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The Dead Slow Transfer: PEK-MUC On Air China A332  
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6782 posts, RR: 77
Posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 4 hours ago) and read 30722 times:

The Dead Slow Transfer:
Beijing - Munich on Air China A330-200




Intro
Having hypermodern terminals is one thing, but running them efficiently is another. I had always been impressed by the new Terminal 3 at Beijing Capital Airport - until I had to change planes there. The last part of my latest trip report series will show how unpleasant a transfer can be there - and it will go into detail about the product and services offered in Economy Class on an Air China A330-200 flight from Beijing to Munich.

If you have missed parts 1, 2 & 3 you simply need to click here:
The Next 5* Carrier? MUC-MCT-DXB, Oman Air A330
A380 Cacophony, 777 Star Livery: DXB-SIN-HKG on SQ
Cancellation Brings Joy: HKG-PEK on Dragonair A330



Background
In early January my brother and I decided to go on a sightseeing trip to Asia by the end of February. Our focus had been on Hong Kong from the very beginning, but we also wanted to enhance a possible trip by another city. My brother suggested to pick Dubai so that we could visit the new Burj Khalifa. I agreed and started searching for the most interesting flight options. It didn’t take very long until I found an unbelievable fare offered by a most interesting carrier: Munich-Muscat-Dubai return on Oman Air for 260 Euro!

We decided to try Oman Air and then I started searching for adequate flights between Dubai and Hong Kong. The plan was to spend one night in Dubai each time on the outbound journey and the inbound journey. The whole trip shouldn’t last more than one week, so it was clear we wouldn’t be able to spend more than three nights in Hong Kong. It wasn’t difficult at all to find interesting and affordable flights between Dubai and Hong Kong. In contrast, satisfying options were rare between Hong Kong and Dubai. Problematic were either high fares or unfavorable flying times. Leaving Hong Kong too early would have drastically reduced the sightseeing options - and leaving too late would have been risky regarding the onward flights between Dubai, Muscat and Munich. We also couldn’t just add one day due to the limited frequencies between Muscat and Munich. In the end we decided to fly back from Hong Kong to Munich without stopping again in Dubai - it was the most convenient option and absolutely free of risk.

While searching for flights between Dubai and Hong Kong, Singapore Airlines soon caught my attention by offering a one-way connection for 318 Euro - including an A380 flight. My brother hadn't flown on the A380 yet and I was very interested in getting on the bird for the second time (after the premiere on Emirates). Great service and high-quality catering were further arguments for SIA. Unfortunately, the low fare suddenly disappeared and SQ wanted 350 Euro - at least for the A380 combo. We decided it would be worth it.

In addition to the Oman Air and Singapore Airlines flights we selected a Hong Kong-Beijing-Munich connection on Air China (A321-200 and A330-200) for only 290 Euro. I had never flown on Air China before and I knew the A330-200 on the long-haul sector would be equipped with personal IFE screens - so it was worth a try. Even though the final itinerary consisted of only six flights, it included two new airlines and four widebody jets. Well, so much for the plan...




Transfer at Terminal 3
After stepping off the Dragonair plane at our Terminal 3 gate we were expecting a smooth transfer. Due to the switch to Dragonair we had arrived 30 minutes earlier than originally planned. I was quite optimistic to be able to log many registrations during that 145-minute layover…

The roof construction enables natural light to flood the spotlessly clean terminal:


First of all some officers collected a kind of "health form" which we had filled out on the flight. The form asks about numerous disease symptoms including even minor ones such as headache. The questioning was also technically supported by infra-red cameras - good to see the authorities take disease control serious. Then we continued to the "International Transfers" desks in order to pick up our Air China boarding passes:


Only one counter was open, but the number of waiting passengers was limited. However, after a few minutes I realized that the queue was stuck. It was soon obvious that some Russian passengers, apparently booked on an S7 Airlines flight, were having trouble. Passports were being handed back and forth and while a Russian lady looked quite stressed, the older female Chinese agent behind the counter appeared quite unmotivated while talking on the phone all the time. An S7 representative repeatedly being involved in the discussions seemingly couldn't help to solve the problem either.

After 15 minutes I asked two airport employees standing close whether this was the right queue for Air China transfer passengers and the young man confirmed. "Sorry, only one line", he added. Meanwhile some 40 people had joined the queue behind us and it was getting longer every minute. A lady behind us soon addressed the two employees, too, but she got the same answer. After 15 more minutes without any progress the young employee informed us that staff for a second counter had been called...that was overdue considering that numerous Air China long-haul flights would depart in the early afternoon. Finally, after a total waiting time of roughly 40 minutes, the unfriendly second agent handed out the boarding passes to us. At least the pre-reserved seats hadn't been changed...

