Docpepz From Singapore, joined May 2001, 1971 posts, RR: 3 Posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 10932 times:
I was apprehensive about taking China Eastern. Singapore Airlines cost $1200 to Shanghai, while Malaysia Airlines and Thai cost around $780, with a stop in KUL and BKK respectively.
Also, it would be an Airbus A320. For a 5h15 min flight, that must be the LONGEST flight in the world operated by an A320. And I wasn't entirely comfortable with sitting in such a small plane for such a long time.
Of course it'd be dumb to pay $1200 for SQ, so I really didn't mind MH. However my aunt didn't want to stop in KUL and preferred a direct flight. So I agreed to taking China Eastern.
Flight MU568 was due to depart at 1445 on November 22. Arrived at Changi Airport's Terminal One at 12.45 and proceeded to row one for check in. They now X ray everyone's bags before checkin; it's the first time I saw that happen.
The queue wasn't too long and we were attended to by a SATS staff, obviously a Chinese national from her not-so-fluent-english and accent, albeit pleasant. I did notice an Indian (Singaporean) checkin agent next to us who was a bit "pompous" with some Chinese nationals who obviously did not speak English. One of the passengers was asking why there was a "Miss" next to her name. And the checkin agent went "Oh that's a title we put next to your name, so don't worry about it."
We got our boarding passes and headed to the restricted area which wasn't crowded at this time of the day. Went to a camera shop to get some batteries and film, and noticed the captain of my flight buying some film too. He looked like a pretty young chap, (chinese national) and had obviously done a lot of duty-free shopping, judging from the number of Martell bottles he was carrying.
Half an hour before the flight was due to depart we headed to the boarding gate. At the departure lounge, announcements were made in Chinese then English. The English announcements were made by a Chinese national and it was barely comprehensible. I cannot understand WHY they had to use a Chinese national for this as there are so many Singaporeans who speak good English and would have been more suited for the job. Anyhow, I understand Chinese and did take it as a second language in school.
We boarded the aircraft but there was no one at the entrance of the plane to greet us. No one to show us to our seats. No one. Cabin crew were standing around various parts of the plane but they were basically stoning there and not doing much, or walking up and down and looking busy but ultimately doing nothing.
Got to our seats 17A, B and C. At the headrests there are these paper 'flaps' that hang down the back of the seat, advertiseing some product:
"Bodiseng, Number one sales in China from 1995 to 2001". That's all it said. No indication of what Bodiseng was or did or what we could use it for. But it was hanging down the front of everyone's seats.
All doors were closed 10 minutes before our scheduled departure time and that was great. Never expected our plane to leave on time, let alone early.
The safety video was screened.... and it was a cartoon! Looked pretty cheap too, and very tacky. Needless to say, it was in Chinese.
Nothing in English though, so I guess non chinese speaking passengers were not worthy of knowing the safety procedures (not that anyone cares) As we approached runway 20L, the safety video came on again, this time in English. Even then, the English sounded weird, in a weird accent.
However, this audio-visual delight came to an abrupt end, just as they were teaching us how to fasten our seatbelts, since we were already lined up for takeoff. So the system was switched off.
We took off into Singapore airspace and had a splendid view of the sublimely perfect island nation of Singapore, albeit not on the world's finest airline-Singapore Airlines Limited (sorry, Tony! )
I admired the skyline of Singapore before we made a near 180 degree turn to head north towards Shanghai. Till this stage, the pilot never said a word on the PA system.
10 minutes later, the seatbelt sign was switched off. A female member of the cabin crew came on the PA system and said, in Chinese, that our plane would be departing Singapore for Shanghai, passing through Singaporean, Malaysian and Chinese airspace. Over China, we would be passing Hong Kong, Guangzhou, (other chinese cities I had never heard of in my life) then Shanghai. We would be arriving in Shanghai at 1945, Beijing time. I don't know why they couldn't say "Shanghai time" but I guess Beijing is the centre of the middle kingdom and should be the point of reference for the whole of China. A meal would be served at 1730 Beijing time.
She then spoke in barely comprehensible English which went something along the lines of "We'll be passing through Singapore, Malaysia and China and will arrive in Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 1945" So non Chinese speakers were deprived of the details of the exotic Chinese cities they would be flying through.
