Review: Sichuan Airlines Business Class A330 Jinan To Los Angeles

Introduction: Getting What I Paid For On Sichuan Airlines
Review: The Private Suite LAX
Review: Asiana Business Class A380 Los Angeles To Seoul
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Review: Grand Hyatt Chengdu
Review: Sichuan Airlines Lounge Chengdu Airport
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
Jinan (TNA) – Los Angeles (LAX)
Saturday, October 28
Depart: 11:35PM
Arrive: 8:40PM
Duration: 12hr5min
Aircraft: Airbus A330
Seat: 4H (Business Class)

At the door I was greeted by a new crew. Interestingly they were wearing purple uniforms, which were much more elegant (or something) than what the crew on the previous flight was wearing. I’m not sure if Sichuan has special uniforms for longhaul flights, or what.

Once again, I made my way to seat 4H, in the last row of the forward cabin.


Sichuan Airlines A330 business class cabin


Sichuan Airlines A330 business class seats


Sichuan Airlines A330 business class seats

At my seat was a better pillow and blanket than on my previous flight. The pillow was more substantial, and the blanket more plush. However, once again, there were long strands of black hair on the blanket. They really don’t seem to launder the bedding between flights.


Sichuan Airlines business class pillow & blanket

Amenity kits were already at each seat upon boarding. They had both gray and red amenity kits.


Sichuan Airlines business class amenity kit

The kit had Aigner amenities, including hand cream and facial moisturizer, as well as eyeshades, mouthwash, earplugs, and a toothbrush and toothpaste.


Sichuan Airlines business class amenity kit contents

Also in the cubby between seats were slippers and cheap headphones that you clip onto your ears. C’mon now!


Sichuan Airlines business class slippers & headphones

Within a few minutes of settling in, a flight attendant offered me some tea. As she presented it to me she introduced herself by name, and told me the flight time would be 11hr40min.


Sichuan Airlines business class pre-departure tea

While on the previous flight the honey roasted nuts were served directly with the drink, this time around they were served 10 minutes later.


Sichuan Airlines business class pre-departure nuts

The crew was friendly, and served me another glass of tea after I finished the first one without even asking.

The flight was quite full — it seemed like economy was mostly full, and 31 of the 36 business class seats were occupied. Unfortunately they boarded everyone through the forward door, so I took several bags to the face as people walked down the aisle.

By 11:20PM boarding was complete, at which point the crew came through the cabin to ask each person if they wanted to be woken for breakfast in case they’re sleeping after takeoff. Breakfast?!?

At 11:35PM we pushed back, at which point the safety video was screened. The safety video was played at such a low volume that you could barely hear it. As we taxied out the (French) captain added his welcome aboard, and told us that it should be a mostly smooth flight, and that we should be arriving on schedule.

At 11:45PM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 1. As we climbed out I removed the personal television from the armrest and had a look at the selection.


Sichuan Airlines business class IFE screen

Is Sichuan Airlines’ motto really “Soaring Above Expectations?” Really?


Sichuan Airlines business class entertainment selection

Unfortunately the entertainment selection was awful. There were a total of 19 foreign films, and that includes non-Hollywood films.


Sichuan Airlines business class entertainment selection


Sichuan Airlines business class entertainment selection


Sichuan Airlines business class entertainment selection


Sichuan Airlines business class entertainment selection

The selection of TV shows was even more limited. There were no sitcoms, and the only thing I was familiar with was “Just For Laughs,” so I watched three episodes of that.


Sichuan Airlines business class entertainment selection


Sichuan Airlines business class entertainment selection

I also briefly checked out the airshow for our flight.


Airshow enroute to Los Angeles


Airshow enroute to Los Angeles


Airshow enroute to Los Angeles


Airshow enroute to Los Angeles

During our climb out the crew put little post-it notes on certain seats. I suspect these were for the people who indicated that they wanted to be woken up for the meal service.


Sichuan Airlines business class service sticker

25 minutes after takeoff the crew was coming down the aisle to start the breakfast service.


Sichuan Airlines business class service

First tablecloths, drinks, and warm towels were distributed.


Sichuan Airlines business class table setting

The drink list read as follows (much like on the last flight passengers were only shown the list for a brief moment while placing the drink order):

I asked if they had champagne. They didn’t. I figured I’d go with a glass of white wine, so asked what kind of white wine they had. “The white kind,” she responded. So I ordered a glass of that.


Sichuan Airlines business class “wine” and warm towel

While everyone has different wine preferences, personally this was the most vile alcoholic grape juice I’ve had in my life. It was so bad that I had to find out what it was. Of course I didn’t want to say “that was awful, can I see what it is?” Instead I ordered a second glass, as one does. “Could I have another glass of that please? And could you please bring the bottle, because I like it so much and want to see what it is so I can buy it.”

