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China Spring Airlines: 9C8901 OCT/10 SHA – MIG Y C  
User currently offlineCoal From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 1943 posts, RR: 9
Posted (3 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 12539 times:

Airline: China Spring Airlines
Flight: 9C 8901
Equip: Airbus A320
Sector: SHA (Shanghai Hongqiao) – MIG (Mianyang Nanjiao)
Cabin: Economy
Seat: 15D
Dep (Act): 7:10pm (7:00pm)
Arr (Act): 9:45pm (9:55pm)

Background

I had promised my parents in law that I would visit them some time in October, in their hometown of Mianyang, in Sichuan province, when work was not so busy and the weather was not so hot. I told them I would go the last weekend of October and they ended up making a booking for me on Spring Airlines (technically Spring Autumn Airlines, in Mandarin), probably China's biggest LCC.

I left the office at 5pm and it took me about 30mins to get to Shanghai's Hongqiao airport. Spring Airlines operate from the old Terminal 1, which is also used by NH and JL to HND and OZ and KE to GMP. The terminal is quite old and other than the toilets, a bookstore, and a convenience store, there are basically no facilities.

I apologize for the low quality pics as they were taken with my iPhone.

Pics


(Outside Shanghai Hongqiao's T1)


(Entrance to domestic check-in at T1)

Check-In

I had to wait in a crowd rather than a line for about 15 mins and then I was checked in. I wanted to bring my small roll-aboard onboard, but the check in lady said it was too big, despite the fact that I've brought this particular suitcase onboard CA, MU, and FM. I got a flimsy boarding pass and then went past security to the gate.

Pics


(Domestic check-in area)


(Spring Airlines check-in desk)

Airside

There are currently 3 gates in use at Terminal 1 at SHA for domestic flights, B6, B7, and B8. These gates are on the ground floor, so all transportation is by bus to the airplane. The jetways seem to be used only for int'l flights going to the smaller airports at Tokyo and Seoul. There is a large, common waiting area with seats and one store selling Chinese snacks. I waited here for about an hour and at 6:39pm, without prior announcements, a crowd - no, a mob - started to gather next to the gate. There were two lines. One for those seated in the front of the aircraft and one for those seated in the back. All boarding announcements were made in Chinese but not in English. Those people seated between rows 1 to 10 or 12 took the first bus and the rest of us took the second bus, which seemed odd since we used the front stairs.

Pics


(Common waiting area)


(SHA's 3 domestic gates at T1, all on the ground floor)


(A bit of chaos during the boarding call)

Boarding

It was a 100m bus ride to the aircraft, which was parked alone at one of the remote stands. China Spring Airlines seems very creative at cutting costs - in my mind - as the remote stand didn't even have any flood lighting. The remote stands at SHA T2 do have it, so I can only assume that they pay the airport lower fees by parking where there is no lighting? It made for a potentially-dangerous trip up the stairs.

As usual an agent was checking the boarding passes at the bottom of the stairs, aided by the light coming from his cellphone, given the lack of other lighting. Once on board I noticed how tightly packed the seats were. I was seated a few rows behind the emergency exit. Although it had slightly more space, I knew the seats wouldn't recline. Once I got to my seat, I noticed the seat pitch was the smallest I've ever experienced! And I'm not very tall, at 5'8" (or about 173cms). I thought that I would probably have to tell the person in front of me not to recline their seat. Then I noticed a sign on all seats stating that they were an "unreclineable seat."

Pics


(A320 to MIG. The lighting in the pic came from other people taking photos of the plane, of which there were many! Unfortunately I think I was the only a.netter among them)


(Boarding. Notice how dark the ramp in this area is)


(Very cramped seating)


(Super tight legroom - if you can call it legroom)


(This was a blessing rather than an inconvenience)

Take-Off

One of the highlights of the trip (if not the only one!) was that we pushed back ahead of schedule, at 7pm. By now I've been on 30 - 40 domestic flights this year, each with an average delay of two hours, if not longer (the longest was 5 hours), so it was good to be on our way on time. We had a long taxi of nearly 10 mins and after that we were in the air.

In Flight

The cabin lights were turned off but the heat was turned on! It got really hot inside the cabin and the personal air ducts didn't work quite well. The F/A came on the PA saying the temperature would be kept at 26, which didn't seem too high in theory but it did get very hot and very uncomfortable. I should also note that I was - of course - the only foreigner on the plane and I assume that as such, only one announcement was made in English, and it was really brief (remember the scene in Lost in Translation in which the director is giving instructions to Bill Murray for about 10 mins and the translator just translates one or two words in English?).

