This trip report is part 3 of my trip to China this summer. It includes my flights to and from Zhengzhou, in Henan Province, on Air China and China Eastern. After arriving from Beijing at the beginning of July I spent a month living and studying Zhengzhou followed by a flight to Shanghai (PVG).
ETE: 1h 35m
We arrived at Terminal 3 at around 13:00 to check in for our flight. Despite the crowds at domestic check-in for Air China the wait did not seem too long. It has been said many times before but PEK’s terminal 3 is extremely well-built and the environment created from the space, the architecture, and the use of natural light can soften any of the normal headaches associated with air travel. Following check-in (made sure to get a window seat ahead of time) I took in the limited views from the windows. After a few minutes we headed to security and the domestic departures level.
departure hall in Terminal 3
What a plethora!
Can't get enough of that architecture
Taxiing to depart back to Shenzhen
That A330-300 everyone's been talking about! :p
Check-in for our group took longer than expected so we moved through security as fast as we possibly could. We jogged Home Alone style to our gate where our 737-800 to CGO was parked next to a company plane heading to Hangzhou thirty minutes later. Boarding was a snap with our group the last few to enplane. I was pleasantly surprised upon entering the cabin to find we would be flying in one of Air China’s newest 737-800s equipped with Boeing’s Sky Interior. Truly a well designed cabin that I enjoyed throughout this very short flight.
Security on the Domestic end of PEK T3
On our way to the plane
My heart leapt a little inside when I saw this on a screen as we passed the galley
View from my window seat. Gotta love that 737 winglet.
The Air China seats haven't faded yet!
FAs help get the last of the passengers seated
Sort of has a jet-set meets Starship Enterprise quality to it.
CA's inflight magazine. My favorite part
The safety video came on the screen of the overhead monitors. Following the video the screens “disappeared” once more. The flight attendants came through the cabin one last time in their polite and charming way before departure. We were delayed about 15 minutes from pushback due to heavy departure traffic at that point in time. Following pushback however it was a very short taxi to the nearest runway between Terminal 3 and the older Terminals 1 and 2. Takeoff was steep as we climbed through the haze, smog, etc.
Hainan waits clearance for takeoff
Nice to see AF 777-300 as we rotate
Another pleasant site was the Ethiopian 777-200LR
Beginnings of pure sunlight as we climb out of the notorious Beijing skies.
There was only about an hour between departure and approach. In that time the flight attendants briskly served various beverages including fruit juice, tea, and sprite. Spam sandwiches of which I happily passed on followed this. That is one sandwich meat I will never understand…
For the remaining time before approach I scanned Air China’s inflight magazine to see how many characters I could understand among other things. :p
As we flew south the scenery below become engulfed in steamy haze. The appearance was a wonderful pretext to the brutal humidity I was to happily endure that month.
Our descent into the Yellow River Valley and the heart of Chinese civilization…was uneventful. I was lucky enough to get a few photos of the city of Zhengzhou as the ground below us was surrounded in the usual mix of dust, haze, and smog that engulfs many urban areas of China. Our plane glided over endless fields before slamming onto the runway.
Flaps down. Landing soming soon.
We had a swift taxi to our gate amongst numerous China Southern 737s as well as other airlines gathered at CGO that day. The humidity beat down immediately upon deplaning through the jet-way. CGO had the usual immaculately modern appearance common in almost all of China’s airports. We gathered our luggage from baggage claim and commuted to our hotel in the heart of Zhengzhou. Following two days getting oriented in the city we were turned over to live with families and began our intensive studies.
The "new" terminal at Zhengzhou
Zhengzhou is a focus city for China Southern
Always enjoy these bright colors
VIP passenger on today's flight
Zhengzhou's mostly vacant new commercial district. This central tower is near completion.
Fell in love with these dishes among others
View from my room in my family's apartment just after a brutal rainstorm leaving many of the main streets severely flooded and croc-sales soaring at the local shopping malls :p
The Yellow River with plenty of Loess
Koi in a feeding frenzy in Kaifeng
Flowers at the Ming-era governor's complex in Kaifeng
ETE: 1h 30m
After a life-changing month of studying in Zhengzhou it was time to begin our return journey to the States. A trip to China just couldn’t be complete however without a few days to party in Shanghai . We arrived at check-in at CGO at around 15:30. Check-in at Zhengzhou always goes by so swiftly due to the generous number of desks and staff and the proportionally smaller but quickly growing number of passengers. Security was also a breeze as it usually is in China.
Entering CGO main terminal
Interior of the departure hall
Empty security. Let's hurry up and wait!
As is common when travelling domestically in China our plane from Shanghai was delayed on the ground at PVG. As a result our Shanghai-bound flight would be delayed until 19:00. After being stuck on a Beijing-bound flight for three ours on the tarmac at PVG last year with very little air conditioning this delay was cake. I must ask once again however: Why do such long delays plague much of China’s air traffic? Is it simply due to the huge increase in air travel witnessed in China or is it simply unreliability on behalf of such carriers as Air China? Or both? I don’t mean to presume anything negative about the aviation industry in China but this has made me curious. Anyway…..
CGO’s gate area restaurants and shops were grossly over-priced so I resigned to strolling around taking a few pictures.
Okay departing to TSN that evening
MU from Hangzhou
Guess where this one is from
Special visitor flew in on a charter flight from Taiwan. China Airlines A330-300
Our A320 finally pulled in at our gate and we were soon boarding.
Obviously the cabin was a downgrade from the Sky Interior on our flight from PEK. This flight would however be my first on China Eastern, despite the short length.
MU inflight mag
Taxi was swift and we were quickly rolling down the runway and piercing through the clouds.
I passed on the spam sandwich that Chinese state-run carriers seem bent on serving me :p and dozed for much of the flight which was uneventful.
We began our approach and descent over the dazzling lights of the Shanghai area. Our approach was particularly scenic that evening as we glided past Pudong and the Bund before turning to line up with our runway at PVG. Landing was surprisingly smooth.
I Apologize for the blurriness...
Terminal 1, which is mostly domestic flights seemed relatively dark apart from a handful of red-eyes to CDG, FRA, and AMS. We deplaned into PVG’s “older” Terminal 1 and proceeded to baggage claim. The humidity in Shanghai that evening was stifling as we clamored to vehicles to drive to our hotel.
A blurry pic of our cabin upon deplaning
Nice effect with the lighting against the deep blue ceiling
Thank you for reading and stay alert for my final TR covering PVG-ORD-TUS as we escape the typhoon.