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This is an installment in my series on my January 2012 trip to China. Posts include: Help Me Plan My Trip To China, Flight Review: American Airlines 777 International Business Class to Beijing, Hotel Review: St. Regis Beijing, Beijing Overview: Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Peking Deck, A Great Day at the Great Wall of China, Flight Review: Air China 777 Domestic Business Class, Hotel Review: Andaz Shanghai, Trip Report: Terra Cotta Warriors and a Wild Goose Pagoda in Xian, Hotel Review: Sheraton Xian, and My China Trip Wrap Up: China Eastern, Hainan Airlines and the Westin Beijing.
After two whirlwind days in Beijing and a day out at the Great Wall of China, it was time to catch my flight from Beijing to Shanghai. I used CTrip.com to book a flight to Hongqiao, Shanghai’s domestic airport (and also the one closer to the city), in business class aboard an Air China 777. I didn’t really know what to expect since I haven’t read or heard much about Air China’s service, but I ended up having a really great experience with the airline.
Because my day at the Great Wall didn’t take as long as Jenny thought it would, she got me to the airport in Beijing quite a bit early. No problem: Air China let me switch to an earlier flight so I wouldn’t end up sitting around the airport, and so I’d have more time in Shanghai. The airline is a member of Star Alliance, and of course I wanted to get my miles, so I entered my US Airways frequent flyer number, and I was all set.
Security was a breeze, and I made my way to the Air China lounge, which, was pretty much open-air, so guests hear all the announcements and whatever else is going on in the main terminal. It wasn’t the best lounge—and only had some armchairs and tables scattered around in the main area, and a limited selection of snacks and beverages (the coffee machine was good), but it was spacious and comfortable enough, and I got some work done before my flight, which left right on time.
As I mentioned, I was aboard an Air China domestic 777-200 for the two-hour flight, and I pretty much loved it for a domestic business class experience. The aircraft is a three-class plane, though the First Class seats pretty much looked the same as business class.
As you can see from the picture, the 49 business class seats are recliners rather than lie-flats, in a 2 x 2 x 2 configuration. They’re not huge, with just 60 inches of pitch and 20.5 inches wide, but they were comfortable enough to stretch out and relax on a short flight.
I also liked the other amenities. Well, the food was just okay (as you can see from the picture, it wasn’t terribly inspired Chinese cuisine, but it made for a decent snack), and I loved when they handed out slippers, even though mine didn’t really fit! No video on demand screens at each seat, either, though, just overhead monitors. I don’t usually watch movies in-flight anyway, so I didn’t mind, but it’s good to know.
Overall, the experience was great. The staff was efficient and friendly, spoke English well, and got me everything I needed. When we arrived in Shanghai, my checked bag arrived on the belt immediately and I was on my way to the city. It was all a very smooth, seamless experience that turned out to be quite enjoyable—as was my next flight on the airline, between Shanghai and Xi’an.
That just goes to show me I shouldn’t have preconceptions when it comes to foreign travel—especially since, the more I experience foreign airlines, the more I realize that US air travel is lightyears behind in many aspects.