This year it was my second experience flying with China Eastern Airlines. If you are considering booking with China Eastern airlines, it is not always easy to make a decision, even if the price might be the best, you still might have some uncertainty, because of ambiguous reviews and information in the web. Hope my today’s review will give you more clear vision with an idea of what you need to know along with Shanghai stop over tips and how to see the city if you have less than 24 hours!
The obvious benefit is the price and it usually looks like you have a very good deals. Normally, there is no extra charge for the luggage, blankets, water or meals, as in some other low cost airlines. However there are some pitfalls that you need to be aware of. So, they do provide blankets and headphones and meals.
In flight Entertainment.
But: I’ve got 4 different flights and there was always an issue with a low sound for the entertainment system, so you can not really hear the movies, so better take your headphones.
Tip N1 Take your own earphones.
Food is not that great, but kind of acceptable. During 11 hours long flight there ire only two meals (small size), I do not use to eat a lot, but when you do not have food for 7-8 hours during your day time, you feel starving. It is not that bad during a night flight, as far as your biorhythms do not crave for food at night that much. Also they do not distribute any snacks during the flight and do not sell them too.
They do serve wine though in the economy class, even kindly offering some top up.
So Tip N2: take a sandwich or snacks.
Comparing to my last trip to Korea with China Eastern in September, I feel like this time customer service was a little bit better and stuff was nicer. So it was great to see some improvements.
In general, seats are somewhat comfortable, apart from the tiny leg room.
The funniest part when the entire airplane is doing the taijiquan gymnastics, very entertaining.
In the flight from Shanghai to Sydney almost all the bathrooms were floating and quite untidy. That is something else to improve..
There is no wifi and you are not allowed to use your phone during the flight. However you will have a usb charger in the front see under a tv screen panel, so good thing is – you can actually charge your phone. You can still use your laptop during the flight, apart from take off and landing, you will be asked to turn off the wifi mode.
Upgrading the class.
It is not really possible to upgrade you class. I’ve had a surgery just before the flight and needed some extra leg room space. No chance to change your seat, even if the plain is half empty.
China Eastern Airlines is a member of sky team alliance. Still not sure why do they repeat it all the time and what it gives you even if you are a member of Sky team for 10 years. I emailed them before the flight and I asked if I could get an upgrade with my miles.
Customers service answered pretty quickly, which is a good thing. However, they could not advise on this question and referred me to the check in counter. The check in counter advised to upgrade inside the airplane. Guess what happened next? In the airplane they could not help me. They sayed: they did not know about sky team, even if the ‘SkyTeam’ word was actually written with the full-size letters on the airplane body. They also said I could only pay 1200 USD to upgrade my class and only with Chinese credit cards. So there is no chance. Even if you want to upgrade it and to pay extra 1200 USD, you can not if you do not have a chinese account. Oh, well.
Tip: Open a bank account in a chinese bank…
Stop over in Shanghai.
The good thing again is that customer support answers quite quickly. They also are so kind to provide you the accommodation in Shanghai if you have a long stopover with the overnight.
I had a 14 hours stop over in Shanghai and I did exit the airport.
It took me forever to pass the custom and to wait for a shuttle bus, then the girl who met me upon arrival disappeared for an hour or so. I was desperate so I even started to look for another hotel. Until I’ve found her watching her phone screen and not even looking for me. Fine. Thus, I’ve lost a few hours in translations and between the borders, but I still wanted to see Shanghai, even just for a quick look.
N 3 In this case you will need:
- Pick up your luggage during the stop over and to receive it again.
- Print your travel itinerary & the hotel booking, so the custom can see where you are going and when you are leaving the country. You will also need to be ready to answer where are you going and why and why are you coming from the destination that you are coming from. Plus some other additional weird questions (e.g. I travelled to S.Korea and they asked me if I travel there because I have Korean husband?).
- You might need to change some money for chinese currency, because there might be a problem to pay with a foreign credit card even in some shops of international airport.
Accommodation in Shanghai Stop Over.
So, the China Eastern airlines kindly provide and confirmed a hotel room for overnight if there is a one available. The reviews of this hotel are terrible, so I’ve expected a much worst place and I booked another one just in case.
When I have landed, the China Eastern staff met me on arrival with my name plate, which kind of makes you feel special, you know. So I went to this hotel and they also provided a free shuttle bus (about 30 minutes away from the airport). Noone speaks any single word in English in the ‘International hotel’. So, the next tip is:
N4. Prepare all the questions and answers in advance about the area and about the hotel.
Because they do not even understand when you say ‘Internet’, so what do you expect, not even hello and thank you. However, at least they understood ‘taxi’.
And I took a taxi to the Bund because I was in Shanghai and I wanted to see the famous view. The taxi cost is 200 yuan and it is about AUD 40, and it takes approx 45 minutes to get there (night time& no traffic). It was around midnight and everything was closed around apart of one night club, which I did not visit and I only had a romantic walk along the harbor, watching the fascinating night city view.
N5. Pick up a hotel business card, so the taxi driver can take you back.
N6. Order a wake up call, but do not expect that they will wake you up on time.
My wake up call was 25 minutes late, which is quite tight with the time when you have a flight early in the morning. Good on me that my own alarm woke me up a little bit before. At list they understood a morning call! That is already impressive after a fail of any communication.
Tip N7. Check the terminal where you are departing from and show it to the shuttle bus driver.
Better if it would be written in chinese. Basically, there is a path way from one terminal to another. But again, for the morning flight and when you are really tight on time it is better if you are not lost between the terminals and if they deliver you from door to door.
Also, the stop over airport in Shanghai is not bad. You can find food, cafes, shops etc. However, the information desk is useless, they do not know answers for your questions, and seems rude. There is no public wifi and to get one you need to speak Chinese, because they do not really speak English.
Also, I’ve got in total 6 flights with this airlines and none of those got delayed. One flight even arrived a half an hour earlier (Shanghai to Sydney).
Overall, quite a fun adventure and you can still chose China Eastern Airlines, they usually have a best price. Not always thought, sometimes better airlines are even less expensive, so play with the search. I have booked it through BestJet and I was quite happy with that agency, that I found via Trip Advisor. We use them again for our upcoming trip to Italy with Thai Airlines!
The best tip I guess, do not expect much and be happy with what you have. Take a good read with you, a good playlist and your headphones!
Let me know if you need any further information.