PlaneHunter
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Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sat Nov 22, 2008 9:33 am

Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing on Hainan Airlines A330-200


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Background: How Air China lost customers to the competition
After a successful and enjoyable spotting tour across Japan last year it was time for another multi-city enthusiast trip to Asia. Originally user Satchmo and I had planned to start a tour from Bangkok, but flight options from Munich were either expensive or unspectacular. Then we had earmarked to start the tour from Hong Kong, flying Air China and Dragonair (via Beijing). However, when we were ready to book, Air China bewildered us by a series of negative surprises.

First of all, it was impossible to finalize a booking on CA's website. An error message suggested to contact the airline. So we called - and the desired code-share connections with Dragonair (PEK-HKG on A330s) were referred to as "ghost connections", impossible to book.
Then we discussed the alternatives (PEK-HKG on CA narrow-bodies) - and just when we were ready again on the next day they told us that the fares had been increased. So it took us some more time again to calculate and evaluate the alternatives. And just when we had decided to accept the higher price, an Air China agent suddenly told us that there wouldn't be a flight from Munich to Beijing on the favored day.   Well, our favored day of departure had always been the same from the very beginning - and the very flight still showed up in all booking systems, even on CA's own website. However, the agent insisted that there wouldn't be a flight, period. I wonder what some STAR ALLIANCE executives would have said at this point?

After aircraft types, fares and even the MUC-PEK frequencies had changed, we finally decided to skip the idea of flying Air China. Air France, KLM and others couldn't convince us because we wanted to try a new carrier. So we checked one-way options - which turned out to be a good idea. In the end we booked TXL-PEK on Hainan Airlines (incl. an Air Berlin connection) and HKG-LHR on Air New Zealand (incl. a Lufthansa connection).
In addition to the long-haul sectors, we booked PEK-SHA on China Eastern, SHA-SZX on Shanghai Airlines and HKG-TPE-HKG on EVA Air. Once we arrived at Taipei we also added a short trip to Makung (MZG) on Transasia Airways and UNI Air
.




Intro
Part 1 of my report series about the China tour mainly covers Hainan Airlines and its A330-200 on the Berlin-Beijing route which was started only recently on September 5. Reports about Air Berlin are quite common, so I have only added a short review of the connecting flight on the 737-700. The other flights will be discussed in separate reports.



Sunday, 02 November 2008
Munich (MUC) - Berlin (TXL)
Air Berlin, AB6198
15:30-16:40 (16:05-17:16)
Flying time: 00:47 (hrs)

Boeing 737-76J
D-ABLA (s/n 2421), delivered in 11/2007.
Seat 23B



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Photo © Markus Hahn
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Photo © Ruud Brinks - RB-Airpictures



Check-in
Waiting time was minimal in Air Berlin's check-in area at Terminal 1. A friendly male agent accepted our passports and started working. I asked him whether he would be able to print boarding passes for both flights and he confirmed. After a while he said: "You don't fly Air Berlin to Beijing? Which airline are you going to fly from Berlin?" So it seems he didn't know about Hainan Airlines and the fact that there are even Air Berlin/Hainan Airlines code-share flights to and from TXL. While he could send our luggage straight to PEK, we would need to pick up boarding passes at Tegel, he explained - just as expected.

Dense Fog: Delay
There had been dense fog around Munich Airport all day and while we were sitting in the gate area it seemed to become even worse. In that situation it was no surprise that a 30 minutes delay of our flight was announced - due to the aircraft's late arrival. Our plane was D-ABLA, a 737-700 delivered factory new to Air Berlin - actually it's part of the order once placed by dba.



Interestingly, the plane also turned out to be operated by the still existing dba - which is not visible in public sources and not mentioned on board either. A sticker on the door is the one and only piece of evidence. Unfortunately, Air Berlin/dba have been using the same absurd expression ("powered by") once introduced by Condor/Thomas Cook:



Friendly FAs welcomed us on board and we took our seats in the second last row. Announcements were made by an FA with an apparently Asian accent. The cabin was equipped with comfortable dark blue leather seats (slimline design, similar to seats used on Air Berlin's Airbus aircraft). Pitch was limited, but still acceptable. We left the gate 35 minutes behind schedule, but another 21 minutes passed until we could take off. The fog had become so dense that we could barely see some Lufthansa planes lining up. However, we entered clear skies almost immediately after lift-off. I watched the airshow on the fold-out screens while FAs were serving cold and hot drinks and offering a choice of chocolate biscuits and olive crackers - with the latter ones tasting a bit better than on my recent Air Dolomiti flight.


Picture by Satchmo

The FAs seemed to be very motivated and one of them took good care of two unaccompanied minors in the last row, e.g. by offering an extra round of drinks and snacks. Picturesque scenery shortly before we started the descent:


Picture by Satchmo


Picture by Satchmo

D-ABLA touched down on runway 8L and arrived at the gate 36 minutes behind schedule.