For anyone who is wondering, the wine was the 2013 Eagle Crown Estate Chardonnay. I can’t find much about it online, other than that it sold for 5.67AUD per bottle at an auction (which still seems high).

About 30 minutes after takeoff breakfast was served. There was no choice of meals and no menu describing what everything was.


Sichuan Airlines business class breakfast

The omelet itself was quite good.


Sichuan Airlines business class breakfast

I also had the fruit.


Sichuan Airlines business class breakfast

The potato thing was decent too.


Sichuan Airlines business class breakfast

I’m not sure what exactly this was?


Sichuan Airlines business class breakfast

Or this? Maybe duck?


Sichuan Airlines business class breakfast

The piece of bread was fine.


Sichuan Airlines business class breakfast

On the plus side, the meal service was done quickly after takeoff, and an hour after takeoff the cabin lights were turned off. I find it weird that they serve breakfast after takeoff before you fall asleep, but I guess for a flight from Asia to the US that both departs and lands at night, there’s no perfect way to structure meals.


Airshow enroute to Los Angeles

The crew distributed bottled water.


Sichuan Airlines business class bottled water

There’s a small privacy partition between seats, so I raised that, and I went to sleep. Usually I struggle to sleep in angled seats, though I got some solid rest here. I suspect it’s just because I was really exhausted. Sichuan’s business class seats are angled — it’s not the worst angle I’ve had, but it’s still pretty significant. Fortunately the flight was smooth, so at least I wasn’t woken up by turbulence.


Sichuan Airlines business class privacy partition

I was tossing and turning quite a bit, so I finally got up at around 5PM PT, about 3.5 hours before landing. That means I was reclined for about seven hours. Not bad.

Once up I asked the crew some coffee, which they promptly served. I also asked if they had any snacks, though they didn’t. It’s strange to me that an airline doesn’t have any sort of snacks on a 12 hour flight.


Sichuan Airlines business class coffee

I got some work done on my laptop, and finally at 6:30PM, just over two hours before landing, the breakfast service began. At this point we were west of Vancouver.


Airshow enroute to Los Angeles


Airshow enroute to Los Angeles

Service began with warm towels being distributed.


Sichuan Airlines business class towel

While there were still no menus, for the first time there was a choice of meals. I was asked if I wanted pasta or Chinese food. That was the extent of the description, and I selected the former.

Tablecloths were distributed, and a large plate was placed on my tray, which had a tasteless, sour, and lukewarm tomato soup and some cold mixed nuts (I almost think the “tomato soup” may have just been hot tomato juice?). I was asked what I wanted to drink. I first ordered a Diet Coke, but then saw peach juice on the cart, and said “can I have the peach juice instead?” She served me both. Interesting combo, I must say.


Sichuan Airlines business class dinner service

About 15 minutes later I was brought a big plate with food. “Sorry, I ordered the pasta, is this the western option?” “Yes, this is pasta.” As it turns out, even the western option comes with a Chinese appetizer. In fairness, this was actually very good, and even beautifully presented.


Sichuan Airlines business class dinner service

The pasta, on the other hand… OMG. As I write this review weeks later, I’m still near the point of throwing up when I even think of it. The sauce tasted exactly how it looked, the fish was disgusting, and the spaghetti tasteless.


Sichuan Airlines business class dinner service

My seatmate ordered the Chinese option, took one look at it, and then had the flight attendant clear it. A few minutes later the flight attendant returned with some ramen for her. I’m guessing the Chinese option wasn’t great either?


Seatmate meal\

After the meal I was served a fruit plate, with some melon, kiwi, watermelon, and a single blueberry.


Sichuan Airlines business class dinner service

I then ordered some tea.


Sichuan Airlines business class tea

I was still a bit hungry since I hadn’t eaten most of the food, and asked if they had any dessert. To my surprise, they seemed to have some cake (which wasn’t offered to anyone else). It was good.


Sichuan Airlines business class dessert

For the last portion of the flight the crew seemed to just store the trash in the galley… as one does.


That’s one place to store trash…


Sichuan A330 business class cabin

At 7:30PM the captain announced that we should be landing at around 8:40PM. At this point the crew distributed immigration forms, though they didn’t have any in English (you had to get those upon arrival). The crew also came around to each passenger to say we will be landing in 35 minutes, and to “have a nice day.”

As we began our final descent a video was screened about how to stretch inflight, which seems like an odd time to screen it, since we were almost landing at this point.


