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Heading East: FRA - PEK - FRA On CA's A332  
User currently offlineFlyingA From Germany, joined Oct 2009, 4 posts, RR: 0
Posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 15482 times:

Hi, this is my first trip report on A.net. I hope you guys enjoy reading it…

Background:

Over the last couple of years, we have spent the first week of October exploring various cities around Europe. However this year, we figured, it was about time to leave the European continent behind us and embark on a voyage to a totally different place: Beijing. We spent weeks figuring out the cheapest flight to the Chinese capital. In the end, our options narrowed down to taking an Emirates flight (via DXB), an Aeroflot flight (via SVO) or an Air China non-stop connection. Since going via DXB would have taken too much time given the fact that we stayed in Beijing for only five days and that taking SU would have meant spending nearly six hours at SVO on the way back, we eventually settled with CA.

CA 965
FRAPEK
Oct 2009
ETD: 1450
ETA: 0600
Duration: 9h10mins
A330-200 B-6073

We arrived at FRA exactly two hours before scheduled departure. CA check-in counters were all deserted at this time, as most of the passengers had already checked in – luckily for us, as it didn’t even take two minutes for the check-in agent to take our luggage and handing us our boarding passes. After taking a drink at Starbuck’s we headed to the gate B46, which is located in the wing of Terminal 1 that currently undergoes renovation. Due to that, all the windows of the waiting area were blocked with construction equipment, effectively blocking views of the tarmac. Boarding commenced about half an hour before scheduled departure. The flight itself was about 40 percent loaded in J and 80 percent in Y.


FRA's crowded T1

Although B-6073 was delivered to CA only three years ago, the plane clearly showed its heavy usage. There was some dirt lying on the floor and upon settling down at our seats, my girlfriend discovered a disgusting brown stain on her pillow. CA is definitely not SQ. Fortunately; the dirty pillow got exchanged in no time. After boarding was finished, we taxied to runway 25R for take-off. The runway is located fairly closely to gate B 46, so by the time we commenced our take-off roll, security instructions were not yet even finished with. It was actually kind of funny that the FA announced “We are about to take-off” when the aircraft already was accelerating down the runway, seconds away from rotating.




Our ride to Beijing, Vietnam Airlines B772 in the background.


About to push back from B46


Heading north-east after taking off from FRA's rwy 25R


Seatpitch was alright


The flight itself passed rather uneventfully. After taking off from Frankfurt, our plane took a north-eastern direction, crossing the Baltic Sea, Estland and the all the loooong way across Russia. Passing St. Petersburg, it started getting dark outside and remained so until the decent into Beijing’s Capital Airport. Although our plane was equipped with an AVOD-system, the on-demand function did not work. Service was efficient and mostly friendly, comparable to LH or DL in Y. I ordered a vegetarian meal which did not really taste well, but it was still edible. FAs were doing water runs about every two hours between dinner and breakfast.


Dinner


Breakfast


Dawn time arrival at PEK

Eventually, we reached Beijing capital airport at dawn. The size of Terminal 3 really struck me. This place is massive – but despite its size, T3 does not appear monolithic. Rather, it allows for a spacious, open and airy atmosphere which is so much better than FRA’s T1 with its low ceilings and endless construction work going on. It’s probably because I’m used to FRA’s cramped T1 that the size of PEK’s T3 amazed me that much. Clearing health check, passport control and customs was a breeze, as our flight seemed to be the only one arriving at this particular time.


CA 966
PEKFRA
Oct 2009
ETD: 0200
ETA: 0620
Duration: 10h20mins
A 330-200, B-6075

After spending five wonderful days in the Chinese capital, it was time to head home. We chose to take the very early morning flight, as it allowed us to stay in Beijing as long as possible. At 11.30 pm, the check-in area of PEK was quite deserted. Again, check-in only took some minutes and after clearing immigration and customs, we embarked on a long walk to gate E36 where our flight was supposed to depart from. Due to the late (or very early) time of the day, nearly all shops and restaurants in T3 were closed, which sucked badly since I was starving and dinner aboard the plane was still some two hours away. About an hour before departure, the crew for our flight arrived. Overall, there were five (!!!) pilots on our flight. I guess it got kind of cosy on the flight deck. Two of the pilots were European; in fact the captain seemed to speak with a Spanish accent when he got on the PA. When we headed to Beijing, the captain was British (at least that’s what he sounded like). Anybody know, why there are so many foreigners flying for Air China?


