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The 20,000 Mile Journey to China, Part II (pics)

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  • The 20,000 Mile Journey to China, Part II (pics)

    This was my first time inside of TBIT at LAX. The check-in area is rather impressive and the list of flights on the monitors is even more impressive. TBIT litteraly is a gateway to the world. Check-in was painful (As usual with a large group of people). I entered the security line at 11:30am and was out the other side at 11:33am. Pretty efficient for an airport of its size. Once I was post-security the construction took away from my excitement. I'm sure the terminal will look beautiful after its completed, but for now it is very dreary and lacks any type of food or shopping. The boarding areas are also very small, especially for the size aircraft that are used out of TBIT. We were in gate area 113 waiting for a bus to take us to our aircraft. It was a mess. At least 100 people were sitting on the ground due to lack of seating and it was near impossible to walk anywhere.

    At 12:45pm it was time for me to vacate my seat on the floor to board the bus. I hate taking busses to board except for the fact that you get some great views of the apron. We pulled up to the massive Airbus and boarded right away.

    June 6th, 2008
    China Eastern 586 LAX-PVG A340-600 B-6052
    Departure: 1:30pm gate 113
    Arrival: 6:45pm(June 7) gate 23

    I have heard some horror stories about China Eastern: Rude CSA's, terrible FA's, Awful food and seats, pretty much that everything sucked except for the fact you got to your destination safely. Luckily, I never encountered any of this on the 2 international segments or the 3 domestic segments (Except for the food part, which is explained later). I had a middle aisle seat (37G). The seats are a little more comfortable than the seats on the DL 767 I flew out on. The legroom was decent as well (However, if this flight was any longer than it was I might have started to cry). This being my first trans pac flight I was prepared for the worst that air travel can throw at you.

    Taxi out and takeoff was interesting. Only half of the chinese version of the safety video was played and there were no announcements from the FA's or the cockpit. We slowly climbed out of LAX. About 10 minutes into the flight, the safety videos came back on (mind you MU doesn't have PTV's on their 346's so these videos were shown on the overhead screens).

    I will go more in depth on the return flight as my camera was working and the flight was more interesting. This 14 hour flight consisted of about 3 English movies and 3 Chinese movies. Two meals were served. The first was pork with noodles with a side of pasta salad and bread and some sort of cake for dessert. The second was a bunch of fake seafood with noodles and vegtables. I actually enjoyed the food. Drinks were served every few hours and you could always go to the back of the plane whenever you'd like for drinks. One interesting practice I noticed was that about an hour into the flight the FA's went through the entire cabin and closed every single window. It was a somewhat depressing environment until they came through and opened them with about an hour left in the flight.

    The flight was extremely smooth and comfortable. There are many things you can do on a 14 hour flight that I did including: reading an entire book, watching a movie, and sleeping for 6 hours. We soon began our descent into Shanghai Pudong. It was dark with a thick layer of smog so there wasn't much to see, especially from my seat. We had a smooth touchdown in a rainy Shanghai and a quick taxi to the beautiful Shanghai airport. Deplaning was extremely fast for a plane of this size and customs was even faster. Oh the joys of group travel.

    Shanghai Pudong

    There was a great amount of shopping and restaurants in the terminal. I could've spent a whole day there but we had to catch the continuation of MU586 to Beijing.

    June 7, 2008
    China Eastern 586 PVG-PEK Airbus A321 (missed the reg)
    Departure: 9:15pm gate 12
    Arrival: 11:20pm gate ?

    At this point it was downpouring in Shanghai. I had another aisle seat but again, there wasn't much to see. Taxi was quick and we had a powerful takeoff into the night sky. The entire flight was bumpy with light to moderate chop. It got pretty annoying after a while. A small sandwich was served but I didn't eat it. Again, the FA's were very friendly and attentive.

    After 2 hours of bouncing through the China sky, we were on finals to PEK. I was very excited to finally get out of airports and airplanes and see a country I've been dreaming about visiting. we parked next to a NW A330 and took a bus to the terminal. When I picked up my suitcase, there was a huge hole in the side. I have no clue how nothing fell out, however, because of the rain everything was soaked. Oh well, at that point I was just excited to be in China.

    After some very exciting days of sightseeing and clubbing in Beijing, it was time to travel to Xi'an, home of the famous Terra Cotta Army. Another thing I enjoy about group travel is the element of surprise when you fly. With this trip, all I knew was the airline and flight number and I only found that out the day prior. Security again was a breeze (I had awesome luck with security after SFO). I walked to the gate and to my surprise There was a huge A300, a new type for me. Naturally I became really excited.

