Review of Air China flight Tokyo Beijing in Economy

Airline Air China
Flight CA422
Class Economy
Seat --
Aircraft Airbus A320
Flight time 04:25
Take-off 03 Jan 13, 09:25
Arrival at 03 Jan 13, 12:50
CA 186 reviews
By 5474
Published on 29th May 2014
Hello, ladies and gentlemen. After reading Numero_2's incredible odissey with Air China, I thought it was the right time to edit this report from last year, with the same tricky airline…

Originally, I had planned the Tokyo-Bangkok route with a Thai's proper night-flight departing HND. But due to New Year's holidays, I just could find -with Star Alliance- a more adventurer route: NRT-PEK (A320) with the lovely Air China and PEK-BKK (A333) with Thai. As an AvGeek, I was excited because this rather strange routing (from a standard passenger's point of view) gave me the opportunity to land on the world's second busiest airport…
So, in this report you'll find the whole routing to Bangkok.
Am I going to be lucky enough to share a hotel room with a new cool companion, thanks to Air China's sponsorship? You're going to find out soon… lol

After a few unforgettable days in Tokyo, including New Year's Eve (tourist bonus at the end of this report), I left Tokyo by night on the Keisei Skyliner fast train. Being Tokyo my favorite city, it was a nostalgic 30min. trip (70km)…

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I decided to book a room at the ANA Crowne Plaza Narita Hotel, expecting an airport view, instead my room window faced the woods… I was so tired from the 12hs time difference and the Tokyo's nightclubbing that I bought a Bento box and went straight to bed. Next day, I woke up at 6:30 and took the hotel's shuttle to NRT. A traditional Japanese kadomatsu can be seen in the hotel's lobby. Note the curious world map with Japan in the middle

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My flight departed from Terminal 1 South. FIDS

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The terminal was rather empty as mine was the second scheduled flight. If passengers are disoriented, a very subtle board reminds us… Only in Japan…

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Lots of ANAs… My favorite airline

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This screen, showing magnificent sceneries from Japan, must have been spectacular 15 years ago. Now it's just another screen…

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More ANA and the Nippon Cargo Airline's hangar on the background

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I found a couple of Air China's aircraft for Numero_2's satisfaction… ;)

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Not much to spot, except this huge Korean Air A380

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A blurry Eva Air's A332

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The Thai's B744 that I should have flown to BKK, if I were a standard passenger…

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But for an AvGeek, there's nothing better than Air China… Right, Numero_2? lol
That was my A320 for the next 4:30h

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Once onboard, the seat pitch was OK.

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This was the Air China's IFE for this flight…

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Thanks God, or Buddha, a soft pillow was provided. The Recaro seat was the most uncomfortable I tried in my life… So, I used the pillow as a backrest cushion.

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During taxi, I was lucky to spot one of the famous Narita farmers who refuses to leave his land next to the taxiways. A great example of human determination. Only in Japan…

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I just thought it must be so crazy to have breakfast while a B777 is taxiing 10 m from your window… At this point the farmer must be an AvGeek…

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Waiting our turn to take off after the KE's A388

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Ready for take off…

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We took off 25min behind schedule…

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Bye Japan, I hope to see you again soon…

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Soon after take off the meal was served. Of course the presentation has nothing to do with most of the Asian top airlines in Economy (NH, SQ, TG, etc.), but the meal was very good. On the other hand, the cabin crew was rather… How can I say? Not rude, just bitter.

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At least I had the moving map…

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I didn't take any cabin picture trying not to defy the severe CA's crew… Looking through the window I spotted these ships…

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We started the approach to a frozen Beijing…

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Some shocking socialist buildings

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What's the temperature in Beijing?

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The famous PEK Terminal 3

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British Airways before take off in NRT and after landing in PEK…

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Ice is visible on the runway. Temperature -10°C… Nice

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We parked next to a CA's 744. Still the Air China's flagship

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We disembarked through a jetbridge and I asked and CA's agent about my connecting flight with Thai. She sent me to international transfers desk. There, another lady explained me that unfortunately I wasn't allowed to pass through migrations until the Thai personnel arrived and made my boarding pass. So, I was confined in this place for almost 2hs. with no food nor water… Well, I had water in the restrooms… lol

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The terminal 3 was extremely cold. It felt like no more than 12°C. Look at those SAS passengers arriving from Copenhagen, wearing jackets. If the Danish were so wrapped up…

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That long confinement was one of my worst experiences in an airport…
Finally, I got my BP, went through migrations and then another incident with security. As usual, I forgot some coins in my pockets and the metal detector activated the alarm. So I had a pat-down process and the agent found this object in my pocket…

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He looked surprised and asked me something in Mandarin (I guess)… I just replied: band aids, band aids…… lol
The agent went to his supervisor who (apparently) determined the Japanese band-aids, I bought at NRT for my injured finger, were not dangerous for flying and were given back to me…
Trying to forget the sh#tty PEK experience, I went to a traditional tea house and ordered tea and a piece of cake… I forgot to check the exchange rate between yuan and dollar and signed the credit card receipt… When I came to Bangkok I realized the price was USD 60… I thought China was an affordable country. At least that green metal box was a nice souvenir… lol

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The spotting before boarding was interesting. JL B738

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ANA's B788

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Asiana's A320, Air China's A330 and Japan Airline's B788

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My plane: Thai Airways International's A333

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I was greeted onboard by nice FA's wearing the colorful typical uniform…

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Thai, smooth as silk…

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The cabin looked new and the seats were very comfortable. Everything is colorful with Thai

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Dusk in PEK Capital International Airport

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After 45min. waiting, we took off. Bye, PEK. I hope to see you again, but not so soon… lol

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I asked for a cup (nice design) of tea before dinner was served.

