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Posts: 107
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2005 9:20 am

KUL - PEK, TYN-PEK-KUL On Air China (pics) :~

Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:48 am

back story:

everytime i'm back in malaysia for Chinese New Year, my parents would go travel in China with my relatives and their long time travel buddies via travel agency. we went to Harbin-Jilin-Changchun-Shenyang-Beijing (on Air China) in 2007, and to Kunming-Lijiang-Shenzen (on Shenzhen Airlines & Lucky Airlines) in 2008. this year, we went to the Shanxi Province and traveled to the cities Datong, Wutai Shan, Taiyuan, Linfen and left Taiyuan via Beijing back to Kuala Lumpur. the following is the flight trip report:

since we're long time customer of this travel agency, they arranged 2 vans to pick us up. one of the van went to my aunt's house in Kota Kumining in Shah Alam and another van to pick up the travel buddies off Jalan Ipoh in KL. It is the Chinese New Year's eve so we all had our reunion dinner prior and when we arrived my my aunt's, the van has arrived and most of my aunts' and uncles' luggage are loaded and before long, 9 of us and other luggage are on our way to KLIA, which is about 40 minutes ride away.

we arrived at the lowest level of the airport where the bus and shuttle vans pick-up and drop-off at exactly 9pm, more than enough to check in for our 1135pm flight. After a few minutes, we' re on our way to level 5 of Air China's counter and there's already a large crowd there and our tour leader is waiting for us at the group check in area. we arranged the luggage and out on the color coded tags to differentiate our group than the others. Chinese New Year typically is the most popular time to travel to China and this year is no exception. There're at least 2 other groups traveling on this flight.

the commotion at the airport, Air China check in area

KLIA departure hall's distintive cone roof

the Chinese New Year's decoration..its the year of the rabbit, so, bunnies everywhere

once the check in is completed, we were given the boarding pass (with MH's logo and everything) and my aunts are not happy that our group being placed in the rear of the aircraft (we were assigned rows 35 onwards)... after all being said and done, we proceed to the passport checkpoint, first we're greeted by 2 very friendly staff checking our borading pass and passport, and since we're Malaysians, we're using the autogate for passport control. The machine and its thumb print reader sometimes cause so much delay because we just can;t 'center' the thumb enough or its just not reading it properly and resulted lots of trial and error...time for upgrade, i guess... we passed through a x-ray machine right after that (we emptied our bottles to fill it up later)

once everyone is safely passed through the horror-gate, we walked a distance to the bus-stop to take us to the satellite building since the train is still under repair/upgrade (that thing would require 6 months downtime, apparently)...once in the satellite building, my uncles bought some liquor to consume during the trip and before long, announcement are being made in english, malay, mandarin of boarding (not just on flight to China, they do 3 languages on every announcment) , so we emptied our bottles that we just filled 15 minutes prior yet again since there's another x-ray machine for each boarding gate.

Air China 2/2/11
CA972 - KUL - PEK
seat: 35A (original 35C)
flight time: 6 hours

the B757-200 arrived just less than an hour prior and waiting for us to board, a JL 767-300 taxing for its 7 hours flight home to NRT

our B757-200 and the tail of a MH 747-400 being pushed back to AMS is visible

in about 20 minutes prior to departure, MH's ground staff made announcement and we board by rows. while trying to get to our set, i passed by one of the emergency exit and suprised that they instealled seats in the middle of the exit ! leaving space as wide as the aisle behind the seat to access the exit, would not love to be on this plane during emergency exit (knock-on-wood)

the traffic jam at row 12...the emergency exit seats in questions are the 2-seaters in the pic

more jam...now at row 23

the purple upholdstery and the headrest 'sheet' thing...at the seat back, the sheet is an ad for a Chinese Automotive Co.

my dad got a middle seat while my mum got a window seat. my mum said my dad don;t move around so we wanted to switch seat with me since our row is right behind the exit and there's no seat in front of me, so i can sneak out of my new window seat easily if i wanted to.