The next bad surprise followed just a few minutes later: Dozens of passengers were waiting in a long and unorganized queue in front of two passport control counters.  Yeah sure The two officers checked boarding passes and passports carefully and the queue behind us was growing quickly. After a few minutes it happened again: the queue was stuck. And again it was a Russian being in trouble. I remembered the guy from the other queue where I had overheard a conversation that he and his family were booked on an Air China flight to Moscow. The young Chinese officer either rejected the passport or the boarding pass and tried to send the Russian away. However, the man's family members had already passed the counter, so he didn't go anywhere and started arguing with the officer. The latter wasn't interested in a discussion, pointed towards the end of the queue and told the Russian to go away.

When the officer called the next passenger in line, the Russian loudly shouted: No, I will not go away! I want to go to my gate!" The officer ignored him and the Russian freaked out: He started to hit a metal barrier with his fists! Now I was expecting several security officers to show up, but nothing happened. Then an Asian passenger waiting in queue accused the Russian of delaying the whole process. "I do not want to delay anyone!", the man shouted back.

The Russian then started talking insistently to the older officer at the other counter. I heard the Russian mentioning the shoulder marks, so it seems he was hoping that the higher-ranking officer could help. The Russian repeatedly asked the older officer to call "his chief" - and after a few minutes the officer really took up the phone. Two minutes later a young, but high-ranking officer showed up, talked to the Russian and checked his documents. And what happened? Not even five minutes later the Russian was allowed to go to his gate!  Wow! So maybe his outrage had been absolutely justified? Who knows what went wrong. After a total waiting time of roughly 30 minutes we got our passports stamped and could continue to the security checkpoints.

Almost 80 minutes after joining the first queue we were able to enter the gate area - absolutely unacceptable for a major hub. If we hadn't been rebooked to the earlier HKG-PEK flight we would have been very concerned about catching our flight to Munich.




Wednesday, 3 March 2010
Beijing (PEK) - Munich (MUC)
Air China CA961
13:40-17:30 (14:04-17:41)
Flying time: 10:08 (hrs)
Economy Class, Seat 52L

Airbus A330-243
B-6080 (MSN 815)
Delivered in 02/2007


1st flight on B-6080
13th A330-200 flight
21st A330 flight
90th airline



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Photo © Wongwei
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Photo © Mehdi Nazarinia


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Photo © Manuel Mueller
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Photo © Yang Wei



The crowd at our gate, mostly consisting of young Chinese passengers, indicated that the flight would be full. B-6080, one of 20 A330-200s in the fleet, was built in January 2007 and delivered one month later.



Taking pictures through the glass was tricky:



Parked at the adjacent gate was Boeing 747-400 B-2469:



I was still able to log 23 new registrations in the remaining time. One of the most interesting planes was Air China A321-200 B-6361 painted in the "Beautiful Sichuan" (mouse) color scheme:



Finally it was time to step on board. Two flight attendants kindly welcomed us, but others didn't look at us while we were passing them. Interestingly, the Air China interior is absolutely identical to the interior on Hainan Airlines' A330s - except for the colors, of course. The seats were very comfortable:



Seat features: Decent-sized video screen, seatback-mounted handset and cupholder:



Seat pitch was quite generous, but the IFE box took away some legroom:



Reflections made it tricky to take a shot of the welcome screen:



It hadn't become busier at Terminal 3 since our arrival:



After boarding had been completed we were surprised by the welcome message from the flight deck - it was presented in English by a pilot with German accent. Much later, after landing, he presented a farewell message in German and then it was clear he was from Switzerland. He was a captain, but there was at least another (Chinese) captain on the flight, too. So I don't know who had been in command of the flight after all.

We left the gate 24 minutes behind schedule and taxied to runway 36R. We had to wait for five inbound planes, including an Air China A320...



...and a China Southern A321:



Finally the runway was clear and B-6080 started a powerful takeoff roll:



Goodbye, lousy Beijing weather!





It took less than 20 minutes until we were cruising over sparse mountainous terrain:



The flight attendants started serving the first round of drinks less than 30 minutes after takeoff. I ordered a Chinese beer and was glad that Air China did have a local brand. It tasted quite good:



Lunch was served subsequently and I chose the fish over the beef option:


While the quantity was suboptimal, the quality of the meal was absolutely satisfying. The pieces of fried fish, the sauce and the rice in particular tasted really good. The salad, covered by a slice of salmon, and the melon pieces weren't bad either. Another round of drinks was served while we were eating, another round followed shortly after lunch.

After the trays had been collected it was time for a cabin shot:


While hanging around in the galley for a while I decided to ask a male flight attendant how long the crew would stay in Munich before going home again. "10 hours", he answered and smiled. Ok, I asked him again and I got the same answer again. Then I gave up. It was obvious he was talking about the flying time - but I'm wondering whether he simply didn't understand me or whether he didn't want to answer my question for whatever reason.

Cruising over the Gobi Desert:



This is Ulan Bator:



Two hours after takeoff it was time to explore the audio/video on-demand IFE system. After three years in service the black navigation button on the handset was totally worn out and it was difficult to navigate.