Soon after, there was the bar service and we were given peanuts and drinks. There was wine-but just one brand of Chinese wine called "Dynasty brand."
It was now 1500 but no meal would be served till 1730. I asked in English if they had any tidbits or sandwiches. No response. So I asked in Chinese. She went "NO". So I asked if they had a drink and she came back with Coke.
So we had to sit there and starve for another 2.5 hours before a meal was served. I had NOT had lunch!
There was a bilingual inflight magazine, but the English bits were mostly in bad English.
The inflight entertainment came on. First it was some Chinese MTVs. Occasionally we would get English subtitles but the translations were not all the accurate, and were grammatically wrong.
There was a movie feature, some 3rd grade Hollywood flick. It was mostly explosions and fighting, so the need to understand English was hardly necessary to know what was going on. I gave up on the inflight entertainment, bitched to my mum about not having Krisworld, and continued reading my Tom Clancy novel. (Red Rabbit is a HORRID book. do NOT buy it!)
Time ticked by very slowly.... but 1730 finally came and the meal service started. The choice was "Chicken with rice or fish with noodles." But by the time it got to us in the middle of the plane they only had "Chicken with rice" left.
The food was yucky but edible and considering how hungry i was I scrapped every bit of rice from the dish. Cutlery was cheap plastic and the dishes were made of disposible, flimsy aluminium. The sun was now starting to set.
There was only about 1.5 hours after the meal before we landed and that was pretty uneventful. Prior to landing, the same female member of the cabin crew told us that in Chinese that we would be landing in Shanghai Pudong international airport and asked us to return to our seats to fastern our seat belts.
Then came the English bit. 'Ladies and Gerwerwer-men, werrrrrrnow going to take off." Pause. Followed by laughter from all the Singaporeans on board. The pause still continued. Then one Singaporean guy shouted "LAND!!!!" Obviously that was loud enough for the whole A320 to hear. Followed by laughter, again, from the Singaporeans on board. Yes that was mean.
".....land, please return to your seat etc etc etc"
Obviously their cabin crew don't speak any English and just read off the page. Just so happened this time round she was reading off the wrong page.
We made a smooth landing and the usual welcome announcements were made. In English, we were "thanked for our support and cooperation" which was a literal translation from Chinese. When you do literal translations from Chinese, things sound weird, and this is evident throughout China! (And it gets hilarious at times)
Saw a Dragonair A330 which just arrived from HKG and UA and NW 744s. All the aerobridges were used and we had to park in a remote bay and take a bus to the terminal. It seems all the planes at the remote bay were Chinese airlines, while foreign airlines got the aerobridges. Perhaps they want to make their foreign guests feel better!
It felt great to be out of that cramped A320 after 5 h 15 mins. The seat pitch was horrible! We then headed for the terminal which looked quite nice, but not warm. Architecturally it was great, but there wasn't enough greenery around.
Anyhow, that's my trip on China Eastern! It's by means NO SIA but since it was nearly half the price of SIA, I guess I couldn't really expect much!
China Eastern should:
1)Remove those cheap ads from the back of their seats.
2)Improve their English. Since they're an international airline their crew should have a reasonable command of English
3)Improve their inflight magazine. It should be outsourced to media company that could edit the english content of the magzine.
4)Stock tidbits on their flights. I can't believe they had NOTHING on board except for the meals!
5)Give a larger portion of food.
Will I take them again? I guess since they're the only airline besides SQ that offers direct flights to Shanghai, I might. They weren't that bad. It's just that I usually use SQ as a benchmark when I travel on other full-service airlines and more often than not I'm dissapointed at the end of my trip!
(Ryanair you might want to know that when I used SQ as a benchmark on my MH KUL-SIN flight I wasn't dissapointed!)
Hkgspotter1 if you read this, you did mention you took China Eastern in the beginning of the year. How did you find it?
Ryanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4771 posts, RR: 24
Reply 2, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 2 days ago) and read 10708 times:
Hahaha... this is a funny report! It reminds me of a restaurant in China that serves fried pawn and steam crap! Hahahaha.... By the way, I once watched a Chinese movie and the English translation for a bed-ridden person is - get this, "plant man".