Sunday, 02 November 2008
Berlin (TXL) - Beijing (PEK)
Hainan Airlines, HU490
19:25-11:35 (19:32-11:20)
Flying time: 08:24 (hrs)

Airbus A330-243
B-6116 (MSN 875), delivered in 11/2007
Economy Class, Seat 18K



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Joining the Queues
Immediately after arrival we went to the main departure hall in order to pick up our boarding passes. While parts of the terminal were already deserted, the Hainan Airlines check-in area was crowded with people, mostly Chinese tourists with lots of luggage (including all kinds of new housewares). There were two long and serpentine Economy Class queues which almost completely blocked the (rather limited) area between check-in counters and the entrance doors - which was a problem for people who wanted to pass.
The queues didn't move very fast, so I went to the Business Class line. Satchmo would follow if the agent accepted the switch. We didn't have any luggage, so it was worth a try. Meanwhile Satchmo, still waiting in the Economy queue, had been told by a Chinese Hainan Airlines employee that it would be ok to switch to the Business line for the boarding pass pick-up. However, the Business Class queue was somehow stuck and in the end we had to wait longer than the Economy passengers who had been behind us.   As a Business Class passenger I wouldn't have been amused...

Slightly Harsh Welcome
Once at the counter, an older female German agent asked loudly and slightly harshly: "You are going to travel in Business Class?" We denied and referred to the advice by the other Hainan Airlines employee. "Which agent?", the lady asked harshly. Satchmo pointed towards the Economy queues and the lady said: "I wish she wouldn't do that! Business Class passengers have to wait because of that!" That lady really hadn't learned yet that passengers aren't the ones to address in cases of internal disputes. Anyway, at least she became a bit friendlier and soon handed out our boarding passes. Row 18 wasn't our favorite, but considering the overall hecticness and our high sequence number I didn't ask for seats in the back. Row 18 was the one which I had reserved in advance by calling Hainan's office (seat selection on the website hadn't worked). No other row further in the back had been available at that time.

Boarding Gate Rip-Off
We immediately left the crowded check-in hall and went to the gate where B-6116, the first A330 delivered to Hainan Airlines, was being prepared for the journey to Beijing.


Picture by Satchmo

The area was already crowded, too, so we passed through an open door into the adjacent gate. A duty free shop had already been closed, but it was then opened again for the passengers of our flight. It was amazing to see how many of the Chinese passengers downright stormed into that shop, apparently trying to find a last-minute souvenir. I was already satisfied by finding a beverage vending machine, but I was shocked to see the price of 3,50 Euro for a bottle of water (0,5 liter). What a rip-off!

Cabin Comfort
Boarding was started on time and friendly FAs welcomed us at the door and in the spotless cabin, where Chinese music was playing. A video clip on the screens gave first impressions from China. Red and yellow tones dominate the interior:


Picture by Satchmo

The slimline seats are a bit hard, but comfortable, nevertheless.


Picture by Satchmo

Seat pitch is very generous and the IFE box didn't bother me much.



The IFE hand-sets are fitted next to the 10.6 inch PTVs, so they don't take away elbow space and you can't accidentally switch channels.



Even though the flight was nearly full, boarding was completed quickly. Front Economy cabin view (picture taken later in the flight):


Picture by Satchmo

Cabin view picture in the database:


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Inflight Entertainment
Hainan Airlines has selected the Thales TopSeries i-4000 audio and video on-demand system which is fairly easy to navigate. Main menu:



The system offers a wide selection of entertainment options, e.g.:

  • - 50 movies and 23 TV features (on-demand)
  • - 8 radio channels
  • - more than 100 music albums (on-demand, playlist builder)
  • - 10 games
  • - airshow channel plus 6 interactive maps

The choice of options is not as extensive as on certain other carriers, but absolutely sufficient to keep you entertained on several long-haul flights in a row. The interactive maps with zoom option are a nice addition to the regular airshow - but loading times were long and most of the maps weren't available at all.

Code-sharing with "Berlin Airlines"
After boarding was completed, an FA made a welcome announcement and informed us about the code-sharing with "Berlin Airlines".   Amenity kits weren't available, but FAs offered packs with socks.
B-6116 was pushed back at 19:32 and taxied to runway 08L were it performed a rather unspectacular take-off.

Places of Interest
It took a while until the IFE system was fully operational. While watching the airshow channel about 40 minutes after take-off...



...I noticed an odd entry on the map: "Wilhelm Gustloff; 1945". The entry refers to the sinking of the German passenger ship Wilhelm Gustloff in 1945, actually the worst maritime disaster in history. Other ship accident sites were shown, too.



Places of interest on the airshow map are a wortwhile addition, but I'm not sure whether it's a good idea to pick accident sites. Btw - Air New Zealand had almost the same entries on its maps. I hadn't seen that before on any carrier. Another airshow image:




Snack
About an hour after take-off the FAs distributed bags with roasted green peas which tasted quite good. Cold drinks were served from large bottles.



The FAs were friendly, but sometimes I missed a personal touch. First I tried to communicate in English, but they consequently addressed us in German when they offered or asked anything, speaking slowly.

Dinner
was served some 1,5 hours after take-off. My expectations hadn't been too high after reading some reports before the trip, but I was positively surprised. The menu card suggested a choice between Fiorelli Maxi in white wine sauce (filled pasta) and Grilled thyme chicken with saffron rice and vegetables. I decided to try the chicken:



First of all, the overall meal presentation wasn't bad, though there's room for improvement (e.g. main course). The main course portion was a bit small, but the chicken breast, the rice and the carrots tasted good. However, the piece of broccoli was boiled to a mash. Both the salad, topped with slices of turkey breast, and the fruit salad (apple, pineapple, melon, grapes) looked appetizing and tasted fresh. What I also liked was the "Donauwelle", a piece of chocolate-covered cake with vanilla pudding and sour cherries. Getting both a fruit salad and a piece of cake made up for the small main course portion. Altogether it was a good meal. However, drink service followed a bit late and I was disappointed by getting Beck's and not a Chinese beer.