Once we reached cruising altitude the lights came back on and the F/As came from seat to seat asking people if they wanted to buy something to eat or drink. They didn't bother asking me probably assuming I couldn't speak Chinese, but when they came around with the cart I stopped them and bought a bottle of juice and some tomato flavored crackers, which were so nice I bought a second pack. Only when the F/As realized I could speak Chinese did they come to me to tell me I had to switch off my iPhone. As usual I first explained it was in flight mode, but of course they didn't care, so then I told one of them it was an iPod and I just dismissed them. But then another F/A came around telling me I had to guan nide shouji (turn off your cellphone), so I just hit the sleep button and pretended like I wasn't listening to music anymore. I found that interesting considering on CZ they never ask you to turn off your MP3 player or take off your headphones during taxi, takeoff, or landing.

About an hour into the flight, the relatively quiet cabin turned into a night bazaar! Two F/As were manning a cart full of items people could buy on board, which surprisingly were a not-so-shabby looking A320 model of the airplane as well as smaller models of an A380 and a 747 (not a -400). Other random items included an MP3 watch, a blanket, a bib, etc. One of the F/As who was not manning the cart got on the PA and proceeded to list every single item available for purchase with a very detailed description including size, color, price, and of course how good of a souvenir it would make for the folks back home who didn't have the pleasure of flying on China Spring Airlines. This went on for about an hour if not slightly longer. I was so thankful I brought my Bose QC15s on board!

Pics


(The calm before the storm. A few minutes later this became a night bazaar!)


(My meal and the IFE - The Economist)

Landing

After about two hours in flight we started our descent, and since this was my first time into MIG, I wasn't very sure onto which runway we landed or from which direction. The airport in Mianyang is small and although it was built in 2001, it has gone through some renovations it looks relatively new.

Pics


(MIG also has a few jetways, but it seems most of the activity at the airport takes place on the ground floor anyway)

Baggage Claim

Pics


(Baggage claim)

Conclusion

I wish I knew how much my parents in law paid for the ticket, although in the past I have tried to look up fares on china-sss.com (Spring Airlines' website) in English and it's nearly impossible to do so. When I tried on the Chinese website (a challenge as I am very limited on how many characters I can read) I looked up fares to Xi'an (I think) and they were not too different from the mainly carriers (CA, CZ, MU, etc). They are probably closer to FR than they are to B6, as they are very cramped, there is no IFE and no free food or drinks, although they didn't charge for extras such as checked in baggage. However, I doubt I will be flying 9C again in the future on personal trips (they're not an authorized carrier by the company I work for).

As always, comments are appreciated!

I'll be taking a break from flying domestically in China, so expect the following reports in the next few weeks:

CA PVG-MEL/SYD-PVG in C
QF SYD-DRW-SYD in C
BF DRW-GTE-DRW in Y

Cheers
Coal


Nxt Flts: SQ HKG-SIN | VF SIN-DPS | SQ DPS-SIN-SYD
13 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineakhmad From Netherlands, joined Sep 2005, 2429 posts, RR: 53
Reply 1, posted (3 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 12138 times:

Hi Coal,

Thanks for the insight review of this particular Chinese LCC.

Well, I would have expected that the cabin attendants would treat you better after knowing your Chinese language skills. But it did not seem to turn out to your advantage.

Thanks again and looking forward to your Down Under trip reports.

Cheers,
Suryo



Friends forever
User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2472 posts, RR: 15
Reply 2, posted (3 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 12058 times:

Nice trip report of an (pre reading this report) unknown carrier. Pitch seems super tight, even my US flight back in February looks spacious compared to this one.


Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlineBA319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8426 posts, RR: 55
Reply 3, posted (3 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 11980 times:
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Hi Coal,

Interesting report, thanks for sharing, I think this could well be the 1st TR on this airline?

Quoting Coal (Thread starter):
As usual an agent was checking the boarding passes at the bottom of the stairs, aided by the light coming from his cellphone, given the lack of other lighting

- You think they would be given a torch!

Quoting Coal (Thread starter):
I noticed a sign on all seats stating that they were an "unreclineable seat."

- I guess that's a plus then.

Quoting Coal (Thread starter):
Boarding. Notice how dark the ramp in this area is

- I've never boarded on such a dark ramp, quite amazing.

Quoting Coal (Thread starter):
I've been on 30 - 40 domestic flights this year, each with an average delay of two hours, if not longer (the longest was 5 hours

- Really, is this now the norm then?

