Video Report Air China - CA890 - Business Class - Mumbai to BeijingChinese High Speed Rail G523 - First Class Report Background
For our second leg of our journey we had to get from Mumbai to my wife's hometown - Shijiazhuang, the capital city of Hebei Province, northern China. Our options were either a flight to Bangkok, followed by a 1 stop flight to Shijiazhuang via Guangzhou or else, we could use the soon to be commenced direct flight from Mumbai to Beijing on Air China followed by the excellent high speed Chinese trains to Shijiazhuang (330 KM in 1 hour an 07 min!!!). It was a no brainer and we chose the latter option.
I used Air China India's website as they were giving me a slightly better rate than other websites, including Air China UK website. The booking process was straight forward and was able to book our flights in 15 minutes after navigating through their website. Was also able to pre-select seats for free.
My route and previous trip reports in this series, as below,
1. Part 1: Virgin to Mumbai - India and China Trip 2019
2. Part 2: Tour of Himachal Pradesh - India and China Trip 2019
3. Mumbai to Beijing on Air China, followed by Chinese High Speed train to Shijiazhuang, Video only (This Report)
4. Return from Shijiazhuang Via Chengdu and Doha on Hebei Airlines, Qatar Airways and British AirwaysAir China - CA890
Route: BOM - PEK
Flight Reg:B-5956; Delivered to Air China on Sep 2014
Aircraft Type: Airbus 330-300
Flight time: 02:45 - 11:40 (02:51 - 11:54)
Actual flight time: 6Hr 33 Min
Distance: 2963 Miles
Load: 29 of 30 in Business class. The back of the aircraft might have been ~25% loaded.
11 Nov 2019
Booking details: Booked on Airchina.in for a total of INR 62,000 for two tickets including all fees and 1 check-in baggage allowance (Economy Superior) + INR 34,000 at the check in counter to be upgraded to Business class.
My Log book: 1st Flight on Air China / 7th flight on Airbus 330-300 / 222nd Total overall flight
Previous day, OCI a bit slow But was done in 5 minutes.
Day of the flight, drive to the airport was quick since we were staying at the nearby holiday inn property. Reached the magnificent terminal 2 by 2330.
The check in counters were opened and there were hardly any passengers.
At the check in desk they offered us an upgrade to business at INR 16800 per ticket ($250). We thought it was a good deal and accepted it. The deal included all in flight business class features, priority bags and priority immigration. Although we could not avail the baggage allowance, lounge access or points accrual for business class tickets. Overall it sounded like a fair deal.
The priority immigration was superb. Airside in 2 minutes. There was a very long queue at the normal section.
Arriving at Mumbai T2, close to midnight
Online Check-in bag drop counter
Mumbai T2 interiors
This area was not well sign posted
The duty free and food court area
Seems to be on time
We had 90 minutes to while away. We walked around for a bit and had some snacks from the food court.
Once again, the art wall is breath-taking and would highly recommend for people who pass by Mumbai airport to spend some time viewing it.
We reached our gates by 0145 and were the first to board the aircraft at 0200.
During boarding I noticed there were quite a few receipts at the desk. These were the official air china receipts for the upgrade, which meant that they were quite a few like us who had upgraded at the counter. I'm not surprised given the rate charged and the length of the flight. It was later evident, when the back part of the aircraft was virtually empty with the business class cabin full except for one seat.
The amazing 'Wall' at Mumbai T2
Heading towards our boarding gate
Heavies at Mumbai
At Gate 69
Our ride to Beijing
Time to board
We were welcomed with a smile which seemed to be the theme of the entire flight.
The business class cabin is very spacious albeit nothing special. There are 5 rows of 6 seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. The cabin looked a bit dated and worn out.
Welcome drink was served followed by the menu and the exhaustive drinks list, which included quite a lot of local Chinese wines.
The crew, upon the first interaction and subsequently throughout the flight, were a bit limited in their English communications skills, but that did not deter them from being courteous, attentive and always with a smile. There were constant water runs throughout the entire length of the flight with our seat drinks area always with a bottle of water.
We disembarked on time and were airborne soon after.
Interiors of Air China A330-300 - Business Class
Great space between the seats
Enjoying a pre-take-off champagne
Before disembarking, our food order was taken down along with the time we wanted to eat.
We had a pseudo dine on demand option, but were advised that we sleep for the first 4.5 hours after when the main meal service, a 3 course breakfast, would be served. I.e. 2 hours before landing.