Crossing Mongolia
After dinner I had a closer look at the IFE system and used some time to rest. Time passed quickly while we were cruising in Russian skies. Cups, soft drinks and bottles of water were available for self-service in the galley. Daylight came back when we were flying across Mongolia:


Picture by Satchmo

The winglet with Hainan's logo gleaming in the morning sun:


Picture by Satchmo


Breakfast
was served about an hour before landing. The menu card suggested a choice between Spanish Omelette with bacon and braised beans and Chinese Noodles with chicken and vegetables. I decided to try the omelette:



The omelette as well as the asparagus tasted good, the beans were ok. However, I didn't touch that fat piece of bacon. Again I liked the fresh fruit salad (pineapple, melon, papaya, grapes) and I cannot complain about the muffin and the bread roll either.
Drink service followed a bit late again. I had looked forward to a nice hot coffee, but what I got was a kind of dark water which tasted horrible. Quite ironic to see the entry "Freshly brewed coffee" on the menu card. No doubts, this was the worst coffee I have ever got in the air.   

Approach
We had meanwhile entered Chinese airspace...



...and descent was started soon. Before seatbelt signs were switched on, an FA made an announcement, stating that the "lavatories will be closed". Mountainous terrain on approach to Beijing Capital Airport...



...followed by industrial facilities.



Parallel approach - the other plane is an Air China A319.



Large housing areas...



...followed by air cargo facilities. A part of the giant Terminal 3 is already visible in the background:



We touched down on runway 36L after a flying time of only 8:24 hours...



...and taxied to a remote parking position where we arrived 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Air China A330-200 taking off in the background:



Neither FAs nor ground staff members prevented us from taking pictures on the way to the bus - just too bad we were partly facing the sun. Last shot of B-6116:



The bus took us to Terminal 2 where we joined the queues in front of the immigration counters. It was interesting to see that all arriving passengers were monitored by infrared cameras - a measure to detect people with fever. I noticed the same at Hong Kong some days later. We passed through immigration very quickly, grabbed our luggage and tried to check-in for the China Eastern flight to Shanghai-Hongqiao...story to be continued.



Conclusion
Flying Hainan Airlines on the new TXL-PEK route was a pleasure: the cabin was spotless, lavatories were kept clean during the flight, seating comfort and pitch were good. Apart from long loading times for certain features, the IFE system with its wide selection of options worked well. Catering in general can be rated positive, too. The meals were mostly tasty and mostly well presented, but the main course portion size could be increased. Of course, the quality of the coffee needs to be improved. FAs were friendly, but some of them should be more communicative. The check-in at Tegel seemed to be a bit unorganized but that may change with some more experience. Of course, the lack of space at Tegel is part of the problem.

China's fourth largest airline is a striking newcomer to the German market - and I hope it will be able to keep up the capital link. According to the airline, the average load factor on the route has been 65 percent. Currently Hainan offers two flights per week in the winter season (after four initially), but plans to go daily in the long term. That doesn't seem to be unrealistic, considering that Air Berlin is an official partner.
With a widebody fleet of two A340-600s (ex-Cathay Pacific), four A330-200s and three 767-300ERs, Hainan Airlines is still a small player in the long-haul market, but there may be a bright future ahead. Currently it's planned to introduce one more A340-600, six more A330-200s and eight 787-8s. The Economy Class product on the A330 is already competitive today - with a few enhancements it could even go beyond.

Next report: PEK-SHA on China Eastern


Best Regards,
PlaneHunter

[Edited 2008-11-22 01:47:54]
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
The777Man
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sat Nov 22, 2008 9:47 am

Excellent trip report as always, PH!!!

Looking forward to hear more about your spotting trip.

Seems like HU has the same IFE system as DT has on their 777s.

The777Man
Boeing 777s flown: UA, TG, KE, BA, CX, NH, JD, JL, CZ, SQ, EK, NG, CO, AF, SV, KU, DL, AA, MH, OZ, CA, MS, SU, LY, RG, PE, AZ, KL, VN, PK, EY, NZ, AM, BR, AC, DT, UU, OS, AI, 9W, KQ, QR, VA, JJ, ET, TK, PR, BG, T5, CI, MU and LX.. Further to fly.. LH 777
 
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OA260
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sat Nov 22, 2008 10:17 am

Very nice report and something totally new. I like the cabin interior also.

Thanks for the report

OA260
 
AOMlover
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sat Nov 22, 2008 10:37 am

Great report ! I flew on B-6118 from Beijing to Shanghai Hongqiao in February, and I really liked the cabin. I find it very attractive, and I love it when the colors and patterns reflect attributes of the local culture of a country.
 
Thai744
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sat Nov 22, 2008 11:14 am

Great TR - thanks for taking the time to write.

Looks like an excellent airline. The Chinese airlines have come along in leaps and bounds in recent years. Often, they're excellent value too.