the 'infinity' leg-room

the exit seats are vacant whereas my aunt who's not exactly slim was stucked in middle seat behind us. she kept complaining how cramped the space is and my uncle wanted to move to the vacant exit row seat but some ladies got them before he managed to get out of his seat. in fact, we're already being pushed back at this point and the funny thing is, no announcement is being made and no flight attendant is making any take off checks. to stop my aunt's whining, we did some reshuffling seats by moving my aunt's seatmate (who';s traveling with us) to 35D since only 1 of the 3 seat is taken...all this was going on while we're taxing and the flight attendant never once stopped us. the flight attendants walked by to check on seatbelts once or twice and the passengers on exit row put their handbags on the vacant seat next to them and the crew said nothing and did nothing....SQ girls would already bitch at the passengers if this is in SQ...and they would have grabbed the bag and stuffed it in the overhead baggage bin


we took off and flew northeastery and the downtown KL and KLCC is clearly visible,. i tried to snap some pics but none of them come out decent, so no pics here... once we're close to crusing altitude, drink service is started and about an hour after departure, supper service is started.

the flight attendant asked in mandarin if we want noodle or fried rice and i had to ask them if its pork or beef or chicken (since my parents don't eat beef), so, the choice was actually chicken fried rice or 'seafood' friend noodle (yeah, like KLIA catering would ever make pork meal..being a muslim country and all :p )

my seafood fried rice consist of 3 shrimps

the meal was OK, but the serving is too little. my mum's rice taste really bland and yucky...

the inflight magazine is weirdly titled "Xi Nan Hang Kong"...so, does it actually mean Southwest Airlines or Southwest Aviation when translating literally? there's nary a english words in the magazine ...and Air China is based in Beijing, which is on the east side of China...just not making sense... (the 2007 Air China inflight magazine from the Harbin trip is titled "wings of china", which makes more sense)

inflight entertainment consist of some chinese rom-com which im not interested 1 bit to watch via "aisle-top" monitors and i tried to sleep (not successfully).. about an hour or 2 before landing, time to check out the scenery

pretty populated area and lots of people are actually up around 4am to celebrate Chinese New year..in facts, during the flight, we're able to see lots of fireworks going off below us throughout the evening/early morning

suburb of beijing

after 6 hours of flight, the crew came by a couple times offering drinks on tray and announcement is made that we're landing soon. the flight attendants walked by to check us ONCE, and disappeared for the rest of the flight until we're gated

parked at the brand new T3, next to the spotty ANA 767

once we're docked, the tour leaders made sure we're dressed warmly and everyone started to crowd the jetway to put on their jacket while me whol spent years in much worse winter in Wichita just walked out of the plane and icy cold jet way with t-shirt...

once we're all gathered and our tour group get dressed warmly and we took the long walk to the passport control at the international satellite..along the way, i saw a weird looking CX plane, turns out, its the 100th airplane special livery which i didnt remember seeing on here (did a search afterwards here after the trip, its around 2008 this plane delivered)

the special livery CX A330

after a long long walk, we reached the passport check area at the International (E) area. the foreign lanes are full but the China passport lanes are desserted and so they let us use those lanes and i'm one of the first on the Chinese lane. the pretty serious looking agent asked me how many people in the group and then asked me who's the person in my passport, turns out my dad gave me his passport and i quickly asked my dad to take my place. when its my turn, i apologized repeatedly and when he handed me the passport after he stamped them, i accidentally pushed it back onto his desk...oh, crumsy me but he actually quite good humor about it...

once everyone passed through the passport check, we gathered to take the train to the C area of the terminal and i became the butt of the joke for the mix-ups...soon we took the train to get to the C area in the HUGE terminal 3 main building and our bags are pretty much on the belt...we passed the green lane and we waited 15 minutes for the tour bus for our 7 days trip...

the arrival hall

we drove around Beijing town to see the bird nest for the Olympic 2008 before our 4 hours drive to Datong...

some of the things we saw: (all these sites are 1500 years history)
Yungang grottoes (UN cultural heritage site)

the Xuen Kong Si (the Hanging temple)

the Taiyuan twin pagodas

return trip to be continued  
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Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2004 10:50 pm

RE: KUL - PEK, TYN-PEK-KUL On Air China (pics) :~

Mon Feb 21, 2011 5:40 pm

Hi, nice to read...

