Hi everyone ! Welcome on my first English-written flight report. In fact it's just a literal translation from the original one I wrote in French few days ago. So, why do I make the effort of a translation just for sharing with you a boring Air China medium haul flight in economy class ? Just to show you how awful this CA experience has been, and why you should avoid this airline in the future. lol
I'm not a fluent English speaker, so I apologize for all the mistakes I made in this FR.
For my third trip to mainland China, I chose to spend 3 days in Beijing because I've never been there before. Let me show you a couple of pictures of my stay before the FR itself.
Sorry for the lack of originality about my pictures, the monuments I've visited are part of the most popular sights in town. lol First of all, the huge and famous Mao portrait on the Forbidden City South Gate entry.
Most of the tourists around here are Chinese citizens. You can easily realize that mainland China has more than a billion citizens ! Here is the exit of the Forbidden City at its North gate.
Here is the view of the huge palace from the top of the Coal Hill (??) in Jingshan Park (????).
The Temple of Heaven (??).
Typical roof detail.
A wine and liquor shop with plenty of Swiss flags. ^^
Gui Jie (??) by night which is famous for the restaurants all along it and especially the Hu Da (????, not the one on this picture).
I've also been to the famous Quanjude restaurant (???) which is well-known for its Beijing roasted duck (??). Here is the Hepingmen branch (????) where 2000 people can have dinner at the same time.
The chef cutting the half duck I ordered.
And here it is ! Absolutely delicious. Bon appétit ! ;)
Just arrived at the Beijing Capital airport after a short trip from Guomao (where the hotel I've stayed in is) with the metro line 10 to Sanyuanqiao (2 yuans) and then with the Airport Express to PEK Terminal 3 (25 yuans). The good thing is that you can pay both rides with the same IC card. The one in use in Beijing area is the Yikatong prepaid card(???).
Going up to the departures level.
It's now 13h15. The next afternoon T3 departures are shown on the FIDS. My flight is scheduled at 15h30.
I'm supposed to be in HKG at 19h for a 3.5 hours layover before boarding my LX flight back to ZRH at about 22h30. I thought that I had all the time in the world because I'm just carrying a hand luggage…
The check-in desk is at the H row.
Here it is, H02 ! There's just one desk opened for this flight. No idea where the Business class or Premium passengers check-in is (I have the Star Alliance Gold status), and I didn't want to waste my time looking for it.
The PEK-HKG CA route has codeshares with Dragonair and CX.
I eventually got my BP 15 minutes later, and the check-in agent told me that the flight was delayed for 50 minutes.
Quite a nice piece of interior decoration. Haha
I needed to have a ride on a small train / people mover to reach the international gates.
Once arrived, I had to pass through the temperature screening, immigration inspection, another control of my boarding pass and passport and finally the security screening.
What a big mess it was !
About one hour after the people mover ride, I am airside.
There are a couple of typical Chinese pieces of art and architecture among the shops.
But I was not here for shopping and I walked directly to the Air China lounge located in a mezzanine.
The welcome wasn't warm at all… Anyway I'm in now ! Small cinema area.
I wanted to seat here but the power outlet wasn't working… What a pity !
The view isn't bad.
Here is the buffet with warm dishes.
Some rice and chicken.
This is all the pictures I can show you about the buffet area, because after that someone told me that taking pictures wasn't allowed in the lounge. No, sorry, she just shouted NO PHOTO. lol
After that I found a new seat and fortunately the power outlet worked fine here ! Corporate picture. The wifi is free but you have to scan your passport to obtain a password.
I just picked a Sprite and a Tsingtao beer from the fridge because I wasn't hungry at this time.
Boarding pass, LX Senator Card, passport and the wifi voucher.
I left the lounge slightly before the new boarding time (15h50). A B777 AC spotted on my way to the gate E51.
This way, please !
Then I had to go downstairs to find the gate. For sure we will be paxbussed to the aircraft remote position.
The first bus already left, and here's the second waiting for the last passengers.
It's almost as packed as in the metro during rush hours. lol
After a couple of minutes in the bus, we were dropped off in front of our A321 to HKG. The man in black standing downstrairs seemed to be an air marshall or something similar in China. He was seated at one of the first seats of economy class and walked between the cockpit and the rear of the cabin several times during the flight.
It's not raining anymore now.
The crew welcomed us with a smile and a ?? or welcome depending on each passenger.
I walked through the business class cabin in a 2-2 configuration.
Then I discovered the Y class of this aircraft.
The legroom of my seat, the 17A. Not bad (I'm 1.80 meters tall).
The plane seems to be quite new, at least the overhad panels are. lol
In CA's A321s, two lavatories are located in the middle of the Y class.
Now a look to the left through my window.
There's only CA around here !
I can see this ugly communist-style building decorated with plenty of Chinese flags.
Air China inflight magazine, unfortunately in Mandarin only, and both sides of the safety instructions.
This airplane has central overhead monitors and the audio channels can be selected with this remote control at each seat.
A CA B737 in a special livery.
This sticker mentions that wifi is available during the flight. We'll see !
The air marshall is going to board the plane.
Hong Kong arrival card is given by the crew.
