Hello, and welcome to the continuation of this quick jaunt to Singapore with China Eastern. For those of you trying to keep up, here’s the rundown:
MU208 YYZ-PVG 1/15/2017 - Right here MU543 PVG-SIN 1/16/2017 - You are here MU566 SIN-PVG 1/17/2017 - Coming soon MU207 PVG-YYZ 1/18/2017 - After that one
When last we saw each other, your humble flight-reporter had just been spit out of transit security and was airside at Pudong, searching for a China Eastern lounge to cool his heels for a few hours before his flight on to Singapore. He will now cease referring to himself in the third person.
I wander a bit towards my gate, and find a lounge there to which I believe I’d have access, but it doesn’t look too impressive, so I move on. The lounges at PVG are kinda confusing. I had presumed going in that the number of the lounge was associated with the gate that it was nearby. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Eventually, I find my way to the Number 36 Lounge, which seems to be a main, or perhaps the main, lounge for China Eastern at its hub here. There’s even an MU agent downstairs guarding access to the elevators up to the lounge.
Inside, my boarding pass is checked and updated with a written-on gate number for my flight down to Singapore, and I’m welcomed inside. I ask about WiFi, and I’m told to enquire at the service desk.
The service desk is literally right around the corner, and shares behind-the-desk space with reception. So I’m not sure why they couldn’t tell me the WiFi username and password at reception. But whatever. Reading materials are right next to the service desk.
This lounge is fairly small, and fairly crowded, downstairs, a singe long haul that leads to the buffet area. There are lots of seating sets where only one or two seats are occupied, but no sets seem to be completely free. I’m not feeling hungry yet, so I decide to explore on.
Up the escalators I go, and it’s a whole different world upstairs, at least at this hour. Upstairs is a much larger hall — two halls actually — and while it lacks the full buffet, it’s a much quieter and calmer space to hang out.
There is a small bar area with snacks on one side of the upper level.
Big, useful FIDS are located throughout the lounge, making it easy to keep an eye on your flight.
A long desk with seating and lots of outlets — a theme in this lounge — lots of universal power outlets, each one with a USB port to boot. Much appreciated.
There’s this meeting room. Or dining room table, I suppose.
And these… escape pods? I presume massage chairs, but they certainly do look like they should fly up and let you dock in the head of your mech to go to war. Or something.
And the other side of the upper deck, which is even less occupied.
This side has a larger bar area, but not much in the way of snacks.
Having just sat in a rather warm aircraft cabin for almost 15 hours, I decide a shower is in order, and I locate the showers upstairs. They appear to be open, but when I head in, a cleaning lady eventually manages to communicate to me that I have to check in with reception to get access. So I do. My boarding pass is taken from me, and I’m shown to one of the suites.
It’s a fairly large shower suite, simply appointed, but it does the job.
There’s a sink with some amenities — mostly disposable, but also a hair dryer.
And the shower stall itself, which is quite large.
Just to be tricky, this is mounted on the “push” side of the door. Midvale School for the Gifted, anyone?
I have a rare cool-ish shower, as I’m quite warm at this point. Water pressure isn’t great, but it gets the job done.
Having dressed and grabbed my boarding pass back, I settle in to a little alcove of seating that I have all to myself. It’s a nice little oasis of serenity. At one point, a lounge agent approaches and asks what flight I’m on. I guess they want to make sure you don’t miss your flight.
This (broken) lamp causes quite the scandal. I initially sit down next to it, and notice the shade is on funny, and try to fix it, but quickly discover it’s actually quite broken. A male lounge attendant notices this happening, and rushes over, urging me to move to a seat a few seats over, due to the danger from electricity. A few minutes later, he and a female lounge attendant arrive on the scene, take a few pictures of the lamp and appear to be talking through the situation amongst themselves.
I sit and catch up for a while, and then about 10:00, with just about an hour left until boarding, I decide I might be a little hungry. I’m not sure what the food situation is going to be on this midnight departure, so I decide I’ll head downstairs and see what’s available at this late hour.
Bread with toaster.
A few pastries.
Fruit, veggies and salad fixings.
Some hot items, including spaghetti and veggie fried rice.
Chicken leg in citronella and shrimp balls in tomato sauce.
The best feature here is probably the make-your-own noodles kit, where the chef pictured prepares your noodles and broth, and then you can load it up with a bunch of toppings, including spring onions, spicy meat, pork and cilatnro, some preserved vegetables, and more.