Our plane sitting at E36, getting ready for the long, dark flight to FRA (sorry for the bad picture quality)


Cabin shot, about an hour from landing at FRA


On the way, somewhere over Russia

Anyways, after taking off from PEK, dinner was served pretty quickly. What I like about ordering vegetarian food aboard airplanes is that these special meals most of the time are being served before regular meals are passed out. The crew this time really was very polite and attentive. They happily provided passengers with extra blankets and pillows and when I asked for some red wine with my dinner, they had to decline since they did not have any on board (at least in Y). However, they immediately brought me some white wine without me asking for any. In the end it’s small gestures like this one, that make all the difference.


Business Class gets mood lighting for waking up - while in Economy "the lights were switched on"


Breakfast over Poland

Unlike the flight from FRA to PEK, the AVOD system worked this time. After watching the new Transformers movie, I was able to catch a good six hours of sleep, waking up as we already approached the Russian - Belorussian border. Breakfast was served about an hour from touching down very smoothly at FRA’s 25L runway.

Final verdict on CA: They are at no means on par with other Asian carriers like SQ. Leaving some minor issues aside; I would rank their Y product (at least on board the A332) equal to that of most American or European carriers. Efficient, standardised but rather impersonal service. Nothing special, but in the end you get what you pay for. I would fly CA again anytime, given the fact that they offer some really affordable rates between Europe and Asia.

12 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineJetBlue777 From Canada, joined Jul 2009, 1451 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 15455 times:



Quoting FlyingA (Thread starter):

Business Class gets mood lighting for waking up - while in Economy "the lights were switched on"

LMAO! Segregation! LOL, joke. J class passengers pay more so they deserve more. Nice first trip report! How was the IFE?



It's a cultural thing.
User currently offlineFlyingA From Germany, joined Oct 2009, 4 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 15418 times:

Thank you!

IFE was alright, there were about twenty movies to choose from as well as music, games and of course the in-flight map.


User currently offlineBA319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8502 posts, RR: 55
Reply 3, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 15183 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Interesting report, thanks for sharing.

I have flown Air China in J and Y, from these experiences I would have no problem flying them in J but would avoid them in Y,

Regards

Mark



111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
User currently offlineFoppishbum From Taiwan, joined Mar 2006, 807 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 15086 times:



Quoting FlyingA (Thread starter):
Business Class gets mood lighting for waking up - while in Economy "the lights were switched on"

Social class still means something in Mainland China. LOL! I can't believe they actually do that. As for China (Taiwan) Airlines, everyone is treated equally when it comes to lighting. Big grin



I'm a TAIWANESE-American living in NYC and LA.
User currently offlineFLIEGER67 From France, joined Sep 2003, 5136 posts, RR: 55
Reply 5, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 14988 times:

Hey, FlyingA,

an interesting read.
I agree, FRA without construction work, it seems that will never happen.
CA offered for sure some nice fares on the routes to mainland China and also further to some Asian destinations. Closely followed here!.

Nice pictures around you´re story.
What about some pix from you´re stay at PEK, always interesting to see something beside all that aircraft stuff.

Greetings,
Markus (FLIEGER67)



Next: How to deliver a present in style!.
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6714 posts, RR: 78
Reply 6, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 14312 times:

Hi FlyingA,

first of all, welcome to a.net. There have been numerous newbies recently.  Wink You posted a very interesting report, nice to read about Air China. I also wanted to try Air China last year, but the reservation process turned out to be quite chaotic, so I switched to Hainan Airlines and Air New Zealand in the end...if you are interested:
Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Quoting FlyingA (Thread starter):

Although B-6073 was delivered to CA only three years ago, the plane clearly showed its heavy usage. There was some dirt lying on the floor and upon settling down at our seats, my girlfriend discovered a disgusting brown stain on her pillow.

Sounds quite bad.

Quoting FlyingA (Thread starter):
Although our plane was equipped with an AVOD-system, the on-demand function did not work.

What about the map and the games - did they work?

