Coal From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 1773 posts, RR: 6 Posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 11850 times:
Airline: Air China Flight: CA 404 Equip: Airbus A319 Route: Singapore – Chengdu Dep (Act): 2:00am (2:00am) Arr (Act): 6:30am (6:10am) Class: Business Class Seat: 1L
I took a week off work for the first time since I started my new job in September in order to visit my GF who was in China for Lunar New Year as well as to meet her parents.
I had decided to leave work early in order to sleep for a few hours between 5pm and 11pm, get up, take a shower, and head to the airport. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to do this, so I was not looking forward to a 4hr flight departing at 2am.
I left my condo at midnight and got to Changi Terminal 1 at around 12:30am. Being Star Gold, I approached the Air China Business Class counter to check in. Initially I was going to ask if it was possible to get a window seat and block off the other two seats, but I decided to be cheeky and ask for a free upgrade. Well, surprise surprise, I did get a free upgrade to Business Class, seat 1L (Air China has a very odd seat numbering system). After this I headed past immigration to the Sats Premium Lounge, which was completely empty at this time of the night. I had a few sandwiches and a drink, then headed to the duty free.
Boarding started at about 1:30am, with no announcement made. Everyone knew we were boarding as the gate doors were opened and people rushed through. I was wondering if seat 1L would be aisle or window, and it turned out to be a window. I took my seat and soon realized that my seat was only one of two that were free in Business Class. The F/A then came around and offered water or OJ, as well as almonds, as well as Chinese newspapers.
We pushed back on time and headed to the runway. After a quick take off, I reclined my seat (it looked like the typical First Class seats you get in the US) and tried to fall asleep. I did have a nice pillow and the F/A came around offering a pretty thick duvet, which made sleeping easier.
I skipped the meal service (breakfast) and didn’t wake up until we were on final approach to Chengdu. It was still dark outside and pretty foggy when we arrived, and we parked next to a Sichuan Airlines A320.
Immigration was a breeze and I picked up my bag not too long after, noticing that this time the priority tags did make a difference (my bag was one of the first to come out). After this I met my GF and her mom outside and drove off to Mianyang, her hometown.
Airline: Silk Air Flight: MI 935 Equip: Airbus A319 Route: Chengdu – Singapore Dep (Act): 5:45pm (5:45pm) Arr (Act): 11:00pm (10:50pm) Class: Economy Class Seat: 6C
After 8 days around Sichuan province, it was time to go back to Singapore. Originally I was flying out on a Wednesday on Air China, but decided to stay a few extra days, and as my ticket was not refundable or exchangeable, I booked a flight on Silk Air using SQ’s KrisFlyer miles. Interestingly enough, Silk Air’s flight departed nearly two hours prior to Air China’s flight, but arrived just an hour earlier. Still, it was more convenient that way.
After a two hour car ride on the Mianguan Expressway we got to CTU, where I experienced something I had never experienced before (even in China). When you get to the terminal building, the Int’l / HK / Macau / Taiwan check-in desks are behind a frosted glass screen and a police check point, which was not open when we arrived. It opened about one hour prior to departure.
The MI flight was the only one leaving at the time (CTU doesn’t see much int’l traffic, other than to SIN, BKK, HK / Macau, and a few others). Four check-in desks had already long lines, so we used the Business Class counter. My GF and I asked for an upgrade, but I knew we wouldn’t get it on MI. After checking in we passed through immigration and the security check and went over to the duty free shops, of which the only one that tickled our fancy was a Tibet store selling very overpriced Tibetan art. After this we headed to the Business Class lounge, where I saw the first two non-Chinese men I had seen in a whole week! We checked our emails, had a snack and a coffee, and then headed to the gate.
This was only my second flight on MI and I noticed it had very nice leather seats up front and new-looking seats (or covers?) in Economy. We were seated in row 6, in the middle and aisle seats.
We pushed back on time and after take off my GF and I took to reading and taking a nap. There was a silent cartoon-like movie on the drop down screens, which were comical. Looked a bit like those Pingu cartoons.
The meal was a choice between chicken and rice (not Hainanese chicken rice) and pasta and fish (a bit of an odd combo, IMHO). We both had the chicken and it was pretty tasty, although we were hungry later on before we arrived. Overall the experience was OK and the 4 hr day / night flight went by pretty quick. We flew from CTU direct to BKK and from there down the eastern coast of peninsular Malaysia before making a turn to land on rwy 02 (L or R?) at SIN.
Apologize for the lack of pics but hopefully this is vaguely informative about travelling to and from China.
EddieDude From Mexico, joined Nov 2003, 7431 posts, RR: 44 Reply 3, posted (4 years 9 months 1 week 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 10223 times:
Quoting Coal (Thread starter): Initially I was going to ask if it was possible to get a window seat and block off the other two seats, but I decided to be cheeky and ask for a free upgrade. Well, surprise surprise, I did get a free upgrade to Business Class
Lucky you! That does not happen too often, so I am happy you were able to get upgraded.
As always, a very nice trip report. I look forward to your upcoming trip to Japan.
SQ_EK_freak From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2000, 1624 posts, RR: 20 Reply 4, posted (4 years 9 months 1 week 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 10023 times:
Great report despite the lack of pictures, your MI experience seems to have been better than mine...
Quoting Coal (Thread starter): We both had the chicken and it was pretty tasty, although we were hungry later on before we arrived. Overall the experience was OK and the 4 hr day / night flight went by pretty quick
That's one of two huge gripes I have with MI. I know they aren't branded as a luxury carrier by any stretch of the word and are supposed to be "exotic" leisure oriented, but I paid about $1,000 for a Singapore-Kathamndu-Singapore flight in coach - the food served both ways was mediocre at best, but the portions were tiny! I was starving after 5 hours! (packed a snack on the return). Also, my request for a tea about 45 minutes before landing was refused because it was "too soon before touchdown" (initial descent hadn't commenced yet).
On top of that, while service was polite and smiles on the way there, it was downright rude and obnoxious on the way back (F/As talking really loudly in Singaporean slang as they pushed carts up and down the aisles and serving meals, also in the galley within earshot of passengers, completely absent during boarding, laughing with each other then turning around to pax with a look of complete disdain, etc.).
Are MI crew known to be patchy? Because the crew up were really nice and conversational, pretty standard stuff. The way back was just something else. I know there are bad apples and such within any airline crew contingent, but what struck me was that it was the entire crew that partook in this behavior and it was disproportionately bad coming from an Asian airline that closely associates itself with SQ.
Quoting Coal (Thread starter): There was a silent cartoon-like movie on the drop down screens, which were comical
My second gripe (though not a deal breaker for me unlike the crew on my return flight) was the absolute lack of IFE on board. A 5 hour day time flight without any audio or visual entertainment was definitely really boring (except approach into KTM which was beautiful). My A320s didn't even have the drop down screens, and the crew preformed the safety demos manually. I tried to purchase the use of the DVD players at $15 a pop per flight, but both ways they hadn't loaded enough for Y, only for Business (which is contrary to what their in flight magazine indicates). It was odd to me because the F/A said they had only 3 on board with them overall (and J seats more than that).