Good to read about a flight with MU. Singaporeans are not very forgiving to people who cannot speak English... and I am sometimes guilty of it.
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
Tsentsan From Singapore, joined Jan 2002, 2016 posts, RR: 15
Reply 4, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 10686 times:
Kewl report!!! Not one we get everyday
I assure u that its not the longest flight on an A320... one of our Singapore photographers recently took a trip to India on an MI charter and it was 6hrs +.... believe me, he isnt really looking forward to another A320 flight.
KrisworldB777 From Australia, joined Nov 2000, 571 posts, RR: 3
Reply 6, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 10666 times:
Ooh I feel like someone important having been quoted! Hahaha
Great report….it’s certainly nice to have a change of airline, change of aircraft and a change of destination in the trip reports section. I Hope you’ve recovered from the absolute terror of having to fly one of “those airlines” and don’t have too many reminders in your underwear!! Perhaps you should take on MU's PR account and market them as the airline of the unexpected.....
A stewardess doing the in-flight announcements on behalf of the flight deck? Well I suppose they want to try and keep the flight crew occupied with flying the plane in order to reduce their disruptions and keep a reasonable safety record...naturally the pilot would have been tired and ready for a drink or two. Shows you what happens when women are given an important role!
I was in a similar boat to you last year when I needed to get from Beijing to Baotou, Inner Mongolia with Air China. The whole journey to the airport was a blur and all I remember is wanting to go to the loo! But Beijing’s rather extravagant Capital Airport changed all that somehow and I looked forward to an experience out of the ordinary. Flight was fine on a 733, the cabin crew courteous and service oriented. But like you, unfortunately no English. Interesting too was the extraordinarily steep climb after takeoff…China Airlines A300s rushing through my head!
Hope you enjoyed Shanghai….I hate the place but you might be one of those who love it.
Lu From China, joined Aug 1999, 175 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 10648 times:
Wh did you buy Sin so high? I did go to sin on Dec 18 and Back shanghai one 22, SQ815 leave for sin on 0845, SQ 816 leave for sha on 0120.
I took Sin for my trip, but the price was lower than what you mentioned about sin$1200, i bought the go-return ticket, it was 3700 RMB, and about 780 sin$.
I will write my trip report soon.
Carnoc From China, joined Oct 2001, 875 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 10650 times:
Docpepz, if I'm flying on SIN/PVG route, I would certainly choose Singapore Airlines, if somehow I couldn't fly with Singapore Airlines, then I would go for Air China to fly through Beijing first, because I do really not like the services offered by China Eastern. In the past of my life, I reckon I have only flown with them for a few times. Well, remember my suggestion, go for other carriers next time.
Also, really sorry for your bad experience with China Eastern (poor English skill, poor catering service and boring inflight entertainment etc), but keep in mind that China is still a developing nation, it does take years or even decades for the whole country to catch up with somwhere like Singapore, Japan, Australia and so on. Anyway, I hope you have had a great time in Shanghai, although I think Beijing is a lot better than Shanghai.
Sq_ek_freak From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2000, 1662 posts, RR: 20
Reply 12, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 10607 times:
Great Report! I can attest to you're feeling of flying on an A320 for a long time...I flew UA 950 from LAX-IAD...the flight took 05:45 hours...the longer flight time due to flying south becasue of severe storms around Chicago...to make things better I was in the last row and getting some really crap service...but great report nontheless!
I also flew CZ on a B735 from MNL to PEK via XIA w/out any crew speking a word of english...frustrating indeed for a non chinese speaker!
Ryanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4771 posts, RR: 24
Reply 13, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 10587 times:
Docpepz, if you ever send them your trip report, they would probably take them a few years to realise what is it. Meanwhile, they would be turning your piece of report right side up and upside down, trying to make sense of it, whether is it taking off or landing... Hahahaha!
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
Carmy From Singapore, joined Oct 2001, 627 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 10534 times:
Quite an amusing trip report, but the airline itself doesn't actually sound all that bad, does it? It seems like any other run-of-the-mill kind of airline, nothing spectacular but all right I guess. But I'd personally be erm.. a little turned off to hear announcements made in horrid English by some FA or whoever. It's erm.. abit annoying, to say the least.
