Review of China Eastern flight Shanghai Toronto in Business

Airline China Eastern
Flight MU207
Class Business
Seat 6A
Aircraft Boeing 777-300ER
Flight time 13:10
Take-off 18 Jan 17, 12:45
Arrival at 18 Jan 17, 12:55
MU   #95 out of 124 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 139 reviews
hometoyyz
By 2949
Published on 26th February 2017
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 - Right here
MU566 SIN-PVG 1/17/2017 - Right here
MU207 PVG-YYZ 1/18/2017 - And finally, we’re here

When last we saw each other, your humble flight-reporter had just arrived airside first thing in the morning, and was in search of a lounge and some breakfast.

Unfortunately, it appears that the lounges don’t open until 5:30, so I was on my own for a few minutes. The departure hall of T1 was basically empty. And by basically empty, I mean “empty empty.”

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Soon enough, though, 5:30 rolled around, and when I headed back to the escalators up to the main China Eastern lounge at PVG, the cordons had been removed. Upstairs I headed towards the lounge.

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My boading pass was scanned, and inside, I got quite a surprise. Aside from a few cleaning and catering workers, and one lounge agent who kept a pretty close eye on me, I had the place to myself.

They were still setting up the buffet, so it’s time for the tour, shall we?

First, this simple room, with some seating, a collection of beverages at the end, and some very handy lockers, which were free to use. Once I figured out how to use it properly (there’s a small thumb scanner for identification… and I thought it wanted me to touch the screen to authenticate. Dumb mistake, but it’s early), I stashed my roll-aboard to give me a bit more flexibility.

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And this is the other side of the main floor of the lounge, taken from near the buffet at the end.

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Flight information display in the wall.

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As well as the main hallway that makes up this floor of the lounge, there are a few alcoves and rooms off to the side with various seating arrangements.



More of the main room/hallway of the main floor.

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Beverages aren’t with the main buffet, but rather on their own in an alcove partway down the main hall between the entrance and the buffet.



Alright… let’s get down to some food, shall we? Let’s check out the buffet.

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Fresh fruit and salad fixings.

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Breakfast potatoes and baked beans.

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Scrambled eggs and sausages.

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Penne carbonara and vegetable fried rice.

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Assorted sweets and sandwiches in the cooler.

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Soups and some dim sum.

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To my delight, the freshly-made noodles were on offer at this early hour. I requested one from the lady working the station, and they were quickly made, and I loaded them up but good.

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Pastries.

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Bread and toaster.

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I retreated to a seat with a snack. Everything was basically just okay. The scrambled eggs were fine. The sausage was tasty, but aesthetically displeasing. The potatoes were meh. The danish just had a honey-ish taste to it, but was otherwise fine.

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But my noodles? Oh, they were delicious. Just as good as the ones a couple of days earlier. Again, high recommendation.

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After breakfast, I decided it was time to be a completist, and take a look at upstairs. There was one other passenger in the lounge at this point, so it was feeling a bit crowded downstairs. Like the main floor, the upstairs area opens up in two directions from the entry point.

Here’s the hall in one direction.

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This side has a small snack and drinks bar.

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A work area down the main hall.

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A small board room and seating area.

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Massage chairs, and “escape pods.” I really should have checked these out when I had the chance.

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And here’s a look at the other side of the upstairs area.

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It has a larger bar, but oddly, only a couple of packaged snacks on this side.

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I had some time to kill, so I logged onto the Internet and got some work done. With the lounge being so empty, it was fast, and worked fine. I love that every time I visited the site from the lounge or in-flight, I got a “VPN for China” ad.

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I puttered and worked for a few hours, and the place slowly filled up. Finally, coming up on 11:00, it was about time to board. And it was also getting quite packed in the lounge. Here’s what it looked like upstairs.

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And downstairs.

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All in all, another very positive experience with this lounge. It’s not at the very tippy-top of business class lounges, perhaps, but I would consider it a very solid offering, and a very pleasant place to hang out — especially when it wasn’t very crowded. Having read mixed (at best) review of China Eastern lounges before this, I was quite pleasantly surprised.

Back downstairs, the concourse was much busier than when last I was down there. I made my way out to the end of the terminal, where our 777 was waiting.

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It looked like they were starting to sort out boarding, but not really boarding yet. But when I wandered by with my boarding pass in hand, an agent asked “Business class?” and motioned for me to board. So I did. Gotta love glass jetways.

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Flight: MU207
From: Shanghai Pudong (PVG)
To: Toronto Pearson
Date: 1/18/2017
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Registration: B-7367
Seat: 6A
ATD (STD): 12:47 (12:05)
ATA (STA): 12:56 (13:25)

For this flight, as discussed in the previous flight-report when I checked in at Changi, I was in 6A, the first-row- port window in the two-row mini-cabin between the first class cabin and doors 2. The hard product was basically the same.

