Review of China Eastern flight Nagoya Shanghai in Business

Airline China Eastern
Flight MU2692
Class Business
Seat 7A
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 02:10
Take-off 03 May 15, 10:30
Arrival at 03 May 15, 11:40
MU 169 reviews
NGO85
By 5426
Published on 4th May 2015
Background:

This series highlights a recent trip down to Hong Kong to mix business and pleasure with a brief layover in Shanghai on the way back.

So options down to HKG from NGO are numerous (CX, NH, and UO are all non-stop), but I’m traveling during a period called Golden Week. This set of national holidays in Japan are very popular since it allows everyone to get 4-5 days off of work, so everyone travels on these dates. This means airfare is extremely expensive. When the ticket was getting booked back in late January: CX and NH were both >$1500 for Y. Even UO, a LCC, was $600. Since Japanese don’t fly Chinese carriers, MU in J was only $700 at the time so I was offered this as an option to lure me away from the more attractive, yet expensive CX/NH Y fares. I’m adventurous, so I said I’d fly MU. I had them book the ticket to build a long layover at PVG on the way back in order to get some time to Maglev it into the city for an afternoon.

From the time the ticket was booked in January, I think I received at least 10 different SMS messages notifying me of flight changes. These were getting ridiculous and eventually my flight from PVG-HKG disappeared altogether so I had no idea what I was flying until the day of (I even stopped by the MU counters twice at NGO to get this sorted out, but the JL ground agents weren't able to help me, all they could see that I was confirmed on a flight). I'll explain all of this in the introduction for the next part, needless to say, I was not looking forward to this trip from all the headaches MU caused.

This gives me a very simple routing through Shanghai-Pudong:

Part 1 – NGO-PVG [MU 2692, Boeing B737-800, Business] – You are here
Part 2 – PVG-HKG [MU 505, Airbus A330-300, Business] – http://flight-report.com/en/report-10379.html
Part 3 – HKG-PVG [MU 724, Airbus A320, Business] – http://flight-report.com/en/report-10460.html
Part 4 – PVG-NGO [MU 291, Airbus A320, Business] – http://flight-report.com/en/report-10515.html


Pre-flight:

As always, we take the Meitetsu ?Sky service to Chubu Centrair (or Central Japan International Airport, if you want to be fancy) from downtown Nagoya for ¥1230 ($10 / €10). Seat pitch is good, but no May issue of Wind is in the seatback, gasp!

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Exiting the train, we head towards the international side of the airport for check-in. If you look closely, you can see a VN crew in their red outfits heading into the airport (the ladies on the left were staring at them).

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After picking up some omiyage to bring with me to Hong Kong for my friend, I make my way over to the very crowded MU check-in counters, which are actually run by JL ground staff. Fortunately, at the business class check-in counter there is no one, so I’m immediately helped. There’s a brief moment of panic by the JL agent since my middle name doesn’t appear on my boarding passes, but after consulting another agent that this doesn’t matter (I have never had immigration/security freak out about middle names, so I wasn't concerned), she hands over my boarding passes and a lounge invitation card.

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With about an hour before to kill before the scheduled boarding time, I make a quick beeline up to the 3rd floor and head out onto the Sky Deck for some quick spotting.

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I was underprepared for these shots as I step outside (hence the poor quality); it was the CI A333 in special livery landing from TPE followed by a MU A321 in special livery heading back to PVG.

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By the time I finally get ready to do some spotting, the CI A333 is now pulling into its gate and we can get a nice side shot of its “Masalu! Taiwan” special livery. This is the first CI special livery I’ve ever seen in person.

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I’ve been seeing this AY A333 in Marimekko special livery everywhere recently.

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In between the AY and CI A333s was this little guy, another MU A320, but this will not be my plane today. Mine is the one that is parked way out in the middle of nowhere at a remote stand (I already knew it was going to be paxbus since my boarding pass said Gate 202).

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Walking down to the far end of the Sky Deck, we can see the JL B788 undergoing final preparations for its trip down to BKK as a NH B735 taxis in the background. Hmm, as we take a closer look at the nose of B788 something looks amiss. It’s never a good sign when there are four JL ground crew huddled around the nose of your plane yanking on things moments before you push back.

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Anyways, we have a string of domestic flights taking off that I can nicely capture (all of the B737 variety, I promise the two NH B735s were different!).



I really wanted to go to the lounge, so I wrapped up this brief session, by taking pictures of some of the planes as I walked back to the terminal. We have a NH B738, KE B772, SQ A333, DL B752, LH A343, and CX A333. Then a tail line-up of all the little guys.



Back inside the terminal, I see this thing. This looks to be NGO’s attempt to one up DOH’s bear.

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After heading down the escalator to the departure’s level, I head over to the security/immigration for international flights through the crowd of people only stopping to take a picture of the FIDS before heading in.

