Hi Again Everyone!
I was sorting out some pics last night and found some shots that I took a little while back fully intending to write up a trip report with them, but I never got around to them.
Well, rather than waste them, I might as well write them now - better late than never!
At the time, I had never travelled domestically in China, and didn't know what to expect to be honest. Actually, to be honest, I was pleasantly surprised with the standards of service received and, as you'll see, there were a few fun moments as well!!
BEIJING TO XIAN
CHINA EASTERN AIRLINES
FLIGHT TIME: 1 HOUR 30 MINS
Beijing Airport is a very modern one - one of the most modern in the world - however, most of the domestic flights leave from the older terminal which is still very efficient, super clean and very well-sign posted and user friendly.
There's also big windows, which makes spotting a joy here as well.
I had a bit of time before the flight, so stopped at the coffee shop, and (using a lot of sign language), managed to order something to eat as I didn't know if we would get any food on the flight or not.
The Chinese love their tea, and usually (especially the men) carry a bottle of wherever they go. Consequently, there are places to obtain free hot water throughout the terminal.
There are good shops at Chinese airports and they all sell model aircraft of various Chinese airlines. They are metal, but their quality isn't as good as Herpa Wings, or Gemini Jets, but they still make for a nice souvenir. And the best thing (as I learned by trial and error!) you can haggle for your purchases in these airport shops - same as in the local markets! Consequently, I got my model for $12 AUD (about $10 USD) which was about $3 USD off the marked price. Nice one!
Then it was time to head to gate 37 for boarding which was completed in an orderly and efficient manner.
The aircraft for this short-ish flight today was an A320, and these were the business class seats I managed to snap on the way on board.
This morning departure was 100% full, and I took my seat. Legroom was fine, as was my view out the window.
The cabin crew (who, despite having VERY little English) came around to do their pre-departure checks, safety briefing and made sure we were all strapped-in. The we pushed back and taxied out to the runway.
Without any delay, we turned onto runway 36 left and blasted off into the hazy Chinese sky, and then make a u-turn to head south-west to Xi An.
The crew sprang into action very soon after take-off and served breakfast. I was surprised to get a hot dish on a short-ish domestic flight, and, to be honest, it was pretty foul, but credit to the airline for trying. I guess if I was Chinese I might have thought it tasted delicious, but it certainly wasn't for me, and I was glad I had eaten in the airport previously.
There was a comprehensive beverage service as well. Fruit juices, soft drinks (sodas!), water, tea and coffee etc were offered, and the crew went around twice during the flight to offer these - again, impressive for a 90 minute flight.
Before I knew it, we had a smooth decent and then landed at Xi An Airport in central China and home to the famous Terracotta Warriors!
Xi An Airport is again (like most in China) quite young and very modern. We parked at a remote stand and bussed it in to the terminal.
All in all, a very pleasant flying experience with China Eastern on this short flight.
GUILIN TO SHANGHAI
FLIGHT TIME: 2 HOURS 20 MINS
I guess in hindsight I was lucky to fly Shanghai Airlines when I did, as they are now in the process of flying with China Eastern. Even now, most of their aircraft have been repainted and uniforms of staff have been changed over. I really hate it when a "merger" is actually a take-over in disguise. Especially when its a good airline as Shanghai Airlines is (was!).
Anyway, it was time to leave beautiful Guilin!
I thought I'd share this sign from outside the restaurant at my hotel in Guilin - "on the sport?? WTF??"
Anyway, like most major Chinese Airports, Guilin is very modern and well-designed. Sign-posting is great and it's very user-friendly. And of course, its a civilised airport! Haha!
And of course, don't forget to stop at the "High Quality Goods Confluence" where you can haggle and pick up your latest Chinese aircraft model!
Spotting, as at most airports in China, is very good with large windows that are great for taking photos. No one queried me taking any photos either, which was a good thing!
Love the colour scheme on the Air China 737 - I even bought a model in these colours so I was pretty happy about that!
There is strict security at Chinese airports, and no lighters are allowed to be taken on board at all - they are confiscated. Consequently, there are "car-style" cigarette lighters in the smoking rooms at the airports in China. When you get off the flight and enter the arrivals hall, they have a basket of confiscated lighters where you can take one free to replace the one you had to throw away. They think of everything, don't they?!
I went to the gate, and then boarded our 737-800 for the flight to Shanghai.
We boarded on time, and the business class seats looked nice on my way through the cabin.
The Y class seats were comfortable enough, and being a newish aircraft, the cabin was in very good condition. The safety demonstration was on tv screens and supervised by a lovely bunch of immaculately turned-out flight attendants.
We then pushed back right on time, and after a short taxi, lifted off for our journey to Shanghai.
It wasn't long before the in-flight service started. While I was waiting, I explored the reading material in the seat pockets.
The service started promptly and began with coffee - kind of reverse to other carriers, but I was really in the mood for a caffeine hit, so it was a welcome surprise!
It was 3-in-1 premix, so too bad if you drink black coffee, like I do! Oh well, it was still good!
Then they came around with a drink service and I chose a Coke.
Then a hot meal service ensued. In China, it seemed to me that you get the cold items in a snack-box and they will also put a hot dish on your tray as well. The food on this flight wasn't bad at all, and again, I was pleasantly surprised at the substantial nature of the food and beverage services on domestic services in China.
And don't forget - after you finish eating, you can wipe your dirty face with your "Wet Turban Needless Wash!" Hahaha!
I had a bit of a nap, and then we descended and landed into Shanghai. There are 2 airports at Shanghai - the modern one at Pudong, and the older one that handles most domestic flights at Hongqiao. We landed at Hongqiao on this flight.
After a smooth landing, I managed to get some snaps on the way to the terminal and our parking place. (The smog was awful in Shanghai on this day).
We parked at a remote stand, and as I disembarked, I noticed 14 ( ! ) cleaners waiting to get on board and service the aircraft. 14 cleaners for 1 x 737 after a short 2 hour flight - amazing!
Even though a remote stand means a slower arrival time, it does mean you can take some great shots from the bus on the way to the terminal! (What's the China Eastern plane with the V2500 engines? Is it a Tupolev? Or an MD
And so I had arrived in the wonderful, bustling city that is Shanghai!
I was REALLY impressed with the domestic air travel I undertook in China. I took 6 flights, and these 2 were just a sample, but all 6 were way above average, and generally (IMO) was way above anything I have experienced on short-haul sectors in the USA, Europe, and these days in Australia - even on QF
. The flights were all on-time (not always the norm in China, but maybe I got lucky), the staff attentive and gracious (even if their English skills weren't the best) and the quality of inflight catering was very good (even if some of the meals weren't to my taste I appreciated the effort the airlines went to in order to provide passengers with a substantial meal and beverage service).
Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope you enjoyed it.