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The IFE was outdated

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The tray had an excellent presentation for economy class…

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But the meal was mediocre. The rice was overcooked…

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Surprisingly, I found an album recorded in Argentina

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Approaching BKK my camera's battery died. This was the last picture…

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It was so nice to disembark in Bangkok at night with 28°C, 14hs. after leaving Tokyo…

After the PEK experience, a TYO tourism bonus.
Tokyo is specially beautiful at night. Harajuku…

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Studio Alta, in front of Shinjuku Station

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The first day of 2013, I woke up at noon and went to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observation Deck…

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I was happy to spot Mount Fuji…

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Tokyo Skytree. World's tallest tower

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Traditional dance at Tokyo National Museum

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The famous five-storied pagoda at Senso-ji

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Odaiba in the background. Nippon!

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Thanks for reading this flight report. Comments are appreciated…

See more


Air China

Cabin crew5.5

Tokyo - NRT


Beijing - PEK



Air China's A320 Recaro economy seats are the most uncomfortable I have ever tried.
The cabin crew was efficient but unfriendly.
The meal was very good but the tray looked outdated.
Entertainment consisted in the onboard magazine almost entirely written in Mandarin. The music channels were decent.
Narita is a great airport, but most of the shops open at 8:30 or 9am. Inconvenient if you have an early flight.
PEK Terminal 3 must be the world's largest fridge in winter... And don't forget to check credit cards receipts before signing...



If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 109585 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 6709 Comments
    Thanks for sharing! Well, at least the flight wasn't disastrous like Numero_2's but it's very mediocre indeed. I'm not a star alliance flyer, but if I were, I'd have absolutely no desire to fly CA, especially when there are so many great airlines in Asia. You almost had enough pics to do a report on TG. I love TG, when I took them in Nov 2012 it was the best flight I'd ever had in economy.
  • Comment 109587 by
    jetsetpanda 2283 Comments
    Thanks for the interesting report and nice bonus.

    Tokyo is a fascinating city and I was there during one winter which made for an unforgettable experience.

    I love to try difference airlines whenever I can, but CA is not at the top of my priority list.
    • Comment 295059 by
      Avionero AUTHOR 77 Comments
      Thanks for your comment!
      Tokyo is my favorite city. And Tokyoites are among the coolest and most friendly people I've ever met.
      I think every AvGeek should fly Air China (only) once in a lifetime... lol
  • Comment 109608 by
    marathon GOLD 10126 Comments
    World maps are always centered on the country which issues them, which forces Americans to cut Eurasia in two on theirs.
    The buildings that you saw before landing are less than 10 years old, and have little to do with socialism, but rather with a wildly capitalistic real estate bubble, together with robber baron behaviors.
    This flight being dated early 2013, assuming you had the right citizenship, you could have gone landside, showing your passport and a printout of your connecting flight. But PEK3 is arguably less comfortable landside than airside, so unless you are a passport stamp geek, there was little point to do it.
    Tourist sights are plentiful in Beijing, and it is the Chinese city where it is easiest to navigate for a foreigner (better than more internationalized Shanghai)... and you do not need to fly CA to get there. Also, it is COLD in winter, and heating is often minimal at that season.
    Nice Japanese bonus. Tokyo Skytree was the tallest free-standing structure in the world when it was built, but it was topped out the next year by Dubai's Burj Khalifa.
    I note that the 3 other CA flights suggested by the website at the end of this one were posted by me. I guess you are not going to fly CA on the HTN-URC route any time soon, but you may like my report on flight CA1294 (OK, this is blatant self publicity :)
    I would have posted two separate FR, since the second flight is unrelated to the first one. Thanks for digging this story and sharing !
    • Comment 295060 by
      Avionero AUTHOR 77 Comments
      About world maps, I think every American country (from Canada to Argentina) use the traditional map which shows Europe in the center (and Africa, just as a coincidence)...

      Thanks for the clarification about the shocking capitalist buildings ;)

      You're right about the Burj Khalifa, but I used the word tower meaning a free-standing structure not for living in nor office work. And in that category, Skytree is the world's tallest.

      Of course I'll come back to the capital city of the (sooner or later) most powerful country on Earth, but during summer and flying ANA...

      Thanks for your comments!

      PS: You don't need self publicity for your great FRs ;)
  • Comment 109655 by
    Numero_2 TEAM BRONZE 10435 Comments
    Glad to see that my crappy experience with CA pushed you to write a new report about it. ;)

    Nothing better than Air China -> Indeed ! lol

    Your flight was an average one with CA.

    As Marathon said, you could have gone landside without any visa, accordingly to the 72 hours free visa transit policy.

    60$ for the tea and 1 piece of cake ??? I think you just got robbed...

    PS I will post the next leg of my CA odyssey in English tomorrow. Let's see qhat will happen. ;)

    Thanks for sharing !
  • Comment 109675 by
    Avionero AUTHOR 77 Comments
    I think you've taken the Air China's crappy experience to the limit... ;)
    As I told Kévin, my CA experience was boring...

    I was surely robbed by that Chinese tea girl... But you can't imagine how much I needed a hot drink at the PEK's fridge (T3)...

    My French is as good as my Mandarin, but I could understand that you are planning to settle down in China for a couple of years, until CA finds a connecting flight for you... lol

    Thanks for your comment!

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