We opted for this too so we could maximise on our sleep.
Menu for the flight -> They had an exhaustive wine menu
Maybe I should watch some movie with my friends and chill #donaldjtrump
The seat lacked a bit of personal storage -> Seen here is the only one next to the seats
Amenity kit provided by L'occitane
Parked next to our aircraft to Mumbai
Panda themed safety video
My friend was on this flight from London. Arrived late today. I missed seeing him by 30 minutes
Quick visit to the toilet before retiring for the night
As soon as we attained cruising altitude passengers started to recline their beds and call it a night. Air china have a "seat belt always on sign" which means that you need to judge when is a good time to walk around/make your bed etc.
However, by 0315 my bed was set and was looking forward to a much needed kip.
The beds were very comfortable and along with the fairly fluffy duvet provided, I slept uninterrupted until 0715, when the cabin crew switched on the mood lighting to wake us up.
The cabin temperature and the steadiness of the aircraft meant a really good 4 hours of sleep to rejuvenate myself.
Woken up after our (very good) sleep with bottles of water and a fresh towel. NIce!
..and some snacks
The crew began distributing breakfast which was 1 of 2 major disappointments of this flight. It was most certainly just an economy meal with metal cutlery. It tasted alright but nothing special.
The other disappointment being the entertainment unit. The definition was fairly decent but the English choices were very limited. It was alright for this flight since we barely had time to watch a full length film.
Let's check out the IFE now. But the headphones first. It was below par for a business class cabin.
So was the IFE. Below par but acceptable.
Very average (at best) meal on this sector
After breakfast I walked towards the rear of the cabin where the premium economy and economy section were absolutely empty with quite a few passengers having 4 seats for themselves.
I was discouraged from shooting any videos at this point in time, not sure why though.
I liked the way this flight was timed. It was a good move to not serve any food at the start of the flight to maximise sleep time. So in that respect it ticked the right box.
This might've been a one off, but the loads on this flight makes me wonder if this route would be sustainable. Perhaps there's cargo value for this route?
There was a slight bit of turbulence en-route but nothing drastic at all. Overall it was a very comfortable ride and the bed made all the difference. In the end it was most certainly money well spent.
One point of note was that there was not a single announcement made by the captain, for the entire duration of the flight.
Does anyone know if this is a race track?
The block time of this flight is a strange one. At 6 hr and 25 minutes for an average flight time of 6hr 30 minutes this flight is always going to be "delayed". I'm not sure the reasoning behind this. It is quite apparent that the block time needs to be at a minimum of at least 7 hours for this sector.
The A333 was a good ride. Except for the dry air, which apart from the Dreamliner and the A350, is pretty much the same on every other aircraft.
The service on this flight was slightly skewed towards the Chinese passengers. The flight attendant was super nice and extra attentive to my wife (Of Chinese origin and was conversing in Mandarin with them) but not so to others on the fight, including myself. There seemed to be quite a few Polish (Eastern European) passengers on this sector, presumably all from the same organisation. I would rate them average overall. They lacked the wow factor as well as any sort of personal touch.
Rest of the flight was uneventful in a very good way and we landed into a sunny crisp Beijing on time. The views into Beijing airport were quite fascinating.
The impressive Beijing T3 from above
Thank you Air China!
Parked next to an Air China B737-800
Exiting the aircraft
Once on the ground we parked quickly and out by 12:00
It was a fairly quiet time at Beijing and we collected our bags and were out by 1300.
From one amazing terminal building (BOM) to another (Beijing, PEK)
Did the e-Registration this time. Hopefully from the next visit on, the process would be quicker
Shuttle to the main terminal building
Bags have arrived safely
Exiting the airport
Used the luxury limo service. I think they target foreigners for this service. It is very good, albeit around 2.5X the price of a normal cab. We had 4 suitcases, which may not have fit on the normal Beijing taxis. Verdict
The upgrade was well worth it. The beds on this aircraft was very good and made all the difference. Service was a typical Chinese airline and it would be best to not expect too much. I have had better experiences on China Southern.
Their food presentation and quality can most certainly be improved and would be the same for their IFE too.
The bottom line was Air China bought us safely and comfortably, direct from Mumbai to Beijing on time and conveniently.
Hope you liked this edition of my trip report. The last one is coming soon. Watch this space.
Until then, happy and safe flying, Adios!