First of all you had to choose between three languages:



The menu was structured well and it was quite easy to find the desired features. Almost 80 different movies and TV features were available, as well as 12 games and 12 audio channels.





Interesting features could be found in the "Services" submenu...



...including the Air China timetable:


I had never seen such an IFE feature before. However, I'm not sure how old the data was - the departure and arrival times indicated that it wasn't the winter 2009/2010 timetable.

The submenu "Meals / Drinks & Beverages" even contained some drink descriptions - but I don't know whether all these drinks were really available on the flight. Probably in Business Class? Anyway, some of the features in the "Services" submenu weren't working.



As usual, I watched the airshow most of the time:







3.5 hours later:



When drinks were offered prior to dinner I decided to try Air China's tea - which wasn't a good idea at all. I would describe it as pale yellow and tasteless hot water:



Some minutes later I had the choice between seafood and chicken and I ordered the latter:


The rice was good again, but the fatty sauce tasted terrible. The meat was ok, but covered with the awful sauce. I was hoping that the dessert would help my taste buds to recover, but the green tea pudding (?) tasted just...strange. What a disappointing meal!  thumbsdown 

Snowy Polish landscape:



We left our cruising altitude about 30 minutes prior to landing and after more than 9.5 hours in the air I was glad that I would able to leave that cabin soon. The major reason for that attitude was the permanent intensive coughing and sputtering in the rows around us. Some Chinese passengers were real experts on that subject...  Embarrassment
Btw - I wasn't amused either about the condition of the lavatories towards the end of the flight.

The Danube and the city of Straubing (at lower left):



Isar 1 and Isar 2 nuclear power plants near Landshut:



The city of Landshut:



Nice view of the Alps:



Final approach to runway 08L:





Lufthansa A320 ready for departure:



10 hours and 8 minutes after takeoff we touched down and taxied to our gate at Terminal 2...


...where we arrived 11 minutes behind schedule. After disembarking we were surprised to see two Bundespolizei officers (federal police, formerly known as border police) checking passports and IDs in the middle of the passage behind the jetway. It was a totally unorganized procedure and I wasn't sure about the purpose considering that all passengers had to pass the regular passport control counters anyway. After ten minutes we were able to continue to the counter area where about 200 passengers were lined up in two queues. Many Chinese passengers were waiting in the "EU citizens" line which was not surprising considering the small size of the signs - those are not easy to read. And the police didn't care about that, most likely due to a shortage of staff. So we had to spend another 15 minutes in line...welcome to Germany.  Yeah sure



Conclusion
After reading numerous negative comments and reports about Air China prior to the trip my expectations hadn't been very high. However, the flight was much better than expected. The cabin was clean and in relatively good shape, the seat was comfortable and the legroom was generous. Even though the IFE system cannot match many other carriers' systems, it's still sufficient for long flights. The catering was not bad in general, but it needs to be improved. Air China should also enhance its crew training because some flight attendants weren't friendly and didn't smile at all. Anyway, I wouldn't mind to fly on Air China’s PTV-equipped planes again (A330-200 and A330-300) as long as the fare is attractive. However, I would avoid tight connections at Beijing. Both the airport and the airline really have to make sure that transfer passengers don't have to wait an hour or even longer in various queues.

No doubts, the whole trip was a huge success from an enthusiast point of view. I flew on three new airlines and six new planes, including five widebody aircraft, and logged a total of 108 new registrations. I also thoroughly enjoyed the non-aviation parts of the journey - it's always a great pleasure to visit the Gulf States and South-East Asia. I can't wait to go again.


Best Regards,
PlaneHunter



P.S.: Just in case you missed them - other more or less recent reports:
Cancellation Brings Joy: HKG-PEK on Dragonair A330
A380 Cacophony, 777 Star Livery: DXB-SIN-HKG on SQ
The Next 5* Carrier? MUC-MCT-DXB, Oman Air A330
Turkey For 1.5 Hrs: Daytrip To AYT On Sky Airlines
CO Scores Again: ATL-IAH-EWR-FRA On ERJ, 752 & 764
Riding The Ultra Long-Haul Twin: Delta 777-200LR
Pacific Coast Jaunt: 3 Carriers, E120, E140 & Fog
The Ultimate 737: LHR-IAH-PDX On CO 777 & 739ER
Bye Bye, Hell! TRD-OSL-TXL-NUE - DY/AB/HE DH4
My Trip To Hell: NUE-CPH-OSL-TRD On Cimber & SAS
SFO-YUL-FRA: Map- & Sleepless On Air Canada's 77W
Sin City Gloss & Virgin America's Chic First Class
Seat Dilemma & Canyon Glamour: FRA To LAX, AC 763
On Par With Air France? DTW-AMS-MUC, KLM A330
Goodbye, Red Tails! DC-9-40/50 & Chicago Tour
Champagne & World Of Coke: Air France A340 To ATL
"Mission A380": Disappointing Legs On BA/BD/EI
Delights Of Doha, 773 & 77W: DOH-DXB-LHR On EK
A380 Really a Step Forward? LHR-DXB-DOH On EK
Quality & Style: HKG-LHR On Air New Zealand 744
Taiwan Trio: TransAsia, UNI Air And The Taipei 101
"The Wings Of Taiwan": EVA Air A332, 744 Combi
SHA-SZX, Shanghai 757: Delayed By The Military
PEK-SHA, China Eastern A330 & Shanghai At Night
Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330


