(Sorry for the delay as I was busy in my school work in the past few weeks and my poor English as well since it is not my first language!)
After flying the 787 and farewell flight(s) to 747-400D, flying the new Queen is always on the top of my “to-fly list”. However, prior to the delivery to Air China, Lufthansa is the only carrier who fly the passenger version of 748 and are mainly deployed on long-haul routes. To a person based in Asia, it means that it is quite time consuming (and expensive) to fly the 748I for no purpose but to “taste” the new Queen. Therefore I kept tracked the status of the delivery of Air China’s 1st 748I and once the schedule was released, I immediately purchased the ticket without any hesitation.
Ticket was purchased via Air China’s PRC
website, the whole process was completed within minutes and without any problem. Since the price of full-fare Economy ticket (Remarks: For domestic flights in China, full-fare Economy ticket offered guaranteed upgrade to “Domestic First”, which is equal to Business class on International flights) was over USD800, I decided to settle in the lightly discounted Economy ticket (USD177), which allowed me to change the date or cancel the ticket with minimum penalty in case the inaugurate flight is being changed for whatever reason.
Few days later, I accidently discovered that the price for Business class ticket has been dropped significantly to USD310 only, considering that it will be the cheapest way to experience Air China’s long-haul product and I will be able to be sited on the upper deck cabin, I logged-in my reservation and upgraded myself to full-fare Economy ticket (i.e. Domestic First”) via the website by paying the fare difference and 10% handling charge.
However, I am not able to change my pre-selected seat online, I called their hotline and was answered by the CS
officer without any wait who helped me to change my seat reservation to 84A, which is an upper deck window seat. Good job Air China and shame on Cathay Pacific, so called the World’s Best Airline, of which you need to wait forever before your called is being answered if you don’t have any status with Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong!
Positing myself into Beijing onbard HongKong Airlines HX332 HKG
10 Oct 2014
As I didn’t have many annual leaves left, I could only take a late night inbound flight to Beijing the day before. One way ticket could be expensive. However, while searching for the ticket, I found that HongKong Airlines (a subsidiary of Hainan Airlines) was having a promotion, with a slightly higher price (around USD40), I could get an Economy ticket with guaranteed upgrade to Business Class (plus a lot more miles of their FFP). Final price was less than USD300 (even cheaper than the one way Economy ticket of Dragonair quoted). I purposely chose the flight operated by an A320 (they had another flight to Beijing operated by an A330 within an hour) as I had never traveled the Business class on a narrow body plane. In addition, after this flight, I would have flown every model of HongKong Airlines’ fleet (i.e. A320; A330-200 and A330-300) and all three type of Business class products they currently have (i.e. A320; A330-200 and one on their A330-300 and A33V (previously known as their all Business class A330-200)).
Since this report is focused on the 748 flight I would only include a few photos of this flight.
Tonight’s plane, B-LPK
, delivered in March 2013
(photo took after arrival)
Boarded via the stair in Hong Kong
The cabin; legroom and IFE
Welcome drink and the meal, which was quite delicious
Assorted Fish Platter as starter
Beef Stroganoff with Mashed Potato and Western Vegetables as well as garlic breads
And the Haagen-Dazs
The haze in Beijing made the 787 looks so…….dramatic
Air China Inaugurate 747-8I flight CA1315 PEK
11 Oct 2014
Days pass and finally it came to 11 Oct. The weather that day was very bad, numbers of flights have been delayed or canceled and some inbound traffics have been diverted. However, given the importance of the flight to Air China, I have confident that our flight will not be affected as it will probably be designated as VVVVVIP flight and given the 1st priority for the ATC clearance.
After a short shuttle ride from Hilton Beijing Capital Airport Hotel, I went directly to the (Domestic) First check-in counter in the Terminal 3 and got the boarding pass (even though I have already done the online check-in and have a self-printed version boarding pass on hand), I processed to the security check and the found myself in Air China’s flagship lounge.
Newly branded boarding pass with the logo of “Love China”
The entrance of lounge in Terminal 3C
(exclusively used by Air China’s domestic flights) is located immediately after the security check. Since it was a Saturday morning the lounge was not particularly busy.
The best thing of the lounge: the view of the terminal!
However, the foods and drinks were the joke. Selection was so limited and didn’t taste good even though it is Air China’s flagship domestic lounge. Still a long way to catch up when compared to Cathay Pacific.
Ate a little bite as my breakfast and I decided to go to the gate earlier to see if any special event would be carried out.
Boarding and the cabins
Today’s flight~~CA1315 from PEK
The Queen was getting ready.