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An over-the-shoulder look at this bulkhead seat.

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And a look at the forward mini-cabin in all its glory.

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The seat was equipped with a very nice pillow, and that’s all. The duvet was located in the footwell.

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Legroom shot — almost unnecessary for these lay-flat seats. And yet still I take ‘em every time.

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Footwell area. Note the literature in the cubby, and the amenity kit as well. I found the foot room pretty reasonable and the space not too restricted.

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Slippers, safety card and more in the aisle-side pocket.

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A young male flight attendant was very quick to bring by a hot towel.

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Continuing the exploration of the pod, very disappointing headphones and a nice bottle of water were located in the bin along the top of the window-side wall.

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Reading light, headset jack, USB port and IFE remote immediately behind it.

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Seat controls are also on the side panel.

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And the power port at the front of the side panel.

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The IFE screen is a decent size and pretty responsive, but not activated at the gate. Instead, it ran this promo page, and there was some boarding music.

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Yep, another exciting look out the window at some jetways.

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Pre-departure drinks were then offered, but only juice or water. I don’t understand China Eastern’s PDB policy. On only one of four flights, champagne was offered on the ground. And that, oddly enough, was on the Shanghai Arilines segment. So maybe FM offers champagne on the ground, but MU does not? Whatever. It’s all good.

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From my seat, I had a pretty good view of the First Class cabin. They’d have just two passengers, from what I could tell.

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Ohhhhhhh…. this F seat was not yet occupied, but was well prepared for the lucky soul traveling in it today. Cleary, F passengers warrant champagne on the ground, unlike us unwashed masses in J.

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Back at my seat, the cabin was starting to fill in. Eventually, it was eight of eight. Actually, it was nine of eight, as the woman on the starboard window in row 7 had a baby in arms. Again, lots of children in premium cabins here — way more than one would ever see in North America.

Here’s a closer look at the headphones offered. I didn’t even open them. They’re terrible and not worth mentioning other than to say “bring your own.”

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A nice Canadian bottle of water, even on the ex-PVG flight.

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And once again, the most inspiration and aspirational shoe bag I’ve ever seen.

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It has slippers in it, too!

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The amenity kit, desconstructed. Pretty basic, but not at all bad.

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Drink and meal orders were taken on the ground by a female flight attendant, who brought the menu around, and politely declined when I asked to have a look at one for a little bit longer. So no pics of the menu, unfortunately. I kinda disappointed myself by again choosing the western-style meal. But they had lamb, and I love lamb.

Boarding was quickly completed, but we had to wait a while, as we were told there was traffic behind us. But eventually, the safety video rolled, and we pushed back — our twin was parked next to us.

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See, I told you it was all the way to the end of the terminal.

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Taxiing took a while, and when we made the turn for the runway, it was clear this was a busy time at a very busy airport.

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But eventually, we got cleared, and lined up for 34L.

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A very quicky and powerful roll, and we were airborne. Great views of the terminal at PVG on the climb.



But soon we were emerged in the clouds, and then eventually though them.

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Meanwhile, the champagne I had requested while still on the ground was brought to me.

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Shortly afterwards, the table was set, and the amuse-bouche presented, a couple of little canapés, one with a bit of prosciutto and some cheese, and the other a simple shrimp and tomato skewer. Both very good.

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With the IFE activated in-flight, I picked up the movie I had been watching the other day on PVG-SIN, before giving up on it in favour of sleep.

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Quickly, the tray was brought with soup and appetizer. Wine was also offered, and accepted, although I don’t know what type it was, aside from “red.” It was pretty good, though.

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The appetizer was solid. Could it be that foie gras is growing on me? I still preferred the shrimp, though.

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The soup was, as I recall, a cream of potato and spinach, and was also quite good. Soup on a plane is always a safe bet.

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Bread was offered from the bread basket. The garlic bread was quite good. The other roll was quite stale.

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Once I was done done with the appetizer, the dishes were quickly cleared, and my main presented. Once again, the pacing of this meal was excellent — go as fast or as slow as you like. I found this entree very good, although a little bit small in portion size. It was tasty, the potatoes were very good, and the vegetables nicely prepared. I do wish I’d had the menu so I could remember more details, thought.

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Once I was done with my entrée, fruit was quickly offered. All very good and fresh, although I preferred the mix of fruit offered on other flights.

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Dessert was next. I’m not entirely sure how to describe these semi-gelatinous stars or maple leafs. So I’ll just say it was okay. Chocolate Hagen Dazs was also on offer. There was cheese on the lower deck of the dessert cart, but when I asked the female flight attendant offering desserts for some cheese, she said “Okay!” and then moved along. Clearly, something was lost in translation. I didn’t bother to chase after the cheese, as it didn’t look like the most inspired cheese serving.

