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My Delta to China Eastern Experience

My Delta to China Eastern Experience

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Old Oct 29, 18, 7:28 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Vietnam & USA
Programs: Delta PM
Posts: 416
My Delta to China Eastern Experience

JFK-LAX on DL; LAX-PVG-SGN on MU

Two different PNRs and metal, DL to China Eastern (MU), connection at LAX.

Thought I’d give a little summary of this trip since I asked several questions about it over the last couple months and got some really good answers that helped; a lot.

My Takeaways: A seamless connect at LAX; Bag checked at JFK made it to SGN; MU has a competitive product.

Here’s the situation. I had a Return ticket on KE in economy from JFK-ICN-SGN. I really like KE economy, good leg room, attentive flight attendants, clean toilets the entire trip, but a limited movie selection and the planes are simply too hot (you’re lucky if it’s only 78° or 80°).

As much as I fly TPAC & TATL, I am really starting to dread red-eyes more than ever. Sitting up, sleeping little is becoming more and more miserable. So, when I saw a $2,032 Business (I,J) ticket RT LAX-SGN-LAX I decided to take it, (throwing away my JFK-SGN return on KE economy) as I needed a one way in March 2019 SGN-LAX in any case.

Here’s the math:

1. As is, $903 RT + OW SGN-LAX in the spring on SkyTeam about $800, so total of $1500.

Or

2. $903+$2032 (RT in J, LAX-SGN) + JFK-LAX $186 (X) = $3121

So, for $1618, I get two x 20-hour trips in Business, or $40/hr. plus, I get 150% MQM that I’ll need next year.

I like my economy exit row on the JFK-LAX TCON (I never let them “upgrade” me to EC), but I did waitlist a RUC and it cleared 24 hours before, so that worked too.

I had two-and-a-quarter-hour connection time at LAX, (arrival 10:15, dep 12:30). As I came off the plane from JFK at 10:15 , a Delta person was holding a sign for connections and pointed out the airside to airside shuttle bus They had another bus for the domestic terminal. I was in the Bradley International terminal within 15 minutes.

After wandering around a bit and a long, hot, walk to the MU gate (155), there was no gate agent yet, as it was only 10:40, still -1:50 to Departure time. I debated with myself what to do. I still needed to check-in. This was my first-time flying MU. Honestly, I didn’t have the patience or trust to wait until -60 min for the gate agents to show up.

I was thankful I had checked my bag all the way thru to SGN. That worked as advertised. I just had to read my MU itinerary to the check in agent at JFK. I then had to show that bag tag to the MU check-in agent at LAX, so they matched my bag to my PNR. It all worked like a charm and like almost always my bag was on the carousel within 20 minutes of landing at SGN.

I decided to exit airside, to get to the MU check-in counter. That took 10 minutes, another 10 minutes of waiting on the SP line, then another 20 minutes for the Business Class TSA line. Then, the 10-minute walk back to my gate. All in all, if you exit airside to check-in, assume 30 to 40 minutes. Next time, I will just wait at the gate to check-in.

By the time I did all this, the gate agents had appeared at my gate. I need to be more patient.

China Eastern was about what I had read about and expected. I don’t fly Business for the food or the wine. I had one flight attendant (woman) attend to me for the 15-hour flight. My seat was 7L, in the little two row section of Business on their 773. Her English was fine. I wasn’t going to debate the finer points of Xi versus Trump after all. Also, I have a simple philosophy that has served me well over the years wherever I travel, if English being spoken well is a priority, fly an American airline or stay home.

Some points worth mentioning:

· It was nice having someone who paid attention the entire 15-hour flight or at least while I was awake.

· I have found that on all my flights on Asian airlines, if you skip a meal, they mother you and worry that you will starve to death before arrival.

· I boarded a bit late, about 35 minutes before takeoff. So, I walked back to the galley behind my row to ask for a beer. No problem, but I noticed she had to pull the entire drink cart out to retrieve a beer. That kind of service continued from beginning to end.

· I selected the western food as it was catered from LAX and it was so-so. Wine selection was very limited and so-so. I also tried the Chinese selection at some point and it was almost inedible (unless of course, you were starving to death).

· From PVG, I had the Chinese selection and it was very good.

· There were no strange happenings, no smoking pilots or anyone else.

· The pilots and flight attendants made ONE announcement after takeoff, telling us the normal stuff and to monitor the seat belt light. No other announcements were made until 40 minutes before landing. I thought I died and went to heaven. Yes, the bell would chime as seat belts were required or not, with the respective seat belt light. But instead of long-winded announcements in a number of languages every 20 minutes on an airline that shall remain nameless, this flight was blissfully silent. Flight attendants would check passengers individually as the seat belt status changed. I was never bothered.

· If I got up to go to toilet with seat belt light on, no one said anything unlike on Korean Air.

· The toilet was as immaculate after 15 hours, as it was in the beginning. (on my flight from JFK-LAX, after 2 hours the Delta One toilet was a mess).

· The cabin was dark after the first meal service was done until 40 minutes before landing. On my second leg to SGN, the cabin was dark right after takeoff (22:30 local) until after landing.

· Delta has a much better entertainment selection, but I knew that and had my tablet ready. I also knew not to depend on the Wi-Fi, which I never bothered to check.

· Temperature of the cabin was never an issue on the TPAC leg. It was warmer on the China to Vietnam leg to a point where I finally said so. Now, this led to a very interesting three-pronged response: I watched her turn down the thermostat, then she brought me cup of ice (presumably for my beer, which is a Vietnamese thing) and finally she told me that the temperature at our destination was 27°C. My seatmate and I decided that she wasn’t exactly sure what I was really wanted (to increase AC), so she decided to cover all her bases.