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Security and immigration both had no lines, which was very lucky at this hour with all the impeding international departures and I was airside within ten minutes. The duty-free area after immigration is pretty busy, but we will head to the lounge. This will be my first ever visit to the Centrair Global Lounge, which was exciting.

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The lounges are located downstairs and so we take the elevator down. This guy was kind enough to hold the elevator for me while I finished taking my pictures.

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Reaching the lobby area, we have the KAL Lounge to the left and this shared lounge entrance to the right. According to the sign, this lounge is used by CI, DL, KE, and MU. That makes no sense to me since there is a KAL Lounge located right next door.

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Entering, the agent greets me, takes my lounge card, and hands me back the stub for re-entry and informs me that there will be no boarding announcements from the staff. A long walk down the hall leads us to the food/drinks area. The left side has all of your liquid needs (tea, coffee, soft drinks, liquors, and then beer). On the right side, there is a station with sake and shochu. Further back, there are some food offerings (cup noodles, one hot buffet item, pastries, and then small snacks). The buffet had two items, it was rice wrapped in banana leaves and then some sort of calzone looking thing that I didn’t dare try. There is also a case for onigiri and sandwiches that kindly reminds you not load up your backpack with food before leaving.



I took a small selection and then headed over to the corner to take a seat. The lounge was very large (~75 seats in the main area, plus a relaxation room and smoking room) and had no windows. There were maybe 4 other people in the lounge at the time.

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My offering for the day: a glass of tea, a cappuccino, a croissant, and a little matcha cake. I will give them credit, they had nice chinaware in the lounge; these were actually all Noritake (Noritake is made in Nagoya, so a very nice local touch).

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I quickly ate my snack, took the corporate screen shot using the NGO Free WiFi and boarding pass photos. Why MU has changed their livery and not their cardstock, who knows…

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It was 9:50 and boarding was scheduled to start at 10:00 so I packed up and headed out. The agent at the entrance to the lounge wished me a nice flight as I left. The long walk to the paxbus area took me through large crowds since every gate in this area was boarding at the same time. We cross over to the paxbus boarding area and then head downstairs to the waiting lobby.

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I arrive at my gate at 9:56 and the first paxbus is leaving already. As you can see, my plane actually continues onto Wuhan after stopping in Shanghai/Pudong. Several of the MU flights out of Nagoya do weird routes like this.

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——————————-

China Eastern Airlines, MU2692
Equipment: Boeing B737-800 [B-1965, delivered July 2014]
Departure: 10:30 (ATD: 10:38)
Arrival: 11:40 (ATA: 11:48)
Flight time: 2:10

No one is in the SkyPrority line so I’m quickly scanned through and am the third person in line to get onto the second paxbus. Interestingly, they use Swissport here at NGO, no Cobus 3000 for me :( I get on and take a seat right next to the driver, a friendly elderly man (I think this is the first time I’ve ever had a chat with a paxbus driver before). Behind me, I can hear English! A young American couple shows up and takes a seat in the row behind me, and I can hear the lady mumbling: “I guess we’ll have to sit here, apparently somebody’s suitcase needs a seat…” She also mumbles a couple other complaints as we take the short 3-minute ride over to the plane. I just hide my passport to avoid them talking to me, they are on a flight to China and need to have some realistic expectations of how things are going to go.

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We get to the plane, I let the crowds filter off, then thank the bus driver as I step out onto the tarmac. I can now get some nice shots of my plane and a close-up of the CFM56 that will power me to PVG. I love the non-circular design they use for the next-gen B737s. You can also see how new this plane is (8 months old) even though it is in the old livery.

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Most of the crowd has now filtered onto the plane so I get into the back of the line. You know you are on a flight to China when…

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That’s right, rice cookers as carry-on luggage. The Chinese are no fools, they know that the JPY is so weak right now, that even they have massive purchasing power here. The crappy stairs had colored windows, so I can only get this poorly lit shot of my plane’s fuselage.

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I had to take this picture and not blur out her face, otherwise no one would believe me: the MU FA greeting people was smiling! I was shocked, people always say how robotic and unemotional MU FAs are, but this crew certainly wasn’t.

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After I paused to take the photo of the floor mats that MU uses on their planes, the smiling purser welcomed me aboard in English and directed me to my seat (no scowl for taking pictures). Entering the cabin, here is a picture of the bulkead row (row 6) and then a picture of my seat for the next 2 hours. Pre-placed on the seats were a pillow and blanket.

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Seat pitch is very good (at least 10 inches more than the 36 inches that they claim online). There is a footrest that folds down for more comfort when lounging. Interesting observation, my seat back has a newspaper and slippers/shoe bag pre-placed, but the seat next to me doesn’t. Turns out, they only pre-placed these in the seat backs of the seats that would be occupied, which shows that they actually took some time and consideration when prepping the plane. Wait… is this one newspaper? Nope, they gave me three newspapers! How bizarre is that? Instead of just walking through and offering newspapers, I’m given two Japanese and one English newspapers. I wonder if this was the same for everyone since the other passengers in J were Chinese. The load in J for this flight was 4/12 and Y didn’t look too full either (~70%).

