Review: Sichuan Airlines Business Class A330 Chengdu To Jinan

Introduction: Getting What I Paid For On Sichuan Airlines
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Review: Sichuan Airlines Business Class A330 Chengdu To Jinan
Review: Jinan Airport Lounge
Review: Sichuan Airlines Business Class A330 Jinan To Los Angeles


Sichuan Airlines 8699
Chengdu (CTU) – Jinan (TNA)
Saturday, October 28
Depart: 7:20PM
Arrive: 9:35PM
Duration: 2hr15min
Aircraft: Airbus A330
Seat: 4H (Business Class)

At the forward door I was greeted by two friendly flight attendants, who verified my boarding pass and pointed me towards the far aisle. One interesting note about the flight attendants — at first I thought the male flight attendants were pilots, as they had the typical pilot hats, as well as stripes on their uniforms.

Sichuan Airlines’ A330 business class consists of a total of 36 seats, spread across six rows in a 2-2-2 configuration. The forward cabin (between doors one and two) has four rows, while the rear cabin (behind door two) has two rows.


Sichuan Airlines A330 business class cabin

I was seated in seat 4H, the aisle seat on the right side in the last row of the forward business class cabin.


Sichuan Airlines A330 business class seats

While the legroom was pretty good, Sichuan Airlines’ A330 business class seats are angled, which is quite disappointing, as they’re the only Chinese airline I know of not to offer flat beds on any of their longhaul planes (though that will be changing soon, as they take delivery of A350s).


Sichuan Airlines A330 business class seats


Sichuan Airlines A330 business class seats

The seat controls were on the center armrest, and were easy to use. I’m not a huge fan of the placement of the seat controls, since it’s easy to accidentally push them and adjust the seat.


Sichuan Airlines business class seat controls

Between the two seatbacks were power outlets (including 110v and USB), as well as the headphone jacks.


Sichuan Airlines business class power outlets and headphone jacks

Beneath the center armrest were the entertainment controls.


Sichuan Airlines business class entertainment controls

Inbetween the seats in front were coat hooks as well as storage compartments.


Sichuan Airlines business class storage

The tray table folded out from the far armrest, and was a single tray that couldn’t be folded in half.


Sichuan Airlines business class tray table

Waiting at each seat was a pillow and blanket. While the pillow was fine, I was disappointed by the blanket, thinking that this was what they were offering on the longhaul flight. Fortunately they swapped out the blankets in Jinan, though. Unfortunately the blanket did have several long black hairs on it, so I’m guessing they don’t clean them between flights.


Sichuan Airlines business class pillow & blanket

There were also slippers in the cubbies between seats.


Sichuan Airlines business class slippers

Also in the cubbies were super-cheap headphones that you clip onto your ears. It’s ridiculous that this is what they offer in business class.


Sichuan Airlines business class headphones

I was amused by the picture of a plane that they used on a laminated card in the seatback pocket.


That’s an interesting plane

Can anyone identify what plane this is? 😉


Hmmmm…

The boarding process as hectic, given that everyone boarded through the forward door, and it was a full flight. Once boarding died down a bit, the crew came through the cabin with pre-departure beverages. There was no choice, but rather everyone got hot jasmine tea and a bag of honey roasted peanuts. Despite the lack of choice, I quite liked it.


Sichuan Airlines business class pre-departure drink and nuts

By 7:15PM the door was closed, and the plane was nearly full — there was one empty seat in business class. I had the ideal seatmate in the window seat — she didn’t speak the whole flight other than to order food, and barely had to use the bathroom all the way to Los Angeles. Poifect.

By 7:20PM we began our pushback. As we taxied out, the crew came through the cabin and asked everyone a question.

“Sir we prepare dinner for you. If you sleep we wake up?”


Sichuan business class cabin A330

As we taxied out the safety demonstration was screened. As soon as it was finished the local captain announced our flight time would be 1hr50min, and that we’d be taking off shortly. I mention he’s local because interestingly on my connecting flight to Los Angeles the captain was French. At 7:30PM we were airborne from runway 2L.

About 15 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off, at which point I checked out one of the two lavatories located between the business class cabins, which was already pretty dirty.


