Xiamen Air 787 First Class In 10 Pictures

Hello from Seattle! I just flew Xiamen Air’s 787 first class between Shenzhen and Seattle. As I explained in a previous post, I was on a discounted business class ticket, but managed to upgrade to first class at the airport for cash.

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I’ve enjoyed reviewing the various products of Chinese airlines, including Air China business class, China Southern first class, China Eastern business class, Hainan business class, etc., so was curious to see how Xiamen Air’s first class product compared.

As some of you may remember, my China Southern first class flight a couple of years back was less than stellar, and China Southern owns a majority stake in Xiamen Air, so… 😉

Xiamen Air’s 787 first class cabin is intimate, consisting of a single row in a 1-2-1 configuration. It’s not an especially private product, but is comfortable, and a nice upgrade over the 2-2-2 business class configuration. The seat is virtually identical to China Southern’s A330 first class, which I also flew a couple of years back.

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Oddly there were already three passengers in first class when I boarded, despite the fact that the flight showed as being “F3” (meaning in theory I was the only passenger). Business class was sold out, so I suspect they were either operational upgrades or employees.

I was a bit surprised to find that first class amenities were the same as in business class, including the amenity kit, pajamas, etc. The menu was even identical, which really surprised me. It’s not that it was a fluke, as the menu specifically said it was “first class,” but it mirrored what they had in business class.

The difference was that the plating in first class was significantly better. So while it was the same food, there were no trays used. Overall the food was excellent, though, even if it wasn’t “first class.” The reality is that Xiamen Air’s business class catering (food & drinks) is better than what China Southern had in first class when I flew them.

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While the food was identical and just plated better, in first class Xiamen Air has proper bedding, including a mattress sheet. So I got a solid six hours of sleep, thanks primarily to the fact that this plane didn’t have wifi (I was planning on working the whole flight because I thought the flight would have wifi, but it didn’t — oops!).

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They also had a few cute touches to the service, like a scented card they gave me when I went to sleep, which the crew insisted would make me sleep better.

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Speaking of the crew, I really can’t say enough good things about them. They were fabulous beyond words. I commented on how good the crew was on the way out, though I was cautious about drawing too many conclusions, since the company’s president was on the flight.

This crew was every bit as good, if not better. They were charming, so incredibly attentive, and had an eye for detail. It was like flying with a great crew on JAL, Singapore Airlines, or Cathay Pacific. The fact that there were two flight attendants assigned to four passengers didn’t hurt either.

Every time they placed a fork or knife on my tray they did so with incredible precision. Every time they served me something they’d gesture towards it and say “please enjoy.” Every time they served me a coffee it had different “art” on it. They had the most genuine smiles, and during the meals would bring out extra things and say “this is delicious, you must try it.”

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The crew was so genuine and lovely, so that was really the most pleasant part of the experience.

Bottom line

While Xiamen Air doesn’t do a lot to differentiate their soft product in business and first class, the overall feeling I came away with is what a professional operation the airline runs. The flight attendants on both sectors were incredible, the food delicious, and the amenities excellent, at least by business class standards.

If you upgrade to first class, don’t do so with the expectation of being offered Krug and caviar. Instead do it for the added privacy and personal space.

Regardless, all around Xiamen Air greatly exceeded my expectations, and is in the same league as Hainan.

Comments

  1. That’s why the upgrade was cheap. And you thought you pulled one over the dumb Chinese 😉

    Whenever I am getting a good deal, I am the one being taken for a ride.

  2. The company’s president was on the flight too? You should have told him about your cash upgrade, or at least jokingly asked if he paid cash for his upgrade also.

  3. Well, presumably the crew was nice because they knew who you were based on your reports about Chinese airlines.

  4. Love the comments, and glad to hear that Chinese FA’s can give first class service.
    While the non-upgrades for the food and beverage isn’t great, sometimes just the act of service and presentation more than make up for it. That sounds like your experience here.
    Can’t wait to read the details.

  5. Thanks for the trip report. I agree the hard product looks pretty good, but as you said, the difference (no Krug or Caviar) is a little disappointing for the $450 price tag. I imagine you may have slept a little better and enjoyed the increased privacy.

    Unfortunately with flying today, I am finding business class to be just fine, especially for the price or for the number of points required. I understand why many airlines like LH are getting rid of it. Perhaps a better use of my money is to fly business class, and take my wife out for dinner on the ground which includes Krug and caviar for $500

  6. Was there no champagne or sparkling wine at all?

    I’m guessing that few people flying first-class would know it’s the same food as business-class, unless they had flown business-class previously. It’s a good way to save money, if the airline doesn’t get caught doing so.

    Is that a croissant in the bread basket for dinner?

  7. On their upgrade website, there is a note that when upgrading they might not be able to serve you the food of the upgraded class. Might that have happened here?

  8. Very cool! I was actually a couple of gates down from the inaugural flight out of Seattle and wondered what the inside of the plane looked like! At least I got some commemorative cake and punch 😛

    Than

  9. Lol you paid for an upgrade when the others all got free ones :p.
    And isn’t $450 a bit much for essentially a 6 hour nap?

  10. “The difference was that the plating in first class was significantly better. So while it was the same food, there were no trays used”

    Just like Emirates! You find many of the same items in both first and business menus, just a nicer presentation and larger portions in first.

  11. Looks great. Can’t wait to try Xiamen on a long-haul flight. I’ve been on a few intra-Asia fights between China and Singapore, and would say their product is on par with the likes of Malaysian given they fly narrowbodies on these flights.

  12. Why not caviar on the Chinese airlines? They have their own “caviar” which is akin to that caught in the Caspian Sea.

  13. It is disappointing that Xiamen Air didn’t have an upgraded soft product on the first class comparing to the business class. One of my father’s friend is currently working as a senior manager in Xiamen Air. I would wait for the full version of the report and share it to him, waiting for some response to improve the soft product provided on first class.

    Xiamen Air’s staff is highly recognised in Xiamen City. Most of the people in Xiamen will be quite glad to have a friend working in Xiamen Air. Therefore, the flight attendants of Xiamen Air always put so much devotion to their job, thus they will always give the premium service comparing to other Chinese airlines, even for economy class (which I usually take…).

    Again, thank you to choose Xiamen Air, 人生路漫漫,白鹭常相伴 (Meaning: The Egret (Xiamen Air’s label) will always accompany you in the life-long time).

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