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There is personal IFE with these seats; the screen looks to be around 10.6 inches. In this picture, you can see another smiling MU FA in the galley that is getting ready to greet the passengers from the third paxbus. After third paxbus passengers filter on, pre-departure drinks are offered (water or orange juice) and an oshibori (not pictured). The glasses have the new livery on the bottom.

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The FA then comes by and asks me if I will be taking lunch after take-off. She then asks me verbally if I want “fish and rice” or “chicken and rice.” I opt for the fish and then she shows me the drink menu. I ask for longjing tea. The front door then closes and we prepare for push-back. A brief interlude to show the pillow and blanket offered on this regional route. You can also see the cabin on push-back, with the BSI turned on.

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As we push back, we can see that AY and VN are also getting pushed back at the same time too. The safety video comes on and is played first in English (with Japanese subtitles) and then in Chinese. Apparently the safety video was very boring because my neighbors across the aisle were already passed out and we hadn’t even made it to the runway yet.

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As we taxi to the runway, we can see a NH Dash-8 landing. As we reach the threshold of the runway, a look back and see that we are being trailed by a NH 763 and the AY A333.



An OZ A321 crosses our nose as she lands from ICN.

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We then turn onto the runway for alignment, pause for the OZ A321 to exit, and then start our southward departure. As we lift up, we can get a nice aerial shot of NGO and the taxing OZ A321 before sailing up over Ise Bay.

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We bank sharply to the right to start our westerly route to China. This takes us back towards Mie Prefecture and a nice aerial view of Yokkaichi (just for Cobra!) and the Suzuka Mountains.



As always, central Japan is very cloudy so let’s take a look at the seatback contents. We have a safety card, magazine (only in Chinese), and a “clean bag.”



As soon as we hear the cockpit signal the FAs, the IFE is turned on. The controls for the IFE are located in the central armrest along with the headphone jack. The FA then comes out and offers headphones, but I declined. The IFE had a very crisp screen and was very responsive. The selection looked very good (40+ movies), which was surprising for a narrow-body. I was expecting a water-downed offering. The one thing I don’t like is that there was 2-minutes of car commercials at the start of every movie/TV show, but you can fast-forward through them so it wasn’t ‘that’ inconvenient.



But before delving into the IFE offerings, I make a trip to the lavatory since that tea/coffee from the lounge caught up to me. The door was still locked, so the FA prepping for meal service quickly apologized and opened it for me. The bathroom was very clean, and the bar of soap with towel and flower in the corner was a nice touch.

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Walking out of the lavatory, the FA was standing right there smiling and holding a basket with oshibori in it. She told me to take one. I was a little confused, but did as she told. I thought maybe this was the pre-meal oshibori, but it wasn’t. Apparently, she was offering it for me to freshen up after using the lavatory. Unfortunately, while I was in the bathroom, the window shades were all lowered and the cabin lights dimmed. The safety video also was playing again (the Chinese version didn’t finish pre-departure so they were playing the rest of it).

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The FA came out, opened up my table, and laid my linens down. She then promptly returned with my cup of tea, a packet of mixed nuts, and another oshibori.

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My tray was then brought out, followed immediately by the purser with a basket of warm bread. I asked for the toast, but then she told me it was okay if I wanted more, so I took a roll as well. MU must have really upped their catering presentation recently. Normally, short regional flights get those ramekins for the main, but this was actually on a plate. The main was two pieces of fish with a good tasting sauce. I couldn’t tell you the type of fish, but it had a reddish skin. It was served with two types of potatoes, lotus root, and rice. The starter was on the left, which consisted of crab on top of rice, a piece of cooked fish (w/ lotus root), then raw salmon (hiding in the back). The dessert was a simple fruit plate as is common for lunch services.



Metal chopsticks were adorned with the new MU logo, but the fork/knife were mixed.

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I thought presentation was generally very nice (little garnishes adorning everything) and the food had good flavor. It’s not overly glamorous cuisine, but the taste sure made up for that and I didn’t find anything inedible or strange tasting. The bread was kind of disappointing, but that was about it. Refills were proposed throughout the meal service and this time the service protocol seemed very polite. Normally, Chinese FAs will ask you: “More?” or “Finished?;” but this FA was asking: “Would you like another?” At the end of the service, the FA came by and offered me another oshibori (this was the fourth one of the flight, apparently there are no oshibori shortages in China). The meal service concluded when we were just over halfway there.

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Cleaning up my tray table, she asked me if I wanted any coffee so I said yes. This was brought out and enjoyed my coffee while watching TV and working on some puzzles in the newspaper.