After reading your report, I would definitely fly them long-haul.

I wonder if they have any plans to come to Australia??

Thanks again, PH.
 
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SOBHI51
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sat Nov 22, 2008 11:40 am

Thank you for a great report.Chinese airlines seems to be trying to be competative with other Asian airlines.
Waiting for next part of this trip.
Well done
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PlaneHunter
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sat Nov 22, 2008 11:51 am

Hello everybody, thanks for all your nice comments!

Quoting The777Man (Reply 1):
Looking forward to hear more about your spotting trip.

I will post reports about all other sectors in the next weeks.

Quoting OA260 (Reply 2):
I like the cabin interior also.

The combination of red and yellow makes a nice difference compared to the dark interiors on many carriers.

Quoting AOMlover (Reply 3):
I flew on B-6118 from Beijing to Shanghai Hongqiao in February, and I really liked the cabin.

How would you rate the service? Did they serve a hot meal?

Quoting Thai744 (Reply 4):
Looks like an excellent airline. The Chinese airlines have come along in leaps and bounds in recent years. Often, they're excellent value too.

Yes, I was also surprised about the good service on the MU and FM domestic hops.

Quoting Thai744 (Reply 4):
After reading your report, I would definitely fly them long-haul.

I can only recommend to do so!

Quoting Thai744 (Reply 4):
I wonder if they have any plans to come to Australia??

I haven't heard about that yet, but you never know.

Quoting SOBHI51 (Reply 5):
Chinese airlines seems to be trying to be competative with other Asian airlines.

There's a lot of potential, certain Chinese carriers could become a real pain in the neck of some competitors in neighboring countries.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
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rogerbcn
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sat Nov 22, 2008 12:04 pm

Hola PlaneHunter!

What an interesting TR.

It is really great to read and see new comers on this site. I think it is the first TR I read about this particular airline. Great job!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Places of interest on the airshow map are a wortwhile addition, but I'm not sure whether it's a good idea to pick accident sites.

Woaaaw! Never heard of this before. Although sometimes when approacing BCN on LX they show a place called 'La Floresta' which is a tiny suburb right behind city limits, I never understood why. Can anyone throw some light in?

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The winglet with Hainan's logo gleaming in the morning sun:

The second most beautiful winglet out there.

M first:
http://i125.photobucket.com/albums/p71/rogerbcn/BombaiCapDAny2007-8037.jpg

Looking forward to reading your China reports.

Salut,

Roger
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united
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sat Nov 22, 2008 1:22 pm

Beautiful trip report! It brings back such fond memories I have of Beijing... I hope you enjoyed it to the fullest! You also have a very clear, concise writing style that makes your reports all the more interesting to read.
The opinions expressed here are mine and not necessarily those of Delta Air Lines.
 
Leskova
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sat Nov 22, 2008 1:45 pm

Great report - enjoyed it, as always.  Smile

Too bad Hainan opted to fly to Berlin instead of Hannover, where they originally wanted to fly...  Sad

On my, so far few, flights on Chinese airlines, I was also rather surprised at the friendly service; but, just as you had on Hainan, I found the coffee on China Southern, China Southwest and China Eastern to be pretty disgusting - it was always mixed with both milk and sugar... yuck...

In short: I switched to tea.  Wink

As for those accident sites on the IFE, strange idea. What next? Showing accident videos during the flight?

Quoting Rogerbcn (Reply 7):
Although sometimes when approacing BCN on LX they show a place called 'La Floresta' which is a tiny suburb right behind city limits, I never understood why.

I've seen a lot of fairly strange cities being shown on IFE-systems over the years - cities with 5,000 inhabitants being shown, but the city with a population of 250,000 right next to it being omitted. Strange, but I guess I've given up wondering about it by now...  Wink


Looking forward to the next reports!

Thanks
Frank
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StefanPAD
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sat Nov 22, 2008 2:36 pm

Hi PH,

interesting story and a nice read. I've never heard about Hainan Airlines before and I'm surprised to see them in TXL.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
However, drink service followed a bit late and I was disappointed by getting Beck's and not a Chinese beer.

I would expect some local products as well, but due to Beck's is my favorite brand I wouldn't be disappointed Big grin

Cheers,
Stefan
 
B747forever
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sat Nov 22, 2008 2:54 pm

Very nice TR

First time I read about Hainan Airlines TXL-PEK service.

The pics are good.

Seems that you had a great time on board Hainan Airlines.

I find it rather interesting that they point out places of historical importance.


Thank you for sharing

B747forever
Work Hard, Fly Right
 
MHTripple7
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sat Nov 22, 2008 4:04 pm

Excellent TR! I've been waiting for a TR on HU's A330's for a long time. HU has done an excellent job with their cabins if you ask me.

Quoting The777Man (Reply 1):
Seems like HU has the same IFE system as DT has on their 777s.

It looks like they have the same seats as well. AF and KL also have these seats on their 77W's.
 
PlaneHunter
Topic Author
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sat Nov 22, 2008 4:32 pm

Thanks for all new comments!

Quoting Rogerbcn (Reply 7):
Never heard of this before. Although sometimes when approacing BCN on LX they show a place called 'La Floresta' which is a tiny suburb right behind city limits, I never understood why. Can anyone throw some light in?