Quoting kulatict (Thread starter):
Kunming-Lijiang-Shenzen (on Shenzhen Airlines & Lucky Airlines) in 2008

Do you have written a TR about this journey? The search enginge was useless.

Topic Author
Posts: 107
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2005 9:20 am

RE: KUL - PEK, TYN-PEK-KUL On Air China (pics) :~

Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:10 am

hey chris

the search engine is not 100% at fault ...i'm the one who's useless/lazy to NOT write a trip report... now that i've got the hang of it, i will attempt to write one once i'm back in wichita...the photos and such are in my old laptop... sorry...

the return trip for this trip should be ready over the weekend...i took lots of pics in PEK terminal 3  

Topic Author
Posts: 107
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2005 9:20 am

RE: KUL - PEK, TYN-PEK-KUL On Air China (pics) :~

Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:50 pm

return trip:

after spending 7 days in the Shanxi Province of China where we visited some of the oldest temples/sites and the largest commoner compunds, not to mention the most polluted air (Shanxi is the largest coal mining region in China), we're glad to bid this land farewell and embark on the return journey.

we left the hotel around 8am to go to the Taiyuan "Shu-wu" international airport (no idea which international destination is, though i saw billboard on bus advertising MU's flight to Taipei, i dont think CHINA thinks Taipei as 'international" destination... but let's not go THERE   )... the travel time from the hotel to the airport is approximately 15 minutes and the local tour guide (a pretty cute gal, have to add) did some obligatory singing and bid us farewell with a very sincere teary eyes (yes, we got along really well, she got drunk with us in our room few times)... and here's the airport shots

Taiyuan airport's Terminal 2 loading/unloading area. Terminal 1 is in the background

after the driver unloaded our bags, we bid him farewell, he's been wonderful driver during the trip and we gave him red-packet (ang-pau) with our tips to appreciate his service...and our tour guide and leader marched into the terminal to help us with check-in process

the departure level terminal 2

during the check in, the ground staff (think they are employee of the airport consortium rather than Air China) checked us in patiently and when the seats from PEK-KUL are very scattered for 22 of us, our leader begged her to change some sequence so at least some of us could sit together, which she politely obliged. We had to put a yellow "A2" sticker with our name on the bags (not sure what's that for) as well as a bluen/green TRANSFER tag on all our luggage. Some of us had fragile sticker since we bought vinegar (Taiyuan is really famous for aged vinegar). As the bags slowly drift on the belt, the check in staff didnt make a sound on some of the overweight bags...awesome...once all these are done, the local tourguide bid us farewell and we're on to the secured area and there's a dedicated lane for Beijing bound passengers

Inside the secured area, the shops

view of the hallway inside secured area

the Shandong Airlines taking us to PEK operating as CA1146

some of china's other usual suspect sitting on their respective gates

at about 920am, boarding announcement is made and everyone made a beeline to the gate, no boarding by rows, nothing..at least 4/5 caucasian passengers are taking this short 50 minutes hop to PEK

B737-800 Shandong Airlines (city of Xiamen) operating for Air China
flight time: 50 mins
forgot which gate and seat

view from the jetbrigde of the baby boeing

once aboard, some very smiley flight attendants welcomed us and the seats looked 'fresh' and the pitch felt more generous than the 757 on CA's flight from KUL-PEK

the flight was uneventful and they managed to do one round of drink service. the in-flight safety video (of Shandong Airlines) and the english announcement was suprisingly 'better' pronounced than CA's international crew. Everytime they make announcement about the flight, the crew made an effort to add "Shandong Airlines flight operating for Air China". in addition, i observed that chinese airlines safety video always show the 'actual' slide emergency where passengers pulling a Jetblue disgruntled (former) flight attendant (on their mock-ups) into a pool (abeit without the intercom cursing)...