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Getting closer, the purser comes through, stops to talk to me, and thanks me for flying with MU. She also noticed my coffee was almost empty so she asked me if I wanted more. I said yes, then she looks down sees that I didn’t touch the sugar or creamer and says “Oh, you like your coffee black”. She then comes back and brings me just the coffee without any sugar/creamer packets. This has really been one of the most personal Chinese crews I have ever seen before.

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The FA comes up to me and tells me our estimated arrival time and current temperature in Shanghai. As we begin our final descent into PVG, we can see the FAs line the aisle and do a bow before they start the cabin preparations. Not sure why.

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The cabin lights get switched back on and this gives me a chance to show a peak at the row behind me and the first row of economy. (No, that was not my Prada bag… that belonged to the Chinese couple across the aisle that are still passed out sleeping). Also a picture of the curtain details for the galley.

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Outside, we are still over cloudy waters so not too much to see (other than a pretty winglet).

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I make a last stop at the lavatory. Again, upon exiting the lavatory, the FA is standing there with a basket of oshibori for me. I take one and head back to my seat. She then comes by and delivers me an immigration card for China (which I won't be needing this time).

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Our descent continues, and before I know it we reach mainland China. It is hazy outside, which is normal for Shanghai. We pass over the numerous housing projects and some farmland as we drop into PVG.

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As we approach the runway, we can see who runs the show here with two MUs in the new livery and a CZ awaiting take-off. Upon touching down, we can see a line of MUs in the old livery heading off to the runway. We follow a CZ A321 as we turn off the runway.

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Our taxi takes us past remote stands filled with planes. HO A320s in normal livery and special livery. Then a sea of MU planes in old livery, new livery, and SkyTeam special livery.

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We then taxi around Terminal 1 giving nice views of a MU A333 and CI B77W before we turn into our remote stand.

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As we pull into our stand, a look back the terminal shows a sea of SkyTeam heavies.

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Leaving the plane, the FAs are still smiling and thank me for flying with MU. This gives me a nice chance to get the fuselage shot before heading down to the bus. Our VIP bus is parked in front of the plane, so I can actually get a nose shot too (the pilots already opened up the window).

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I love these mini VIP buses they use in China, so much more space to take pictures as we zip back to the terminal. The tarmac, unfortunately, was very uneven so it was a bumpy ride making photography difficult. Various MU planes, but there was a new airline for me: China United Airlines (KN). I’ve never heard of them before, but they have a nice looking B738.



Arriving at the terminal, we are dumped into this dark hallway with no signs. Not the most friendly welcome to a country. We then go up the escalators where there are two options: international transfer counter and domestic transfer/arrivals. There is no one to be seen, so I’m quickly called over to the SkyPriority counter.

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No passport stamp for the transfer (unlike Beijing), then I’m lead through another dark pathway towards an empty security line.

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At least there is a FIDS here and I can see there are two flights to NGO about to leave, but my plane for HKG won’t be leaving for much later.

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Thinking there was no way this could be any sketchier of an airport, we now turn towards International Departures. Yet, there is another dark hallway we have to pass through before we finally reach the stairway to heaven.

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Thanks for reading this report and please stop by for the continuation of this series as we begin a long layover in PVG, which was not by choice! I will also discuss the “mystery of the missing flight.”
See more

Verdict

China Eastern

8.4/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew9.0
Entertainment/wifi9.0
Meal/catering7.5

JAL Sakura Lounge Annex

8.5/10
Comfort9.0
Meal/catering8.0
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Services9.0

Nagoya - NGO

9.5/10
Efficiency10.0
Access9.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness10.0

Shanghai - PVG

7.9/10
Efficiency10.0
Access8.0
Services5.0
Cleanliness8.5

Conclusion

This was a highly dreaded flight for me since I had read so many bad reviews about MU on the site. It turned out that my low expectations weren’t warranted and it was actually a decent experience. It has definitely changed my opinion of the carrier (not that I plan on flying them long-haul anytime soon…).

Cabin comfort: This was a really nice, new B738 with BSI. The cabin was really airy and the seat pitch was better than I was expecting (probably close to 45-50 inches). No seatmate really helped and the recline was decent for a recliner. I also found the seats to be more comfortable than the ones that I had on MU’s A320s. Nice pair of slippers and shoe bag.

Crew: This was the biggest surprise for me. None of the MU FAs on this flight seemed robotic at all. They were all smiling and friendly. They were by no means ‘chatty,’ but there was some personality behind their service. English ability was good and all announcements were made in Chinese and English. The only strange thing was that the pilots never made announcements (this was the same for all four flights).

Meal and catering: Okay, Chinese food is Chinese food, but I found it all edible. I think presentation is a place where MU has recently really taken a big step forward. The plating was nice and the small little garnishes on each dish are visually appealing. I found the fish to be good tasting with the sauce. The starter and fruit plate were decent. The bread wasn’t too good. Overall, a good meal, but nothing special or anything I would order at a nice restaurant.

