Review of China Eastern flight Shanghai London in Economy

Airline China Eastern
Flight MU551
Class Economy
Seat 48A
Aircraft Airbus A330-200
Flight time 16:00
Take-off 12 Mar 17, 13:00
Arrival at 12 Mar 17, 21:00
MU 169 reviews
By GOLD 833
Published on 15th July 2021

back from beautiful cambodia: a flight like no others!

This is the last flight of a tiring routing that happened back in 2016 a very good friend of mine had the idea to go to Cambodia amongst us 6 friends…vThe whole trip was really fun, and SPOILER ALERT 

There will be angry people, an injured passenger and an unexpected contact with the snow!

Flying blue Miles earned with this flight: 1382
Status earned: 12 XP

photo shanghai

For memory We booked our tickets back in october 2016, after a quick compare on skyscanner, it quickly appeared that British Airways was a bit too expensive, so were Singapore Airlines and that China Eastern Airlines was offering a really cheap return ticket - a real bargain! I never flew with an asiatic carrier before, but as they were part of Skyteam I thought this was a good opportunity to increase my Flying blue miles! 

photo routing

Very strangely we didn't get to check in online, the 6 of us faced the same "technical issue" page on MU website… 

The flight is operated on an A330-200, that was replaced later by the much larger B777-300ER. The type has a mixed configuration of 230 to 264 seats, which is a bit much for the shorter of the long haul aircrafts.

photo w020190320720987729109-18478

at shanghai pudong airport

The 6 of us arrived from the previous flight from Phnom penh at 5 am at Shanghai, and the group split up into 2 at this point: those flying back to France and with Air France, and me and my other half staying on China Eastern Airlines onbound to London.

I must say that back then I was holding an explorer or silver status, and so I couldn't claim to go to any skyteam lounge with my friends. Decision was made to try and sleep a bit more at the airport; which didn't happen.

Was it due to the noise? the stress of missing your next flight? the fact that holidays were over? Not sure… 

So I had plenty of times to go around the airport.  

photo img_2295

The airport is one very long Rectangulair shaped building - a bit like Madrid Barajas T4 but without any colours!

One thing that at first I found funny but later annoyed me are the lukewarm drinking fountains… I was desperate for a really cold refreshing drink…

photo screenshot_20210711-095939_duckduckgo

Another thing annoying is that pretty much everything is censored in China: Google, Gmail, Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram… So to let my family know we were ok it was a real challenge… I considered smoke signals but even that is not possible with the pollution at Shanghai  that day!!

I had to wave at my friend for their departure with their plane here..

photo dsc_0133_1

I also had time to spot our aircraft of the day that will take me back to London

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I forgot to mention that every time you connect at Pudong, the transit office gives you a boarding pass that has 2 "tearable" parts - one passed passport controls and security (again and not very nice) and once at the gate before boarding.

Just like the report of @Aigle_Voyageur at Shanghai, Boarding started about just 10 min before the fligjt departure and to quote his sentence that me laugh "If we are still boarding the old way, the boarding agent takes your boarding pas Violently". I can testify !!

 His report here  

onboard the a330-200

Aircraft: Airbus A330-243
Registration: B-6095
Engines: 2x RR trent 772
Age: 14 Years
Layout: 264 seats
Observation: With the new livery

Boarding happened in a bit of a mess, it was a real confusion in the cabin, even though I'd say just 2/3 of the plane was full on that day.

The boarding music feels a bit tiring too as MU extensively uses it: 

Ready to push back…

photo 20210712_121533

We took off almost 25 min later after push back.

I was lucky as I had nobody seating next to me. 

photo img-20170312-wa0000

karens and the food

Once we passed 10,000 feet, the seatbelt signs went off and like 5 seconds later were on again… People that were about to walk away from their seats - including myself - thought it was a mistake and we went to the toilets where a lady from the cabin crew told us off very rudely.

I am guessing she is called Karen or Monique or maybe both.. Let's call her Karen

The entire crew started to give us food shortly after - and another Lady was speaking barely 5 seconds to every passenger in Chinese only, including us. Of course we didn't understand a word and she just went off to the next passenger without our response. I am guessing now she was asking about the menu and that she is also clearly a friend of Karen.

