Hello, flight-report readers, and welcome to the second of seven trips on this series documenting my brief getaway to Hong Kong, designed around an Alaska Cathay Pacific First Class award.
This report covers a Delta One flight from Detroit to Beijing, the second of four flights on the way to Hong Kong
The booking of YYZ-DTW-PEK was discussed in some depth in the YYZ-DTW flight-report, since otherwise, there’s not a lot to talk about on a YYZ-DTW flight-report.
Cole’s Notes version: Got a cheap international economy fare for YYZ-DTW-PEK that was instantly upgradeable to Delta One by Global Upgrade Certificate. Score!
This is the first time I’ve taken a Delta flight since a new version of the app that supports ordering your entree for the first meal from the menu up to three weeks ahead of flight time.
Sure enough, three weeks before departure, a “Select Your Entrée” button showed up in the app, and I decided sure, why not figure out what I’d like to eat three weeks ahead of time?
… he had just arrived into Detroit from Toronto, made his way over to the A concourse of the McNamara Terminal, and was getting ready for his flight over to Beijing in Delta One.
Fortunately, the gate for this flight was right next to the dancing fountains at the centre of the McNamara. But all’s quiet at the desk.
And all’s quiet outside, too. My ride over to Beijing has not yet returned from China.
So there’s not much to do at this hour, except going up to the Sky Club for a bite to eat, a plug, and some WiFi.
Fortunately, that’s also just across the hallway.
So I make my way across the way to this SkyClub, the “main” lounge here in Detroit. There are also satellite lounges towards either end of the very long McNamara Terminal, and one over at on Regional Row for the B and C gates.
My boarding pass is scanned, and upstairs I head. But not before noting that it appears that the long-the-tooth lounge is getting a well-deserved facelift in the near future. That’s good news. This lounge definitely doesn’t share the modern look of most of the SkyClubs in the system.
I’ll not go too in-depth on the review of this SkyClub, as I’ve done so before. But I’ll say this — as suggested last paragraph, a renovation is well-deserved for this lounge, which still has notes of Northwest despite being the primary lounge for one of Delta’s major international hubs. I’m of mixed feelings about this lounge. It’s perfectly decent for a domestic SkyClub. But for an international J lounge at a keystone hub? I’d expect more. Delta would be well-served to consider something along the lines of Polaris Lounges, but for international Delta One passengers.
A few random shots of the lounge, which is fairly large and has a number of seating options.
There have been a few changes in this lounge in recent years — this area of “restaurant” seating, for example, used to be home to the reception desk, from which agents would greet and help customers. That whole function has been moved downstairs, I suppose to open up more space for passengers. The lounge can get very crowded at rush hours.
To my considerable surprise, one of the four surviving work cubicles in the lounge is open as I walk by, so I snag it and set up my home there. It’s a more private space from which to charge up my devices, do some writing, and relax for a bit.
Soon enough it’s time to grab a bite to eat. The buffet area used to be more of a TV lounge, but they’ve changed it up to allow a slightly larger space for food, as well as a couple of bar areas. It’s pretty much the Delta-standard SkyClub fare, although I don’t recall having seen any kind of sparkling wine at the bar in the past.
I grab a small snack of some meatballs with barbecue sauce and some macaroni and cheese, accompanied by a bit of the sparkling wine. It’s all pretty good. The meatballs and mac and cheese are among my favourite SkyClub treats.
WiFi is fast and reliable, as always in the clubs, and behind a password that’s prominently posted throughout the lounge. Corporate shot time!
I check in on my ride over to Bejing, which is at this hour just about to arrive into Detroit from Shanghai, before turning right back around and going back to China. So all looks well for a fairly on-time departure.
For laughs, I load up the Delta app’s Upgrades and Standby screen to see what today’s load looks like, and my jaw just about his the floor.
Are there seriously 274 empty seats on this plane with less than three hours to departure? By my math, that suggests there are about 30 seats occupied on the while plane.
