This report was initially published on the French version of Flight-Report
I continue to share some updates from the aviation scene in the Middle Kingdom.
This flight was booked directly through Xiamen Airlines' website while in China. I never received an email confirmation, only an SMS sent to my Chinese colleague's number (it wasn't possible to enter a foreign phone number on the site at the time of ticket purchase).
This flight takes me to Hongqiao Airport, from where I will then head to Pudong Airport to catch flight AF111 to Paris the same evening, and continue to Casablanca, my final destination.
My colleague picks me up around 9:30 AM to leave downtown Shenzhen (FuTian) from Hotel V, which I recommend if you're visiting the city
We quickly head to the airport via the city's broad avenues, arriving swiftly at Terminal 3 of the airport, the only terminal open to commercial flights at that time.
The drop-off area is busy, as it's vacation time in China.
The entrance is imposing, and like in most airports across the country, an explosive and luggage check is conducted at the entrance before accessing the terminal.
Not having checked in, I quickly glance at the FIDS to find my zone, which will be zone C. Note on the right side of the FIDS the international flights, still few in number departing from SZX, which is quite close to Guangzhou, better served in international network.
Not much wait, but no Priority access at these counters.
Boarding pass collected! Note, the gate access plan is printed directly on the BP. Indeed, there are 3 zones at SXZ. 2 zones for domestic flights, and one zone for international flights (including HK and Macau)
The access plan is also reminded on the floor
Note the food court land-side, upstairs. However, air-side options are plentiful.
I head towards security and pass through without issue. A dedicated access is available for J PAX.
I go to the lounge branded by China Eastern and Hainan Airline. Xiamen eligible passengers have access to this one. It's also accessible for 200 RMB.
The lounge isn't very large, but it's not crowded at this hour. There's a very basic offer, however it includes a noodle bar, as is often the case in China.
Here they are
Having some time to spare, I start exploring the terminal, which is huge. The first part resembles a luxury mall.
It features numerous premium brands
I pass by my gate, the plane is already there, it arrived this morning from Shanghai. Unfortunately, the airport structure is not very spotter-friendly from this side.
It's a friendlier on the other side
I continue to explore the place.
It's now time to head to the gate. Only two zones are set up.
Boarding starts on time, via a semi-blind jetbridge
An opportunity to see our neighbor, another 787, departing for the same destination (Shanghai Hongqiao) 1.5 hours later.
Two jetbridges are set up
I'm the first to board the aircraft
The welcome is warm (but laborious in English - I later learned I was the only foreign passenger on the flight), a flight attendant leads me to my seat and shows me the amenities (blanket, pillow, bottle, slippers - what more could you ask for on a 2-hour domestic flight…)
The cabin makes a very nice impression for such a short flight, even if cleanliness is not really on point.
Some seat details, with of course an amazing seat leg room!
Plenty of storage is available
However, I wasn't able to get the WiFi to work throughout the flight, since it requires a Chinese phone number.
A hot oshibori and a welcome drink are distributed while boarding continues. I take the opportunity to put on my slippers
Reading material is available, including a condensed version of the day's newspaper!
Safety demonstrations are done on the IFE, which is available in several languages, including French.
However, it remains inaccessible on the ground.
The selection is quite wide, and even includes some French movies.
Meal order is taken on the ground, and will be served a third into the flight.
It's time to push back next to this 777 departing for Beijing. Chinese airlines use a lot of widebodies on "flagship" routes.
Quick taxi to the runway
We line up and take off.
Visit to the bathroom (with window) before the service. It's clean and spacious, but we cannot see any specific markers of a Business Class washroom.
The crew wastes no time and sets the tables for lunch, starting with a beverage
Then a tray service as below. The choice was between rice or noodles, and beef, fish, or chicken (which caught my attention). The meal is plentiful and tasty.
The service finishes at the start of descent.
Kiss-landing without any issues and a quick taxi to our gate.
It's time to say goodbye to our bird of the day, I have a 9-hour layover to switch airports. I take the opportunity to visit Shanghai a bit!
Flight plan below
Traveling on a wide-body aircraft for short flights is a real pleasure. This was my first flight with Xiamen Air, and I think I'll prefer them if given the choice for a long-haul to China in the future. The cabin is in good condition, the service is excellent, and the crew is very pleasant, despite an obvious lack of English training. Being a Flying Blue member, I can also enjoy miles and XPs. Shenzhen Airport is modern and has everything one could need!