after a short hop, we're landing at the pretty hazy PEK and taxied a while to dock at the C area (i.e. the main terminal) next to its CA's siblings (or cousins rather? )

at the beginning of what seem like a forever walk from the gate after arriving from TYN

view of Shandong Airline's 737-800 at PEK T3

the grid design of the PEK T3 roof

the curvature of PEK T3 arrival level at the main building

instead of going to the E (satellite) for transfer to international flight, we went for the arrival hall so that we can grab some lunch and our tour leader needed to meet some friend who brought some of us some items from downtown Beijing

the arrival hall of PEK T3 a week after i first step foot here a week prior

PEK T3 departure level..what;s that buidling? parking? train terminal?

the vast T3 departure hall

some T3 trivia on the glass wall

we then searched food for lunch since the travel agency provided us RMB 50 each person for lunch at the airport. We settled for thai food on the mezzanie level next to kenny roger's

the thai set menu (RMB128 approx 20 USD, kinda pricey, IMHO)

view of the rows upon rows of check in counters from the mezzanie level

the domestic departure area

the replica/model of the ancient chinese astronomical instrument in the middle of the International/HKG/Macau/Taiwan departure area

the International/HKG/Macau/Taiwan departure area

after a short train ride from the C area, we reached E gates area...while passing through the passport checkpoint & x-ray machines, i saw bottles of drink, yogurt and even a whole 1L bottle of chinese hard liquor being confisgated, people never learn not to bring tonnes of liquid for check-in bags...

post check-point, duty free area

One guy approached me out of the blue where he can find Starbucks, i was like, i don;t know, i know there's one 'outside", he ought to ask the staff...The whole time i was worried that he would pull 'voodo' on me and cheat my money..(china is kinda notorious of such shenanigans)...OK, i'm being paranoid...  

there;s nothing to buy since i have enough fragrance and dont care for hard liquor/cigaratte but my uncles went crazy for the last 2 cuz they are considerably cheaper than KUL...i bought some souvenir before check points and thats good idea cuz the price for them after check point is RIDICULOUS...

A special livery CZ A330 taxing to the T2

some CA's flight attendant (the ones in the background obviously) strutting the walkway to their gate...as i found out for my flights, they are good to look at, not (too) good to rely upon for most part...yes, cynical me...

CA 747-400 (could be a combi) departing to SFO at 4pm, the same time as our KUL flight..why i said it could be combi? cuz there;s a CA744 Combi lining in front of us for take-off..also noticed that the gate numbered 532, it shows E32 in the terminal (E is the 5th alphabet, hence 5?)

the seating area at E32. i noticed that there's not a lot of seat per gate...

the T2 in a short distance away, its that hazy there...a CZ 777-200 and Sri Lankan A330 is docked there, among other planes

Air Macau's Airbus taxing past us

UA disguised as CO (or perhaps the other way around????) taxing by  

CA special livery A330

Since our gate (E57, if memory is right) is at the lower level where we will board by bus (fun idea, in reality not fun), the lower level is filled with bus exhaust smoke, so we decided to hang around upstair at E32 area. There's a small monitor by the escalator about the 'status' of our flight, we're just hanging out and eating strawberries we bought a couple days ago...

tik-tok tik-tok so, around 330pm, i got antsy and jumped up to see if we;re boarding, and it shows the KUL flight boarding has begun. So, we grabbed our bags and head down and found there's already a long line. I'm really frustrated that no announcement is made whatsoever and the nightmare has just begun

(only a couple of pics after this, i was in foul mood during this point of the trip...my apologies)

CA 971
B757-200 (departure; 4pm)
seat 29C (flight time 6hr 30 mins)

The folks in the line in front of us boarded the packed bus and left right when i'm supposed to board. So, we're boarding a 2nd bus and wait, wait and waited for like forever with the door opened, the cold air and the nasty exhaust came rushing in. the bus did not move until the very last person of the flight arrived. once the door closed, the driver turned on the heater to the HIGHEST level possible, baking us inside and soffucating us.