There are 26 of 32 seats in Delta One unaccounted for at this hour, according to the app.
My mind races with questions — Is this because it’s the day after Lunar New Year as opposed to the day before? Trade wars taking their toll on US-China traffic? Coronavirus fears? How many empty seats on an A350 before Delta decides there’s a “mechanical issue” with the plane and just cancels the flight?
For posterity, here’s what the app is showing in terms of seat availability for today’s flight. Note the 1 (one) seat booked in Premium Select.
I previously said YYZ-PEK demand must be low this time of year. Let me revise that — EVERYWHERE-PEK demand must be low this time of year.
With about 20 minutes to go before posted boarding time, I decide to head downstairs, stretch my legs a bit, and see what’s going on at the gate.
Downstairs, there are staff at the gate, but a look at the gate area seems to support the data provided by the Delta app. I mean, does this look like the gate waiting area for a 300-seat widebody that’s about 15 minutes from boarding?
But, there’s an A350 being readied outside, and that’s a good sign. Hello, beautiful.
I take a seat — it’s not hard to fine one — and people-watch for a bit. The crew arrives at the gate, and has a brief chat, then all depart. “They’re still cleaning,” one tells her compatriot who is just arriving on the scene. “We’re going to go grab some food.” So I guess we’re going to be a few minutes before boarding.
About 1:40, a gate agent announces boarding will begin in ten minutes. It’s surely not going to take too long to get everyone on this plane this afternoon.
True to her word, boarding is called at about 1:50. Our gate features the new facial recognition boarding system, but of course, everyone has to show their Chinese visa to board anyway.
From: Detroit Wayne (DTW)
To: Beijing Capital (PEK)
Aircraft: Airbus A350-900
ATD (STD): ??? (14:22)
ATA ( STA): ??? (17:00+1)
At the door, I’m greeted by Rosemarie, our in-charge purser, who welcomes me as “one of the brave ones,” informing me there are a total of seven customers in Delta One this afternoon. Yikes.
For this flight, I’m seated in 5A, one of the “closer-to-the-window” window seats in the staggered Delta One Suites cabin.
An over-the-shoulder look at seat 5A
Here’s the view across the aisle — 5B would remain unoccupied, except for when one of the pilots would occasionally stand in it while talking to an off-duty pilot seated in the other side of the middle pair.
A look forward from my seat as boarding begins.
The seat is equipped with the Delta One standard bedding — two pillows in one bag, and a duvet in the other.
Along the back wall between the seat and the aisle, there’s a storage cubby with a holder for a water bottle and a hook for hanging headphones.
Power and USB ports, and the headphone jack are located immediately below the storage space.
A look at the side “table” between the seat and the aisle, which includes another little raised area to offer a bit more space to put your things.
And some additional controls along the side wall of the seat, designed for use while in bed mode.
The alleyway to the aisle is relatively slim, but not a problem to navigate in my experience.
The side wall of the suite contains a reading light under this sconce, and a handle for closing the suite door.
The IFE display is large, and feels even larger because it’s just arm’s length away.
A look out the window as the short boarding process continues.
It’s worth noting that two of the flight attendants I see in Delta One are wearing surgical masks for the flight. Both are Asian women. So there is some concern clearly.
A male flight attendant asks if I need an arrival form — I respond that I’m connecting on to Hong Kong, but have a domestic segment first. So I’m not sure. He gives me one to be sure. I always appreciate when there are distributed at the beginning of the flight so they can be prepared and put away long before arrival.
I tap my monitor, and to my surprise, the IFE is active. I’m able to take a look through what’s available to watch on this flight.
There are a lot of options available, although not many films that I’m exactly aching to see.
As I’m perusing the IFE system, a flight attendant stops by offers headphones and an amenity kit. Both are new since last I flew Delta One. Slippers are also offered.
The amenity kit deconstructed. It’s about the same as always, although there’s a clear shift away from single-use plastics, which is nice. And I love that the socks and the pen are in the new Delta purple share. The pouch is attractive, and looks like something I should be able to find use for.