Entertainment: Personal IFE was responsive and crisp. The screen wasn’t huge, but it was what you’d expect on a narrow-body. It was also well stocked with a full selection, which was really nice. The pre-placement of newspapers (three!) in the seat back was strange, but at least it was there.

On-time performance: Left on time and landed 8 minutes late (they shot themselves in the foot because this flight was originally scheduled to land at 12:00, but they moved it up to 11:40 a couple weeks before the flight).

Related

29 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 135767 by
    Alex Chan 12 Comments

    Glad to see that MU business has improved a lot. Nice flight report with lots of special liveries. I saw my HX flight report in your corporate photo. Looking forward for more reports from you. I want to know that if all airlines use the same lounge in NGO?

    • Comment 315548 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Hi Alex, thank you for your comments. This was my first time flying MU, so not sure what the old J-product was like, but I found this to be very acceptable for regional travel (especially this cabin with the larger seat pitch).

      There are 3 alliance lounges at NGO on the international side (Star Alliance Lounge (operated by NH), JAL Sakura Lounge, and KAL Lounge), but then there is the Centrair Global Lounge (where I went with MU). There are a couple smaller card lounges, but not sure about their access.

      PS - Your report will also be the corporate shot for the next flight too, lol.

  • Comment 135771 by
    SKYTEAMCHC GOLD 8699 Comments

    Thank you for this very interesting report. This flight seems to be very good and the level of service is excellent. I was surprised to the smiling FA at the door ! MU seems to be improving a lot and that's good news.

    • Comment 315549 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Merci Christophe!

      I seem to have good luck with Chinese carriers^^ This series will be the ultimate test of MU consistency, I had four regional flights in four days. This was a very good MU crew (all were smiling and friendly) and I was very impressed by their level of attentiveness. Meal presentation was very nice (other than the tray that looks like it came from a cafeteria), but quantity was on the light side for lunch.

  • Comment 135776 by
    Mathieu 2081 Comments

    Hi Michael, thanks for sharing this very nice Flight.
    The NGO's lounge is quite good, but not excellent.
    I really appreciate both cabin & seat.
    The personnal TV is acceptable.
    Very nice catering.

    See you,

    • Comment 315550 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Mathieu, merci pour vos commentaires!

      The lounge is not spectacular, but maybe the best lounge at NGO. It is blind, but the offerings are much better than the *A and OW lounges. I think there was only one bottle of wine, but they had both sake and shochu, which was nice.

      The seats were comfortable for a 2-hour flight, but could use more padding for a longer flight. The IFE is a normal size for a 737, I don't think I've ever seen a screen larger than 10.6 on a narrow-body before. BSI is always nice to get.

      It was a good meal, but nothing was very special and the portion-size was a little small, I think there should have been one more item offered on the tray since the starters offered by other carriers are generally larger.

  • Comment 135777 by
    tn92 BRONZE 173 Comments

    This is a great report once again! (: Really nice pictures and you described the entire flight experience so nicely. In Dec last year, I also had the chance of experiencing four MU+FM flights and I was kinda surprised by the service standards too! It wasn't exceptionally friendly but neither was it robotic at all. The only difference with what you've mentioned in this report is probably that the FAs on my flights weren't always smiling like the crew on your flight. But of course, we would have to wait for your next three reports before we can arrive at the final verdict of MU's service standards!

    • Comment 315551 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Thank you for your compliment and comments!

      So, you'll have to wait to see what happens after four regional flights in short succession as far as service standards go ;) That said, this was the best Chinese crew I have ever seen. They have that reputation for doing their job efficiently with no emotions, but this crew had small hints that they actually were working in the hospitality industry and cared for their customers.

      The cabins are also highly variable and this will be discussed in later reports.

  • Comment 135812 by
    cobra 3594 Comments

    Thank you Michael !:)

    Nice plane mix at NGO, this airport is enough big to watch birds coming from all around the world ^^
    Many sincere thanks fr this Yokkaichi pic !:)) I hope you enjoy your journey in Suzuka's mountains

    Cabin and seat were great for this short flight, and honestly, catering is quite appealing.

    Transfert at PVG is a bit weird, it is a mix between a jail corridor and a trip in the Terrys Gilliam movie,Brasil :))

    See you soon

    • Comment 315552 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Merci Cobra!

      NGO's tarmac is always a feast for the eyes, even if it's lounges aren't a feast for your stomach^^

      I was expecting a north departure, but since we took off to the south, I knew I'd be able to give you a special bonus of Yokkaichi!

      The seat wasn't the most padded, but it was wide (for me) and had a great seat pitch. More than appropriate of a flight of this length and very competitive with all of the other carriers in this region. I really hate the fabric they use for their blankets, they look flammable^^

      catering is quite appealing.
      - Be careful! There was shrimp on the menu for the next three flights^^ Overall, this was a solid offering, but nothing overly inspiring culinary and not quite a full meal. Catering on the flights to/from HKG had much stronger offerings given the competition on those routes (even though the flight is the same length).