In the last 25 months, I have flown in Business a few times each on Delta, Korean Air, Vietnam Air and once on Japan Air. Japan Air was the best followed by all the others. Within Sky Team, I actually liked my MU flight the most. What I gave up in food & wine, I gained in a quiet, attentive atmosphere.

I will look for well-priced China Eastern business flights in the future. For me, this flight was excellent. For a $1,000 saving, I’ll bring as sandwich.
Skyjumper and Pocatello like this.
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Old Jan 12, 19, 8:20 am
  #2  
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Thanks for your review. I am looking at flights on MU from LAX to Asia and your review is very helpful.
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Old Jan 18, 19, 6:12 pm
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I thought this was a great review as well. I'll keep my eye on them. My wife and I are really not picky travelers and don't really require much while on board. This seems like a product that would meet our needs at a more reasonable price.

Regards
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Old Jan 22, 19, 10:16 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
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I flew MU aplenty, both domestic, international and TPAC. In Y and J.

Hard product is comparing advantageously to others in many cases. They have a variety. Their B777-300 J product is pretty good. Y is cramped just like any other airline now it seems.

Service in the air is also decent. NH/JL/KE/OZ it is not but it certainly beats CA, which has quite a bit of an attitude in too many cases.

Food in J is good too. Entertainment system is good.

So, what's there not to like?

Just one thing: their ground game. That is where the proverbial s*** hits the fan.

If you don't have IRROPS and delays, you are good. But if your flight is canceled or delayed, then you maybe in for quite an experience. I got through a number of them. In most of them, there is generally no signs, no explanations besides "please stand at some place" that should be evident but isn't. When you arrive at such a place, lo and behold no one there to service you perhaps. Or perhaps later. You don't know.

During these times, be prepared to rely on the help of your unfortunate comrades that happen to speak Chinese (like me) because there may be no official announcement, no helpful, Japanese-style helper trying to make sure you stand at the right place. This is especially the case for domestic flights or when you are transferring to domestic flights. Situation becomes fluid. Confusion reigns supreme. With some luck, you won't end up like me last time - left all on our own at midnight at PVG T1, zero MU agent to take care of a whole 777 plane that needed to go back to the gate.

And be ready to take matters into your own hands. Book your hotel on your own (the hotels they book for you may be horrible anyway) and be ready to call their number to discuss the next steps. If someone can speak Chinese and can help you, even more the better: you get the line faster and they are much more polite in Chinese than in English (which can be quite curt).

At least, this has been my experience. Again, 15 years of flying with them.

Now, would I recommend them? Yes... and no. It depends on you. If you are a seasoned traveler, or even somebody with decent experience, you should. You will save money, have a great product (in J at least) and most probably there won't be a diversion or a snafu like I had. They aren't fumbling the ball all the time either. But if you just cannot deal with snafus at all and expect to be taken care of in case of a problem, then I would suggest flying Japanese, Korean, perhaps also US airlines. Unfortunately, Chinese airlines and MU are a bit more rock and roll there. You need to be more of a self-starter and have more patience in such cases.
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Old Jan 27, 19, 11:21 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
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Originally Posted by skidooman View Post
I flew MU aplenty, both domestic, international and TPAC. In Y and J.

Hard product is comparing advantageously to others in many cases. They have a variety. Their B777-300 J product is pretty good. Y is cramped just like any other airline now it seems.

Service in the air is also decent. NH/JL/KE/OZ it is not but it certainly beats CA, which has quite a bit of an attitude in too many cases.

Food in J is good too. Entertainment system is good.

So, what's there not to like?

Just one thing: their ground game. That is where the proverbial s*** hits the fan.

If you don't have IRROPS and delays, you are good. But if your flight is canceled or delayed, then you maybe in for quite an experience. I got through a number of them. In most of them, there is generally no signs, no explanations besides "please stand at some place" that should be evident but isn't. When you arrive at such a place, lo and behold no one there to service you perhaps. Or perhaps later. You don't know.

During these times, be prepared to rely on the help of your unfortunate comrades that happen to speak Chinese (like me) because there may be no official announcement, no helpful, Japanese-style helper trying to make sure you stand at the right place. This is especially the case for domestic flights or when you are transferring to domestic flights. Situation becomes fluid. Confusion reigns supreme. With some luck, you won't end up like me last time - left all on our own at midnight at PVG T1, zero MU agent to take care of a whole 777 plane that needed to go back to the gate.

And be ready to take matters into your own hands. Book your hotel on your own (the hotels they book for you may be horrible anyway) and be ready to call their number to discuss the next steps. If someone can speak Chinese and can help you, even more the better: you get the line faster and they are much more polite in Chinese than in English (which can be quite curt).

At least, this has been my experience. Again, 15 years of flying with them.

Now, would I recommend them? Yes... and no. It depends on you. If you are a seasoned traveler, or even somebody with decent experience, you should. You will save money, have a great product (in J at least) and most probably there won't be a diversion or a snafu like I had. They aren't fumbling the ball all the time either. But if you just cannot deal with snafus at all and expect to be taken care of in case of a problem, then I would suggest flying Japanese, Korean, perhaps also US airlines. Unfortunately, Chinese airlines and MU are a bit more rock and roll there. You need to be more of a self-starter and have more patience in such cases.
Out of curiosity, if booked on DL paper and a Diamond member for example, is help from DL available?
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