I needed to visit Harbin, China, which is my hometown in June during the peak travel season. Air China, which has a connection at Beijing, was going around $1,100 to $1,200. China Eastern was about $1,300. China Southern, on the other hand offers Economy tickets around $900, and Biz around $2,300. Just when we were about to book the $2,300 biz on China Southern, I spotted a deal on Sichuan Airlines round-trip for $650, and I immediately jumped at it. I expected a terrible economy product since they use a domestic configured Airbus A330-200 in this route, while the other carriers uses Airbus A380, Boeing B77W, or the Dream)liner. However, I did save about $500 for two.
After arriving from Harbin, I tried out some local donkey meat at TNA.
Guess what? Sichuan Airlines won't let you check-in until two hours before departure. I sat on an airport bench for 5 HOURS.
Check-in for my flight was only available between 2125 to 2255…
Passengers were kept outside of the International concourse by armed border guards…
There's a priority pass, however, I couldn't get into the International concourse by some weird airport rule.
Finally after 5 hours, I'm in the International check-in area.
Check-in was pretty quick. It took me about ten minutes and another ten for them to search my checked bag.
"Huge Baggage"? LOL
Getting my bags searched
There were only two international gates at TNA. I checked out the neighboring gate. A 90 minute flight to Seoul was delayed by 7 HOURS and was still sitting at the gate.
At my departure gate.
Boarding B-8962, a 1.6 year old Airbus A330-200 delivered fresh to Sichuan Airlines on April 19, 2017.
Here's my seat, 10A
Unfortunately mine for the next 12 hours.
My knees were pressed against the seat in front of me after placing my "homemade" amenity kit in the seatback pocket. And I was only 5'6" According to Google Flight, Sichuan Airlines' A330 has pitch of 31" in Economy. I was not surprised since this aircraft was supposed to fly Chinese domestic flights, definitely not a 12 hour transpacific flight.
View outside my window
And yes…This aircraft is less than 2 year old…
The IFE appears to be older than me myself.
A very amusing safety video
And we're off the ground
The main course, which appeared to be noodle, was sticky and dry. It was okay but borderline to inedible.
Entertainment:Here's the only 18 English movies available onboard. All seemed pretty boring except for "Rascal Rebel Rabbit". The IFE system is basically useless. Unacceptable for a 13 hour flight. Verdict: 2.5/10
Here's the Airshow. Again, very old IFE technology for a less than 2 year old aircraft.
Woke up with 3 hours to spare.
Inside US airspace
The seat "broke" overnight…
The only somewhat advanced technology is the USB port… Verdict: Seat: 2.5/10
Dinner was served. And, yes…there's a part of a cucumber. Isn't cucumber a vegetable instead of a fruit? The main course was just okay. Knowing that I was going straight to the IN-N-OUT by Spelvuda, I barely ate anything. Catering: 5/10
It's kinda Ironic though since Sichuan Airlines is known for its unique food offering.
No individual air nozzles
And…the airshow broke with 646 km left to destination…
Flight attendants spraying something before arrival
QR code. Only one small problem.
Wait, Sichuan Airlines, did you know that none of your aircrafts has wifi?
Flying over Culver City…I think?
On final approach.
Taxing to the west remote gates.
I tried my best to blur their faces…
Super accurate emotions after spending 12 hours in this dystopian aircraft.
Cramped bus as usual.
Spotting at San Diego
This flight from Jinan to Los Angeles is probably my worst flight (out of 23) in 2018. The product on this very young aircraft was outdated for 2018 standards. One of the other two Chinese airlines that fly A330s into LAX, China Southern, which offers 32" pitch with Recaro CL3710, a 12 inch HD touchscreen IFE, wifi, and good catering on its LAX-SHE route. However, considering the relatively much lower price I paid for this round trip ($650), I got what I paid for. Sichuan Airlines got me and my bags from Harbin to Los Angeles in one piece. Sichuan Airlines will soon fly its brand new A350-900 on the TNA-LAX and HGH-LAX route, so I would expect a huge improvement over its current domestic A330-200.