[Edited 2010-05-29 03:12:58]


Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
45 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineAI151 From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2009, 303 posts, RR: 16
Reply 1, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 3 hours ago) and read 30526 times:

Hi PH, great ending to you're trip to the Middle East and Asia. I have to ask though out of all the airlines you travelled, which one was the best?...I have an inkling that it might be Oman Air?

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The Russian then started talking insistently to the older officer at the other counter. I heard the Russian mentioning the shoulder marks, so it seems he was hoping that the higher-ranking officer could help. The Russian repeatedly asked the older officer to call "his chief" - and after a few minutes the officer really took up the phone. Two minutes later a young, but high-ranking officer showed up, talked to the Russian and checked his documents. And what happened? Not even five minutes later the Russian was allowed to go to his gate!   So maybe his outrage had been absolutely justified? Who knows what went wrong. After a total waiting time of roughly 30 minutes we got our passports stamped and could continue to the security checkpoints.

Thus happened to my parents and I when I was 15 and we were coming back from Vienna of all places back to the UK. All British citizens and I was born in London as well but the security officer told us to go to 'Other Passports' when my Dad lost it and started shouting! Like what happened in you're TR, a senior official came and sorted it out as well as telling off his colleague and rightly so!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
I had never seen such an IFE feature before. However, I'm not sure how old the data was - the departure and arrival times indicated that it wasn't the winter 2009/2010 timetable.

The closest thing I've seen is the connecting gates information on SQ and CX but agreed never a timetable.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The major reason for that attitude was the permanent intensive coughing and sputtering in the rows around us.

Hope you didn't catch a cold or anything?

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
After disembarking we were surprised to see two Bundespolizei officers (federal police, formerly known as border police) checking passports and IDs in the middle of the passage behind the jetway. It was a totally unorganized procedure and I wasn't sure about the purpose considering that all passengers had to pass the regular passport control counters anyway.

I saw this happening at LHR when a flight from Colombia came in, they were checking if passengers had the right documentation as well as if the passports were genuine or not.

Sandeep (AI151)



Modern Vision. Timeless Traditions...
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6782 posts, RR: 77
Reply 2, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 3 hours ago) and read 30377 times:

Quoting AI151 (Reply 1):
Hi PH, great ending to you're trip to the Middle East and Asia.

Hi Sandeep, thanks for your comments!

Quoting AI151 (Reply 1):
I have to ask though out of all the airlines you travelled, which one was the best?...I have an inkling that it might be Oman Air?

That's a difficult question. Oman Air definitely belongs to the best long-haul carriers I have flown on - together with Air New Zealand, Emirates and Singapore Airlines. However, in my opinion, EK and SQ can only match WY if you get the latest cabin product.

Quoting AI151 (Reply 1):
Like what happened in you're TR, a senior official came and sorted it out as well as telling off his colleague and rightly so!

Bad to hear. It may be necessary to get loud sometimes, but it can also provoke even more trouble.

Quoting AI151 (Reply 1):
Hope you didn't catch a cold or anything?

No, definitely not. I guess some of these guys weren't really sick - probably just bad habits.


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineChrisCruise From Netherlands, joined May 2010, 109 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 3 hours ago) and read 30340 times:

Hi PH,

Very nice serie of reports covering your trip to Asia. It is unbelievable how such a large hub as Beijing is not able to handle passengers in a fluent way.

One of the things that irritates me most when travelling is the lack of willingness and conciousness with some airport/airline staff to assist travellers in reaching their destination or connecting flight. Luckily you made it!!

Adios,

Christian



Flown:319, 320, 321, 343, 388, 733, 738, 742, 744, 752, 763, 764, 772, 77W, CR7, CR9, DC9-31, E70, E90, F70, F100, MD11
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6782 posts, RR: 77
Reply 4, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 2 hours ago) and read 30236 times:

Quoting ChrisCruise (Reply 3):

Very nice serie of reports covering your trip to Asia.

Thanks, Christian!

Quoting ChrisCruise (Reply 3):
It is unbelievable how such a large hub as Beijing is not able to handle passengers in a fluent way.

Well, the new terminal is very capable, authorities and airlines should simply deploy more staff during rush hours.

Quoting ChrisCruise (Reply 3):
One of the things that irritates me most when travelling is the lack of willingness and conciousness with some airport/airline staff to assist travellers in reaching their destination or connecting flight. Luckily you made it!!

Yes, a lack of service orientation is always annoying.