Sichuan business class lavatory

I was impressed by the number of amenities it had, including an Angry Birds air freshener. I was tempted to take a couple of those to go.


Sichuan business class lavatory amenities


Sichuan business class lavatory amenities


Sichuan A330 business class cabin

30 minutes after takeoff warm towels were distributed, followed by the tablecloths for the meal.


Sichuan business class warm towel

After that flight attendants rolled a cart down each aisle with drinks and a fruit plate. At no point were menus or drink lists distributed, but rather the flight attendant had a single drink list that she handed people for a moment as she took orders (and of course she looked at me like I was crazy when I asked if I could take a picture of it).

The beverage list read as follows:

As it turns out, Sichuan Airlines is “dry” on domestic flights, with the exception of beer. I pointed at the picture of the wine glass under the “alcohol” section of the menu, and the flight attendant simply said “no.”

So instead I just had some water, and was offered a fruit plate.


Sichuan Airlines business class meal — fruit plate

I wasn’t sure if that was the extent of the meal or not, though about 30 minutes later, as we began our descent, the main course was distributed (interestingly they made the announcement to turn off electronic devices in preparation for landing before serving the meal). There were no choices as far as the meal goes, but rather everyone was served the same thing. I asked the flight attendant what it was, though she said she wasn’t sure.

Sichuan Airlines is known for serving Sichuan-style food, which many people like. I picked at a few of the things — it was a bit annoying not knowing what anything was, though it looked like there was some tofu, fish, etc. The little food I did eat was quite good.


Sichuan Airlines business class meal

I didn’t pay much attention to the inflight entertainment on this short flight, but rather just checked out the airshow briefly. Below are some pictures of that.


Airshow enroute to Jinan


Airshow enroute to Jinan


Airshow enroute to Jinan


Airshow enroute to Jinan

The flight attendants just barely finished the meal service before it was time to land, and at 9:20PM we touched down in Jinan, and five minutes later we were at our arrival gate.

Sichuan Airlines A330 business class bottom line

Based on this quick flight I sure wasn’t impressed by Sichuan Airlines. On the plus side, the flight attendants were friendly and well intentioned, even if there was more of a communication barrier than I’ve had on other Chinese airlines.

Other than that, though, the experience disappointed me. There was no alcohol other than bear, and no meal choice. However, this was only the beginning of my journey, as I had another 12 hours to go.

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Comments

  1. “There was no alcohol other than [beer], and no meal choice.”

    “I had the ideal seatmate in the window seat — she didn’t speak the whole flight other than to order food, and barely had to use the bathroom all the way to Los Angeles. [Perfect]”

  2. You were on a Chinese domestic flight, not an international flight.

    I doubt most overseas Chinese would expect Mandarin speakers on a two hour US domestic flight.

  3. I guess they were dying to secure some international routes even before they were fully ready to launch, thanks to China’s “one Chinese airline per route policy”, especially considering Hainan has already secured both Chengdu and Chongqing to New York. It must be already pretty embarrassing for Sichuan to not be able to fly nonstop from Chengdu (capital of Sichuan) to New York.

  4. Airbus Boeing A737neo. The unusual four-engine variant, of course, is only built in Shanghai, which is also where this conversation has gone. 🙂

  5. They failed to properly explain the dishes in English, but the meal itself looks pretty good to me, miles ahead of US domestic flights of similar time duration.

  6. I agree with @Sean Waltman. Yes, it would be great if they all can speak your language well or pretty well. It is understood or perceived that English is the international language. Yet, this was a domestic flight, so I am sure they only would need to know Manadarin. Ever seen any U.S. airlines do this better? Whether it is domestic or international, the flight attendants and pilots only know English. These international carriers have already been ultra light years ahead of any U.S. based carriers. It would be great to see the American airlines catch up in this area.

  7. Either all or almost all of the non U.S. based carriers provide service with several languages and dialects besides English. They should be commended for trying their best to serve as many different nationalities as possible. It is a commendable effort and it should not be seen as a downside that they may have some trouble with English. At least, they can speak some English.

  8. Fermented “bears”….a unique but not impossible offering I would imagine…:)

    But serving a full meal only on descend? Did the crew mix up the order of the meal? I would have expected that whole full Monty and than only the fruit. I guess they must still be tweaking their meal service order.

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