      Transfer at PVG is a bit weird, it is a mix between a jail corridor and a trip in the Terrys Gilliam movie,Brasil :))
      - It was very eery because I was the only person there, which made immigration/security very efficient, but creepy^^ Prison hallways with metal doors and CCTV cameras is a little bit scary.

  • Comment 135826 by
    jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

    Hi Michael and thanks for sharing another excellent report.

    Great spotting of special livery planes on this trip. I like the CI one in particular.

    The boarding pass is a bit unusual with detachable portions at either end. A most unique keeper.

    Mainland Chinese carriers should do a complete image revamp and get a more updated look. Some of those liveries and logos seem to be stuck a few decades ago. Perhaps they should consult with Landor Associates from SF which did a fantastic job with CX and GA among others.

    Good to read that you received great service on this flight and the meal was better than expected. Positive experiences seem to be the exception rather than the norm with airlines from the PRC.

    • Comment 315561 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Thank you for stopping by Adan!

      Great spotting of special livery planes on this trip. I like the CI one in particular.
      - Wait until you see my plane from HKG to PVG ;) I was giddy like a little schoolgirl when I saw it.

      The boarding pass is a bit unusual with detachable portions at either end. A most unique keeper.
      - Yeah, I can't recall any other airline to do this, but they actually did rip off both sides on my PVG-HKG flight. I wonder if it is for multi-legged flights? For example, this plane was continuing on to Wuhan, they might use only one boarding pass and then rip off one side per leg? Who knows.

      Some of those liveries and logos seem to be stuck a few decades ago. Perhaps they should consult with Landor Associates from SF which did a fantastic job with CX and GA among others.
      - Yeah, a lot of the smaller carriers in China look really defunct with generic tail logos and simple stripe patterns. MU technically got a new livery, but it doesn't really do a whole lot for me. I can't stand the black noses on the old livery, so I'm glad that aspect has been removed. Yeah, I like the new CX logo, very similar to the old one, just much more minimalist and clean.

      Positive experiences seem to be the exception rather than the norm with airlines from the PRC.
      - I have been very lucky with my CA and MU experience, I honestly have not had a bad Chinese carrier experience 'yet,' but I know if I keep playing with fire, I'll get burned one of these days.

    • Comment 315601 by
      jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

      I was giddy like a little schoolgirl when I saw it.
      - I will wait for that report with great anticipation. ;)

      ..but I know if I keep playing with fire, I'll get burned one of these days.
      - as long as you don't get charred. :P

      See you on your next trip.

  • Comment 135832 by
    Rl 777 806 Comments

    Fantastic FR, very detailed as always!

    Nice spotting pictures from NGO and PVG, love them!

    Wow, did not except this kind of service from MU.

    That looks like a lot of legroom on a short-haul business class seat. Never expected such a nice AVOD on this plane (didn't expect a PTV at all), it's really nice that you got a fairly new bird.

    It's really nice to see these improvements at MU (hope the experience is the same on the other flights or better), especially when it comes to the crew!

    Can't wait to see the other parts, especially after reading this one!

    • Comment 315564 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Thank you for the compliment and comments!

      PVG unfortunately is not too spotter friendly or too busy (at Terminal 1) so there will be less in later reports :(

      That looks like a lot of legroom on a short-haul business class seat.
      - There are more and more carriers putting 50-inch legroom seats on narrow-bodies in this region. They are so nice. You'll see different style seats in the later reports that are not so generous so this is by no means standard on MU. I love B738s and this one was beautiful being just under a year old.

      I was really happy that I got this great experience up front, really helped ease the entire trip. Transiting through China is never fun, but this was a great start. The next report will be finishing off my other series before I come back to this one, trying to mix up the reports so they aren't so monotonous!

  • Comment 135841 by
    Zee 3 Comments

    Thanks for the MR. The catering out of NGO seems great. I really wonder how would MU's ex-PVG catering be like...

    BTW, Chinese United Airlines, a subsidiary of MU, is a low-cost airline based in Nanyuan airport in Beijing. It was the civic airline of PLA, until FM purchased 80% of its stake back in 2005.

    • Comment 315565 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Thanks for the comments, ex-NGO catering by NAC is always very strong (with respect to taste). My criticisms are lack of paper menu, poor drink menu (will be shown in next report), and the portion-sizes. Eastern Air Catering will be talked about in parts 2 and 4, I think my plane in part 3 was catered out of HKG since it sat overnight (did not see the loading to confirm).

      Thanks for the explanation on Chinese United Airlines and being based out of Nanyuan explains why I've never seen them at Capital. ex-PLA.... interesting.

  • Comment 135859 by
    Numero_2 10022 Comments

    Thanks for sharing.

    Since Japanese don’t fly Chinese carriers... -> Really ??