Quoting FlyingA (Thread starter):
Service was efficient and mostly friendly, comparable to LH or DL in Y. I ordered a vegetarian meal which did not really taste well, but it was still edible. FAs were doing water runs about every two hours between dinner and breakfast.

The meal doesn't look bad.

Quoting FlyingA (Thread starter):
Anybody know, why there are so many foreigners flying for Air China?

Fast expansion? The Chinese carriers have expanded massively in the past few years. Probably they cannot find enough Chinese pilots.

Quoting FlyingA (Thread starter):
Cabin shot, about an hour from landing at FRA

Looks quite similar to Hainan's cabin - but the coloring is more attractive on Hainan IMO.

Quoting FlyingA (Thread starter):
Business Class gets mood lighting for waking up - while in Economy "the lights were switched on"

Quite disappointing, they should have mood lighting in Y Class, too.

Quoting FlyingA (Thread starter):
They are at no means on par with other Asian carriers like SQ.

Only few carriers are on par with SQ.


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineFlyingA From Germany, joined Oct 2009, 4 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 14206 times:



Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 5):
ice pictures around you´re story.
What about some pix from you´re stay at PEK, always interesting to see something beside all that aircraft stuff.

Good idea, I might do that in my next report

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 6):
What about the map and the games - did they work?

Yes, they did - movies worked as well, it was just the "on demand" function that did not work

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 6):
Only few carriers are on par with SQ.

I know...


User currently offlineB747forever From Sweden, joined May 2007, 17051 posts, RR: 10
Reply 8, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 13972 times:

Nice first TR

All in all seems that you had a good experience with CA

Quoting FlyingA (Thread starter):
Due to that, all the windows of the waiting area were blocked with construction equipment, effectively blocking views of the tarmac

That was pity.

Quoting FlyingA (Thread starter):
There was some dirt lying on the floor and upon settling down at our seats, my girlfriend discovered a disgusting brown stain on her pillow

Seems they didnt clean the a/c good enough during the layover in FRA,

Quoting FlyingA (Thread starter):
Although our plane was equipped with an AVOD-system, the on-demand function did not work

Sorry to hear that.

Quoting FlyingA (Thread starter):
Business Class gets mood lighting for waking up - while in Economy "the lights were switched on"

LOL! What a difference.

Thank you for sharing

B747forever



Work Hard, Fly Right
User currently offlineShamrock321 From Ireland, joined May 2008, 1596 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 13512 times:

Good report, not many CA reports around.

User currently offlineCoal From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 1992 posts, RR: 9
Reply 10, posted (4 years 2 months 1 week 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 11014 times:

Hi there

Thanks for sharing. I was interested in this report since I will fly MU PVG - MEL and CA MEL - PVG soon. How come the AVOD didn't work on the FRA - PEK leg? I notice on some of the domestic SHA / PVG - PEK runs on the CA A330s there are PTVs without AVOD. MU, on the other hand, does have AVOD on the domestic trunk routes on the A330s.

Cheers
Coal



Nxt Flts: VA SYD-CBR-SYD | VA SYD-OOL-SYD | JQ SYD-MEL | VA MEL-CBR-SYD | DL SYD-LAX-ATL-MIA | B6 FLL-DCA-BOS | DL BOS-L
User currently offlineFlyingA From Germany, joined Oct 2009, 4 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (4 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 9292 times:

Well, the PTVs were working on the FRA-PEK leg, just the on demand system didn't function properly...
Regards,
FlyingA


User currently offlineabrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5074 posts, RR: 55
Reply 12, posted (4 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 8017 times:

Quoting FlyingA (Thread starter):

Final verdict on CA: They are at no means on par with other Asian carriers like SQ. Leaving some minor issues aside; I would rank their Y product (at least on board the A332) equal to that of most American or European carriers. Efficient, standardised but rather impersonal service. Nothing special, but in the end you get what you pay for. I would fly CA again anytime, given the fact that they offer some really affordable rates between Europe and Asia.

= I think this summarizes CA very well  . Thanks for sharing your report - suddenly, there seems to be a plethora of CA reports ... and almost all (including mine) seems to be on Germany-China segment. Hmm.

Saludos,
A.



Live, and let live.
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