Flight: MU5186, Shanghai – Beijing (29 March 2018)
Loyalty Scheme: Eastern Miles (a partner of the Skyteam program)
Frequency: Numerous flights daily
Duration: 2 hours and 50 minutes
For a few years I had heard and seen online poor reviews and feedback around China Eastern. Rarely had anything been glowing of the airline. On route to Beijing from Sydney this month I stopped over in Shanghai and connected from there to Beijing but being Shanghai meant flying straight into China Eastern’s hub and therefore the natural choice for connections domestically.
The Australian Traveler test flew the airline’s A321 across China and the results won’t surprise you.
Economy 53L. Being a non-Skyteam frequent flyer, I was seated towards the back of the plane, even after this was purchased as a QF numbered flight. The flight took forever to board and the seating plane seemed quite confusing to most passengers. Upon observation the interior and seating was drab, dated and in desperate need to updated. As a self confessed avgeek, being on this plane was testing my spirits with the tired blue and white colour scheme leaving me depressed.
Seat comfort was also appalling with my seat feeling quite hollow through the back of the seat. I was just waiting for that moment through my flight for the seat to finally give way and send me backward onto the passenger behind me.
No wow factor here – no seat back or even drop down screen entertainment. Be prepared and armed with a laptop or tablet or you’ll find yourself twiddling your thumbs the whole time.
The Bread and Butter (food and drink)
Again nothing to really see here but on the plus at least a food offering was provided at a time where so called premium airlines like BA were scaling back this simple basics. On offer on the flight was a choice of soft drinks or water as well as a packet of salted peanuts. Admittedly on a long domestic flight such as the one between Shanghai and Beijing a larger snack would have gone down better here.
The service seemed rushed and looked as though the two attendants were throwing snacks and drinks at their passengers. Impersonal at best comes to mind here. I noticed when staff were asked for a top up or a second drink the casual roll of the eyes was given.
China Eastern really puts the no frills in flying. Considering the airline is one of China’s leading, this is a really sad precedent in terms of Chinese aviation standards. I don’t know if their local passengers expect this kind of service but other countries such as Australian travelling passengers would come to expect more, if not better under the circumstances.
The underwhelming/ lack of customer service coupled with an extremely delayed plane (1.5 hours late) and you find yourself quietly frustrated and ready to get the hell off this tin can. The only redeeming feature was the complimentary snack and drinks service.
Avoid China Eastern at all costs if you don’t want to be a) delayed and b) bitter for the rest of the day.
Have you ever flown China Eastern domestically within China? Was your experience comparable or better than expected? Keen to hear your thoughts.