Review of Air China flight Beijing San Francisco in Economy

Airline Air China
Flight CA985
Class Economy
Seat 62C
Aircraft Boeing 747-8I
Flight time 10:48
Take-off 28 Jun 18, 16:01
Arrival at 29 Jun 18, 11:49
CA   #81 out of 134 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 177 reviews
bgboiflyer
By 3837
Published on 19th July 2018
Hello and welcome back to my next part of the trip

Of course I should probably link my other parts:

CA1486 NNG-PEK 27 July 2018: https://flight-report.com/en/report/33628/Air-China-CA1486-Nanning-NNG-Beijing-PEK

My other reports are on Airliners.net under the same alias

Well from my last report I was stranded with my family in Beijing after a missed connection originally in Los Angeles.

Re-booking was super odd as we were directed to the Air China counter instead of the United counter, which we booked originally from online, which caused us a hassle in SFO, where we were headed to on the re-book. What's also awesome is that this is operated by the dying Boeing 747-8i, which only 3 airlines operate!

And so we were taken to a rather sketchy hotel, which had some odd amenities and a weird facility.

After breakfast we were taken on a bus to the airport, with an interesting passenger heading to Pyongyang, North Korea and supposedly the bus being delayed since someone forgot their lighter and need to smoke a cigarette, but anyway we left without that person.


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View of PEK T3

At the terminal we realized we did have time to enter the city, as well as finding another passenger on our same prior flight miss the same connection, and we wished him luck!

We took the airport express and subway to see some sights, such as the Tian'anmen Square

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Tian'anmen Square

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Portrait of Mao Zedong

CA985 PEK-SFO
Boeing 747-8i
B-2481
Age: 3.3 years
Seat: 62C
Depart: 15:40 (16:01)
Arrive : 12:20 (11:49)
Duration: 11:30 (10:48)


And soon we were back at the airport to retrieve our lost luggage and check-in.

It took a while to get the luggage and also to find a us seats on the flight, and could not get me a window seat :/

After we got our luggage returned we proceeded to immigration by meeting boarding pass scanners and a train to the E gates

Immigration was pretty brief and I was of course studied by the officers since I had some portable batteries, my mother unfortunately was "Super Special" or SSSS and ultimately took a while.

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Finally something not generic and actual CA cardboard to keep

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View of T3-E

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Wonderful fountain

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SK A343 and BR 77W

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Our section of T3-E and where our flight to LAX the night before was supposed to depart at, E09

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There was the behemoth at Gate E08, the Queen, B-2481!

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More shots of the beauty Queen

Soon afterwards boarding began at 15:10 in a pretty odd free-for-all manner. It was rather civilized and constantly moving

The process involved the removal of the stub (and no secondary passport check too!) at the end and given to you, which is nowadays rare (Like back in the glorious 747 days!)

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Double jetways

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Those engines, and note that dangling jetway above, this gate can handle A380s!

My seat was at the very back of the Airplane which was fun, as no one else was behind me. My seatmate, a Cupertino native, occupied 62A many minutes later, and 61A was eventually occupied
What was off was that 62H and K both were vacant but with no cushions, so I guess I could of snagged them if I wanted to, but thankfully there was an exit door right behind us so I could get some non-turbulent shots out its window. Otherwise please mind the window outlines

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My seat 62A

It also had a convenient legrest along with a comfy 32-33" of pitch
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Crappy headphones, well I didn't use!

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The Usual stuff minus literature

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Look another giant coming in (EK A388)!

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Pushback at 13:47

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Prior to takeoff the captain came on the PA and announced the flight time of 10 hours and 40 minutes and also informed us again of the aircraft type (which he should of since it is very special!)

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Takeoff at 16:01

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Moving map

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The takeoff through Northern Chinese Airspace was rather bumpy (worst turbulence of my life!) and maybe added a couple minutes to the flight time

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The IFE was very responsive to my surprise, since another video showed its unresponsiveness (sorry for the blur due to the insane turbulence we had)

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Now airborne

Very soon a drink service happened followed by a dinner service with a choice of chicken or fish (same as last night unfortunately)

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(If you read my last report you would know what I would choose again) paired with an aromatic chrysanthemum tea

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Sunset over Russia (?)