Good question - relatively small cities are often shown on the maps.

Quoting Rogerbcn (Reply 7):
The second most beautiful winglet out there.

Definitely a nice one, yes!

Quoting United (Reply 8):
I hope you enjoyed it to the fullest!

We stayed at PEK for a few hours only, but I really want to go again as soon as possible. And not just for spotting.  Wink

Quoting United (Reply 8):
You also have a very clear, concise writing style that makes your reports all the more interesting to read.

Thanks, nice to hear from a native speaker.

Quoting Leskova (Reply 9):
Too bad Hainan opted to fly to Berlin instead of Hannover, where they originally wanted to fly...

Yes, I remember that discussion.

Quoting Leskova (Reply 9):
On my, so far few, flights on Chinese airlines, I was also rather surprised at the friendly service; but, just as you had on Hainan, I found the coffee on China Southern, China Southwest and China Eastern to be pretty disgusting - it was always mixed with both milk and sugar... yuck...

Well, it seems it's really better to order tea sometimes...  Wink

Quoting Leskova (Reply 9):
As for those accident sites on the IFE, strange idea. What next? Showing accident videos during the flight?

...or crash sites? They should just stick to cities, rivers, mountains, etc.

Quoting StefanPAD (Reply 10):
I would expect some local products as well, but due to Beck's is my favorite brand I wouldn't be disappointed

I can't say the same...

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 12):
HU has done an excellent job with their cabins if you ask me.

Yes, absolutely. Btw - Air China's A332s (long-haul models) have a similar interior, but the red colors on Hainan look better.


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Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 12):
AF and KL also have these seats on their 77W's.

Interesting - but the seats should be narrower for the 3-4-3 interiors.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
FLIEGER67
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sat Nov 22, 2008 4:58 pm

Hello, PH,

great story, as always.

What a good idea to switch from AirChina to the new player on the german market
Hainan, not that much to read about it here.

Looking forward to the next parts about your travel´s around China.

Greetings,
Markus (FLIEGER67)
Tripreporter.net
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sat Nov 22, 2008 6:08 pm



Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 14):
Hello, PH,

great story, as always.

Thanks, Markus.

Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 14):
What a good idea to switch from AirChina to the new player on the german market Hainan, not that much to read about it here.

Yes, Hainan Airlines is still an exotic carrier outside of China. But Air China and Dragonair would have been nice, too, especially the original combo (CA A332/777 and KA A333). Well, new year, new try.  Wink


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
ba319-131
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sun Nov 23, 2008 9:39 am

Hi PH,

Great report, always wanted to read a TR about this Hainan service, many thanks.

Cabin looks pretty nice, food seems pretty reasonable though that bacon looked a bit too fatty for my liking.

All in all looks, decennt & they have a great colour scheme - wish the flew into LHR  Sad

Look forward to the next installment.

Kind Regards

Mark
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Econojetter
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sun Nov 23, 2008 11:37 am

Thanks for the great introduction to the intercontinental flying experience on Hainan.
Interesting choice of airlines for this trip. I'm definitely looking forward to the upcoming reports.

A couple of observations:

- the IFE box sticking out like that would have bothered me, even though my legs are most likely shorter than yours
- the separate bread plate outside the meal tray is pretty unique, but perhaps a little extra work for the cabin crew
 
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airbuseric
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sun Nov 23, 2008 4:57 pm

Hi PH,

this was a very interesting one! Hainan seems to be a very good choice to China or further into Asia. I like the seating plan on the A330's with so many 2-seaters, the perfect seatplan when travelling together with your partner.
Food looks good for Y-class, and as you mention, I think the legroom is good too!

Hope to read more on the other flights you took, which will be interesting as well.

Cheers,
Eric
"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
 
davescj
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sun Nov 23, 2008 7:44 pm

GreatTR! It was really cool to see a new airline on Airliners!

Dave
Can I have a mojito on this flight?
 
Contact Air
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Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2001 4:13 am

RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sun Nov 23, 2008 7:52 pm

Hi PH,

when I visited TXL in summer, I read an article in the Berlin Airport magazine and saw some adverts for this new flight. So it was a real pleasure to read this detailed and informative "PH-style" trip report. Good to read that the flight is doing well for a new route, although 65% load factor still lets room for improvement.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Red and yellow tones dominate the interior

Interesting and unique cabin design, although it's a bit too much red for my taste.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
First I tried to communicate in English, but they consequently addressed us in German when they offered or asked anything, speaking slowly.

I'm impressed that cabin crew members learned German for this service - I wouldn't have expected this.

Regards
Christoph
 
Kent350787
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sun Nov 23, 2008 10:47 pm

Thanks for the trip report - a nice read.

But a special thanks re. the Wilhelm Gustlof. Until googling following your ref. I was not aware of this event, nor the other major sinkings during the German evacuation. Why not? As one article suggested - they belonged to the losing side during a major war.....

Kent
 
reifel
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sun Nov 23, 2008 11:07 pm

Thanks for this great report. I did quite a similar tour in May: Air Berlin DUS-PEK (way not as good as Hainan is it seems), China Eastern A330 PEK-SHA (I was impressed by the service and the aircraft (seat recline i.e.) as well), SHA-SZX on China Eastern A300-600 and back to SHA with AC 767. We also had the same hassle with Air China's Website and call center, we finally managed to book through elong, which was much better.