Quoting Coal (Thread starter):
About an hour into the flight, the relatively quiet cabin turned into a night bazaar! Two F/As were manning a cart full of items people could buy on board, which surprisingly were a not-so-shabby looking A320 model of the airplane as well as smaller models of an A380 and a 747 (not a -400). Other random items included an MP3 watch, a blanket, a bib, etc. One of the F/As who was not manning the cart got on the PA and proceeded to list every single item available for purchase with a very detailed description including size, color, price, and of course how good of a souvenir it would make for the folks back home who didn't have the pleasure of flying on China Spring Airlines. This went on for about an hour if not slightly longer. I was so thankful I brought my Bose QC15s on board!

- Wow, never heard of anything like this, quite amazing for sure!

Looking forward to the next TR.

Cheers

Mark



111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333,342
User currently offlineCoal From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 1943 posts, RR: 9
Reply 4, posted (3 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 11319 times:

Quoting akhmad (Reply 1):
Thanks for the insight review of this particular Chinese LCC.

Well, I would have expected that the cabin attendants would treat you better after knowing your Chinese language skills. But it did not seem to turn out to your advantage.

Thanks again and looking forward to your Down Under trip reports.

Thanks for the comments! Well, to be honest I think I would be treated worse if people know I can understand Chinese. If not, they just wouldn't have the tools to do so   

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 2):
Nice trip report of an (pre reading this report) unknown carrier. Pitch seems super tight, even my US flight back in February looks spacious compared to this one.

Thanks, definitely one of the more obscure carriers we know around here. Pitch was super tight, I actually had to get up and walk a lot during the flight as my legs were very painful.

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 3):
Really, is this now the norm then?

Thanks for your comments Mark. It was during the summer. Every flight was at least 1.5 hours delayed "due to traffic control." On occasion the delay went on for about 3 hours due to traffic and weather delays, and on two occasions up to 5 hours due to mx.

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 3):
Wow, never heard of anything like this, quite amazing for sure!

They really know how to make money! What was more amazing was how many people actually bought some of that junk!

Cheers
Coal



Nxt Flts: SQ HKG-SIN | VF SIN-DPS | SQ DPS-SIN-SYD
User currently offlinebeowulf From Singapore, joined Jul 2003, 730 posts, RR: 14
Reply 5, posted (3 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 10819 times:

Hey,

Interesting report. A friend of mine, who also lives in Shanghai, used this airline all the time. Now I know at least how it looks like inside.  
Quoting Coal (Thread starter):
Bose QC15s on board!

But they help little against the chatter, don't they.

Quoting Coal (Thread starter):
(My meal and the IFE - The Economist)

Yep, "The Economist" is the best IFE.  


User currently offlineEddieDude From Mexico, joined Nov 2003, 7523 posts, RR: 43
Reply 6, posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 10192 times:

Quoting Coal (Thread starter):
I apologize for the low quality pics as they were taken with my iPhone.

Unacceptable. Do us a favor and next time only post high resolution pictures taken with a wide angle lense, will ya?

   Okay, before I get attacked and reported, I am kidding. Coal and I are friends hehe. Coal, I am happy to see you have resumed your very nice habit of posting TRs; thanks for taking the pics and for taking the time to write the report man... some of the most enjoyable (and at times controversial) TRs come from Coal, and they are always a delight to read.

Quoting Coal (Thread starter):
temperature would be kept at 26,

Man, that is really terrible. I mean, as if the tight legroom and the "unreclineability" of the seat were not enough!

Quoting Coal (Thread starter):
the relatively quiet cabin turned into a night bazaar! Two F/As were manning a cart full of items people could buy on board, which surprisingly were a not-so-shabby looking A320 model of the airplane as well as smaller models of an A380 and a 747 (not a -400). Other random items included an MP3 watch, a blanket, a bib, etc. One of the F/As who was not manning the cart got on the PA and proceeded to list every single item available for purchase with a very detailed description including size, color, price, and of course how good of a souvenir it would make for the folks back home who didn't have the pleasure of flying on China Spring Airlines. This went on for about an hour if not slightly longer.

Lol. What's next? Passengers being picked randomly to play a 33,000 ft. variation of The Price is Right on the aisle?

Btw, where's the pic of your Spring Airlines bib?



Next flights: MEX-GRU (AM 77E), GRU-GIG (JJ A320), SDU-CGH (G3 73H), GRU-MEX (JJ A332).
User currently offlinePalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1194 posts, RR: 17
Reply 7, posted (3 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 9948 times:

Hi Coal - thanks for your report. Looks like an interesting experience - not sure whether I'd fly with them as I am just over 6ft tall so the seat would feel very cramped.