Anyway, thankfully it is a short ride and our B757-200 sitting on a remote stand waiting for us. once the door opened, we made a mad unorderly dash to the stair to board. the whole commotion made me lost any desire to take picture and we're fighting to board first so we're able to snatch some empty head space, which became limited cuz all of the tropical malaysians HAD to wear a thick jacket to board the flight since its via stair...Our group (i'm sure other passengers too) had quite a number of bags and a dozen bottles of liqour and cigarrates. Under the seat is not an ideal since the pitch is already limited.

Indeed, the overhead bins are full and the flight attendant made no efforts to make room or find room and all they said was to find the overhead space behind the plane. This arrangement is not acceptable to most passenger since there're many instance where people just grabbed overhead bin items not belong to them..how uncivilized.

Anyway, the plane started taxing while 10-15 passengers still sorting the overhead bin issues. my aunt and her teenage daughter across aisle has an empty seat, so we piled some bag packs ON the seat. While taxing for take off, some passengers are still moving around, the flight attendants walked past, mentioned nothing of the standing/moving passengers, nor motioned to get the bags on the seat under the seat....we're waited a while behind several CA planes and the potentially SFO bound 744 Combi aforementioned...Anyway, one last announcement about taking off and we went roaring off the runway and KUL bound...

Drink service started about an hour after take off and dinner service started soon after. I chose the chicken meal, which taste not very good at all

my mum had the fish, she liked it but i think its awful. The fish taste really "slimey"...

Also, note that all of our meals have a little green sticker saying Muslim..i guess they just played it safe by making every meal muslim meal (i.e. no pork)

As in the inbound flight, the inflight entertainment consist of rom-com and the "aisle-top" monitor around my seat lost its visual feed midway during the video while the other screens worked fine...once the rom-com movie ended, the screen back to normal...weird....

The flight attendant distributed the duty free catalog and i saw some miniature airplane pen-cap thing that's only USD 1, when the duty free cart is being pushed to solicit sale, the flight attendant tole me its sold out (   ) and she apologized repeatedly and said the items are really popular and mentioned similar items are much more expansive in Japan...

Drink-service on tray consist of water, OJ and apple juice was offered several times during the flight (around 45 minutes or so interval) but when passengers press the call button to request drink in between the drink service, the flight attendant's response was ' we will do drink service later' ...

Around midway into the flight, after deciding not to attemp to sleep (since we're arriving at KUL around 1030pm), i went to the lav and could not believe what ive seen: the lav's floor is wet and the 'items' are clearly visible IN the toilet bowl since it seems that the septic tank is full. I quickly stepped out and try my luck on the lav on the opposite aisle and the same thing happened...Later my mum told me that the 2 lavs in the forward Y section are also cloggy and stinky....A very nasty impressions and experience when there's still 2 hours to go...

The rest of the flight is not really that eventful and approximately 950pm, announcement is made about the beginning of the decent and we need to set our set upright etc etc etc. The strange thing is, i did not see a single flight attendant to check on the seat-back, seat-belt and what have you and the next time i see the flight attendant is when i leave the airplane at the gate... shocking...

Everyone is glad to be out of the plane and we all rushed to the gate for the bus to transfer us back to the main terminal. Once we passed the passport checkpoints, some of us went to do duty free liquor and ciggaratte while me and another tour member went to pick up the checked-bags, which suprisingly, are already merry-go-round on the belts waiting for us...Once we have everyone gathered and their bags picked, we walked out via the green custom lane where the custom official just sat there and didn;t bother....

After waited for about 20 minutes for the travel agency courtesy van to pick us up at the lowest level of the airport (it almost seem like eternity since we;re in the miserable KL heat/humidity compared to China's subzero temperature less than 12 hours ago), we're squeezed into the van with our belongings and back to the non-vacationing world (at least for my relatives...)