Beijing is a great city in my opinion, and HK too of course... Shanghai disapointed a little, but maybe it would have been better to start with Shanghai rather than with Beijing and HK.

I'm looking forward to your next reports and to read your experience about the other flights.
 
CO7e7
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Mon Nov 24, 2008 2:01 am

Excellent report. I always enjoy reading reports about "exotic" airlines!

I look forward to reading you next report.
 
Ryanair!!!
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Mon Nov 24, 2008 2:50 am

An excellent and also RARE insight into a Chinese carrier's long haul service. HU makes the present big 3 (CA, MU, CZ) look so staid and backward!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
First I tried to communicate in English, but they consequently addressed us in German when they offered or asked anything, speaking slowly.

Were they Chinese FAs? If they were then I am very impressed!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
It was interesting to see that all arriving passengers were monitored by infrared cameras - a measure to detect people with fever. I noticed the same at Hong Kong some days later.

This procedure was born out of the SARS pandemic that gripped much of Asia some years ago. China and HK (especially!) seems to have this as a permanent fixture at arrivals. Singapore had this feature at the arrival gates for a while but seemed to have tapered off.
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
 
DALCE
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Mon Nov 24, 2008 10:34 am

Hi PH,

we are so lucky that you are the one to explore the HU service between TXL-PEK.
Your informative style of writing reports give us the most complete insight of the given product.
Together with the included pictures your report is just stunning!
Can't wait to read the next episodes of 'Planehunter goes Asia again' Big grin

About the actual product I can't say anything other than that I'm positively surprised.
I would have expected the Y-product worse, and it really is up to par with other carriers on the Europe-Beijing routes!

Thanks for sharing!
Joost (D-ALCE)
flown: F50,F70,CR1,CR2,CR9,E75,143,AR8,AR1,733,735,736,73G,738,753,744,77W,788,319,320,321,333,AB6.
 
castroprauxel
Posts: 152
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Mon Nov 24, 2008 1:19 pm

Now that's a TR I was really looking forward to! Thanks PlaneHunter!
HU seems to have a very good product on this route. I wonder if that's the standard with other routes of theirs as well. anyway, the cabin looks great, so does the IFE. would love to give this I try one day when I fly to PEK (though it's not on the top of my list just yet).

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Unfortunately, Air Berlin/dba have been using the same absurd expression ("powered by") once introduced by Condor/Thomas Cook

I also don't understand the german fascination with this phrase. it's appearing on practically everything nowadays. where does that even come from??

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Other ship accident sites were shown, too.

WTF?! Now that's too bizarre...
 
kiwiandrew

RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Mon Nov 24, 2008 7:09 pm

great report , lots of details and plenty of photos ( which I am always too lazy / disorganised to do in mine )  thumbsup  ... now , when do we get the TRs for the other legs of the trip ?
 
ronerone
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Tue Nov 25, 2008 10:39 am

Hi PH!

Fantastic report! As always, well written and filled with some high quality pictures!

I am impressed with how clean the cabin looked! and the reddish interior is really nice!

I also liked how the bread and butter are served on a small plate separate to the meal tray. Was that the case? That is quite unique!


Thanks a lot for sharing! Looking forward to your next TR's!

Regards,
Roni  Smile
Fly Roni. Aviation Journeys. Photos. Videos.
 
PlaneHunter
Topic Author
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Wed Nov 26, 2008 8:53 am

Hello everybody, many thanks for your feedback!

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 16):
Great report, always wanted to read a TR about this Hainan service, many thanks.

Thanks, Mark.

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 16):
All in all looks, decennt & they have a great colour scheme - wish the flew into LHR

Currently their strategy is to serve the smaller gateways (e.g. Budapest, Brussels, Seattle), but who knows. Maybe they are interested in MAN?

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 17):
- the IFE box sticking out like that would have bothered me, even though my legs are most likely shorter than yours

I had assumed it would bother me when I sat down - but I was proven wrong.

Quoting Airbuseric (Reply 18):
I like the seating plan on the A330's with so many 2-seaters, the perfect seatplan when travelling together with your partner.

Yes, cabins with 2-seaters are always a pleasure - that's why I also like the 2-5-2 layout on the 777.

Quoting Contact Air (Reply 20):
Good to read that the flight is doing well for a new route, although 65% load factor still lets room for improvement.

True, I really hope they can increase the load factor.

Quoting Contact Air (Reply 20):
I'm impressed that cabin crew members learned German for this service - I wouldn't have expected this.

I was surprised, too. I guess they hired some new FAs with German language skills before starting the route.

Quoting Kent350787 (Reply 21):
Until googling following your ref. I was not aware of this event, nor the other major sinkings during the German evacuation.

It hadn't been a well-known event even in Germany for a long time.

Quoting Reifel (Reply 22):
China Eastern A330 PEK-SHA (I was impressed by the service and the aircraft (seat recline i.e.) as well),

We also had MU's A330 on the PEK-SHA route - I can confirm your impression.

Quoting Reifel (Reply 22):
We also had the same hassle with Air China's Website and call center, we finally managed to book through elong, which was much better.

Interesting to hear.