A bottle of water is also offered, and stowed in its holder.
The slippers are the same as always with Delta. They may have done away with pajamas on their Chinese routes, but at least slippers are still on offer.
I see Delta has moved away from their heavily-hyped and disappointing LSTN headphones, which looked great, but neither sounded good nor did much to reduce ambient noise. These new ones are comfortable, sound good, and appear to do a bit more to block out noise, although still not on the par of quality noise-cancellers.
Pre-departure beverages of orange juice or sparkling wine are offered, and I go with the latter. I’m not sure if this is the same champagne as in-flight, but I fid it quite enjoyable.
Ultimately, I decide to watch the Downton Abbey movie. Having watched the whole series, I guess I should catch the film. I can’t say as I really enjoy it.
Finally, the menu is offered. Let’s take a look at what we have to eat and drink.
It’s about the quickest boarding of a North American widebody I’ve ever experienced. The captain indicates that after we push back, we’ll head over to de-icing to “take a look,” and then we should be on our way. “You should be able to spread out back there and be comfortable,” he says in reference to the light load on today’s flight.
The safety video rolls as we push back right on time at 2:22, leaving behind our twin at the gate next door.
We sit there for about ten minutes, and then the captain informs us that “one of the engines is not responding as it should,” and that we’re going to have to go back to the gate.
We wait a few minutes for ground crew to return, and by about 2:45, we’re headed back to the gate.
The captain lets us know that maintenance is on its way, and that he doesn’t anticipate we’ll have a significant delay, but he’s waiting for their report. We won’t be offloaded, but we’re free to roam the cabin as we see fit.
As soon as the door is opened, four maintenance people stream aboard and head for the flight deck.
I decide this would be a good time to check out the lav, since it’s clearly going to be a minute or two. There are two lavs at the front of the Delta One cabin, one on either side. There’s nothing particularly special about them — other than there’s only a handful of us in the cabin today, so there shouldn’t be too much waiting for a lav.
While I’m up, I take a look aftwards to see if it really is that empty in the back. Oh yes, it certainly is. We may not have been offloaded, but we sure didn’t have many on-loaded.
Just after Three o’clock, the captain updates us that they’re running a couple of tests, and he’s hoping we’ll be ready to go.
But about twenty minutes later, he announces that the reset they tried hadn’t worked, and that we’re going to take a different A350 to Beijing today — the one pictured in my pushback picture one gate over at A40.
Because that plane may not have been full serviced, the flight attendants to take everything — headphones, menus, slippers, amenity kits, even pillows and bedding — over to the new plane. So I pack up as best I can, and head off-board.
I pack up as best I can, and head back into the terminal. Meal vouchers are offered as a result of the delay, but I decline. I’m hungry, but I’m hoping it won’t be too long before we get going again.
Meet the new plane. Same as the old plane. (But one gate over.)
I migrate over to Gate 40, where it appears we’re going to be delayed by about 2.5 hours all told as a result of this — assuming there’s no further delay.
If this holds true, I should still have about 2.5 hours to connect to my China Eastern ticket in Beijing. So I’m optimistic I’ll make it, assuming there’s no more calamity. Flightradar24, meanwhile, is a lot less optimistic.
It’s showing us likely to arrive at 9:20 pm, which would likely be too late to make my flight, and would probably result in me having to figure out a new strategy to get to Hong Kong, since my SkyMiles ticket will be pretty much useless if I misconnect, thanks to Delta’s silly no changes within 72 hours rule.
I’m hoping this is a worst case scenario. There’s not much I can do now except for roll with the punches. And take a quick look at Google Flights to come up with my “Plan B” in case things go further sideways.
Travel is always interesting, no?
Flightradar24 does note that we’ve been changed from flying N507DN to N505DN.
About 4:00, our crew shows back up and starts making their way aboard our new A350, which hopefully will respond better than our previous plane.
