To use the immortal words of Donny and Marie Osmond, this Air China Business class flight was a little bit janky, a little bit rock n’ roll…but it was mostly janky. In other words, it was pretty disappointing. And that was a bummer, because this was my second-ever lie-flat business class flight, so I had really been looking forward to it.
This was flight 933, from Beijing to Paris. We left at 1:35 pm and arrived in Paris at 6:40 pm, for a total flight time of about ten hours.
Here are all the details:
The plane features three pairs of seats per row. We were in 13A, 13C, 13D, and 13G. The seats themselves were very comfortable and spacious.
On each seat, there was a very comfortable, thick blanket and a large fluffy pillow. Both were excellent.
There was also a pair of slippers and an amenity kit with L’Occitane branded products.
The movie selection was really heavy on the action films and didn’t feature even one romantic comedy. Boo! The best I could do was a subtitled German film titled Life’s No Piece of Cake, which ended up being really moody and slightly depressing.
My In-Flight Entertainment system had audio that often buzzed and hissed without warning, which was fun.
My daughter Bird wanted to play games on her iPod touch, and the flight attendants kept asking her to “turn off her phone.” We explained to each of them that it wasn’t a phone, but they didn’t seem to understand. Bird eventually gave up, but she was bummed.
Food and Drinks
Meal service was haphazard and rushed. It felt like the flight attendants really just wanted to get it over with. Service also happened at a very different pace from one side of the plane to the other, and completely different accompaniments were offered (or not) on both sides. Josh was sitting next to me, and he got a hot towel before his meal, while I never got one. He also got a salt and pepper shaker on his tray, while I did not. For us, this was not a big deal – we just shared – but it was a big difference from our first lie-flat flight on EVA Air, where everything was very timely and well-coordinated.
Here’s a snapshot of the lunch/dinner menu:
While this looked delicious on paper, on the whole I would say that most of the food was terrible in reality.
I started with a whiskey. They were serving Glenfiddich Special Reserve single malt 15 year old. I should have asked for a double, because this was the last drink I saw for quite some time.
The amuse-bouche (smoked salmon, and scallops skewer) was actually pretty good.
After that, they served the meal, which was lobster with asparagus and (wilted) frisee…
A green salad, which was very bland…
and the main course. I selected the pan-fried cod, which was okay by itself (the veggies were not good at all).
The way they rolled on this flight was that if they didn’t have something when it was your turn to choose, you were just out of luck (they didn’t replenish any bread until the basket was empty, for example). So this was what Josh and I got for bread, although we didn’t really want either choice.
I never did get a drink with my meal. I kept trying to politely flag down a flight attendant, but that didn’t work very well. I waited for awhile in the hopes that someone would either notice me, or offer, but when that didn’t happen, I just ate my meal sans drink.
While my kids were excited about the “movie snacks” advertised on the menu, they never materialized in the cabin.
So that was disappointing. And as the flight wore on, my kids got hungrier and hungrier, which contributed to some real problems (I’ll write a post about it at some point). Even after my kids gathered up their nerve and walked up to the galley to ask about snacks, all they got was a random cereal bar that seemed like it was left over from a breakfast of long ago.
When the light meal was served, even though I was really hungry, I could only bring myself to eat a few bites – that’s how bad it was.
Here’s the menu:
I had ordered the Kang Shi Fu Beef Noodles. The beef was really tough.
The smoked duck breast tasted strange.
And the fruit was mushy.
So I just gave up. And I got scolded by a flight attendant, who shook her head and “tsk-ed” at me when she she collected my tray.
The service was surprisingly bad. In addition to all the mealtime woes I described above, the flight attendants were really good at whisking things away before we were done with them. They collected the headsets 50 minutes before the flight landed (and after that would not allow anyone to use an electronic device such as a Kindle or an iPod touch), then they collected the blankets 30 minutes prior to landing (they even whisked a blanket off of my son, who was asleep).
And that pretty much sums it up.
We arrived in Paris feeling a little disappointed about the flight, and super hungry…but we put the whole thing in perspective: we had just flown business class around the world, and now we were in Paris, ready to begin the next phase of our fantastic trip. Life is good, and we were grateful.
But we’re probably not going to fly Air China again.