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With dinner done, dishes were quickly cleared, and I settled in for a nap. Dinner was done very quickly, and I found my bed quite comfortable, getting about four and a half hours of sleep. That worked well, meaning I “got up” early in the morning Eastern Time. I woke up about half-way through the flight, and discovered that to my horror, there was no moving map on this flight!

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Okay, so I’m awake now, it’s time for my next movie. I really love the China Eastern movie review guy. This summary reads like when you had to do a book report in school, and had no idea what to say, so just started listing random and obvious facts. I don’t blame them for not knowing what to say about this movie, though. Weird, weird film.

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About half an hour into the movie, the house lights came up in full, and hot towels were distributed. It kinda felt like meal service was about to begin, but it’s only been about five hours since lunch, and this seems like a weird time to present the pre-arrival meal.

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Or not, because look, there it is. The pre-arrival meal. The starter for the western course was a simple salad with some chicken and caramelized onions. Pretty good.

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More garlic bead to go with it.

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The main was described as a Thai-style chicken curry. It was tasty and not overly cooked. I had a Diet Coke to go with it.

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There was also some fruit for dessert, which was a better mix than the lunchtime fruit, although I didn’t seem to get a picture.

With the pre-arrival meal done, and still almost seven hours left in the flight, I decided to do some surfing. Again, the Internet access code for which I had bothered to pre-register before departure did not work. But I was able to log on with an “acquired on board” access code, of which there appear to be a finite number per flight. So I’m not sure why pre-registration is even offered. Oh well. I can’t complain. The WiFi was of decent speed, and it was free.

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Still about five hours to go when my movie was over. I miss my moving map.

Time for a quick trip to the lav. There is a forward lav, but it’s only for F-class folks. There are only two J-class lavs, located just in front of doors 2L and 2R. That seems like too few for a 50-plus-passenger J cabin. But there are four shared with economy immediately behind the aft J cabin. But that means crossing the curtain! Anyway… the J lavs are of a decent size, and had a changing bench, which is always nice.

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With about 3:30 left in the flight, I decided to put on another movie. Once again, the China Eastern Movie Critic captures the very soul of the film in synopsis form.

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About 90 minutes of Toronto, a (very) small snack was offered. The choice was a small bowl of congee and a dim sum item, or these simple spring rolls. They tasted good and fresh, but this seemed more like a snack than a pre-arrival meal. I’m not sure why this wasn’t served earlier, and then the slightly larger light meal presented before arrival. But I think maybe it was supposed to be and the crew just did their own thing? I don’t know. I found it odd, but I didn’t have a menu to which to refer to better understand timing.

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By the time that movie was over, we were just over an hour out of Toronto. The TV selections were pretty meager, so I decided to go with something to make myself feel smart.

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About an hour out, Canadian arrival forms were handed out.

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Soon enough, we started our descent into Toronto. Very cloudy coming down from cruising altitude.

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By the time we broke through the clouds, we were well into our descent, and only maybe five minutes from landing, judging by the landmarks over which we were flying.



Touchdown!

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Always a good sight to see in Toronto in January — idle de-icing stations.

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And thus, my journey home came to an end, out at the end of Terminal 3’s international pier.

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One last look back at my ride home to Toronto from above, and I was off to customs and immigration, which was super-fast, as it always is when one uses a Nexus Card at T3.

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Thanks for joining me on this trip. I hope to see you on my next flight-report adventure!
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Verdict

China Eastern

7.4/10
Cabin7.5
Cabin crew7.0
Entertainment8.0
Meal/catering7.0

China Eastern #36 Lounge

7.9/10
Comfort8.0
Meal/catering7.5
Entertainment8.0
Services8.0

Shanghai - PVG

8.1/10
Efficiency8.0
Access7.5
Services8.0
Cleanliness9.0

Toronto - YYZ

8.0/10
Efficiency8.0
Access7.5
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.5

Conclusion

Overall, I’d give this flight a mixed review. The seat was good, the IFE was fine, but the crew struck me as odd, a weird mix of a young male flight attendant who seemed very good, very sharp, and very proactive, and a female flight attendant who denied menu and cheese. I thought the catering was a significant step down, both in quantity and quality, from what was offered on YYZ-PVG. That could be the caterer’s fault, but it’s not a good sign for an airline when catering is better from outstations than from its mega-hub.

Still, for the price, it was a very good seat. I think China Eastern still has some wrinkles to iron out of its service, but it seems to be an airline on the rise, and offers a pretty good business class service. Nothing aspirational, but pretty solid.

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1 Comments

  • Comment 387635 by
    757Fan 466 Comments

    Great report of your flight home with China Eastern. That is surprising that they served that pre-arrival meal so many hours away from landing in Toronto - how strange. The food looks okay in the photos, but sorry to hear it wasn't as good as the outbound leg.

    Great photos as usual. Thank you for sharing!

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