Karen the first and Karen the second approached with their trolley and the only thing we heard from them was "sir, food" and the tray was given to us. I have been onboard really hard low cost carriers like Viva Peru, Ryanair, Sky but never I have had such attitude from customer agents. 

photo 20210706_165712

I am not sure how to describe the food, rather i will describe the tray table : it is really well thought as it is foldable as you can see.

Let's continue the review: the IFE is actually generous, there are a lot of movies, not all of them are translated into English, but there are a lot of other things like music, games etc

photo 20210706_165702

karens and the mobile phone

When I saw our plane at the gate, I noticed the wifi dome being installed on the rear top of the fuselage - and so I was really excited to finally get to try it! I think it was my first opportunity at the time! What I didn't know is that you need to go on the CEA website first, get a code 48hours before and pay for it - not sure why but not really practical. You can't buy it onboard.

I didn't mention that when you fly with CEA, they request all of the mobile phones to be switched off - not even on plane mode. 
 I saw a few of my nearby teenagers fellow passengers texting and so I felt like trying. 

I am picked up my phone from my bag and switch it on. I could see the wifi on my settings and tried a few times to log in - without knowing at this point you needed a code 48hours before.
Little did I know that Karen the first saw me, and surprised me by shouting at me 
"Sir phones should be switched off"
"but i'd like to try the wifi please and also my phone is on…"
"Sir I said phones should be switched off" 
"Yes but my phone is on plane mode" 
"Sir switch off your phone now"  
"I said now" And Karen stayed next to me up until my phone screen became black.

I tjhought, what are they going to do so I wrapped myself in the blanket and I tried again - damn no luck! It wasn't still not working

Karen the second came 
"Sir we said no phone we watch you" and she shouted something in chinese, Karen the first and guy we will call Kevin also came.

I have never been shouted at this way before and I still can't believe this happen. Basically they were saying it is because Lithium battery could have "thermal events" understand can catch fire. I did my best to protest to see some fellow passengers near me were using it and believe it or not i was told "that's chinese mobile phone no danger with lithium battery". They ended up by saying if I switch on my mobile phone they will take my phone in custody :p>

Passed this point I did not try again at this point.

fenetre a rester fermee

karens and the window blinds

Over Russia…

photo img-20170312-wa0008

Dusk was approaching, we were just above Russia when were asked to close our window blinds without any further delay. Karen the second came next to me for a good few minutes to check i wasn't opening it again.  

Compulsory Tai-chi

Just like on the way out to Shanghai (report here) our movies on the IFE were suddenly interrupted for a compulsory session of Tai-Chi.

and then it happened..

I was trying to watch a movie, when I felt that the plane was slowing down and turning a lot - too much for just aligning to the next waypoint.. I say felt because of course the window blinds were down.

The captain said a very long message in chinese, followed by the crew and I had a sense of agitation and almost panic in the passengers next to me… I am not sure If you have ever been in this situation but this is quite scary not to know what is happening.

The only information I had at this point was what i could see on my IFE 

photo img-20170312-wa0006-91642

and i must admit I panicked a bit more when none of the crew was present in the cabin and that I saw this information on the IFE. We were nowhere near London, clearly we descended already - look at the altitude and it was about to be 10am in london, when i was due to arrive at 5pm.

photo 20190822_123852

Finally we had an announce in English by the first officer

A passenger in J was severely bleeding, and since they couldn't stop the hemorragy, they decided to make an emergency landing at the nearest international airport.

And so off we went to Irkutsk, UIII airport. I didn't have much more information at this point. How long for? Is it to unboard the passenger and for us to go after? Are we staying there for the night? Taking another flight? Are you going back to Shanghai?

I reo-opened the window and you can see the fuel was being dropped for us to land at an acceptable weight. 

photo img-20170312-wa0013

After some point the fuel drop stopped and we approached from the ground even more…

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and more…

and we finally landed safely, surrounded by meters of snow in Siberia! 

Very soon after an ambulance came and the police. We were told to pack up our bags and that we will have to leave the aircraft and sleep in the airport.
I immediately switched on my phone, like everyone, not to take pictures - my camera wasnt very good anyway - but to try to contact my other half, my parents, my friends. 