QantasAirways From Australia, joined Mar 2001, 1280 posts, RR: 3
Reply 17, posted (12 years 5 months 1 week 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 10513 times:
Ooh does that bring back memories
Great report! I really enjoyed it. Yes, Asian airlines (not south-east) have a reputation for flight attendants that memorise and dont learn.
Once, when my mum was flying Evergreen Deluxe Class on EVA Air (Taiwan), she was sitting next to an Indian lady. The flight attendant came and explained to my mum what the menu was in Chinese, then when the Indian lady's turn came she said "Madam, we have an interesting and worldwide cuisine on board EVA Air. Today we offer..."
and then she struggled a while then turned to my mum and said in Chinese "I've forgotten where I memorized to"
My mum laughed.
Shanghai is a beautiful city... I went on Singapore Airlines last time and I recommend that compared to your report on China eastern.
I haven't done a report on it yet though
Docpepz From Singapore, joined May 2001, 1971 posts, RR: 3
Reply 20, posted (12 years 5 months 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 10408 times:
Return leg when I come back from Malaysia nextThursday. Going to KL by bus tomorrow. Then flying to Langkawi from KLIA on Sun, and flying back to KLIA on Thu before catching a connecting flight on SIA.
And I still owe you guys a trip report on Raffles Class LHR-SIN, from July!
Looks like i'll have to write FIVE reports. But term's starting soon, don't think i'll be that free. Nevertheless, I'll try!
The777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6750 posts, RR: 55
Reply 22, posted (12 years 5 months 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 10381 times:
Funny report! Too bad it wasn't a good flight. I flew China Eastern SHA-PEK 12Jun02 on B-2978, a 737-300. Take Off was very shakey and almost felt like we were going to slide off the runway a few times before lifting off. The plane also climbed very fast but the crew spoke decent English and the food was very good and they served big portions. Service was compareable to US and European carriers. It was actually a very good flight although it was much shorter than a flight from SIN to PVG. The777Man
Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....LX and LH 777s
Ex_SQer From United States of America, joined Apr 2002, 1436 posts, RR: 5
Reply 24, posted (12 years 5 months 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 10376 times:
Nice report - the Singaporeans must have made you feel really embarassed!Speaking of literal translations, there is a website that "showcases" Japanese-English, and it is called www.engrish.com. Wonder if there is a similar site for Chinese-English?
: Great report...sufficient dose of humour, I like that. Shanghai is a great city, loved it and savoured every bit of it when I was there. Just got back
: Although I have not tried MU, I have flown with Air China to Beijing,. Whilst the service was rather spartan, compared to the likes of SQ, the flight
27 Airbus Lover
: 1)Remove those cheap ads from the back of their seats. 2)Improve their English. Since they're an international airline their crew should have a reason
: Rarely see any reports regarding airlines in China so it's interesting to see reports from airlines in Mainland China. Waiting for your returm leg and
: I don't have the energy to write a full trip report. I took MU from HKG to PVG on 24 Dec and returned to HKG on 29 Dec. My general impression of MU is
: I read with great interest on this report. (the original filing) I cannot help but sense the singaporean attitude there. I myself is an singaporean, I
: Celestar, SQ can do without a passenger like you. If you choose to ignore the fact that Taipei isn't that perfect either, I can't help but think you b
: Celestar if you can't forgive SQ perhaps you would like to change your nick. How can you forgive YOURSELF if you use such a nick? Don't use such stron
: SVA, I beg to differ, MU isn't a shoddy airline, same goes to many major Chinese carriers these days. They've improved, and although their inflight se
: Well, as what we are always saying that no-one is perfect, it doesn't matter SQ or MU, they all have their own disadvantages and problems. Being a fre
: Read all your comments, and just wanna add some of mine. first of all, sorry Docpepz for your unpleasant flight with MU and the price they quote u on
: Hey ChinaEastern Not all of us have this mentalitly of comparing MU and SQ, not for me especially. If you ask me , I prefer the Chinese airlines domes