Air China used to fly 767 on this route (i took the same flight on 767 in 2007 to PEK and harbin) and the downgrade to a 757 and 5 flights/week show that PEK-KUL flight is not very lucrative, and not 'high profile'. The 757 to PEK is in decent shape, while the plane on the return flight has probably logged much more miles/passengers/abuse. Having a clogged/filled-up lavs are just not acceptable for ANY flight, let alone a 6.5 hour international flights with a approximately 85% load. The lavs looked dirty and rusty even when its on the ground in PEK

On the other hand, the domestic flight from Taiyuan on a much newer 737-800 is a nice welcome, abeit its on Shandong Airlines

The flight attendants are consistent. Consistently bad in the sense of lax on enforcing rules on take off/landing standard procedures on both flights, and providing lackluster service to the passengers in general. having just flown SQ, the difference of the service quality between there Star Alliance airlines are miles apart. Having flown 4 CA flights on KUL-PEK vice versa in 4 years time, may be i'm just unlucky to have bad flight attendants on all 4 flights. Being on a major holiday might affect the mood of the flight attendants (i once took an AA's flight on christmas eve from DFW-LAX and the mood of the crew was so doomed and gloomed)....Let's hope they perform better on higher profile flights like PEK-LHR or PEK-LAX....

Its not very shocking to see plastic cutlery (yes, i'm spoiled courtesy of SQ) but the food ex KUL is better quality than the ones ex PEK... CA should at least offer some snacks in between, we're practically starving an hour before landing

Anyway, that's it with this series of flight. hope you enjoyed the ride and not too put off by my rantings  

[Edited 2011-02-24 05:57:16]
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Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:16 am

RE: KUL - PEK, TYN-PEK-KUL On Air China (pics) :~

Sun Feb 27, 2011 10:49 am

Nice report, thanks for sharing!!
Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
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Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2001 10:27 am

RE: KUL - PEK, TYN-PEK-KUL On Air China (pics) :~

Thu Mar 17, 2011 5:39 am

Just found the this trip report. Well done.
I could see many photos from China and also from Air China itself.

The 757 can be painful, so many people on a single aisle plane.
I'd aviod on flight longer than 3 hours where people start walking around and lining for toilets.
The rice on PEK-KUL flight looks so fake and unedible. Is it real? It looks like a piece of sticky rubber to me.

Did you earn miles towards Star alliance account from this trip?
I am holding an Asiana account and most of Air China fare from Thailand give 50% miles or 0!
So it doesn't make any better choosing Air China over other carriers.

However, many thanks for the report again!
Let's just blame it on yields.
Topic Author
Posts: 107
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2005 9:20 am

RE: KUL - PEK, TYN-PEK-KUL On Air China (pics) :~

Thu Mar 17, 2011 10:50 pm

hey nethkt

thanks for the comments...

Quoting nethkt (Reply 5):
The rice on PEK-KUL flight looks so fake and unedible. Is it real? It looks like a piece of sticky rubber to me.

the rice was a bit 'soggy' but they taste fine...the chicken was bad and the fish was awful (in fact, i will avoid fish on plane food if possible..even SQ's not great on my flight from DME to IAH last week, they ran out of chicken, so i had no choice...   )

Quoting nethkt (Reply 5):
The 757 can be painful, so many people on a single aisle plane.
I'd aviod on flight longer than 3 hours where people start walking around and lining for toilets.

people lining up is the least of the problem...its how filthy it became and the smell......[shivering....]

well, we're part of tour group, so, we didn;t have much choice on the airlines selection. i wished we would have been on MH as it would be a A330... the flight was used to be a 767 but CA downgauged the aircraft to 757, and from daily to 5/week (if i'm correct)....
and since we're on tour group, i didn't get a chance to provide my UA no. so i sent a credit request to UA last week and still not heard back...not optimistic....

thanks again for the comments  

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