I try to figure out if there’s anything Delta can do should I misconnect — a long story short: They cannot.
I manage to check in online for my PEK-SHA flight on China Eastern, and get the idea to head to the lounge to print out my boarding pass, which will hopefully streamline things upon my arrival into PEK.
But when I approach the gate agent to ask if we’ll be boarding shortly, or if I can run for the lounge, I get some news that is very bad for my trip — because of the delay, our crew is going to time out.
A few minutes later, the announcement makes it official. A new crew is on the way, but our new departure time is 6:40 pm, which means I’m pretty much guaranteed to misconnect in Beijing.
Time to figure out plan B, I guess, which will be a Tuesday morning flight to Hong Kong.
Boarding time isn’t until 6:00 pm, so back to the lounge I go to get some eats and figure out my plan.
By the time I’m back up in the lounge, the app has updated to show me that I’m going to be arriving into Beijing after my PEK-SHA flight departs. So it’s officially time to move on to Plan B.
The first order of business, though, is to get some food. I’m starving at this point. And unfortunately, the evening internationals rush hour is on, so it’s hard even to find a seat in the lounge. But I eventually do, and then grab myself more of the same as before, and sit down to re-strategize my way to Hong Kong.
Unfortunately, there are no options on either SkyMiles or Aeroplan for days, so it’s time to book the cheapest economy fare possible — a Tuesday morning departure on Hong Kong Airlines. Actually, I end up booking a ticket that’s $20 more than rock-bottom because it includes one free schedule change. You know, just in case things go further pear-shaped.
Lesson learned — even with a fairly long layover, there is a risk inherent in separate tickets.
It’s amazing how the lounge ebbs and flows — when I come up at 4:30 or so, it’s so packed. By 5:30 or so, it’s all but deserted again as a bunch of the European departures have left over the ensuing hour.
Having recovered the trip as best I can, for now, I sit back and reflect on the irony about being so concerned I’d misconnect because of the short layover in DTW, and not the long layover in PEK.
Life’s funny, huh?
I grab another snack, this time trying the chicken and white bean chilli. It’s pretty good.
I’m heading downstairs for boading at 6:00 when my Delta app shares another update with me.
Oh. Well, this is getting ridiculous, isn’t it? Back upstairs I go to kill three more hours. Maybe I don’t need a hotel room in Beijing after all?
I kill a couple of hours puttering on the Internet, and soon enough, it's approaching 8:00, around which time we should probably start boarding.
I head back downstairs about ten minutes to eight. Our crew may be changing, but the same gate agent is still on the scene. Getting this flight out has become an all-day job for her.
A few minutes later, I watch as a captain shows up, chats with the gate agent, and goes aboard. That bodes well. I mean, assuming the plane doesn’t flunk out after we’re all boarded. But what’s the chance of that happening twice in a row, right?
Over the next few minutes, more crew shows up at the gate and make their way on-board. I'm starting to feel like we might have a flight.
But then 8:15 comes and goes.
And 8:30 comes and goes.
Finally, as I'm near the podium, I hear one of the gate agents telling a passenger that they're still waiting for one more pilot to show up, and once that pilot does, it'll be a quick boarding. But our departure time might slip again.
I know. You're shocked!
About 8:50, I would think it might be time to make a PA updating the faithful in the gate area as to what's going on, and more people are seeming more agitated by the situation. What we have here is a failure to communicate.
And sure enough, about 8:55, the Delta app confirms what we all expected.
Shortly thereafter, they make the official announcement – we're still awaiting our fourth pilot's arrival. And they offer another meal voucher, which I guess is decent of them.
According to the Delta app, our flight has now been boarding for almost nine hours. That's gotta be some kind of a record.
More time comes and goes until we're getting close to the new scheduled departure time. About 9:45, we get the announcement I figured was coming a while ago. They can't find an additional pilot right now, the flight has been cancelled, and will be rebooked as a new segment tomorrow, with a 10 am departure. Come on up to the podium and get yourself a hotel voucher.
