Review of Air China flight Beijing Guangzhou in Economy

Airline Air China
Flight CA1315
Class Economy
Seat 50C
Aircraft Boeing 747-8I
Flight time 03:15
Take-off 18 Dec 14, 11:00
Arrival at 18 Dec 14, 14:15
CA   #84 out of 139 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 180 reviews
By 4348
Published on 26th December 2014
Hello and here comes the last and the most exciting leg in my tri-city trip.

Part1: CAN-HGH MU5212 China Eastern A320
Part2: HGH-PEK MU5167 China Eastern A321
Part3: PEK-CAN CA1315 Air China B748 [THIS REPORT]

When checking in on the previous MU flight I occasionally found the upcoming flight list in a week, showing I would be taking CA1315, the B748 flight. Since I didn't book the flight by myself, this was really a huge surprise for an AvGeek. This would be the second(or the first) Boeing 747 flight, after a 747-400 flight from Guangzhou to Beijing on 8 years ago.

Due to the economics and capacity issues, Boeing 747 are gradually replaced by twin jets, like B777, B787, A330 and A350. Even the latest model, B747-8I, isn't the favor of various airlines. Thankfully there are still some who preserve this newest Queen for passengers, that is Lufthansa, and recently, Air China(soon Korean Air will be among them).

Two years after the launch customer of this type, Lufthansa, Air China received its first B747-8I, B-2485, in September 30, 2014, on the eve of the National Day. Currently Air China flies daily(CA1315 and CA1316) from Beijing to Guangzhou for the purpose of crew training, and on January 2015 it will be deployed on Beijing-Frankfurt as its first Intercontinental route. Being based on Guangzhou, I'm so delighted and honored to witness and ride on this beauty to my home!

So let's start the journey on Queen.

At 8am I got in the booked van. As you can see, the North 4th ring road was already packed with cars. Luckily this didn't last long as we were soon on the way out of the city.
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Within an hour I arrived at the PEK T3, the hub for Air China and its affiliates and partners.
There were dedicated check-in counters for the flights to major domestic cities like Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Hangzhou and Chongqing, so the queue wasn't that long as I expected.
photo IMG_20141218_085515(1)photo IMG_20141218_084855(1)

The boarding pass.
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Our flight would depart from gate D10, which is in concourse D that needs an APM ride. This is also my first departure in T3D.
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As you can see, this flight would the first flight departing from T3D today. The security was unbelievably smooth: I didn't queue even for a second! That's amazing!
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And here she is, right on there. Wow. She attracted so many passengers to take photos on her.
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There's still an hour to boarding so I took a visit on T3D. Here's the latest special livery of Air China, right next to our gate! How lucky I am!

B-2006 B777-300ER Air China ?(Love)China
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There were some sofas and shops on the center of the concourse, yet there wasn't many customers who have willing to spend and most staffs were boring and sleepy.
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(I'm really sorry for the blurring..)

LH720 from FRA had just landed! D-ABYA, the first B748 delivered to Lufthansa!
BTW my flight is also codeshared with LH.
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Have a look at T3E, the international concourse. Basically ruled by CA.
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It's really busy on PEK's ramp. In this picture we got three CA's widebodies: an A333, a B77W, and a B744.
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You can see the T2 on the background.
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The B744 was preparing for its next flight, probably to SHA.
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Etihad 888 was on its way to Nagoya with a stopover of an hour in PEK. Another CA B744 had just landed on rwy 36L.
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These two would be the busiest shops in the whole concourse.
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A 772 and a 773 passed the queen.
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The FID on the gate.
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The boarding started like 5 or 10 minutes prior the announcement. Might be some issues on its settings as 747 needs more time on boarding.
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Look at that massive wing! Love it!
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It's too bad that I didn't take any photos on the premium cabins. Sadly CA didn't use the latest seats on F/J but keeps the design on their 77W instead.

As you can see on this seat map, the Premium Economy(yellow green seats) have a dedicated cabin. However the seat itself is the same product as the normal economy seats, so as the seat width and the recline angle. The pitch has been stretched to 40 inches, which is more generous than most of its rivals. The pitch on economy seats is 32~33 inch, just hit the bottom line of Asian companies.
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Here's the actual image of PE seats. It didn't give an impression of premium at all IMO.

And these are economy seats. Even for a short haul flight, pillows and blankets are already placed on seats. Nice touch!
The color schemes are harmonious with the ambiance too.
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The headrests are also adjustable, yet it can't be lowered from its initial position, so I couldn't adjust it to fit my neck.

