Air China review LHR-PEK-SHA

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  • AlanOrton1

    I arrived at 16:10 for the 17:40 departure. I’d checked in online, and there was no queue in zone A of a quiet T2. Minimal wait at FastTrack security then a long walk to the B gates.
    I stopped at the UA lounge which was quiet at this time of the day. I was probably only there 15-20 mins, but enough time to download a few shows from iPlayer, thanks to their fast WiFi. I didn’t sample anything other than a glass of water.

    There was a boarding line for F&J as well as a separate one for Y. Smooth boarding, and made my way to seat 13D. The business class cabin on the 777-300 is 7 rows of 2x2x2 seats. Quite a bright purple seat, and a similar one / layout to the legacy CO 777’s. All seats are at an angle so reasonable privacy. Fully flat, good sturdy table, USB port and a few different storage areas. I found the seat to be comfortable with good cushioning. Cabin was around half full.
    I thought the AVOD might be poor, but to be fair there was a good number of both Western and Chinese films, along with noise reducing earphones. AVOD wasn’t switched on until a bit after take off, but stayed on until after landing.
    L’Occitane washbag with normal items, slippers, full size pillow and duvet were provided.
    We took off at 18:05 and landed around 11:15 local time, 45 minutes ahead of schedule.

    Food & Service
    Quite a big menu, with a Western and Chinese option for both dinner and breakfast, as well as descriptions of the wines on offer. Once the order was taken just after takeoff the menu was whisked away. Prior to dinner service drinks and nuts were served.
    The Western dinner option was Amuse Bouche (4 items), salad, smoked duck, crayfish and potato appetizer followed by fillet of beef with tomato gnocchi. Beef was very good, and both appetizer and main were generous in their size. Desert was a fruit plate along with either cheeses & crackers or two different sweet dishes. I had chocolate mouse cake, which again was good.
    There were 2 French red and white wines plus champagne, along with a Chinese red and white. I had the Bordeaux which was perfectly pleasant. All the drinks were poured in the galley and brought to the seat, so you never saw any of the actual bottles.
    All the service comes from the galley area in front of the business class section, via trolley. There is also a bar section in this area, which had a range of drinks laid out on it after the dinner service.
    The dinner service itself was pretty rapid. Not rushed, but efficient. All the crew across both flights were courteous and professional (with multiple hot towels served), though to be fair I asked very little of them.
    Breakfast was served around 2 hours before landing. I wasn’t particularly hungry, but the Western option consisted of an egg & spinach frittata, sausage and mushrooms as well as pastry / rolls, cornflakes and fresh fruit.

    I was connecting with a 13:30 service to SHA. Once off the plane the transfer signs were clear and there was only one person ahead of me when I reached the immigration desk. It took me a little while to reach the domestic gates, but once there (D section) the Air China lounge was right next to my gate. I believe there are a few other CA lounges at PEK. It is one floor up and had a few different food stations, one being a made to order one. There was also a bar area with several different wines and a champagne, plus different coffee and soft drink stations. I had a small amount of some of the hot food (spicy king prawns & mushrooms in oyster sauce), which was decent. Comfortable rather than luxurious, it was absolutely fine for the hour I was in it. Also, the Free airport WiFi worked well.

    Domestic Flight
    Priority boarding worked well again and this time a 747-8 for the 1 hr 40 min of flying time to SHA. I had a window seat on the upper deck, the layout being 2×2. The seat was a more muted purple, but essentially much the same as on the 773. The AVOD controller was larger than the previous flight so suspect the offering was the same or better. (I didn’t use it on this flight). There was a good size pillow, blanket, slippers and earphones provided. The cabin on the upper deck was a little over half full.
    Prior to take off I was shown a menu with Western or Chinese options for lunch. I fell asleep soon after takeoff so missed the food service, though when I woke about 30 mins before landing one of the cabin crew, without asking, did bring me some nuts and apologized that I’d missed the service.
    On arrival all upper deck pax disembarked before Y, short walk to baggage claim, minimal wait for luggage and my bag was second off the carousel.

    All in all absolutely fine. The flights timings were exactly what I was looking and (with the help of an excellent TC that posts on this forum), this is the best priced return J trip to Asia I’ve had, so taking into account the product and value, I’d rate it very highly.


    I’m doing a similar trip next month, but onward to 00PEK. Of the 2 LHR/PEK flights on offer, I opted for the 777 300ER, (the other an A330) purely on the grounds of transit times in PEK…still an unsavoury 5 hrs..!!.. I hope the Air China lounge isn’t quite as bad as I’m hearing..?? but I’m not holding my breath..!! The PEK / MNL sector is on A330-300, apparently a 5 row 2x2x2, as opposed to the 300-200 which in J Class is apparently a split cabin. I can’t find a review on the Air China A333, except a dreadful You Tube video….but hopefully all should be well on the 4hr30 flight. Thanks for the heads up on the CA 777ER flight..much appreciated


    LondonCaterer – I was able to gain access to the Air China F lounge. I was traveling J, but it was closest to where I was in the Intl terminal and there was no issues in entering.
    I’m not sure if it is any different to the J one, but it was perfectly fine for the 2 hours I spent in it. Plenty of seating and an ok food / drink selection.
    Some reasonable shops to browse in the Intl terminal as well.
    On my outbound I connected through a domestic terminal (halfway between main terminal and Intl one) and the lounge there was much smaller.
    I flew back on an A330-200. Seats were fine / fully flat, though I preferred the 773.

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