And last but not least, some sandwiches and desserts in a refrigerator.
I’m not able to find a seat, but I do find a desk area at standing height, and park myself there with my little snack — a bowl of soup, and a couple of desserts.
The soup is really delicious. Loaded up with a bunch of toppings, it’s delightfully flavorful and quite satisfying. I think I’ll stop by this lounge again on my way home for another bowl. Very good.
The tiramisu is nothin special, but the coconut tart is quite enjoyable.
Snack over, I hop back online for a few minutes. Using the username and password shared by the service desk (not reception), I’m online pretty quickly, and it works pretty well. Some more new reports… busy times at flight-report.com!
All in all, I was quite impressed by this lounge. Perhaps it’s because I was expecting little from the PVG lounges based on what I’d read, but I found this lounge new, bridge, very attractively laid out, comfortable, and generally quite good. Not the best lounge I’ve ever visited, but one that I’d be happy to visit again and recommend to others.
But alas, it’s about time for me to head out to Singapore. So I head back downstairs, and make the short walk to Gate 21, from which we’ll be leaving. There’s lots of construction going on inside the concourse.
Out the window, this would appear to be our ride down to Singapore — an A332 still rocking Shanghai Airlines colours.
Boarding is well-organized. There’s what appears to be a class or other large congregation of kids aged 11-13 or so, and they’re cordoned off to the side. I’m kind of milling around when the agent looks up at me and says “Business class?” and I nod. She motions me to come forward to the front of the Sky Priority boarding lane, and then says “We’ll start boarding in about five minutes.” Okay then. I pass the time by chatting with the gentleman behind me, an Argentinian-Canadian from Toronto who’s moving on to Singapore after a few days in Shanghai, and then on to Hong Kong after that. Quite the business run through Asia.
After a few minutes, the agent takes my boarding pass and scans it, and I head down the escalator and towards the my ride down to Singapore.
Flight: MU543 From: Shanghai Pudong (PVG) To: Singapore Changi (SIN Date: 1/16/2017 Aircraft: Airbus A330-200 Registration: B-5931 Seat: 10A ATD (STD): 00:04+1 (23:50) ATA (STA): 05:34 (05:20)
For this flight I’m in 10A, a window seat in the last row of a two-row mini-cabin located behind doors 2. This Shanghai Airlines plane has a 2-2-2 configuration with flat bed seats, similar to those you’ll see on LOT’s 787s, the Turkish longhaul fleet, Air China’s A330s, and many others. Note that for this seat on a 332, there’s a missing window, unfortunately.
The seat is equipped with a very nice pillow, and basic blanket, a step down from the duvet offered on the MU longhaul service spec, but adequate enough.
Again — this seat is missing a window right where you’d most like one, so beware.
Legroom shot — notice slippers located under the ottoman.
Screens are located in the back of the seat in front, but are not turned on during boarding, just like on MU.
A look across the cabin during boarding. We’d end up with nine of 12 in this mini-cabin. Fortunately, the seat next to me remained unoccupied, so all-aisle-access for me, baby!
This friendly reminder was posted on the cocktail table between seats. Fair warning, I suppose. A flight attendant later makes sure I’ve noticed it, and then takes it away.
Pretty standard seat controls.
Wired IFE remote is located under the console between seats.
As is the headphone jack in front.
And the power ports in the rear.
Service begins with an MU-standard hot towel.
And then champagne, water, or orange juice is offered. According to a quick look at the menu which is held onto by the flight attendant, they appear to be pouring Taittinger on this flight.
A look out my window as boarding continues. The China Eastern tail on the other side of the Delta 77L is the MU 77W that brought be over to Shanghai. So basically, I went all of two gates in my time at PVG.
A flight attendant approaches me and kneels, to tell me about the service plan. He tells me that dessert will be offered after takeoff, and offers I believe the choice of a Chinese dessert or fruit. I go with the former, and request another glass of champagne after takeoff.
The safety video rolls and we push back.
It’s a pretty short taxi at this hour, and soon we’re off into the night sky above Shanghai.
Once we’ve been in the air about 10 minutes, the IFE system is turned on. It appears to be an older generation than on the 77W, and understandably, not as touch-centric, but the content appears to be the same.
The branding of this flight is somewhat convenient. It’s marketed as MU, with an MU number and not a Shanghai code share number to be found, but it’s on a Shanghai plane with crew in Shanghai uniforms, and a Shanghai safety video. But the IFE, including the plane on the moving map, is all MU all the time, as are many of the service items presented — slippers, headphones, etc.