    I was not looking forward to this trip from all the headaches MU caused. -> Even with an easy routing, Chinese carriers always find a solution to make it harder. Look at my one way CA PEK-HKG ! lol

    The only interesting thing about the lounge is the hot food offering, which is often forgotten in legacy airlines small lounges. ^^

    A young American couple shows up and takes a seat in the row behind me, and I can hear the lady mumbling -> Oh really ? So not only French people have this kind of behaviour in foreign countries. ;)

    The seats don't look to be as comfy as the massive ones we usually see in regional business cabins.

    Apparently the safety video was very boring because my neighbors across the aisle were already passed out and we hadn’t even made it to the runway yet. -> This is the typical Chinese people's ability to fall asleep very quickly in any situation.

    Nice meal presentation, even if few details could be improved.
    For sure you got one of the best Chinese crew ever presented on FR.com. ;)

    we can see the FAs line the aisle and do a bow before they start the cabin preparations. Not sure why. -> The same happens on CA flights as well.

    To finish, a smooth transfer at PVG to make the trip even more enjoyable. ;)

    See you for the next leg.

    • Comment 315685 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      I think you were not. ;)
      - I must have had my eyes closed in prayer for a safe landing^^

      Really ? The weather forecast says it will be sunny days...
      - Typhoon is supposed to reach Nagoya on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning and then follow the coast up to Tokyo. Not so strong winds, but maybe rainy the day it arrives: http://www.jma.go.jp/en/typh/

    • Comment 315574 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Merci Clement^^

      Really ??
      - In my experiences, most Japanese prefer their own carriers (JL/NH) and will only fly them if they want cheap tickets since prices on the Chinese carriers are so low to lure passengers ex-Japan. There were only a handful of Japanese (~10) on this flight, ~90% Chinese. This was very similar with all of my CA flights. JL and NH both operate several daily flights NGO-PVG so those were packed with Japanese tourists when I was flying back on the PVG-NGO route.

      Chinese carriers always find a solution to make it harder. Look at my one way CA PEK-HKG ! lol
      - But now you have a story to tell people for the rest of your life^^ It is maybe the most famous FR (actually three FRs) on the site^^

      The only interesting thing about the lounge is the hot food offering
      - Now that I have now been in all of the NGO lounges, this one is by far the best, but no Yebisu^^ It was Kirin. Poor wine selection, but very good Japanese alcohol selection (but 9am is too early to drink^^).

      The seats don't look to be as comfy as the massive ones we usually see in regional business cabins.
      - I agree, these were not well padded. I felt okay for 2-hours, but longer would start to be uncomfortable, I think. Width and pitch were both excellent.

      This is the typical Chinese people's ability to fall asleep very quickly in any situation.
      - Japanese too^^

      Nice meal presentation, even if few details could be improved.
      - It was very impressive when it was placed down, I was expecting much worse ;) The taste was all good, I deducted points for no paper menu, bad drink menu (you will see it in the next report), and small portions (should have had a dessert or larger starter).

      For sure you got one of the best Chinese crew ever presented on FR.com. ;)
      - Maybe AZ should hire these FAs^^

      The same happens on CA flights as well.
      - Really? I don't remember this on my CA flights, but maybe I wasn't paying close attention.

      To finish, a smooth transfer at PVG to make the trip even more enjoyable. ;)
      - It was very smooth, I was back in the terminal in record time since there was no one in line^^ It was just very weird walking through all of these empty/dark corridors with no signs.

      The next report probably won't come out until you are already in Japan^^ Have a safe trip and I look forward to your reports^^ Typhoon is coming so take care and pack an umbrella :)

    • Comment 315579 by
      Numero_2 10022 Comments

      It is maybe the most famous FR (actually three FRs) on the site^^ -> I'm so flattered to read that from you. ^^

      but 9am is too early to drink^^ -> Few German pax visiting LH lounges drink Franziskaner on draught before 8am. lol

      Really? I don't remember this on my CA flights, but maybe I wasn't paying close attention. -> I think you were not. ;)

      Typhoon is coming so take care and pack an umbrella :) -> Really ? The weather forecast says it will be sunny days...

  • Comment 135940 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 5655 Comments

    You have good luck with gorgeous weather everytime you fly out it seems! it makes for some great planespotting! Nice to have had a mostly empty lounge. Priority boarding when you are boarding a paxbus always makes me laugh. Usually if you are the first in the bus, you are in the back and one of the last ones out and therefore last to board the plane. Unless you stay near the doors of course. The seat pitch looks very generous. The 36 they list as the pitch online must be an error. How nice that the FA's placed newspapers and slippers only in the occupied seats--nice attention to detail. Pleasantly surprised by the catering on this regional flight, very nicely presented. The whole experience seems like a pleasant surprise. Looks like you made the right choice by taking MU instead of a direct flight. Thanks for another beautiful and detailed report. See you soon for the next leg!