I didn't realise that so many domestic flights are delayed. I was planning a trip next year to China and do some domestic flying - but looks like I might have to factor in large delays, otherwise I will end up missing all my connections!

Likewise, I learnt Mandarin and lived in Taiwan for a period. Always used to amuse me when Chinese speakers would comment on stuff, not knowing that I could understand what they were saying. It still happens today in London, esp when I am on the Tube!!!! I've been asked for directions in Central London by tourists, and when I've discovered they are Mandarin speakers, I've just switched to Mandarin to explain how to get somewhere.

They usually just about fall over with amazement - but it usually works out well, and I like to do my bit for promoting London to visitors. We're a much friendlier and helpful bunch here than we get credit for !

Cheers and thanks again. P/jet



Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlineMEA-707 From Netherlands, joined Nov 1999, 4264 posts, RR: 34
Reply 8, posted (3 years 5 months 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 9337 times:

the 1960s or bus style seat covers are interesting, I didn't see these for a while on a plane.


nobody has ever died from hard work, but why take the risk?
User currently offlineCoal From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 1943 posts, RR: 9
Reply 9, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 8718 times:

Quoting EddieDude (Reply 6):
Man, that is really terrible. I mean, as if the tight legroom and the "unreclineability" of the seat were not enough!

I was getting very antsy!

Quoting Palmjet (Reply 7):
Looks like an interesting experience - not sure whether I'd fly with them as I am just over 6ft tall so the seat would feel very cramped.

   It is quite uncomfortable

Quoting Palmjet (Reply 7):
I didn't realise that so many domestic flights are delayed. I was planning a trip next year to China and do some domestic flying - but looks like I might have to factor in large delays, otherwise I will end up missing all my connections!

Yes. I think some of it had a lot to do with the expo (considering all my flights originate and end in SHA or PVG). But even now after the expo, I find that a 1 hour delay is about the norm.

Quoting Palmjet (Reply 7):
They usually just about fall over with amazement - but it usually works out well, and I like to do my bit for promoting London to visitors. We're a much friendlier and helpful bunch here than we get credit for !

 
Quoting MEA-707 (Reply 8):
the 1960s or bus style seat covers are interesting, I didn't see these for a while on a plane.

These are pretty decent looking. The ones on MU or CZ are the underwear (tighty whities) type, usually with some bank or food company advertising on them.

Cheers
Coal



Nxt Flts: SQ HKG-SIN | VF SIN-DPS | SQ DPS-SIN-SYD
User currently offlineORDnHKG From United States of America, joined Jul 2009, 191 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (3 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 8643 times:

Quoting Coal (Thread starter):
China Spring Airlines seems very creative at cutting costs - in my mind - as the remote stand didn't even have any flood lighting. The remote stands at SHA T2 do have it, so I can only assume that they pay the airport lower fees by parking where there is no lighting? It made for a potentially-dangerous trip up the stairs.

I agree, and it seems like they should promote flying with them probably has to be "fit and healthy with no eye sight problems". I can't imagine what happen when it rain or snow then.

Quoting Coal (Thread starter):
As usual an agent was checking the boarding passes at the bottom of the stairs, aided by the light coming from his cellphone, given the lack of other lighting.

Was the person checking boarding pass is actually a FA on board as well ? They would save them even more money !


User currently offlineCoal From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 1943 posts, RR: 9
Reply 11, posted (3 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 8304 times:

Quoting ORDnHKG (Reply 10):
I agree, and it seems like they should promote flying with them probably has to be "fit and healthy with no eye sight problems". I can't imagine what happen when it rain or snow then.

   This would be an issue with elders

Quoting ORDnHKG (Reply 10):
Was the person checking boarding pass is actually a FA on board as well ? They would save them even more money !

No, they were ground staff. There is a tipping point between saving money and running a bureaucracy that employs 1.5 billion people.

Cheers
Coal



Nxt Flts: SQ HKG-SIN | VF SIN-DPS | SQ DPS-SIN-SYD
User currently offlineMD11A340 From China, joined Jan 2007, 24 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (3 years 4 months 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 7671 times:

Publish rate are CNY1530.00 (EUR 170.00), but normally you get 60-70% discount or even 80%

User currently offlineCoal From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 1943 posts, RR: 9
Reply 13, posted (3 years 3 months 4 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 7241 times:

You mean if you book online? I noticed for 9C and FM, they have different pricing on the Chinese website vs. the website for laowai.

Cheers
Coal



Nxt Flts: SQ HKG-SIN | VF SIN-DPS | SQ DPS-SIN-SYD
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