China Eastern Shanghai – Beijing: One of the worst flights I have experienced (REVIEW)

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.


The Seat


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.



Entertain 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.



Flight: QF3, Sydney – Honolulu (24 January 2018)
Loyalty Scheme: Qantas Frequent Flyer (a partner of the Oneworld program)
Frequency: 4 flights weekly
Duration: 10 hours


Qantas operate a number of A330 aircraft (200 and 300 series). The aircraft predominately operates on flights domestically within Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Honolulu. The A330 operates in a two class configuration. This particular aircraft consists of 28 full flat business class seats and 272 standard economy seats.



The Seat


Economy 26A. Upon entering this particularly A330, I was fortunate to experience the new generation Qantas interior which was kitted out with the Boeing 787 seats. The new seat does look the goods with a dropdown shelf built into the back of the seatback to support your own device, meaning you no longer have to hold your phone or tablet, or lie it on the tray table. 


Despite Qantas claiming the new seat would offer better space (and to a degree it does), when reclined, the seat in front almost touches your knees and as a result makes it impossible to watch the TV screen nor be able to get out of ones chair.

Sleeping wise I really did struggle in this seat. Again with the seat reclined out in front I felt quite claustrophobic, hot and unable to really stretch out comfortably enough to allow my body to rest despite feeling drowsy during the flight.


Entertain me

One of the x factors about the new seat is its new entertainment screen. Much larger than previous Qantas economy seat variants including the current A380, the display is better for the eyes when viewing entertainment in the dark. The selection of movies, tv shows and audio onboard is extensive and good. I found myself struggling to view everything I wanted to watch during the flight.

Sadly there was no wifi on board. Power ports and USB charging ports were available at each seat to charge your devices.


The Bread and Butter (food and drink)


Qantas is one who doesn’t do food and wine in halves, even in economy. I have always found the Qantas economy dining product to be very strong in this area. Soon after take off flight attendants came around and offered passengers a refreshing Bickford’s lemon, lime and bitters drink.


An hour into the flight and dinner service was served. There were three choices for main including a vegetable lasagna and a southern style chicken with polenta. I went with the chicken option and the dish was flavoursome and delicious. However the chocolate pudding for dessert was a tad too sweet for my liking. I couldn’t even finish it despite its small size.

The service during dinner was odd at best with attendants impersonal, rushed and rather rude. When I went to order my dinner the flight attendant did not look at me once even when he went to hand me my dinner. I found that rather rude, no matter how swept off his feet he may have been.


Before landing Qantas served a light breakfast. There were two choice on offer – a fresh fruit platter and a hot dish of a feta and spinach omelette with pork and apple sausage, bacon and braised beans. I went with the hot option and was not disappointed. It was the ideal meal to hit the spot before our decent into Honolulu.



Qantas’ flight to Honolulu in economy was adequate but could have been better in terms of the service and comfort. The flight went like a blink of an eye (which is great when one is flying cattle class) but long enough that a bit of sleep would have been great. Sadly this was not the case with the seat generally uncomfortable, especially when the passenger in front is fully reclined.

Food, drink and entertainment earned top marks but again lacked the selection of its 747 and A380 counterparts (ie. no snack bar). I found myself struggling to get an snack other than rice crackers throughout the flight when I was peckish between meals. Again not great.

Overall the flight experience was decent but there was a lot of room for improvement.



Have you flown on the newly converted A330? I would love to hear if your experience was similar or better/ worse.

Airlines honouring promotions post purchase: Opinion


Have you ever been in a situation with an airline where a promotion you purchased (ie. double status, double points, etc) was not met after you had booked and flown the airline?

I recently experienced a couple of these scenarios and each and every time the airline/s in question have been a) unwilling to assist due to the time of the query made or b) claim you are ineligible and make you jump through hoops to prove otherwise before simply agreeing that the promotion was indeed met and would be honoured.

Why are airlines not able to treat customers with a little more credit rather than acting distrusting and viewing their customers as people there simply to rip them off? I approached an Australian airline a month ago about a double status promotion on one booking and the other day a double points promotions, both of which had not been credited to my frequent flyer account.

On both occasions I was initially met with the answer ‘no you are not eligible’ before I fought it. Then I was met with questions asking had you done this and that and then clarifying with me if I had ticked all the boxes of eligibility for the promotion. It wasn’t until an additional hurdle of providing the original e-ticket document (which I assumed they would have something on their records) that they caved in and agreed I was now ‘eligible’.

At the end of the day I guess airlines are a tightly run ship. In a world where airlines are stripping benefits from their customers, is it too much to ask for a bit of customer service with a smile (even if it is behind a telephone)?


Have you been in a similar situation? Vent your spleen here.