I’m not feeling tired as of yet, so I decide to put on a movie, and choose one that’s a bit shorter.
Shortly after the IFE is turned on, the “dessert” is presented on a tray. Clearly, I believe the FA was attempting to tell me that a “snack” of “Chinese snacks” and fruit will be offered, and not offering a choice.
The snacks of dim sum are simple, but quite good. The dumpling doesn’t strike me as great, but the rice in tofu wrapper and the BBQ pork bun were quite good for in-flight dim sum.
The fruit was also quite good. Fresh and juicy. MU seems to do well with fruit.
A bag of MU-branded mixed nuts is also presented, and enjoyed, offering a salty counterpoint to the sweet and savory snack presented.
There’s no amenity kit offered on this 2,500-mile hop, but a flight attendant does offer and eye mask, which comes in handy, as they never turn the lights off completely.
Continuing to explore the haul, the MU-brnaded headphones are the same cheap garbage as was offered on YYZ-PVG. They aren’t even unwrapped this time.
Slippers, wrapped in a shoe bag, are very good.
One last glass of champagne before bedtime? Hey, why not.
The single tray is the extent of the snack service. I suppose with the midnight departure hour, the priority is on getting sleep time. But I’m glad I ate something in the lounge.
Once done, I put my seat back into flat bed mode, and relax for a few minutes while watching the movie.
But the champagne does its job, and soon enough, I’m feeling pretty tired. I turn off the movie, and decide it’s time to get some shut-eye. But first, a quick visit to the lav.
The lone business class lav between the cabins is located just behind door 2R. It’s nothing special, although there is some decoration.
Back at my seat, I put some binaural tones on my headphones, put on the eye mask, and am quickly off to dreamland. I get probably about four hours of pretty solid sleep, and find the bed pretty comfortable. It’s interesting to note that the cabin is actually a little on the cool side, which I find refreshing compared to trying to sleep in a too-hot cabin.
I wake up about 45 minutes out of Singapore, feeling quite refreshed.
There’s not much going on in the cabin, so I pull out my laptop and start to putter. To my surprise, there’s WiFi service. I had read there wasn’t WiFi on the MU 332 fleet. Maybe because it’s Shanghai? Either way, it works exactly like the MU WiFi registration system on the 77W, and works just as well.
As we’re getting closer, landing forms for Singapore are distributed. That’s the extent of pre-arrival service. I’m sure I could have received a drink had I hit the call button or flagged down a flight attendant, but I’m kind of surprised that nothing was offered on the few passes through the cabin the flight attendants made after I woke up.
Soon enough, we’re well on our way into arrival in SIN, flying over the ever-present ships at sea off the coast of Singapore.
And then touchdown.
We taxi around Changi a little bit, making our way over to Terminal 3, where this flight comes to an end. Of course, it’s Singapore, so it’s hot and humid, and the plane is pretty steamed up.
We’re quickly let off the plane through door 1L, and since all flights at Changi are international flights, I’m airside at one of the world’s great airports, with the majority of a day to kill before heading back to Shanghai tonight.
All in all, I was happy with this flight. The service was for the most part good, aside from the odd blip of not being proactive when passengers were waking up — or offering a water bottle to sleeping passengers, since most everybody could use some water upon waking up after sleeping on a plane.
The catering was a bit of a disappointment. I think the post-departure snack was fine in size and nature, but given the length of this flight, and the number of pax that skipped the midnight snack to get right to sleep, I think another light snack pre-departure would be in order.
But all in all, a fine flight.
Thanks for joining me on this one — we’ll pick this one up on my return to Changi later tonight so I can start my trip home.
China Eastern #36 Lounge - T1 International
Shanghai - PVG
Singapore - SIN
The branding issue is confusing. My understanding is that MU owns FM but operates it separately. But this was an MU-coded flight, clearly operated on FM metal, with FM crew, but mostly MU service items.
Service was reasonably attentive and then got out of the way, as one would expect on a late night flight like this. Catering was.... good for what it was, but as mentioned, could definitely have used some reinforcements. The seat was okay -- not fantastic, but a comfortable flat bed, enhanced by the fact that I was lucky enough to not have a seatmate.
The lounge in PVG was a revelation. Perhaps just because of my very low expectations, but I thought it was good. Not "international hub flagship first class lounge" great, but definitely a worthy main business class lounge.
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