China Eastern

Starwood & China Eastern Launch Eastern Explorer Rewards Program

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Starwood has really been an industry leader when it comes to their innovative partnerships with other travel providers. This has come in a few different forms.

For example, Starwood has partnered with Uber to offer bonus Starpoints for Uber rides, which is something that I know many SPG members have found to be a great partnership.

Starwood has also partnered with major airlines, which seems like a smart idea, given that many people who frequently stay in hotels also fly frequently. This includes their Crossover Rewards partnership with Delta and their Your World Rewards partnership with Emirates. Through these partnerships, Starwood elite members receive some benefits when flying with Delta/Emirates, while elite members of those airlines receive some benefits at Starwood hotels.

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Review: Shanghai Airlines Economy Class A330 Shanghai To Hong Kong

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China Eastern owns Shanghai Airlines, hence both earn miles with SkyTeam airlines. They were serving the Shanghai to Hong Kong routes with A320/A321s and A330s respectively, so I chose the latter, and luckily it was priced at the same cheap $64 one way as the rest of China Eastern’s flights. This way I could try a more regional airline and still credit my miles to Delta.

I was excited that my flight departed from Hongqiao, the secondary airport in Shanghai. Our friends said I should count on an hour to the airport from their home in central Pudong, but to my surprise the ride took a mere 28 minutes.

Just like Pudong Airport, and most other means of transport in Shanghai based on my experience, there was a security check at the door. They quickly scanned my bags and I entered the check-in area, which was relatively nice and appeared to contain a Chinese celebrity (judging by the fact that everyone was photographing her). It’s worth noting that since my flight was international, it departed from the much smaller terminal 2, which is not used by the majority of flights out of Hongqiao.

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China Eastern Pilot Gets Big Cash Reward For Preventing Accident

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China Eastern had an incident at Shanghai Hongqiao Airport on October 11, which could have ended in disaster, as one of the worst aviation accidents in history.

Basically an Airbus A320 was taking off, while an A330 was crossing the runway at exactly the same time. The A320 pilots saw the situation and knew they couldn’t slow down in time, so they instead rotated early, so they were able to climb out over the A330. Apparently the two planes only missed one another by 19 meters. The Aviation Herald has a full description of the incident. Below is a recreation of what exactly happened:

Apparently the air traffic controller was largely at fault, as there was a miscommunication between air traffic control and the A330 trying to cross the runway.

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Airline Branding Fail: Qantas & China Eastern Edition

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On a more lighthearted note…

Qantas is known for their dedication to premium branding. For example, Qantas has worked with Neil Perry and Mark Newson on their lounge food and decor, respectively. The airline has extremely consistent branding, which is why I was a bit surprised by what I saw yesterday.

I had a long layover at LAX yesterday evening due to American’s incompetence, and a good friend traveling internationally happened to be at the airport around the same time, so he guested me into the excellent Qantas First Class Lounge.

The lounge has great shower rooms, so I took the opportunity to shower after my flight from Fiji and before my domestic connection.

I was assigned a shower room, and was a bit surprised to see the below pouch hanging off the wall holding the hair dryer. Now, China Eastern and Qantas do have a partnership for routes between China and Australia, though I doubt that has somehow been extended to Los Angeles. 😉

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Review: China Eastern Business Class A330 Shanghai To Colombo

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While our last flight on China Eastern was extremely underwhelming, based on our layover we figured out that China Eastern was on to us. I was curious to see how this flight would compare, as a result.

This flight was operated by one of China Eastern’s outdated A330s, featuring a total of 24 business class seats. The cabin was in a 2-2-2 configuration, with four rows of angled business class seats. This immediately reminded me of Malaysia’s former 777 business class, which had similar seats.

We had assigned ourselves seats 3A & 3C, on the left side of the cabin in the third row.

The seats had plentiful legroom, though the cabin did feel a bit outdated.

The personal televisions were located on the seatbacks, as well as coat hangers, magazine racks and pockets.

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Review: China Eastern Lounge Shanghai Airport

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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.

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Review: China Eastern Business Class 777 Los Angeles To Shanghai

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China Eastern departs out of Tom Bradley International Terminal, and uses the Korean Air Lounge. I’ve reviewed that lounge before, so won’t be doing so again with this report, other than to say that I’m not a fan of it. It’s typically way overcrowded and has a limited food selection, especially compared to the Star Alliance Lounge and oneworld Lounge at LAX.

Our flight was leaving from gate 156, located at the far end of the concourse at TBIT.

Boarding began at 11:55AM, starting with first & business class, and we managed to be the first passengers aboard.

Having recently flown China Airlines’ new 777-300ER business class with reverse herringbone seats, I was very excited to try China Eastern’s new business class as well.

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Introduction: An Insane Week In The Sky

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One of the main reasons I travel is to review new airlines, which is why many of my trips are quick and have crazy routings. However, this trip ended up being insane, even by my standards, as I ended up flying over 33,000 miles in a week. I did this trip with my friend Matthew from Live and Let’s Fly, and we had a heck of a time.

The planning for this trip started when Qatar Airways published an extremely cheap business class fare between Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Casablanca, Morocco. While you could fly Qatar Airways the whole way, what intrigued me most was the ability to fly Royal Air Maroc between Doha and Casablanca for the same price, given that the two airlines codeshare on the route.