Quoting Reifel (Reply 22):
Beijing is a great city in my opinion, and HK too of course... Shanghai disapointed a little, but maybe it would have been better to start with Shanghai rather than with Beijing and HK.

Our visit to Shanghai was quite short, but Hong Kong is a fantastic city - it had been in 1997 and still is.

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 24):
HU makes the present big 3 (CA, MU, CZ) look so staid and backward!

Hainan is a private carrier which should make a difference. But I'm sure the others will improve, too. The domestic flight on MU was quite good.

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 24):
Were they Chinese FAs? If they were then I am very impressed!

Yes, the FAs were Chinese.

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 24):
This procedure was born out of the SARS pandemic that gripped much of Asia some years ago. China and HK (especially!) seems to have this as a permanent fixture at arrivals.

That's what came to mind when I saw the cameras. Should be an effective measure.

Quoting DALCE (Reply 25):
Your informative style of writing reports give us the most complete insight of the given product.
Together with the included pictures your report is just stunning!

Thanks, Joost.

Quoting DALCE (Reply 25):
I would have expected the Y-product worse, and it really is up to par with other carriers on the Europe-Beijing routes!

I had read an Hainan long-haul report (BRU-PEK) just days before my trip and it wasn't positive at all. So I was surprised that my flight was completely different.

Quoting CastropRauxel (Reply 26):
I wonder if that's the standard with other routes of theirs as well.

Yes, would be interesting to see a report about a Hainan domestic flight.

Quoting CastropRauxel (Reply 26):
I also don't understand the german fascination with this phrase. it's appearing on practically everything nowadays. where does that even come from??

Good question. I guess the term "power" must be fascinating for certain marketing guys.

Quoting CastropRauxel (Reply 26):
WTF?! Now that's too bizarre...

I'm still wondering about the issue - should be worth a thread in the civil aviation forum.

Quoting Kiwiandrew (Reply 27):
now , when do we get the TRs for the other legs of the trip ?

I will start working on part 2 soon, should be online next week.

Quoting Ronerone (Reply 28):
Fantastic report! As always, well written and filled with some high quality pictures!

Thanks, Roni.

Quoting Ronerone (Reply 28):
I also liked how the bread and butter are served on a small plate separate to the meal tray. Was that the case? That is quite unique!

As far as I remember, all items, including the plate, had been placed on the tray originally.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
abrelosojos
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Mon Dec 22, 2008 9:09 pm

PH,

What a wonderful trip report to read about a newcomer and a new route. I think you are a pioneering writer as this is the first Hainan international TR I have read. Good job! It seems Hainan might be the airline that establishes Chinese carriers as able to compete with the more illustrious names in Asia. Thanks again for shedding some light on the same.

I was amused by your writeup on the Air China booking. I had a similar experience earlier in the year when I was booked on an UAL ticket on CA's GRU-MAD. CA had changed the flight times - and while it was being reflected in their system, the old times still showed up on Amadeus and on UAL ... it took a LOT of convincing to UAL to finally allow me to change my ticket. A lot of people think MS is the weakest link so far in Star long with US. I personally think it is CA.

I am SOOO looking forward to your upcoming reports.

Thanks so much,
A.
Live, and let live.
 
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NZ107
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Wed Dec 24, 2008 1:58 am

Hi PH,

Great TR! Still can't wait for the NZ one. These new Chinese airlines don't look too bad after the stories I heard from my dad dating back to the 80s. I think I'll try the likes of SQ, MH, JL, TG, LH etc first before I get to these not-as-well-known airlines.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
The entry refers to the sinking of the German passenger ship Wilhelm Gustloff in 1945, actually the worst maritime disaster in history.

How interesting.. If they put maritime accidents, how about aircraft ones? I'd be the last person to add that to the Airshow.. I'm sure that there are other things they could add which may interest people and not freak them out!


Regards,
Nicholas
It's all about the destination AND the journey.
 
PlaneHunter
Topic Author
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Thu Dec 25, 2008 3:48 pm

Thanks for your comments, Abrelosojos and Nicholas!

Quoting Abrelosojos (Reply 30):
It seems Hainan might be the airline that establishes Chinese carriers as able to compete with the more illustrious names in Asia.

Hainan is on a good way - let's hope it continues to focus on quality rather than rapid growth.

Quoting Abrelosojos (Reply 30):
CA had changed the flight times - and while it was being reflected in their system, the old times still showed up on Amadeus and on UAL

How familiar that sounds...

Quoting Abrelosojos (Reply 30):
A lot of people think MS is the weakest link so far in Star long with US. I personally think it is CA.

I can't say anything about MS, but CA still has some homework to do.

Quoting Abrelosojos (Reply 30):
I am SOOO looking forward to your upcoming reports.

Alright, watch out of for a Shanghai Airlines report - to be online soon.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 31):
I'm sure that there are other things they could add which may interest people and not freak them out!

I can only agree here.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
pumaknight
Posts: 227
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Thu Dec 25, 2008 5:26 pm

Great TR!! Cracking pictures as well.
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sandrozrh
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Thu Dec 25, 2008 9:59 pm

Hey PH!

I finally found time to read this TR, and it was definately worthwile. Well written as always and a good selection of pics to accompany the text. Hainan Airlines certainly doesn't look half bad. The meals looked good, and even if you found them to be a bit small, they're still larger than what you get on LH.