I had no network coverage unfortunately and now I know how my closed ones got to worry. 

photo dsc_0142

We couldn't walk away from our seats, we had to wait to unboard the plane.
This was the official story for 10 min.
30 min
1 hour and people started to go to the toilets, talk to each other etc…
We had no more information.
After the second hour, still no information and no IFE was working - we couldn't see a movie
After the third hour, we were still told the sme storyline to get ready to leave the aircraft.

I appreciate the urgency of the situation but all this time we were not given refreshments, food nor water.
And finally after the 4th hour, we heard someone speaking in the microphone of the cabin. That someone was the passenger who was bleeding. He spoke in both English and Chinese, apologising for the delay he caused and thanked us for our patience, and also that thanks to our understanding he will be able to see his family again…

I found this to be a very touching message, and the guy came to every cabin to apologise. Very nice of him especially after what he had to go through.

The good surprise was after that the captain told us he asked for some refueling and that we would be ready to leave. I guess everyone including myself felt relieved no to stay overnight there. 

We took off again from Irkutsk and started a long journey ahead.
Passed this point I did not take that many pictures I am sorry, I was still in status of shock.
The last picture I took was this one from the cabin at night. 

photo 11111

at london heathrow

We arrived at London Heathrow T4, just like at departure but with about 5 hours delay.

I was wondering if I should bring a claim for the delay and for the attitude the staff gave me, however I felt it wasn't the right thing to do, this poor guy already went throuh hell bleeding a lot. 

photo 222222
See more


China Eastern

Cabin crew0.5

Shanghai - PVG


London - LHR



Flight; really good fare for the distance - the issue wasn't so bad but landing in Siberia as an emergency mesure should have been better managed

Cabin crew is really awful, it really felt like you can't be nice and work for MU. Just too many Karens.
There is bad customer service and no customer service. They simply went too far.

PVG is a massive airport but lacks a bit of facilities. Just like onboard, the staff has a military view on what is customer service.

LHR is really big as well and sometimes too hectic and I must admit I was never as happy to land there.

Information on the route Shanghai (PVG) London (LHR)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 3 reviews of 3 airlines on the route Shanghai (PVG) → London (LHR).


The airline with the best average rating is Virgin Atlantic with 8.1/10.

The average flight time is 13 hours and 56 minutes.

  More information


If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 576121 by
    Aigle_voyageur 760 Comments

    Hey thanks for sharing this FR. :)

    The whole trip was really fun, and SPOILER ALERT

    I don't know if this flight was meant to be funny or ironic, (on top of being "spolied") but despite the cheap fee, it appears you had two seats for you alone. So it should have been for the better but the "staff has a military view on what is customer service" doesn't stop to PVG but also onboard.

    And the fact that this "Kevin" guy supported the flight attendant for restraining Avgeek activity is... disgusting.

    No photos about the menu or was it the same as the LHR-PVG flight ?

    To be honest, there is quite a difference between your review and mine; you had something far worse than me.

    I am guessing she is called Karen or Monique or maybe both.. Let's call her Karen

    Monique is the name we french-speaking people use while Karen is the one you english-speaking people refers. But in both cases, it means the same; an un-friendly flight attendant.

    I was wondering if I should bring a claim for the delay and for the attitude the staff gave me, however I felt it wasn't the right thing to do, this poor guy already went throuh hell bleeding a lot.

    I understand you didn't bring that claim because of that poor guy's misadventure. On top of that, he apologized to everyone, that is trully respectful.
    But I would have still done it for the flight attendants's attitude. Even though it wouldn't change anything nor get any compensation...

    Have safe flights. ;)

    • Comment 576123 by
      ChrisB GOLD AUTHOR 1969 Comments

      Hi Aigle Voyageur, thanks for stopping by :)

      Yes I was lucky to have two seats for me actually I should have pointed this out. I don't remember being handed over a menu, rather just a question in chinese of what meat I would prefer and since I didn't understand her I had what she gave me..

      When I read your review I couldn't help but giggling a bit to see how you described their poor customer service!
      Yes you are right for Monique, Karen is coming from a video that became really popular online whereby an angry lady shouts at the manager in a supermarket in the USA. I think you and I need to create another nickname for Moniques serving on MU :p

      Thank you have safe flights too, hope you see you sometime!

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