After watching some IFE (I guess?) I saw a flight attendant help the elderly Vietnamese couple visiting their daughter in the bay area complete their customs form. I assisted and she gladly thanked me. Thankfully another Vietnamese man who regularly visits the United States every so often help them again and we had a little conversation. I wish they had Wi-Fi on board in order to get my translator working.

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Trip to the lav before shuteye

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CA branded lotion

Unfortunately the attempt was barely successful and I guess I did barely sleep a bit, and so I dug into some IFE once more, watching a Chinese pet show and A Street Cat Named Bob


I was a bit hungry and when I hopped over to the galley they really only offered me piece of bread from dinner service which I gladly accepted since I was pretty peckish. I would suggest they offer more snacks in between the 10 hour flight since I did get pretty hungry, and other airlines usually offer snacks mid-flight given this length. Also I was informed of a meal service within the next hour.

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The absent mood lighting finally being used to wake up people

Soon followed was a Breakfast service about 2 hours out from SFO. The choices were a Congee or Egg Omelet, I chose the latter since I've only had a Chinese option in the past

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The "omelet" turn out not the way it was called but rather a medley of a classic Western breakfast, with the sausage tasting like the Chinese processed ones. It wasn't 100% horrible but I've always refused congee on a plane.

Very soon we seeing the Northern California landscape and soon the usual pictures of the areas showed

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Bay Bridge

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OAK (KOAK, Oakland International)

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Downtown San Francisco

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Flaps down

We did some circling around Palo Alto and Stanford University until turning toward SFO

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Landed finally for the first time in my life at SFO despite living in the West at 11:49 local time

Note the "time travel" since SFO is 15 hours behind China

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The land of the UA jet

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Parked next to a UA 77W (Polaris and cramped seats!)

We were parked at Gate G99, which is only used by this type and airline

Despite being at the back of the plane we did happen to use mobile passport and legit it took like a minute to get past the passport check

After clearing the usual we dropped our bags and we hit a hard brick wall from not telling United what happened, which some of us became "no-shows" uhh oh!

But eventually we got through and my father debated taking us into downtown, but well there wasn't enough time, and TSA is always unpredictable.

Well anyway thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed, my last report is above if you'd like to see it!
See more

Verdict

Air China

9.0/10
Cabin9.5
Cabin crew10.0
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Meal/catering8.5

Beijing - PEK

7.5/10
Efficiency5.0
Access8.0
Services8.5
Cleanliness8.5

San Francisco - SFO

8.1/10
Efficiency8.0
Access9.0
Services8.5
Cleanliness7.0

Conclusion

CA overall isn't that bad of a choice (well, I had none since I was non-rev lol). They have awesome staff and T3-E is really nice. They at least payed a lot of attention and even commented about my photo taking. They of course tried their best especially to the Vietnamese couple beside me. The IFE was responsive and not much content was available, and they have longer flights than this which could be a potential issue on them. The food was OK, I've had way worse than this (DL in 2015, *cough* *cough*), but the choices were really bland and there was also nothing in between meals which is an issue. The plane was amazing, very quiet and relaxing, and the lavs behind me were used often but almost not even heard at all. The only thing bad about them is that the seats aren't too private as many people "wait" behind you and might peep at your screen. For a recommendation, if you want to fly Business, try and aim for a United 77W, which operates the exact same flight an hour after this one. It actually has direct aisle seating and really good service too. However if you want a true first class experience or are flying economy, try and book here, as UA has a 3-4-3 on 17 inch seats and an inch or two less in pitch, and a the thrill of the 747(Where the true 3-4-3 belongs!). Also I didn't have an incident with pilots smoking, which has happened to me a long, long time ago, back when the 747 was still dominant and the Queen of the skies!

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