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Recent trips in around and stopping over in China allowed us to access the services of China Eastern Airlines, a national carrier. The distinctive white planes have a red and blue stripe down the side culminating in the outline of a swallow bird. This is China’s second largest carrier and one of the world’s largest by market value.
The airline can be difficult to deal with on the online level, especially when it comes to online check in. The site is pretty basic in English and even when one can get it to load, it almost always interrupts the check in process at some point just causing us to give up in frustration. Check in at the airport is like most other carriers. They do not usually have desk staff around in the late hours of the night so check in will only start around 3 hours before the flight leaves, especially if you have an early one as we did in Hong Kong.
The airline is based out of Shanghai and it occupies much of the Pudong terminal. It has a partnership with Skyteam and so there are points, miles and benefits that members of this rewards group can take advantage of. In Shanghai we did a transfer without entering the country and this worked very smoothly, thanks to the airline gate agents. We’ve also flown domestically in China and their airport logistics were always good. Be prepared for major flight delays at Chinese Airports due to heavy traffic, but this is not under the control of the airline.
As vegetarians we found that even when we could not find the place on their website to request such a meal, the airline staff made every effort to prepare a vegetarian tray in flight. The airline follows Chinese safety standards and protocols exactly as we’ve seen them in other Chinese airlines, immediate reaction and reassurance to turbulence etc. The planes we flew in were of good quality, spacious and well conditioned. It far outranks the average plane age and experience in the U.S. market. Movies were shown on common display TV’s for the smaller domestic flights. Magazines were provided in Mandarin and English, staff spoke English quite well and the overhead bins as well as check luggage allowances were generous. This is an airline we would not hesitate to fly again.