    June 12, 2008
    China Eastern 2106 PEK-XIY Airbus A300 B-2317
    Departure: 7:55am gate 37
    Arrival: 9:45am remote stand

    And alas, my camera works...

    The massive wing from seat 24A

    Our neighbor...there are a lot of airlines in China

    It was a full flight and we pushed back ontime. The weather was overcast and smoggy. I snapped a couple of shots on taxi and takeoff.

    PEK Tower

    Bye Bye Beijing!

    The story of this trip was uneventful flights. An interesting note is that this is the only China Eastern flight where the captain actually came on the PA and gave information about the flight. About 30 minutes into the flight the FA's came around with breakfast...ahh I love flying outside the United States.

    This is where things went bad. Not with the flight, but the food. I was handed a box with yogurt and some sort of vegtable mixture with some big brown egg looking thing in the middle. Next was your aluminum foil covered dish that you never know what it consists of until you eat it. Last was a biscuit with some sort of meat in it. Now I'm sure many people enjoyed this meal, but I did not.

    The large brown thing was indeed a pickled egg. I ate the yogurt and went to sleep.

    On finals to Xi'an

    XIY is a lot different from PVG and PEK. There are no 747's hanging around and a lot of little regional airlines. Most of the aircraft were parked at remote stands. We deplaned and got on another bus to the terminal.

    Walking to the bus

    Front of the A300

    Baggage claim was a mess. The belt was a little small for a fully loaded A300. At least my bag made it in one piece this time.

    After an amazing and amazingly hot stay in Xi'an, it was time to fly to the final city on the tour, Shanghai.

    It was another early morning wake up and bus ride to the airport. (XIY is about 50 minutes from the city center). If any of you have been to RIC lately, this is what XIY's checkin area looks like. Wide open with windows everywhere. It was very nice.

    Departure board

    I didn't have much time to explore the airport so I went straight to the gate (bus gate).

    June 15, 2008
    China Eastern 521 XIY-PVG Airbus A320 B-2205
    Departure: 8:30am gate 20
    Arrival: 10:45am gate ?

    It was another rainy morning.

    Another bus-plane walk

    Boarding the A320

    Again, the FA's were very friendly and seemed to be having fun. The seats on this A320 were very comfortable, however, the leg room was virtually zero, especially when the person in front of you reclined (and in turn I couldn't recline because I was the row right in front of the exit row).

    Takeoff was quick and painless and within 10 seconds we were in the clouds. It was a bumpy flight for the first 45 minutes until we began to see some blue sky.

    Like on the flight to Xi'an, breakfast was served. I got it again just to investigate but I ended up not eating any of it this time (mainly because I didn't know what it was). After the bumps the flight was smooth and uneventful.

    I was really excited to see Shanghai because it is know as modern China. Beijing and Xi'an are both filled with incredible history but now it was time to see the future of China.

    I thought these drawings on the safety card were pretty amusing

    Arrival at PVG

    Touchdown was smooth and we had to taxi to Terminal one.

    Attempt to capture the many heavies at Terminal two.

    I will go more in depth on PVG in the third and final part of this report (PVG-LAX-JFK-ORF).

    All in all, I was impressed with MU's domestic service. Nice FA's, nice aircraft, nice CSA's. Bad food but I can live with that. Stay tuned for the final part of this report!

  • #2
    4 flights on MU each with a different type of the fleet make up for an excellent winged appetizer approportionated with the diversity of the Chinese cuisineS, well done. I guess you also enjoyed a great time in Xian with the unique Clay Army. Too bad you got foggy weather on some legs of the trip. Otherwise, in anticipation of the final one, thanks for this excellent installement. Good to read you also liked MU.
    Thanks for visiting
    *Avimage's Monthly Slide list *


    • #3

      Great reading, I especially liked the wing shots, almost made me feel like I was right there.


      • #4
        Thanks for sharing! I'm from Xian and I'm glad to see a couple of pic in your report of XIY. Well, it's not much to say, all the Chinese airport looks the same. However, I believe XIY is changing in a good way, I have been through XIY many many times, I like it more compares with PEK or PVG, because it's so much easier than those big airports.

        I don't fly with MU as their service is not up to stand plus they don't park next to the "real" gate normally.

        The other thing is, yeah, the food on board looks a bit and I won't even touch it myself, and I don't understand why these days lots Chinese airline have those pan cake thing for passangers

        Anyway, I hope you had a great time in my town and elsewhere in China!