PH

[Edited 2010-05-29 04:23:52]


Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineairbuseric From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 4268 posts, RR: 51
Reply 5, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week 2 hours ago) and read 30081 times:

Hi PH,

a very nice continuation of your recent travel reports. Good pics, nice writing. Completely agree with most of your findings.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Almost 80 minutes after joining the first queue we were able to enter the gate area - absolutely unacceptable for a major hub.

So true. CA should be really concerned about this, since they want to be a high-rated airline and as member of Star Alliance. Maybe it's acceptable for the 'average Chinese passenger', but definitely not for you or me. Although we can think about things like 'you are in China, so accept it', still flying CA would mean a faster and better service in my opinion. Here the airport/authority is to blame, but CA should use the customers' power to get improvements done.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
After disembarking we were surprised to see two Bundespolizei officers (federal police, formerly known as border police) checking passports and IDs in the middle of the passage behind the jetway.

Oh yeah, happened twice to me at MUC after coming in from AMS. Also, it happened at AMS also, same procedure as you described. The flights are randomly choosen. After a longhaul arriving in AMS, and your gate is E22, you can be almost sure to undergo such procedure btw.

Despite the not good looking meals, it seems CA A330's suit well for these long flights. Nice IFE, good legroom, and a window. That's all you need.

Regards,
Eric



"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6782 posts, RR: 77
Reply 6, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week ago) and read 29701 times:

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 5):
a very nice continuation of your recent travel reports. Good pics, nice writing. Completely agree with most of your findings.

Hi Eric, thanks for your feedback!

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 5):
CA should be really concerned about this, since they want to be a high-rated airline and as member of Star Alliance. Maybe it's acceptable for the 'average Chinese passenger', but definitely not for you or me.

Yes, international standards must be applied.

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 5):
Here the airport/authority is to blame, but CA should use the customers' power to get improvements done.

I can only agree.

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 5):
Oh yeah, happened twice to me at MUC after coming in from AMS.

Well, there's no general ID check when arriving from Schengen countries, so they may make random checks sometimes. But what's the purpose of these checks in the gate area if all passengers have to pass the control counters anyway?


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineakhmad From Netherlands, joined Sep 2005, 2461 posts, RR: 53
Reply 7, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week ago) and read 29589 times:

Hi PH,

Nice conclusion of your Middle Eastern and Asian round trip. Good to know you have had a better experience with CA in Y than Alex when he flew them on FRA-PEK. Did you buy a CA return ticket from HKG?

It surprises me that your transfer in PEK was such horrendous. Has PEK not been awarded by Skytrax recently for the best airport security processing? So what's the point to get an accolade on this one?

Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed it.

Cheers,
Suryo



Friends forever
User currently offlineba319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8536 posts, RR: 54
Reply 8, posted (4 years 3 months 1 week ago) and read 29546 times:
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Hi PH,

Nice final installment, a good read and nice pix, most welcome on this wet saturday afternoon.


Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
I had always been impressed by the new Terminal 3 at Beijing Capital Airport - until I had to change planes there

- Indeed is impressive. I've changed planes here too, from NRT to HKG, thankfully had no issues, perhaps down to the time of day.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
detail about the product and services offered in Economy Class on an Air China A330-200 flight from Beijing to Munich.

- Excellent, will be interesting reading.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
after a total waiting time of roughly 40 minutes, the unfriendly second agent handed out the boarding passes to us

- Yikes, too long especially if you want to log new planes!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
After a total waiting time of roughly 30 minutes we got our passports stamped and could continue to the security checkpoints

- Seems like this has been a real drama.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
it was time to explore the audio/video on-demand IFE system
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
including the Air China timetable:

- Now that is an interesting feature, like the idea.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
After disembarking we were surprised to see two Bundespolizei officers (federal police, formerly known as border police) checking passports and IDs in the middle of the passage behind the jetway. It was a totally unorganized procedure and I wasn't sure about the purpose considering that all passengers had to pass the regular passport control counters anyway

- I had the same experience when I flew Air China from ATH-CDG a few years back.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
No doubts, the whole trip was a huge success from an enthusiast point of view. I flew on three new airlines and six new planes, including five widebody aircraft, and logged a total of 108 new registrations. I also thoroughly enjoyed the non-aviation parts of the journey - it's always a great pleasure to visit the Gulf States and South-East Asia. I can't wait to go again.

- Indeed, sounds like it was a worthy trip! -Makes me want my next big trip to roll around quicker!

Cheers

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 offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6782 posts, RR: 77
Reply 9, posted (4 years 3 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 29500 times:

Quoting akhmad (Reply 7):
Nice conclusion of your Middle Eastern and Asian round trip.
Quoting akhmad (Reply 7):
Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed it.

Many thanks, Suryo!

Quoting akhmad (Reply 7):
Good to know you have had a better experience with CA in Y than Alex when he flew them on FRA-PEK.

Yes, I remember his report. He flew on a 744 with a worn interior and only basic IFE offerings. I would avoid those birds.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 7):
Did you buy a CA return ticket from HKG?