Airshow enroute to Los Angeles


Airshow enroute to Los Angeles

There seemed to be something a bit wrong with the airshow, because it showed the correct numbers, but I don’t think the plane’s location updated properly on the “timeline.”


Airshow enroute to Los Angeles

We touched down in Los Angeles at 8:35PM on runway 24R, and by 8:40PM we were at a remote stand. This was one of the permanent remote stands, which has a jet bridge and feels like a warehouse, but you still have to take a bus to the terminal.


LAX remote stand

It took 30 minutes from the time I boarded the bus until I was in the arrivals facility. Between the 10 minute wait for passengers to arrive, and the 20 minute drive, we only got to immigration at 9:10PM.


LAX remote stand


LAX bus from remote stand

On the plus side, it’s sort of fun to drive near all the heavy aircraft at Tom Bradley International Terminal.


EVA 777 LAX

Sichuan Airlines business class bottom line

On the plus side, the crew was genuinely well intentioned and quite attentive. Unfortunately that’s where my compliments of the Sichuan experience ends.

The entertainment was terrible, the seats angled, the lack of food options and descriptions were quite annoying, the wine was terrible, the blankets were dirty, etc.

So yeah, I can’t say I was impressed. I guess on Sichuan Airlines you get what you pay for. But then there are other airlines, like Xiamen Air, which have similar pricing but give you a lot more than you pay for. Sichuan Airlines will soon be getting A350s. Presumably they’ll have flat beds. Here’s to hoping they invest in their onboard product a bit when they get these planes, so they can be a bit more competitive.

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Comments

  1. I always wonder if there comes a time in your travels Lucky in which you determine that some premium economy and (even) economy products are better than business class products on certain airlines. Would you put any ‘lower class’ products above this business class experience?

  2. @Lucky, is there a reason why you didn’t wait and do the review when they had their A350 in service? You have waited for other airlines (El Al, Azerbaijan) to put newer planes into service before flying and reviewing so wondering the particular reason you wanted to review Sichuan Airlines now as opposed to waiting.

  3. I guess if this was the most direct route for my travel, I might do it if the price was right…? I’d just do my best to buy a bunch of sandwiches and drinks and stuff them in my backpack. Even if it’s an airline with good food, I like to eat on planes while I watch movies… 🙂

  4. Air Mauritius had (and still has, I think) the same seats on their A340s. I flew it in 2013 and also slept decently, despite the angle. With that said, definitely not a cutting edge product

  5. I can definitely share your frustration and obviously the product mainly caters to a domestic Chinese clientele. For example, the mid-flight snack being the cup of ramen is perfectly fine for a Chinese carrier. My mom takes a ramen anytime over the snacks on the offer on AA/CX/EK/QR… business mid-flight

    Another very interesting example is the drink list. Genuine Chinese do not use wine as the food-accompanying drink, but rather, tea. Yes, tea to the Chinese is a lot like wine to the Westerners, in that people do appreciate a very subtle difference in quality for tea. But for wine, they just call it red wine and white wine, exactly like the Westerners only call tea black tea and green tea. The drink list is obvious for Chinese customers.

    If Sichuan Airlines will have some business success, it means that even on a transpacific route, focusing on largely domestic customers is enough to fill the plane including the C cabin.

  6. 1. The hot towel was beautifully folded

    2. The sauce on the pasta looks like, well, sorry, it looks like cum

  7. I’m kind of disappointed you didn’t order the ‘peanut milk’. I’ve never heard of this, and so curious. Is it similar to ‘almond milk’?

  8. The downside to Lucky’s job revealed. Getting stuck 14 hours on quite substandard business class. There’s a lot better ways I’d prefer to spend that time!

  9. I agree with @Michael that there is a cultural difference in expectations.

    Also thinking it’s a pity that you dismissed the IFE options because you didn’t find anything familiar. For me, one of the fun parts of travelling with different airlines is the chance to watch films/tv shows from different parts of the world. I have seldom encountered cases where there were no English subtitles. Give it a try next time!

  10. That “duck” thing from breakfast is a traditional Sichuan cold chicken dish and is usually served as an appetizer. I bet it’s pretty good though it’s odd to be served for breakfast and even worse for an unadventurous foreigner (no offense!).

    Sichuan Airlines is known for their services but apparently they have a lot to catch on their understanding of international long haul services.

  11. @Brad She probably brought her own. It’s not uncommon for Chinese travellers to bring their own ramen in case plane food sucks.

  12. Oh god, that looked really horrible. What must economy have been like?

    It even makes BA look ok. Crikey.

  13. Those seats seem like the old slants that QR had on their A330s, which are a bit tight, but actually quite comfortable. Hopefully someone from Sichuan is reading this review, like the CEO at China Southern did, and the soft product will improve.

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