I get a meal voucher and a hotel voucher – the Delta by Marriott, which means a shuttle rode. I was hoping to get into the attached hotel. Oh well. They're unable to issue a boarding pass for the new segment as of yet.
But when I come back half an hour later after grabbing a quick bite to return my blanket, pillows and headphones, which I had stowed in my luggage and promptly forgotten until I went to get my jacket, they are able to issue a boarding pass for tomorrow's flight, DL9927.
And by the time I get to my hotel, my reservation is updated to reflect my new reality.
So we'll try this again tomorrow.
I got some sleep at the Delta – which, I recall when I get there, is the same hotel I ended up overnighting at when my DTW-YYZ flight was cancelled after I flew PEK-DTW last year. Talk about coming full circle!
Refreshed and optimism restored, I take a hotel shuttle back to DTW around 7:40am, and arrive at the McNamara Terminal about 10 minutes later.
I've already got my boarding pass, so there's no need to check-in here. I head straight over to the PreChek security check.
It's surprisingly empty, and I'm through security and airside in about two minutes. Positive momentum!
Straight ahead of me at Gate 40 is (I presume) the same A350 that would have taken me over to Beijing yesterday, had we managed to find a whole crew.
Behind me, perhaps the defining picture of the McNamara Terminal – the red monorail tram pulls into a station above the dancing fountain at the centre of the terminal.
I head back to the SkyClub to kill the hour or so before boarding, and to get a bit of breakfast.
I'll spare the full review, since I've already discussed the lounge quite a bit in this report.
For breakfast, I grab some scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, and chicken sausage that has an unexpected cinnamon flavour to it, I think. All decently good.
Checking in with the Delta app, I see we've lost a few more passengers. This isn't a surprise, since anyone with connections would probably be rebooked through PVG or ICN to take advantage of Delta's partnerships with MU and KE. We're down to less than 10 percent load on this plane if this information holds up.
About ten minutes to nine, I decide to head over to the gate and see what's going on there. Fingers crossed!
Let's make this change official, shall we?
The information screens at the gate confirm we’re down a few passengers.
About twenty past nine, they let us know that we’ll start boarding in about ten minutes.
And true to the gate agent’s word, boarding is called at about 9:30, and we’re going to give this a second try.
Boarding is once again by facial recognition, and by the same pair of gate agents who were working the flight last night.
From: Detroit Wayne (DTW)
To: Beijing Capital (PEK)
Aircraft: Airbus A350-900
ATD (STD): 10:22 (10:00)
ATA ( STA): 12:36+1 (12:38+1)
At the gate, I’m greeted by Eileen, who’s serving as in-charge for this flight. She shows me to seat 5A, the same seat I was in during yesterday’s attempts to get out of Detroit. I’ve already explored the seat pretty thoroughly, so we’ll not tread over that ground again.
I chat a bit with Eileen, who says she was “promoted” — she was working economy on yesterday’s flight, and now she’s up front. She says in general, it’s better working up front, because while there are more moving pieces, there are a lot fewer people, and the people who are there tend to be happier about their situation. Makes sense to me, I guess.
Unlike yesterday’s flight, where slippers, amenity kit, water bottle and headphones were handed out post-boarding, they’re all at the seat when I show up today.
Pre-departure beverages are offered by the Asian male flight attendant who was working yesterday’s flight. He’s the only holdover I recognize from the Delta One cabin from yesterday, although it’s possible others were like Eileen and working economy yesterday so I didn’t see them.
The sparkling wine is lovely. I prefer it to what I recall Delta serving in D1.
One detail I forgot to mention in yesterday’s summary of the seat — there’s a wired remote ad a mirror under the armrest.
We get into the Delta purple mood lighting while the brief boarding continues.
We push back about five minutes behind schedule, and the safety video plays.
By the time it’s over. We’re moving forward! We’ve officially gotten further than we did yesterday.
