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LAX to BKK (in coach): Which sub-$500 RT Chinese cheapie airline is best?

LAX to BKK (in coach): Which sub-$500 RT Chinese cheapie airline is best?

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Old Mar 9, 19, 9:38 am
  #31  
 
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Thanks for the pics ,
looks like fun just to see the local area for a few hours,
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Old Mar 9, 19, 6:54 pm
  #32  
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Originally Posted by LAXlocal View Post

Thanks for the pics ,
+1

Originally Posted by LAXlocal View Post
looks like fun just to see the local area for a few hours,
I did 48 hour TWOV in both Beijing and Shanghai and really enjoyed it. Hotel can be quite cheap
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Old Mar 23, 19, 7:47 pm
  #33  
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HOW IT WENT (report)

As a way of thanks for all the posts with this, I thought I'd do a report about how it went with Xiamen.

Definitely a mixed bag. My bet on the SkyTeam affiliation helping to save me from the worst of the cattle drive really paid off. The airline is hoping to use the affiliation to get more business outside its core market, and they're good about extending some of the basic Skiority benefits even to silver medallion SkyTeam Elites. I had that status by dint of being a DL Million Miler, and it meant I could jump the lines at check-in (including one that was about 70 people long in BKK....was able to just walk to the front of the Skiority line) and also at the gate. I also got much better treatment on the seating and being able to get a window seat once that number was in the computer and came up as elite...on all but the first flight I got into the first four rows of coach. Otherwise it might have meant getting stuck with a middle seat and told it'd cost money to pick something else.

At the gate in BKK there were maybe 50 Chinese lined up (forming a line quickly once they saw others move) but the gate agent knew I was one of maybe a handful of elites on the flight and came and got me to go ahead of the line there at boarding time.

BTW, they only give you one boarding pass at a time and make you get the next one at the transfer counter in XMN.

The pax were maybe 90-95% Chinese (or Chinese-American, as the case may be) but apparently few knew or cared much about SkyTeam and all that. I had gotten on the WhereToCredit site and plugged in the fare class (S and R) and it came up with zeroes across the board...pretty incredible, really, for a paid ticket.

BUS GATES were an annoyance and they went 2 for 4 on take-offs and 3-for-4 on landings with those. Food was pretty bad (and I didn't gain much by ordering seafood special meals as a defense mechanism...their shrimp-and-noodles wasn't a highlight). To be fair, though, the rubber-beef & rice or noodles & rice probably aren't any worse than what you get in economy these days on U.S. carriers.

Service onboard was efficient and well-staffed...they were able to open and close curtains between business class and coach with military speed, and I've never seen a crew go as fast on picking up trays after a meal. What you got was skimpy, but it could be quickly delivered.

OTOH, XMN is not the greatest of connecting hubs. On the positive side, you're not likely to have lots of flights coming in at once and immigration/customs being overwhelmed. They run you through the whole routine of filling out arrival/departure cards and collecting the biometric data and putting a sticker in your passport even if all you want to do is change planes. They also have you run your carry-on through the machine, which leaves only the checked bags to transfer automatically.

The transfer procedure at XMN is confusing and very poorly signed, but you have to go through immigrations and customs as if arriving, then go up a level from the arrival hall to the departure hall (landside), go back through a customs hall there (as if going through the inspection area in reverse - totally counterintuitive) to get to the counter that can issue your next boarding pass. Then you can take that through immigration to get stamped out of China and then the bag inspection.

XMN has a KFC and McDonald's landside but only a Burger King airside among the chains, plus a few Chinese-oriented cafes. It's not like Narita where they can take credit cards or dollars in cash; in most cases only yuan in cash works. I exchanged for about $11 worth of this in Thailand on the way back knowing what I'd be up against, and that got me a mediocre BK meals and some water bottles via the vending machine. The BK had to use plastic-bottled soft drinks (no working fountain) and had only the sugared ones.

Thankfully the employees in BKK looked to be contract ones from Thai Airways and weren't by-the-book on the baggage policy, as I was about 6kg overweight on the checked bags and on the carry-on as well...the airline's own employees would make people weigh the carry-on or do that kind of stuff. Also thankfully, most of the planes weren't totally full and I went 3-for-4 on empty middle seats, though that was helped by being in the front part of coach. the transpac legs were 787s and the XMN-BKK and vice-versa were 737-800s.

So overall the SkyTeam status helped greatly to make the experience more tolerable, as it would have felt like a real cattle drive otherwise. I think they're worth considering if they have a pricing advantage (and you can manage expectations), but I'd pick KE before them (or ANA, or MH) even without status (or with status that doesn't count for much) on those.

Bottom line: Not memorably great, but not as bad as feared.

Last edited by RustyC; Mar 23, 19 at 7:54 pm
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Old Mar 25, 19, 4:25 pm
  #34  
 
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I'm flying out on MU in the next couple of weeks on a $440 fare to BKK (doing this really just for the miles), and I've never done sterile transit in PVG before. I generally like MU, but doing sterile transit is a first since I normally go out when I'm in PVG. This time though, instead of 15-hour layovers on either leg, I have a 6-hour layover to BKK, and a 3-hour layover the way back to LAX.

Anything that I should be aware of with respect to sterile transit at PVG?
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