No, it was a one-way ticket.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 7):
Has PEK not been awarded by Skytrax recently for the best airport security processing? So what's the point to get an accolade on this one?

I don't know, I have to check that.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 8):
Nice final installment, a good read and nice pix, most welcome on this wet saturday afternoon.

Hi Mark, thanks a lot for your comments! The weather is better here, but I guess the rain will be back soon.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 8):
- Yikes, too long especially if you want to log new planes!

It wasn't amusing at all seeing various planes taxiing in the distance and not being able to log them...

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 8):
Seems like this has been a real drama.

Yes, that's an appropriate term.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 8):
Makes me want my next big trip to roll around quicker!

When is it planned?


PH

[Edited 2010-05-29 07:06:17]


Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineairpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 949 posts, RR: 26
Reply 10, posted (4 years 3 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 29486 times:

Hi PH

Fantastic conclusion to your trip. Thank you for this final installment - but sorry to hear about your clearly frustrating transfer through PEK Terminal 3. In the past, changing planes at Chinese airports had never been particularly enjoyable affairs but I thought that'll change somewhat after the spanking new terminal in Beijing. I'd heard of better experiences at PEK but from this TR, it does look like it's a bit of a hit-and-miss affair.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Finally, after a total waiting time of roughly 40 minutes, the unfriendly second agent handed out the boarding passes to us. At least the pre-reserved seats hadn't been changed...

Wow, the waiting time is really unacceptable - and considering you were close to the front of the queue, I can't imagine the wait for those at the back. I will bear that in mind should I decide to give the LH A380 a go later this year... I presume a 85 minute transit is a sure way of missing it  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Dozens of passengers were waiting in a long and unorganized queue in front of two passport control counters.

I didn't realize you had to clear passport control even on an international-to-international transfer. That's really not so great.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
the Air China interior is absolutely identical to the interior on Hainan Airlines' A330s - except for the colors, of course. The seats were very comfortable

It doesn't look so bad at all. I think I could consider my first flight on CA  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The major reason for that attitude was the permanent intensive coughing and sputtering in the rows around us. Some Chinese passengers were real experts on that subject..

Haha... you notice it more because you hadn't been travelling around China at all this round - otherwise I think there's a good chance you could be immune to it...

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
I also thoroughly enjoyed the non-aviation parts of the journey - it's always a great pleasure to visit the Gulf States and South-East Asia. I can't wait to go again.

Please do. Enjoyed the journey with you, including lots of the non-aviation parts. Thanks for sharing it all with us. Look forward to your next!

Cheers,
airpearl


User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6782 posts, RR: 77
Reply 11, posted (4 years 3 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 29359 times:

Quoting airpearl (Reply 10):
Fantastic conclusion to your trip. Thank you for this final installment

Thanks a lot, Airpearl! Good to hear you enjoyed it.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 10):
Wow, the waiting time is really unacceptable - and considering you were close to the front of the queue, I can't imagine the wait for those at the back.

I'm really wondering whether all these people were able to catch their connecting flights.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 10):
I will bear that in mind should I decide to give the LH A380 a go later this year... I presume a 85 minute transit is a sure way of missing it

Sounds like a great plan! But make sure you have enough time for the transfer.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 10):
I didn't realize you had to clear passport control even on an international-to-international transfer. That's really not so great.

Well, that's how it works in the US and Canada, too. I wasn't much surprised about that. However, I was surprised that only two officers were on duty.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 10):
Haha...you notice it more because you hadn't been travelling around China at all this round - otherwise I think there's a good chance you could be immune to it...

Yes, I have thought about that.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 10):
Please do. Enjoyed the journey with you, including lots of the non-aviation parts. Thanks for sharing it all with us. Look forward to your next!

The next reports will feature trips within Europe - haven't planned another long-haul trip yet. But I have numerous ideas...


PH

[Edited 2010-05-29 07:35:00]


Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineba319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8536 posts, RR: 54
Reply 12, posted (4 years 3 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 29250 times:
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PH,

Next Feb, MEX, BOG and a few airports in Brazil.

Rgds

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 offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6782 posts, RR: 77
Reply 13, posted (4 years 3 months 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 29212 times:

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 12):
Next Feb, MEX, BOG and a few airports in Brazil.

Sounds great. South America ranks high on my to-do-list. Many interesting sights, airports and airlines...


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineba319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8536 posts, RR: 54
Reply 14, posted (4 years 3 months 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 28982 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 12):
Next Feb, MEX, BOG and a few airports in Brazil.

Sounds great. South America ranks high on my to-do-list. Many interesting sights, airports and airlines...


PH

Indeed, think it's time to go now, Asia and the US have been travelled many times so figured it was a good time.

Cheers

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 offlineThe777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6558 posts, RR: 55
Reply 15, posted (4 years 3 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 28205 times:

Hi PlaneHunter!

