Introduction: An Insane Week In The Sky
Review: China Eastern Business Class 777-300ER Los Angeles To Shanghai
Review: Grand Hyatt Shanghai
Review: China Eastern Lounge Shanghai Airport
Review: China Eastern Business Class A330 Shanghai To Colombo
Review: Hilton Colombo
Review: Qatar Airways Business Class A340 Colombo To Doha
Review: Oryx Lounge Doha Airport
Review: Royal Air Maroc Business Class 787 Doha To Casablanca
Review: Hyatt Regency Casablanca
Review: Royal Air Maroc Lounge Casablanca Airport
Review: Royal Air Maroc Business Class 787 Casablanca To Doha
Review: Qatar Airways Business Class A340 Doha To Colombo
Review: Saudia Business Class 777 Colombo To Jeddah
Review: Saudia Lounge Jeddah Airport
Review: Saudia Business Class 787 Jeddah To Manchester
Review: Pakistan Airlines Business Class 777 Manchester To New York
Review: Airspace Lounge New York JFK Airport Terminal 5
Review: JetBlue Mint A321 New York To Los Angeles
This is where the China Eastern experience goes from disappointing to downright amusing.
We arrived at Shanghai Pudong Airport at around 11:30AM, plenty early for our 2:05PM flight to Colombo. China Eastern operates out of Terminal 1, which I believe was my first time flying out of there, as I only recall flying out of Terminal 2 in the past.
Around the center of the terminal, by the “E” sign, there was a dedicated first & business class area, which was nicely designed. It was partitioned off from the rest of the terminal, and featured lots of comfortable leather chairs.
Business class passengers could check in to the left, while first class passengers could check in to the right.
The only issue was that the queue was rather long, as we had to wait for about 10 minutes before we were helped. It’s unfortunate they created such a nice area but still have long queues, which I haven’t otherwise found to be the case for premium check-in at hub airports.
The associate who checked us in was friendly, and as soon as she scanned our boarding passes she made a quick call, which I didn’t think much of at the time. Airline agents make phone calls all the time, often for things unrelated to the person they’re helping.
We headed towards immigration, where there was a fairly short wait, despite there not being a premium security line. Matthew had cleared before me, so when I cleared immigration I saw him talking to a guy in a China Eastern uniform. Hmmm…
As it turned out, he had approached Matthew when he cleared immigration and said “Hello Mr. Klint. Welcome to Shanghai. I am the Airport Duty Manager for China Eastern. I understand you arrived yesterday?”
He then took us to the security checkpoint, where we waited for a few minutes.
As we walked to the lounge he told us about the improvements that China Eastern is making to the airport, including opening a new centralized lounge. At this point we connected the dots and realized that apparently our feedback went high enough up the chain at China Eastern over the course of 24 hours, and this guy was tasked with making sure we had a good experience on the ground.
He was extremely friendly and told us all about China Eastern, though in no way addressed the disappointing experience the day prior, probably intentionally.
China Eastern’s lounge setup at Shanghai Pudong Airport is bizarre. It’s sort of like a more poorly organized version of Emirates’ lounges in Dubai, where you can board your flight directly through the lounge. Sort of.
To get to the lounge, he walked us through a gate and past gate agents who were scanning boarding passes while trying to board a plane. Huh, was he sending us on a flight to somewhere else? We took the escalator down a level, which is where the jet bridges to the planes are located.
But also next to the gates are individual VIP lounges. Best I could tell, each lounge was intended for 2-3 gates.
In this case we were using the China Eastern VIP Lounge by gate 20.
At reception we handed over our lounge invitations, though the duty manager continued to stay with us.
We quickly took a few pictures of the lounge, which was on the small side (which I guess is to be expected, since it’s only intended for a few gates).
There were maybe a couple dozen seats, so I’m not sure how this lounge would have capacity for a full 777 business class cabin, for example.
The above is the extent of the lounge’s seating. Near the entrance were some magazines and newspapers.
Then there was one more randomly placed table near the entrance.
I’m not sure what exactly was plugged into the wall, and whether it was intended as an advertisement, or what.
The buffet area was across from the reception desk.
There were self serve soft drinks, water, etc.
Then there were some snacks, including muffins, sweets, etc.
There were also some cheese bacon sandwiches, fresh veggies, pastries, bread, etc.
Some of the signage could have benefitted from a translator…
I’m not sure if they change the food selection every day, because there was a sign indicating what day of the week it was, and all the food was also labeled with “THU.”
There was also a self serve liquor selection.
Utensils in the lounge were unfortunately plastic, though I’m not sure if that’s some airport regulation, or just China Eastern being cheap.
Next to the food display area was an area with a bunch of model airplanes, all of which were from SkyTeam carriers. It’s pretty cool that they didn’t just showcase China Eastern planes.
The lounge’s bathrooms were behind the reception desk. The bathroom area itself was fine.
In addition to that there was even a shower room, which looked nicer than I was expecting.
I’d note that we saw quite a transformation between the time we arrived at the lounge and when we left. Most of the above pictures were taken closer to the end of our stay in the lounge.
The first thing I noticed when we arrived was a bunch of garbage sitting on our table, and there was an equal amount on other tables. The duty manager looked horrified when he saw this, and said “I noticed you were taking pictures of the garbage, so I just wanted to explain…”
Over our roughly hour stay in the lounge, we noticed quite a transformation in terms of the cleanliness of the lounge, as the lounge attendants were hustling to clean things up, the food area was replenished, etc.
Once we sat down we were offered water and a warm towel.
Eventually one of the lounge attendants came up to us with an iPad showcasing two hot dishes. We chose one of them, and she said she’d bring it in about 10 minutes. Shortly thereafter the duty manage came up to us and said “good choice, it’s traditional Shanghai dish.”
Sure enough the food was brought on a tray about 10 minutes later, and it was excellent.
I tried to get caught up on some work while in the lounge, though the wifi was really slow.
Boarding was scheduled to begin at 1:20PM, and the inside of the lounge had a board indicating the two flights departing nearby, including the Korean Air flight to Seoul Incheon, and the China Eastern flight to Colombo.
The duty manager indicated that he’d escort us when the flight was ready for boarding. At this point I’d note that he had a posse of two other people with him, who I guess were also there to supervise the “situation.”
Finally at around 1:35PM he fetched us in the lounge. We turned left and walked towards gate 21, which was our departure gate.
There was another VIP Lounge at that gate, and like I said above, we didn’t even need to have our boarding passes scanned, since you’re technically already on the jet bridge when you’re in the lounge.
Our China Eastern A330 was in the old livery, which looks rather outdated.
We were excited to get on our flight to Colombo and see how our China Eastern experience compared.
China Eastern Lounge Shanghai bottom line
China Eastern’s lounge setup in Shanghai is unique. We were told they’d soon be opening a central lounge, though it looks like the opening of that has been delayed significantly, so I don’t know what the timeline looks like. I’ll be curious to see what that lounge is like.
The lounge itself was okay. It was on the small side, though wasn’t crowded. The buffet selection was limited, though the hot food we were served off a menu was excellent.
I think it goes without saying we received special service here, so it was interesting to see how much better the airline can be when they actually try. The lounge was in pretty bad condition when we arrived, while it was almost spotless by the time we left. Too bad the airline only seems to be able to perform at that level when there are management threats (I assume).