However nothing special happened in the gate area. Some journalists and invited guesses were allowed to board the plane ahead of everyone for interview and photo-taking. After a short wait, after the elderly; people with children and those who need special assistance, passengers flying Deluxe First (i.e. International First); Domestic First (i.e. International Business) and Premium Economy were boarded ahead of Economy.
While people were boarding, I took the time to walk around the cabin for photo taking.
First class cabin (also as Deluxe First for domestic flights)
Instead of the upper deck or nose area of the main deck, Air China places the First class cabin between Door 1 and Door 2 therefore no other passenger will walk through the cabin and First class passengers will not be disturbed during the boarding processes.
Economy (and Premium Economy) cabin
Remarks: Same seat for both Economy and Premium Economy except a slightly larger seat pitch
Main deck Business class cabin (also as Domestic First)
Upper deck Business class cabin (also as Domestic First)
Stair towards upper deck
Full bed mode
Legroom should not be the problem and the PTV is……HUGE!
However, the head-set was not the noise cancelling one.
Safety card and inflight magazines
While we were waiting for the final clearance, FA
served hot towel and welcome drink, menu were distributed as well.
Date: 11 Oct 2014
Departure: Beijing (PEK
Destination: Guangzhou (CAN
Aircraft: Boeing 747-8I
Seat: 84A (Upper deck)
My through was correct. Finally jetways were pulled and we began the push back just 13 minutes behind the schedule.
Safety video were played. A huge improvement from the old-fashioned one in my opinion.
Say goodbye to the ground crews.
Meet the old queen
We by-passed all the planes and arrived the runway without any stop.
After the seat belt sign turned off, FA
distributed the hot towel and order for the lunch was taken.
Soon, drinks and nuts (but not warmed) were served.
Afterwards, lunch were served
Nicely branded chopsticks
Bresaola as appetizer and Chicken Soup with Monkey Head (a kind of Mushroom) and Mushroom (not shown in the photo)
Steamed Chicken and Chinese Sausage Hot Pot Rice served with Steamed Pearl Rice and Seasonal Vegetables as main course
and concluded by sweet soup Mango Pomelo Sago
with seasonal fresh fruit
I must say, the meal was highly satisfactory and up to the industry standard, especially the appetizer and the main course, which is one of the most delicious meal I have in the recent years. Good job Air China!
Best IFE in my opinion :P
Same as 787, every 748I flight report should have some photo for the sexy wing!
Some special decoration to celebrate today’s flight
Another special event: Fashion show onboard.
wearing Retro Uniforms doing cat-walk along the main deck
Cake-cutting in the main deck Business class cabin
(the words on the cake means celebrating the inaugurate 747-8 flight)
And finally the name-signing ceremony for First class passengers…..
Souvenir for every passenger and a lucky draw of the 748I model to some of them.
Shortly capital announced that we have begun our descent into Guangzhou International airport and asked FA
to prepare the cabin for landing. PTV played a video about 748I. FA
saw me taking photos during the flight and told me to prepare my camera, as there will be water salute after the arrival. I was so excited about that as it would be my first (and only one till now) water salute.
The video even included the delivery ceremony happened the day before in Beijing!!! Super efficient.
My dream trip was ending. We flow above the downtown of Guangzhou, but I was sitting at the wrong side of the plane, so sadly no photo but the view was amazing. The landing and approach was a little bite bumpy but overall it was a good landing!
Vacating the runway
Huge number of people were getting ready for our arrival
I was so excited for my first water salute (although it just felt like a de-icing….)
De-planning a 748I from an outer bay (not a usual sign you will see very often)
Surprisingly ground crews allowed people to walk around the ramp, together with the a lot better weather in Guangzhou and the right direction of sun light, I took the opportunities to get a closer look of the new Queen!
The 747-8I was truly amazing; seat was comfortable and the crews did a great job to serve their passengers. They included the terms “Our newest 747-8 and the first in Asia” in most of their announcements during the flight, which shows that Air China is really proud of their newest long-haul flagship. In addition, airlines in China are improving rapidly and services are able to match the industry standard, especially in the premium cabins. Considering the relatively lower price they asked for, I will no doubt to fly with them again in the future.
For the inbound flight, although there were signs of cost-cutting, HongKong Airlines’ services in Business class (as well as Economy class based on my previous experiences) were comparable to other majors (with lower price). However, Business class seat on a narrow body is really a joke. I will try my best to avoid the narrow bodies when I am travelling on a Business class (onboard any airline) in the future.