7th April 2004
Departure: 19:58 Arrival 22:16
Photos etc. can be viewed at http://www.red-incorporated.com/hz2bj.html
Hangzhou's airport is very new and modern - though a bit far from the city. The only way to get there is by taxi as there is no train or public airport bus. Taxis cost RMB100 which is quite a lot for a small city like Hangzhou.
The terminal was quite busy as expected, as there were plenty of domestic departures. There were no international departures this evening so that area of the terminal was sectioned off. I believe all the international flights operate during the morning/afternoon time.
Check-in was swift and the female agent was courteous and surprise, surprise - very good English! The flight was originally supposed to be operated by a B737-800 however there was a substitution and the new a/c was a B767 - probably due to heavier than expected loads.
I then proceeded to wander around the airport shops and purchase my "Airport Construction Fee" ticket which was RMB50.
After clearing security, my assigned gate was directly in front of me - Gate 16. I had a look at the information monitors, quite a few flights were delayed - i was hoping mine wasn't one of them. A China Northern MD80 had just completed boarding at my gate. After that a/c pushed back, a Xiamen Airlines B737 pulled into the gate. I was certain that my flight was going to be delayed! However, I was proven wrong as the CA 767 pulled into Gate 15 which is actually designated as an International Gate. Boarding commenced shortly thereafter. We boarded from Gate 16, but had to walk towards the airbridge of Gate 15.
Another full flight in Business and Economy. First class only had two passengers onboard. Air China is certainly a step down compared to China Southern in terms of inflight service. For a two and a half hour flight during dinner i was expecting to get a hot meal. However, the food that they served us was quite horrible and totally inadequate. Though it seemed everyone around me seemed to enjoy it! I was however surprised by the Bitburger beer! Inflight entertainment consisted of the AirTV channel which alternated with the satellite navigation display. No music channels were available.
During the flight we encountered some heavy turbulence which lasted on and off for about 20 mins. Because of this there was only one drink run. I have recorded one of the announcements. The English ability of this crew was quite limited.
Smooth touch down on-time at PEK. Was surprisingly warm in Beijing tonight - was expecting around 10degrees celsius but was actually around 26!! Was a very long walk from the gate to the baggage claim area - many people were running! Bags took quite a long time to arrive - perhaps after 30 mins of waiting at the belt. Took a taxi to the Holiday Inn Lido and was in bed by midnight!
Overall Verdict - 6/10
Good Points : B767 instead of B737, Bitburger Beer, Ontime departure and Arrival!
Bad Points : Horrible catering, delay in baggage retrieval.