The captain takes a moment to add his apologies for yesterday’s debacle, and provides details of the flight, taking extra time to mention that there are two complete flight crews on this flight, so please don’t be alarmed if you see pilots wandering around the cabin.
Or, y’know, snoozing in Delta One. I take it the seats here are more comfortable than the crew quarters above.
Once we’re moving it’s only a few minutes of taxiing until we’re lining up for the runway. Judging by traffic and by the number of planes at the McNamara Terminal, I’m guessing this isn’t exactly rush hour for DTW.
About 10:23, we start our roll, and to the surprise of the pessimist in me, we don’t have to reject takeoff.
We are outta here! Beijing, here we come.
As we climb out, it seems the powers that be are blessing our aircraft. I put my seat back, and enjoy the fact that I’m finally underway.
About 20 minutes after takeoff, service begins with a hot towel, distributed by a younger female flight attendant.
We chat a little bit, and she seems very excited to be on this flight. She reports that some of the crew from yesterday were available for today’s flights, and some were not, so she jumped on the opportunity to take this flight. “Usually, you can’t get on an Asia flight unless you’ve been here for like 40 years,” she says. I’m not sure if this is the first flight to Asia she’s worked, but it’s still clearly an exciting novelty to her, which is energizing.
Drink service is offered about a half-hour after takeoff. I start off with a glass of champagne and some sparkling water, accompanied by very warm mixed nuts.
The tray of starters is offered about ten minutes later — the whole meal service up until dessert is offered by the Asian male flight attendant.
The shrimp starter is quite enjoyable, although I don’t pick up a whole lot of harissa flavour. But with a liberal squeeze of lime juice, it’s very tasty.
The salad is a bit small, but quite enjoyable — a bit of an upgrade from the usual Domestic First Caesar salad.
Porcini mushroom soup is quite good also, although could be a touch hotter.
The bread basket is also offered along with the starters, and I take a sourdough bread and a pretzel bread. Both are quite good.
To this point in the flight, I’ve been finishing up the Downton Abbey movie from yesterday. When it ends, I have to find something else. This one speaks to me for some reason, ad I find it enjoyable enough.
As soon as I’m done my starters, plates are cleared and the main is presented. I’m instantly glad I chose this dish. It is excellent. The fish is perfectly done, and very tasty, and the salsa really adds some life to the dish. Simple, but highly recommended.
I accompany it with a glass of the Pinot Noir from the wine list, which isn’t quite as much of a hit.
When I’m done my main course, Eileen clears it up, and offers me dessert. I ask to have the cheese course. As always, I find the Delta One cheese plate quite wonderful.
Rounding out lunch, I have a sundae with everything on it. As always, it’s good.
Once the meal service is done, the lights are dimmed. With just a handful of us in Delta One, it’s very quiet up here.
So I settle in, and watch the rest of the movie.
When it’s over, I put the bed down fully, and and put my favourite go-to-sleep podcast on.
The new Delta headphones sound good, but when their noise-cancellation goes head-to-head with my Bose, it’s not contest.
A look into the footwell with the seat in bed mode. It looks pretty constricted, but I don’t have any problems with it.
Here’s how the suite looks with the door… uhhh… closed. It seems to vary by individual seat exactly how “closed” each door gets.
Before settling in for some sleep, I decide to check the moving map.
So apparently we’ve just been hovering right over Detroit this whole time. That’s a pretty cruel trick you’re pulling, Delta.
So I shan’t be keeping track of our progress this way. I just head to sleep, and manage to get a couple of hours of decent sleep. I find the Suite bed quite comfortable as long as I’m on my back, and a little bit less comfortable when I’m on my side — a bit hard for that.
When Eileen notices I’m awake from my nap, she offers me the mid-flight snack, and I gratefully accept. It’s quickly delivered, and accompanied by a glass of sparkling water and a Woodford on the rocks.
