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
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
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
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
departure level..what;s that buidling? parking? train terminal?
the vast 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
/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
'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...
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...
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
disguised as CO
(or perhaps the other way around????) taxing by
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)
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
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
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
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
and the mood of the crew was so doomed and gloomed)....Let's hope they perform better on higher profile flights like PEK
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
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]