The route is operated by Royal Air Maroc’s brand new 787, so that seemed like an awesome opportunity to try them. I know booking a roundtrip between Colombo and Casablanca seems quite random (and it is), but distance never exactly stopped us from traveling anywhere. 😉

The other benefit is that a lot of airlines publish cheap fares out of Colombo, so we could easily book cheap premium cabin tickets to get back from Colombo to the US.

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China Eastern Emailed Me!

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I’m guessing that this will be my last installment in the China Eastern saga. I thought the last one would be, but I woke up to an email from them this morning, and I think it’s only fair I share that. For context, here are the previous posts of this “story:”

— Live From 34,000 Feet: Someone Keeps Smoking On My China Eastern Flight
— We Tried To Call Out Our Flight Crew For Smoking…
— Initial Thoughts On China Eastern’s 777 Business Class
— China Eastern Is On To Us!!
— So… How Was My Second Flight On China Eastern?

The email came from China Eastern’s director of marketing in North America, and read as follows:

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So… How Was My Second Flight On China Eastern?

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It has been an interesting 48 hours of travel, to say the least! For those of you not caught up on the China Eastern saga:

— Live From 34,000 Feet: Someone Keeps Smoking On My China Eastern Flight
— We Tried To Call Out Our Flight Crew For Smoking…
— Initial Thoughts On China Eastern’s 777 Business Class
— China Eastern Is On To Us!!

As I began to talk about in the previous post, our experience took a very drastic turn with our Shanghai to Colombo flight. We were met by the China Eastern duty manager at the airport, and he escorted us to the lounge. He and two other people closely observed us at the lounge, and we saw the lounge transform before our eyes. All the garbage around the lounge slowly disappeared, all the food was restocked, we were proactively brought warm towels and water, etc.

They even put out Thursday’s “For The Edible” selection — how did they know that’s my favorite type of food to eat on Thursdays?!?

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China Eastern Is On To Us!!

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Oh man, this is about to get good. Over the past 24 hours I’ve written extensively about the China Eastern flight that Matthew and I took yesterday from Los Angeles to Shanghai:

— Live From 34,000 Feet: Someone Keeps Smoking On My China Eastern Flight
— We Tried To Call Out Our Flight Crew For Smoking…
— Initial Thoughts On China Eastern’s 777 Business Class

Well, today we’re flying China Eastern from Shanghai to Colombo after spending 20 hours in Shanghai, and stuff got significantly more entertaining… China Eastern is on to us!

Matthew and I were lined up at passport control behind one another. Matthew was in front of me, and when I finally cleared passport control, he was standing there with a guy from China Eastern.

Somehow he found Matthew, addressed him by name, introduced himself as the duty manager, and walked us to the lounge.

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Initial Thoughts On China Eastern’s 777 Business Class

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I just got off my first ever China Eastern flight, and figured I’d share my initial thoughts about the flight from Los Angeles to Shanghai (other than the fact that the crew was smoking throughout the flight).

Prior to taking this flight I was optimistic about China Eastern. I recently flew China Airlines and was very pleasantly surprised, though I realize they’re Taiwan based (though both airlines are in SkyTeam with similar hard products). Furthermore, my last flight on a mainland Chinese carrier was on Hainan, which was excellent for the most part — the crew was friendly and the service was great.

While I knew China Eastern had a bad reputation, I figured maybe they were trying to turn that around. They’ve invested in gorgeous new 777-300ER aircraft, so with the amount they’re spending on the hard product, presumably they want to impress with the soft product as well, right? Wrong…

China Eastern has reverse herringbone seats in business class, which I consider to be among the best hard products out there. So they get high marks for that.

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We Tried To Call Out Our Flight Crew For Smoking…

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Hello from Shanghai! Matthew and I just flew China Eastern from Los Angeles to Shanghai, and as I wrote about several hours ago, every 15-20 minutes a strong cigarette smoke odor filled the cabin. We did some investigating throughout the flight, and never actually saw anyone smoking, which leads us to believe the smoking was going on in the cockpit, and the smell circulated throughout the plane.

Upon writing about it, it seems that this is actually very common on Chinese airlines. I’ve flown Chinese airlines quite a bit and never noticed it, though several commenters mentioned they have experienced the same.

We wanted to do a bit of digging, more out of curiosity than anything else. So Matthew and I strategized for a bit, and he came up with a good idea. We wanted to see if we could get the crew to admit that someone was smoking, because we found their complete denial of there even being an odor to be so strange (it’s one thing if they agreed they smelled the odor but said it wasn’t them, but they denied the existence of the odor altogether…).

Matthew asked one of the flight attendants to call the cabin manager. She sort of refused, and asked what the problem was. When Matthew explained the smoking situation, she said “oh, you want to smoke?”

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Live From 34,000 Feet: Someone Keeps Smoking On My China Eastern Flight

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Hello, live from a China Eastern flight enroute from Los Angeles to Shanghai. I’ll have more thoughts on the flight once I land, given that the wifi is super slow. Suffice to say that China Eastern has a great (though very bland) reverse herringbone hard product, and a soft product that gives China Southern a run for their money.

Despite the slow wifi, I have to share the most bizarre aspect of this flight.

Before flying China Eastern I had heard rumors that their crews will smoke inflight, though I always assumed that wasn’t the case, or was perhaps an isolated incident.

Well, after over four million flown miles, this is a first for me — the smell of cigarette smoke has filled the cabin no fewer than a dozen times over the past five hours of my China Eastern flight.

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