Great conclusion to this great trip! Very nice pictures!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Almost 80 minutes after joining the first queue we were able to enter the gate area - absolutely unacceptable for a major hub

That's very bad. I think it depends a lot on which country passport people are holding. I know it's going to take a long time if I get stuck behind people from Africa for example......

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
I ordered a Chinese beer and was glad that Air China did have a local brand. It tasted quite good:

I also usually try to order the local beer although lately, I haven't been able to do that due to my liquid restrictions.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Another round of drinks was served while we were eating, another round followed shortly after lunch

Always great when they come around with drinks several times rathar than just with the meal.

Air China looks pretty good; my flight with them was PEK-HKG so much shorter but I had a nice flight when I went. Not much for IFE on their 777s in those days,; just overhead monitors.

Looking forward to your next report from your next trip!

The777Man



Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....CI, MU, LX and LH 777s
User currently offline767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1935 posts, RR: 24
Reply 16, posted (4 years 3 months 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 27379 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Planehunter,

Thanks for sharing this report on your flight back to MUC on Air China. I have heard mixed reviews on this airline, but its nice to see a rather positive report on them. They don't look too bad! I always enjoy seeing their 747-400 if I'm passing through JFK.

767747


User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6782 posts, RR: 77
Reply 17, posted (4 years 3 months 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 27034 times:

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 14):
Indeed, think it's time to go now, Asia and the US have been travelled many times so figured it was a good time.

Yes, I feel the same about the US. But there's still enough to see in Asia...

Quoting The777Man (Reply 15):
Great conclusion to this great trip! Very nice pictures!

Hi Lars, thanks for your comments!

Quoting The777Man (Reply 15):
Always great when they come around with drinks several times rathar than just with the meal.

On some carriers the drink service even follows quite late after the meal distribution - that has happened several times on Emirates.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 15):
Air China looks pretty good; my flight with them was PEK-HKG so much shorter but I had a nice flight when I went. Not much for IFE on their 777s in those days,; just overhead monitors.

I'm wondering whether they are planning to refurbish the 772 cabins and to install PTVs. When did you take that flight? Did they serve a hot meal?

Quoting 767747 (Reply 16):
Thanks for sharing this report on your flight back to MUC on Air China.

Hi Matthew, good to hear you enjoyed it.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 16):
I have heard mixed reviews on this airline, but its nice to see a rather positive report on them. They don't look too bad!

Well, it really depends on the aircraft type. I would avoid CA's 744s on long flights.


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineThe777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6558 posts, RR: 55
Reply 18, posted (4 years 3 months 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 26879 times:

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 17):
When did you take that flight? Did they serve a hot mea

I flew CA on 12Jun01. Yes, a hot meal was served and the flight was uneventful. Flight time to HKG is not that long so a nice short flight with a meal. I remember talking to a person next to me who had switched from KA just to get a hot meal.

Flight was in the afternoon from PEK arriving HKG around 7pm or so.

No Ginger Ale for you on CA, , PlaneHunter ? 

The777Man



Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....CI, MU, LX and LH 777s
User currently offlineB747forever From Sweden, joined May 2007, 17066 posts, RR: 10
Reply 19, posted (4 years 3 months 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 26812 times:

Great TR!

Sorry to hear about your bad experience in PEK. Didnt sound pleasant at all.

CA seems to be okay but the thing that impressed me is that they serve 2 full hot meals. It is a lot more than what BA gives on their long haul flights.



Thank you for sharing

B747forever



Work Hard, Fly Right
User currently offlineoa260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 26957 posts, RR: 58
Reply 20, posted (4 years 3 months 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 25877 times:

Hi great conclusion,
Nice pics and read. I remember the seats from my A330 flight with them. Shame the food was not to your liking , that green thing did look odd  

Thanks for the report

OA260


User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6782 posts, RR: 77
Reply 21, posted (4 years 3 months 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 25807 times:

Quoting The777Man (Reply 18):
I remember talking to a person next to me who had switched from KA just to get a hot meal.

Interesting, I'm wondering what KA serves in these afternoon flights now.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 18):
No Ginger Ale for you on CA, , PlaneHunter ?

The Chinese beer was a good alternative. It's not as easy to find as ginger ale.  
Quoting B747forever (Reply 19):
Great TR!

Thanks, Gabriel!

Quoting B747forever (Reply 19):
CA seems to be okay but the thing that impressed me is that they serve 2 full hot meals. It is a lot more than what BA gives on their long haul flights.

Yes, it's not necessarily common to get two hot meals.

Quoting oa260 (Reply 20):
Hi great conclusion,
Nice pics and read.

Hi Phil, thanks for your comments!

Quoting oa260 (Reply 20):
I remember the seats from my A330 flight with them.

Yes, I remember your report. You had a much better seat in the front cabin...

Quoting oa260 (Reply 20):
Shame the food was not to your liking, that green thing did look odd

Well, the red sauce wasn't any better.  