Doors are closed, then the lead FA welcomed the passengers again and explained the today's flight details. Security video is displayed on the screens and taxiing began. But the taxiing was quickly stopped for an unknown reason. We waited there for one hour with engines running, without any explanation from the crew.
After a long time of waiting, we can finally reach the runway following 3 other planes, but we had to let this Turkmenistan B777 landing on the take off-reserved runway !!!
The reason of this is easy : It seems that day, Turkmenistan had an official reception with China…
And here we go ! We can see the old T2 where AF is still at home.
The moon is already here at about 17h30.
Once our cruising altitude reached, a drink service is offered.
Yanjing beer for me !
Let's test the wifi : I can join my phone to the network, but it doesn't provide any connection.
A first air to air with a B747.
Unfortunately, a lousy movie is displayed on the screen. The airshow would have been a thousand times better than that.
Then, the meal is served. The FA gave me the choice between a seafood rice and chicken noodles. I chose the latter. A salad and fruits are also on the tray.
The most refined cutlery ever ! lol
In fact the meal doesn't look bad. At least it is definitely better looking than the one I got on the SHA-PEK CA route last year.
That's not bread, but a dessert filled with sweet red beans paste. It tasted good.
After the meal service, the flight was quite uneventful. At least I thought so. lol
It's time for the last drinks service. I wanted to try the Chinese Great Wall red wine : The FA poured it in my glass already used for my beer, that's why there's some foam on the wine…
We're now flying over Wuhan.
Second air to air with maybe an Air India B787.
Night is falling.
When we were supposed to begin the descent to HKG, the captain made a short announcement to explain that due to bad weather at destination, our flight was rerouted to Guilin !!! Of course he didn't apologize for that.
Finally we landed in Guilin. I was there two years ago and it's indeed a nice place to visit.
It's about 21h15. The crew made another announcement to say that we are supposed to continue our journey to HKG at 22h30, after a refuelling. But we have to wait inside the aircraft during this.
So, let's wait !
After a while, the FAs give a snack to the passengers.
These Especial crisps are special indeed, because they can taste salty as well as sweet depending what you're eating with.
Fortunately a bottle of water is given, too.
22h30, nothing. 23h00, nothing. 23h30, still nothing.
Then, a bus comes next to our plane.
A second one is arriving. In the meanwhile an other rerouted CA flight landed.
Then the captain rewarded us with a second announcement, telling that our flight is finally cancelled. Again, no apology at all.
FAs told us that we have to wait more time in the plane because we had to wait for the reopening of the airport immigration before disembarking. And yeah, Guilin Liangjiang Aiport is international : TG, BR and Dragonair sometimes land here. It's now :
Eventually, everybody's invited to leave the plane for the bus.
Which took us to the international part of the terminal.
The immigration was just an awful wait because the officers had to verify each passport to cancel the exit stamp of mainland China.
This is definitely a collector stamp !
Then passengers with a checked-in luggage had to pick it at the baggage claim.
Nobody's here this late…
Air China hired buses to bring us from the airport to the city, which is about half an hour far by car.
We are finally in front of the dingy hotel CA offered us.
And I still have to find someone who wants to share the room with me !!!
Here's the dusty room. Not fancy at all.
I didn't take any picture of the bathroom because it was quite disgusting. lol But I want to show you what was standing next to the phone, on the night table. ^^
It's now about 2 am, I'm exhausted and I missed my business class flight back to ZRH. Good night.
Air China Business Lounge - 3
Beijing - PEK
Hong Kong - HKG
Well, after this epic flight I will try to be as much objective as I can with Air China.
CA : - Comfy seats and decent legroom. 8 Minus 0.5 point for the lack of clear signs for finding the premium check-in counters in PEK. Each paxbus lowers the comfort grade by 0.5 point (-1), and -1 for waiting during one hour before take off, -2 for waiting in Guilin and -1 for the dingy hotel we stayed in. 2.5 - Efficient and quite friendly crew. 8 But I don't tolerate the lack of information in general (-1), the lack of announcement while we waited during 1 hour before take off (-1) and the lack of any apology (-1). Finally the captain lowers the crew grade by 3 points for his complete disinterest about passengers comfort (-3). 2 - Decent drinks and fair food. 5 - Inflight magazine in Mandarin only, wifi out of order and a boring movie shown on the screens. 2 - Nothing else than 0 for the arrival in Guilin instead of HKG !
Air China Business Lounge, T3 : - Big lounge with plenty of seats, but few power outlets don't provide any electricity. 8 - Free wifi, but it's slow. 8 - The staff is not friendly and can sometimes be rude with the passengers. 4 - The food offer is not sufficient enough, because most of the hot dishes weren't supplied regularly. 4
PEK Terminal 3 : - 50 minutes for passing through immigration and security, it's quite slow for this airport. I didn't see any priority lane neither. 4.5 - Easy access by train from Dongzhimen or Sanyuanqiao. Both rides can be paid with the convenient Yikatong IC card. 10 - The shiny T3 is huge and has many possibilities for food and entertainment. 8 and 9
I put a 5 grade to HKG just for not lowering its actual ratings.
Thank you for reading ! Feel free to leave your comments down there. :)
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