Legroom shot. It would be acceptable even for long haul flights.
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View from my seat. The center galley is quite close to my seat. Leg rest is also available yet I found it quite useless for my height and your position would be awkward when putting your feet on it.
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Safety instructions and inflight magazines.
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The IFE system is similar to the ones on CX and CZ 77W. It has smooth interface and adequate contents to enjoy. You can also charge your device or read contents on your device with the USB port provided. The only flaw on this system is that there isn'"/>photo IMG_2343

There'"/>photo IMG_2344

Our neighbor had been switched to a Boeing 737.
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Air China had updated their safety video for B747-8. The animation certainly made the video more attractive to passengers.

Passing T3C.
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Turning to runway 36L.
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Takeoff thrust confirmed.
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And rotate!
You can see the international section of PEK T2.
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T1 and T2 domestic.
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Remote stands.
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We immediately turned left after airborne. The visibility was typical in Beijing and northern China.
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The flight information interface.
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It became clearer when entered the mountains in Hebei.
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30 minutes after airborne, something odd happened. The entertainment system seemed crashed and a reboot was made. Then my touch screen couldn'"/>photo IMG_2382

Since the calling button was integrated into the IFE, I had to ask my mate to call the flight attendant to fix the issue. She said that she would reboot my system, yet I didn'"/>photo IMG_2383

PEK-CAN is always a busy route.
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Have a look at the toilet. It'"/>photo IMG_2389photo IMG_2391photo IMG_2393

Back to the warm south, you can see the greens again.
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Almost there!
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The suburb of Guangzhou.

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TG A333 and VN A321 were preparing for their flight home.
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When disembarking I asked the flight attendants if I could visit the cockpit. Just as expected, this didn'"/>photo IMG_20141218_142715(1)
See more


Air China

Cabin crew5.0

Beijing - PEK


Guangzhou - CAN



Air China offers competitive hard products on market: private suite in F, flat seat in J, and good seat pitch in W/Y.
The crew wasn't proactive on serving and they didn't fix my IFE.
The catering was not too bad, edible.
The IFE crashed so no comment.

PEK T3D is nice, modern, clean and has all the basic services.

CAN is getting aging.

Information on the route Beijing (PEK) Guangzhou (CAN)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 4 reviews of 2 airlines on the route Beijing (PEK) → Guangzhou (CAN).


The airline with the best average rating is China Southern with 7.6/10.

The average flight time is 3 hours and 13 minutes.

  More information


  • Comment 125225 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5138 Comments

    That's awesome that you got to take a 748i on a domestic flight. I think every report I've seen in Beijing or Shanghai it's always hazy. The First Class cabin is kind of in a funny location. You expect it to be in the nose of a 747, but I imagine the suites don't fit there. Too bad the IFE didn't work and seems like the FAs didn't care. Very nice aerial shots. For all the negative things about this flight, it's still definitely cool to be on a 748i for a 3 hour flight. Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 307476 by
      pwecar AUTHOR 53 Comments

      I think there's another reason for that.
      Since this aircraft will probably become our Air Force One in the future, the conversion should be convenient. The same idea was also used in the old B744, which is the old government aircraft when needed.

  • Comment 125227 by
    marathon GOLD 9580 Comments

    I note the 72 hour visa free transit stickers on the screen doors of the people mover. PEK's Terminal 3 opened in 2007 and had no been designed with transit passengers in mind, but now they advertise this visa waiver which was introduced in 2012 to help the Chinese airlines catch more of the international market share. Things change fast in China !
    The IFE looked good... until it failed.
    I do not share your love for the 747 family, but I like the sawtooth edge of the engines's exhaust outlet of the latest generation of engines.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 307502 by
      pwecar AUTHOR 53 Comments

      Numerous of cities have rolled out that program to attract foreign visitors.
      I wish the Chinese airlines can be competitive on services, not only prices.

    • Comment 307588 by
      pwecar AUTHOR 53 Comments

      You can say that all their planes are in retro livery..
      Though they should at least make some tiny changes to fit better on newer planes, like SQ.

    • Comment 307698 by
      NGO85 1622 Comments

      I personally like the classic communist-era livery of CA. Not every plane needs to look like WN.

      Pwecar, thanks for sharing this report aboard the new Queen of China. I'm glad CA opted to keep their orders for the B748, there is something timeless about the B747 that the A380 will never be able to imitate. From what I read in the inflight magazine, these will start heading on international routes soon (JFK, next month?), so I'm glad you got the chance to get aboard while the crews are still getting trained on domestic routes. I got some great shots of one of these arriving at PEK from CAN that will be in my next report.

  • Comment 125499 by
    jetsetpanda 2295 Comments

    Thanks for sharing your experience on this Chinese mainland route.

    It's always nice to fly on a new plane and the interior looks nice. However, I think CA should update their plane exterior with a more modern look. The blue lines on the fuselage look very 70/80's.

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