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 31
Reply 22, posted (4 years 3 months 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 25744 times:

Hi PH,

Nice conclusion on your trip. That PEK transfer definitely sounds like a very frustrating experience. I wonder why there were so few agents on duty to allow a single problematic pax to clog everything - it's not like labor in China is particularly expensive! Not world class by any means.

I transferred in PEK between a domestic and Finnair international flight back in 2006, in the old terminal of course. It was far smoother, but then again when arriving you ended up in the main check in hall anyway and joined the regular passenger flow. On the way back I had an overnight at the airport so no problems there either.

I'm also wondering about the passport control part - HKG is considered an international destination in China - as they have different visa requirements etc.

Still, the CA ride looked okayish, apart from the dodgy-looking food.


User currently offlineContact Air From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 1154 posts, RR: 13
Reply 23, posted (4 years 3 months 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 25577 times:

Hi PH,

Great report and fantastic pictures once again - it was interesting to read about the final part of your trip to Asia.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Almost 80 minutes after joining the first queue we were able to enter the gate area - absolutely unacceptable for a major hub.

I agree - Beijing Airport authorities as well as Air China should make sure that connecting passengers can pass through their hub quickly and efficiently.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
This is Ulan Bator

Great picture.

Regards
Christoph


User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6782 posts, RR: 77
Reply 24, posted (4 years 3 months 2 days ago) and read 24404 times:

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 22):
Nice conclusion on your trip.

Hi FlyingFinn, good to hear you liked it.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 22):
I wonder why there were so few agents on duty to allow a single problematic pax to clog everything - it's not like labor in China is particularly expensive!

Yes, that's exactly what I thought, too.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 22):
I'm also wondering about the passport control part - HKG is considered an international destination in China - as they have different visa requirements etc.

It seems all transit passengers from international destinations had to pass these counters.

Quoting Contact Air (Reply 23):
Great report and fantastic pictures once again - it was interesting to read about the final part of your trip to Asia.

Hi Christoph, many thanks for your feedback!


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
25 Reifel : Thank you for this nice report. It's not that common to see Air China longhaul reports here, and it seemed to be a quite ok flight. Your experience in
26 FLIEGER67 : Hi, PH, well done, a perfect conclusion of you´re latest series. Well written and surrounded by nice pictures. What a bad experience around you´re t
27 Post contains images oa260 : Yeah I liked their product , IIRC you didnt like the colours
28 Post contains images PlaneHunter : Thanks for your feedback, Reifel. Well, probably we would have received the onward boarding pass at HKG if we hadn't been rebooked to Dragonair's HKG
29 iahredhead : Dear Plane Hunter, I felt your pain reading about the long lines at the international transfer desk. Great pic of UB! I lived there for a year a while
30 Post contains images ronerone : Hi PH! Congratulations on delivering another excellent documentation. Your attention to the right details we like to know about is superb! I was parti
31 NZ107 : Hi PH, Another excellent report, great finish to another series. I can't wait to get back to writing my ones! It's great getting an overview of heaps
32 Post contains images abrelosojos : PH, I have seen similar scenes at PEK myself and think the training to the front-line immigration staff is lacking. The Russian was probably justified
33 mdavies06 : Hi PH, Thanks for the interesting trip report. The part about passport control is unreasonable - what is the need for one I wonder ? If you fly with s
34 Post contains images SurfandSnow : LOL! Here I expected the experience at PEK's new terminal to be nothing short of incredible and the Air China in-flight experience as horrendous. Clea
35 iahredhead : I can't imagine they really designed Terminal 3 to be a big international-to-international transfer point. While it is a glistening new building, the
36 PlaneHunter : Hi Scott, thanks for your feedback! So I guess you wouldn't recommend UB for a visit? Thanks for the info! Hi Roni, thanks a lot for your kind words,
37 NZ107 : If they can summon a million people to clean up the streets of Beijing after a snowstorm.. Who knows why they can't just put a few more officers on.
38 PlaneHunter : Yes, good point! PH
39 Post contains images sultanils : Hey PH, I quickly read back this report. A lot of resemblance here with the flight I took on the A333 from BCN to VIE but also it seems as if time has
40 PlaneHunter : Hi Nils, thanks for your comments on that older report. Yes, times have changed, but the product wasn't too bad back then. PH
41 rwsea : My understanding is that the purpose is to ensure that passengers disembark with a passport and can prove their identity. Often times in cases where
42 mdavies06 : Hi PlaneHunter, it is quite amusing isn't it to sometime see own's TR resurface after years. Thank you for such a wonderful and interesting TR. Connec
43 PlaneHunter : Yes, that makes sense. Hi mdavies06, thanks for your comments! Good to hear you enjoyed it. Yes, quite surprising to see older reports showing up aga
44 okapi : Hi PlaneHunter. Nice read! Air China is not that bad if...the price is low enough. I'm not sure I'd fancy a transit through PEK after reading of your
45 PlaneHunter : Thanks, okapi! Some years have passed, but I don't think things have improved. IST has certainly become an airport to avoid at certain times. I can o
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