    • Comment 315686 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Kevin, thank you for your comments. Nagoya only looks sunny compared to Shanghai, lol. You are right, priority boarding for paxbus is a hoax, especially at NGO where they only fill the buses to the number of seats (which is why we needed 3 buses for a 2/3 filled 737). Paxbus is only useful at airports that have the VIP buses on arrival.

      The 36 they list as the pitch online must be an error.
      - This might just be a new cabin configuration, because the Airbus narrow-bodies I flew were all 36 pitch. The pitch on this plane was definitely good, you could easily get out of the window seat without making your neighbor get up.

      Pleasantly surprised by the catering on this regional flight, very nicely presented.
      - There are obviously criticisms: no menu, dismal drink menu, cafeteria tray, no Western options, portion-size (compare the size of the butter to the amount of fish), etc. But overall, this was a big surprise. I would not have expected that kind of presentation on a regional flight (this aspect was strong on all the flights). Taste was good, but nothing special. It's almost always European-style tray service for <2 hour flights.

      Looks like you made the right choice by taking MU instead of a direct flight.
      - MU in J was a great surprise so I'm glad I did it versus the Y-class direct flights. It was going to be two transit days anyways, so might as well bloat out the flight experiences :)

    • Comment 315734 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD 5655 Comments

      Yuck...I hope the seats pitched at 36 are slimline seats. Even still that's really too tight for a premium cabin. Even premium economy cabins are usually pitched at 38-40

    • Comment 315767 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Oh no, those seats were the old, big lounger style. Thankfully, no seatmates otherwise I would have been trapped (although bulkhead legroom didn't look bad).

    • Comment 315770 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD 5655 Comments

      Dang...36 with bulky seats is just cruel, lol

  • Comment 136279 by
    pwecar 53 Comments

    Thanks for another well-written report!

    It is really surprising to see MU offering excellent services on any route..I would rate 100000/10 for the service. Like you said, the biggest problem for MU's service is consistency. Sometimes you get great ones but don't expect that on most occasions.

    my plane actually continues onto Wuhan after stopping in Shanghai/Pudong. Several of the MU flights out of Nagoya do weird routes like this.
    -This is not weird at all..Firstly, the crew and the plane is based on Wuhan so they are just going home.
    During CAAC era there are dozens of local government-owned airlines in China. Later it took over those unprofitable companies to expand its network, including Wuhan Airlines, Chinna Yunnan Airlines, China Northwest Airlines. They run separately under the same brand. Even their inflight magazines are different, as the one you've pictured is actually Wuhan Promotions in Chinese. That might explain why their service is inconsistent.

    Then why they don't just fly WUH-NGO nonstop but stop at PVG instead? Simply there isn't that much traffic to support a nonstop route so they have to stop in Shanghai. Yet it is still nonstop in some aspect(the same flight number) so there are subsidies from local government to promote their local airport as an international gateway.
    Similar examples including CA CKG-PEK-SFO, CZ CAN-CSX-FRA, MU FOC-PVG-JFK, HU XIY-PEK-SEA and so on.

    BTW Japanese rice cookers are really nice..We use Zojirushi at home as well..The favorite Japan products in China are rice cookers and toilet lids..

    • Comment 315840 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1622 Comments

      Thank you for your very detailed comments.

      Even their inflight magazines are different, as the one you've pictured is actually Wuhan Promotions in Chinese
      - That explains why every single MU flight had a different magazine in the seatback, lol.

      So, the MU routes out of NGO are: NGO-PVG-WUH, NGO-TAO-PEK, NGO-PVG-XIY (I took this one on the way back to NGO, I only know because the plane was announced as a late arrival from XIY), NGO-CSX-KMG, and two NGO-PVG routes with no continuation. CZ is the same, they do a NGO-PVG-CAN as their only daily service to CAN. I just don't understand the logic behind the routing since everyone had to deplane in PVG and go through security/immigration before the flight could continue as a domestic flight.

      We use Zojirushi at home as well...
      - As do I, Zojirushi are excellent products. It's just that on every flight I've taken from NGO to mainland China has a had 10+ people bringing rice cookers with them on as carry-on items so I find it a little amusing. It's like people from Maine bringing lobsters in boxes on the plane. Everyone has their own type of things to bring home with them from trips :)

    • Comment 315842 by
      pwecar 53 Comments

      Yeah.. There are also traffic right issues. For instance, NGO-PVG-XIY used to be NGO-XIY nonstop by China Northwest Airlines decades ago. When it was merged to MU their routes were also branded under MU. Yet the route was still owned by MU Xi'an Division(not MU itself) so the origin has to be XIY. Stopping at PVG is because there isn't the demand for a nonstop flight.

      Everyone has their own type of things to bring home with them from trips :)
      -We even buy tons of Japan-made diapers and sanitary towels. There are numerous reports of Chinese tourists luring anything you can when abroad because of the lower price and superior quality..

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