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Questions on long-haul economy: China Eastern vs Air China

Questions on long-haul economy: China Eastern vs Air China

Old Jan 12, 17, 12:05 am
  #1  
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Questions on long-haul economy: China Eastern vs Air China

I'm considering China Eastern and Air China for a possible trip between Asia and Europe or Oceania. I've never flown any of the Chinese carriers long haul (I have flown them domestically and intra-Asia and didn't mind it), but their fares are just so much lower...

I've read the past ten pages of threads on this forum plus searched here and on youtube but still have the most basic of questions (my apologies!)

My general sense is that economy is fine on the newer planes, inasmuch that one can survive economy for 12-16 hours, although most of the comments are from folks who normally fly U.S. carriers.

For those who have flown both (or even one of these two airlines), how would you rate them? In particular, I'm interested in

General seat comfort (width, pitch)
Ability to secure advanced seat assignments
OLCI functionality
Hub connections
IFE (particularly interested in the options for kids)
How frequent are aircraft swaps

Are there any particular planes to avoid?

My preference is to fly Air China, assuming the fare is eligible for some credit on either Singapore or United, but then I saw that they have a 3-3-3 configuration on their Dreamliner... Then I read a report where someone mentioned that there wasn't any individual IFE on the China Eastern A330 (although I'm pretty sure there is individual IFE on at least some of their A330s).

Thanks!
fallinasleep is offline  
Old Jan 12, 17, 3:52 am
  #2  
 
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If you have to choose one from MU & CA, just pick one with the best schedule (assuming price will be similar).

Only difference might be if you flying MU, you will most likely to be transmitting thru PVG, which will be closer to most Asian cities and Australia.
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Old Jan 12, 17, 8:12 pm
  #3  
 
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I've only flown CA of the two, and it was between Asia and Europe.

On A332 long-haul, the seat was exactly the same as EK (which I would usually fly these days), same IFE screen too. The pitch was decent, again, definitely not worse than EK, and I'm tall.

As for the IFE, I only ever use it for the flight map. This function worked much better than EK, I could choose from several views and even scroll the map freely, as opposed to screens cycling on their own, which is how it works on most airlines. The interface was much snappier and did not freeze or hang up as is common with EK. Didn't look at what content was available but my impression is that non-Chinese options are limited.

On the other hand, the A333 I took did not have individual IFE but those were short-haul flights in my case. IFE content is still accessible through Wi-Fi, so you can use it with your own laptop or perhaps a tablet, although I'm not sure how it works in practice. Note that phone usage is officially banned throughout the flight.

Seats can be preselected but only in the end of the cabin if you want them for free, the others were priced from 50 CNY (regular seats just closer to the front) to 600 CNY (exit row) extra.

OLCI was theoretically available but broken, I was only able to complete it for one of the four flights I had with CA.

Overall, the flights were decent, although 3 out of 4 got did not arrive on time, with 2 of them delayed ~1h each.

The weakest point was the transfer through PEK, which is disorganized and involves significant and unnecessary queueing: it's difficult to believe that T3 is actually a newly-built terminal, considering how little thought went into its design. On the other hand, my impression of PVG when I transferred there was not really any better. I'd generally avoid transferring anywhere in China if I had the choice.

Overall, the cabin and in-flight experience in Y is not bad at all, and likely to be better than AA/DL/UA. However, considering the unpleasantness of transferring in PEK, the potential for delays and IRROPS, and that dealing with them would be much more of a PITA due to lower customer service standards, I'd only consider flying on Chinese carriers if the fare is < 50% of the non-Chinese competition.

Also, one more thing to consider, especially when travelling with children: the two times I transferred in PEK, the pollution there was simply out of control. The smell of burned coal (as in a building that's on fire) could actually be felt as soon as the plane started its descent. It's difficult to believe people actually live in such conditions. I would be reluctant to transfer there again and definitely wouldn't want to take children there just for this reason.
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Old Dec 8, 19, 2:13 pm
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Bumping up this old thread.

I've never flown Air China before, do they serve alcoholic drinks in economy longhaul?
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Old Dec 8, 19, 6:19 pm
  #5  
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Yes.
Wine and beer.

Last edited by LapLap; Dec 8, 19 at 6:25 pm
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Old Dec 9, 19, 1:36 am
  #6  
 
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Originally Posted by LapLap View Post
Yes.
Wine and beer.
Thank you for the quick reply LapLap ^
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Old Dec 10, 19, 1:43 am
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Originally Posted by fallinasleep View Post
I'm considering China Eastern and Air China for a possible trip between Asia and Europe or Oceania. I've never flown any of the Chinese carriers long haul (I have flown them domestically and intra-Asia and didn't mind it), but their fares are just so much lower...

I've read the past ten pages of threads on this forum plus searched here and on youtube but still have the most basic of questions (my apologies!)

My general sense is that economy is fine on the newer planes, inasmuch that one can survive economy for 12-16 hours, although most of the comments are from folks who normally fly U.S. carriers.

For those who have flown both (or even one of these two airlines), how would you rate them? In particular, I'm interested in

General seat comfort (width, pitch)
Ability to secure advanced seat assignments
OLCI functionality
Hub connections
IFE (particularly interested in the options for kids)
How frequent are aircraft swaps

Are there any particular planes to avoid?

My preference is to fly Air China, assuming the fare is eligible for some credit on either Singapore or United, but then I saw that they have a 3-3-3 configuration on their Dreamliner... Then I read a report where someone mentioned that there wasn't any individual IFE on the China Eastern A330 (although I'm pretty sure there is individual IFE on at least some of their A330s).

Thanks!
I recently flown air china on the boeing 777. I find all chinese carriers to be the same. But they are pretty good.

On the short haul planes, the seat pitch is 29-31 in, which is average, but the long haul planes pitch is 32 which is good. Better than us/euro carriers. You can select seats, but they are pretty difficult because their websites suck. But it is free to select seats. OLCI mabye is possible, never tried it though. But check in is so simple, just hand your passport or id. Beware that chinese airports always have delays, so set at least 2+ hour connections. Ife is seriously on the chinese side, so not much western stuff, probably only 4 western movies. idk about airplane swaps.

3-3-3 on the 787 actually isnt bad, i tried it on a long haul VS flight. It is true that many air china and china eastern a330s do not have entertainment, but some do have your own tvs.
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