It’s a really enjoyable snack — the sandwich is delightfully crispy and cheesy, and the potato salad is pretty good too.
After my snack, I chill for a bit listening to podcasts. At one point I take a look out the window, and happen to capture a sunset as we fly over…. uhhh…. clouds. Have I mentioned I miss the moving map?
I sleep on and off for about another hour and a half, and when I wake up, decide it’s time for another movie. This seems like decent plane movie fare, and it does the job of keeping me entertained.
When the younger female flight attendant (I would later find out her name is Eva) notices I’m up, she pops by with the snack basket, which has chips, nuts, chocolate — a pretty standard Delta snack basket. I take some things to enjoy during my movie, and request a Coke Zero to go along with it.
Up next, I keep with the post-apocalyptic theme. Not a bad flick, but probably nothing I would ever watch except on a plane.
Without the moving map, I have no idea where we are. But I’m guessing it’s somewhere north. Quite a beautiful rugged scene outside my window.
With the movie over, I decide to throw on some podcasts for the remained of the flight. Shortly thereafter, Eva approaches with a menu, so I’m guessing we’re down to about 90 minutes left in this flight. I end up choosing the ziti pasta because they didn’t stock the noodle soup I was thinking of having. This seems to have been a catering issue for this irregular flight, because the Chinese menu for the first meal wasn’t loaded either. I’m guessing the plane just got the “every route” dishes.
Before the meal, it's time for another hot towel.
It’s brought out quickly enough, and is pretty good, although would benefit from some more broth, or sauce, or something to add a bit more flavour. At least I feel like I got my veggies in, and the tomatoes and boccoccini were both really enjoyable.
When I’m done, I chat with Eva a little bit — she’s just on a 24-hour layover, so nothing too exciting. Although she says she gave up a five-day trip to Shanghai that she would have been on at this point in time. She had big plans to catch a flight up to Beijing, see the Great Wall, do it up big. But it became kinda pointless when China extended the Lunar New Year holidays and shut down a bunch of attractions, including the Great Wall, for the time being.
A little before noon, we start our descent into Beijing. It’s looking like we’re going to be arriving right on time. Well, if you forget about that whole cancelled flight yesterday thing, that is.
Eileen, who had been resting for the latter part of the flight in one of the first row of Delta One seats, makes her way through the cabin to offer her thanks, and a pre-arrival chocolate.
Descent is smooth, although it looks like it’s going to be another foggy/smoggy day in Beijing.
Soon, Terminal 3 is in sight, and we touch down at Beijing Capital.
Because we landed on that side of the airport, it’s a twenty-minute taxi over to Terminal 2, where our flight comes to an end.
At least I shouldn’t misconnect again this time!
Immediately upon landing at Beijing, all of the flight attendants put o face masks. And all but one of the passengers I see (other than myself) do too.
Terminal 2 is never exactly a bustling hive of humanity compared to Terminal 3, but it seems really quiet in the hangover of Lunar New Year and the fears around the coronavirus.
Along with the usual fingerprint collection before customs, there’s a form offered that has to be filled out about health, possible exposure to the coroavirus, and travel to or from Wuhan in the last two weeks. It certainly seems China — both government and citizens — are taking this thing very seriously. Every passenger’s temperature is scanned as well.
Even with the extra steps, I’m through and into the nearly-deserted arrivals hall at Terminal 2 in about 15 minutes.
From here, I step outside to find the airport shuttle for the Cordis Hotel waiting. I hop aboard and head over to the hotel to get a few hours of rest before I have to head back to make my way to Hong Kong.
Thanks for joining me for this flight-report, and I hope to see you in the next installment.
Rating a flight like this is difficult. The seat is very good, the crew and service were great, catering was mostly great, and the IFE system was just fine. So in each of the categories measured, this flight is fine.
But it seems like there should be marks deducted for the flight being nearly 24 hours late, and causing me to scramble to recover the trip.
Still, I’ll remember this flight — aside from the stress of the first attempt to get out — fondly.