefit was that the 744s had 34" pitch, which I didn't know until i got on the plane. Those extra two inches made an amazing difference for a 14 hour flight, plus I had a window seat the whole way with no one next to me! It's the longest flight I've ever taken and I felt very comfortable throughout. There weren't PTVs at all, only one barely working screen at the front of each row per cabin, making it quite hard to see the route map unfortunately. I don't quite remember what they showed on the screen, but I believe mostly bad Chinese movies. I don't know if their 777s have PTVs. Bring a nice big book or get some sleep.

They served two main meals each way and they were quite edible, though not great. Basically some beef or chicken and chinese vegetables in a basic brown goo sauce, with sticky rice. Think of the blandest chinese beef and broccoli you've ever had, that was it. But quite filling. They also served a strange sandwich-y looking thing as a snack, wrapped in plastic wrap. I couldn't for the life of me guess what was in it, but I thought it may be tuna fish (which I don't eat), so I opted out. The service was friendly and they speak enough English to help you get your meal and drinks.

One more thing, the 744s look pretty cruddy from the outside. That shocked me at first as I was waiting in JFK terminal 1 next to all these gleaming Air Italia, ANA, Asiana, Korean beauties. Then this thing pulled up and it looked pretty sad. (And I'd swear the one I got on the way home had rusty fan blades inside the engines from what I could see...). But again, quite comfortable inside.

Everything was fine except for the checkin at JFK. They don't have a proper counter, they borrowed some from Lufthansa to check us in and it was very strange, especially as I showed up 4 hours early and wandered terminal 1 looking for the counter for nearly half an hour, and the staff at the terminal seemed unable to explain this fact to me. They don't really give out seat assignments or anything before checkin either. It kinduve has the feeling of a fly by night operation.

But all in all, I wouldn't hesitate to fly them if you want a bargain. It wasn't a nightmare. I've got tons of pics from my trip, I need to find a place to host them and write a proper trip report. Feel free to contact me if you've got any further questions.


User currently offlineBestWestern From Hong Kong, joined Sep 2000, 8713 posts, RR: 57
Reply 3, posted (10 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 8895 times:

I flew Air China this year (A340) Business class. Appalling is the only word to describe this airline.

Quoting AirWales (Thread starter):
I have flown to Beijing last month on BA and was very impressed. However I would like to know what Air China are like - I may need to fly them to get good deals etc on internal flights once I am in China.

Stay with BA - this is a case where cheap is real bad value. Domestic travel in China is really cheap anyway.

I took the train from Beijing from Shanghai - what a great way to travel. Send me an IM if you want more information.

The world is really getting smaller these days
User currently offlineTrex8 From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 5550 posts, RR: 14
Reply 4, posted (10 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 8871 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

think American domestic carrier in the early 90s, or BA in the early 80s!

User currently offlineLegacyins From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 2337 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (10 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 8796 times:

I fly CA all the time. I fly their SFO-PEK route quite often. Over the past few years, I have only flew in their business/ 1st class cabins. Like everyone else, don't expect much. Only reason I do it is because of $$$. On average, $2,500 for business class compared to 5K on UA. They are updating their business class and 1st class cabins with new seats and IFE. The only route I know of is their JFK and LHR route. It does pop into SFO once in a while. Economy is really not different than UA.

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