I'll be reading about the rest of your Chinese adventure shortly.

Quoting Rogerbcn (Reply 7):

My first:

Good choice Big grin
 
PlaneHunter
Topic Author
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Mon Dec 29, 2008 5:56 pm



Quoting SandroZRH (Reply 34):
I finally found time to read this TR, and it was definately worthwile. Well written as always and a good selection of pics to accompany the text.

Hi Sandro, thanks for your feedback.

Quoting SandroZRH (Reply 34):
Good choice

You are biased, aren't you?  Wink


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
sandrozrh
Posts: 2420
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Mon Dec 29, 2008 6:15 pm



Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 35):
You are biased, aren't you?

Nooo, what on earth would make you think that? Big grin
 
PlaneHunter
Topic Author
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Wed Jan 07, 2009 12:29 pm



Quoting SandroZRH (Reply 36):
Nooo, what on earth would make you think that?

I'm sorry, Sandro - insider information.  Wink


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
Sabena332
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:36 pm

Hi there,

Good to see that the two world travellers are at it again, I really enjoyed the report because of the well written and detailed text but also because of Satchmo's excellent pictures!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
So it seems he didn't know about Hainan Airlines and the fact that there are even Air Berlin/Hainan Airlines code-share flights to and from TXL.

To be honest, I didn't know that either until you told me.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
but I was shocked to see the price of 3,50 Euro for a bottle of water (0,5 liter). What a rip-off!

Indeed a rip-off! What a joke!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
# - 50 movies and 23 TV features (on-demand)
# - 8 radio channels
# - more than 100 music albums (on-demand, playlist builder)
# - 10 games
# - airshow channel plus 6 interactive maps

Sound excellent, especially the 100 music albums with playlist builder.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Other ship accident sites were shown, too.

Very strange. I saw many inflight entertainment systems with many different interactive maps but I never saw something like that before.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
drink service followed a bit late and I was disappointed by getting Beck's and not a Chinese beer.

At least was it Beck's and not Warsteiner.  Wink

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Before seatbelt signs were switched on, an FA made an announcement, stating that the "lavatories will be closed"

I noticed the same on a recent easyJet flight, the lavs were closed until we reached cruising altitude and closed again after leaving cruising altitude.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter):
Next report: PEK-SHA on China Eastern

I am going to read that now!

Patrick
NZ1's mother is a disgusting crack-whore and his father is a worthless alcoholic!
 
PlaneHunter
Topic Author
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sat Jan 10, 2009 6:50 pm



Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 38):
Good to see that the two world travellers are at it again, I really enjoyed the report because of the well written and detailed text but also because of Satchmo's excellent pictures!

Thanks a lot, Patrick!

Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 38):
Very strange. I saw many inflight entertainment systems with many different interactive maps but I never saw something like that before.

Interestingly, there were similar entries on ANZ's aishow map. And someone told me that he has seen the same on Air Canada. Quite odd.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
LH4116
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sun Jan 11, 2009 12:31 am

Very nice report PH

The seats on the A330 looked very nice, in fact they looked very similar to AF's new Y seat on the 77W. The IFE looked good too. Though i didn't like that yellow line on the over head bins.

The food looked great, and it's good that they serve two hot meals. Though i didn't see a point of why they had a bread plate, it didn't look very nice, and it doesn't seem very necessairy.

//Jonas
SAS Plus is Business Class made faux!
 
PlaneHunter
Topic Author
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Mon Jan 12, 2009 7:05 pm

Thanks for your comment, Jonas.

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 40):
The seats on the A330 looked very nice, in fact they looked very similar to AF's new Y seat on the 77W.

Interesting to hear.

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 40):
Though i didn't see a point of why they had a bread plate, it didn't look very nice, and it doesn't seem very necessairy.

True - it's one more item the FAs have to care about.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
rwsea
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Mon Jan 12, 2009 7:40 pm

Nice report - ever since HU started SEA-PEK I've been interested in their service. The main problem as I see it now is that you can't buy tickets from them online, so they don't even register on the radar when making bookings. Hopefully they fix this soon as the service looks good.
 
PlaneHunter
Topic Author
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sun Jan 25, 2009 9:53 am



Quoting RwSEA (Reply 42):
Nice report - ever since HU started SEA-PEK I've been interested in their service.

Thanks!

Quoting RwSEA (Reply 42):
The main problem as I see it now is that you can't buy tickets from them online, so they don't even register on the radar when making bookings. Hopefully they fix this soon as the service looks good.

That's odd. I booked the flight on Expedia, but there was an option to buy tickets on HU's website. I checked prices several times and it seemed to work.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
tobbry
Posts: 68
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sun Oct 14, 2012 10:40 am

Nice report! It made my decision on witch airline to choose a bit easier... And THANKS for sharing all of your tripreports at the same place.. Hate the search function here  
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: Striking Newcomer: Berlin-Beijing On Hainan A330

Sat Oct 27, 2012 9:31 am

Quoting tobbry (Reply 44):
Nice report! It made my decision on witch airline to choose a bit easier... And THANKS for sharing all of your tripreports at the same place.. Hate the search function here

Thanks for your comments, tobbry! The search function hasn't worked properly for a long time, unfortunately.

Have a nice trip on Hainan!


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!

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