Route: Beijing Capital Airport to London Heathrow Airport
Departure date and time of flight: 24th November 2009 at 12:35pm
Flight Number: CA937
Flight duration: 11 hours 20 minutes
Class: Economy Class
Aircraft type: Airbus A330-200
Punctuality of the flight:
The flight departed on time; however we landed around 20 minutes late because of the afternoon traffic at Heathrow.
Any baggage issues:
No issues- the bags arrived on time and in one piece.
Comments on the check-in staff and any issues:
The check-in staff were polite, and very professional. There was no problem what so ever.
Comments regarding the pre-meal service:
Choice of drinks (tea, coffee, orange juice, apple juice, lemonade or coca-cola). As with most of the airlines in China, the drinks (coca-cola, orange etc.) were all branded under the Air China logo. Alcohol was also served on this flight (including Tsingtao beer!)
Comments regarding the first meal:
Lunch was served almost straight after take off (say around about 20 minutes). This was a good thing because that gave plenty of time for the passengers to have a good rest for this rather long flight (also taking into account that for the flight to London we had to add an hour because there is no trailing jet stream to help us).
I couldn’t help resist to see what was in store for me when I got my meal. It was the kind of feeling one would get when you are presented with a gift or a surprise toy whilst at school. Well, after opening the package of the main meal, I could not help but think why on earth did I travel by Air China. When one looks at the quality of the food you wonder why did manage to travel by Air China!
Hey, I am not going to moan about everything, and yes, the presentation was good. However, just take a look at the main dish and you will see if I have anything interesting to write about. The main course was chicken, boiled potatoes and mushrooms with rice and some boiled lettuce- nothing exciting and certainly not tasty enough. Nevertheless, it was filling for the stomach. There was a delicious salad (always is delicious) with a cherry tomato (always with just one piece if cherry tomato!) and some shredded cucumber and lettuce. There were two round slices of Salami as well- Not bad.
In true Chinese style of meals there was no real dessert except the fruit bowl that consisted of melon and watermelon (Chinese meals seldom contain cakes or chocolate puddings as desserts- only have fruit).
Comments regarding the drinks service:
A second round of drinks was offered after the meal.
Comments regarding the in-flight snacks (if any):
Passengers could help themselves to complimentary drinks (including alcohol) if they wished. However no nuts or other snacks were available.
Comments regarding the second meal (if any):
This must have been the first flight I have taken where both the meals were “lunch” (or late lunch). The second meal was served around an hour prior to landing at Heathrow and we must have been over Amsterdam. The presentation of the second meal was good. This time around we were treated to sweet and sour pork (we had this on the trip to China from London as well) with boiled vegetables and boiled white rice. I wouldn't say this was a five star quality meal but hey this food was good- not just adequate as in the previous meal which was served after we took off from Beijing. It was so good that we were treated to a sauce of “thousand island dessert” to spread across our salad that contained lovely shredded carrot and cauliflower.
Forget the bun with the butter, the highlight of this meal was the double chocolate chic cake presented to us in a neat rectangular fashion. After being in China for such a long time, it was a nice feeling to eat the lovely piece of real chocolate cake. In China usually you get the Chinese style western cake that tastes like a hard sponge because the chefs have not used the evaporated milk of the best quality (or they have not used milk that is similar to say that used for Anchor butter etc.). Maybe because this flight was heading out of its Headquarters, so therefore the food was far more fresher than that offered on the flight in from London to Beijing.
Comments on the in-flight system (if any):
The A330 aircraft had a back seat IFE system- however to my surprise not many of the channels worked. In fact, the only English channel that worked was the BBC Radio Worldwide service; and the rest were Chinese songs and movies. There were no games to be played. Having looked at the in-flight magazine, I could see that not everything advertised was available on the IFE.
Comments of professionalism of the cabin crew:
For the international flight, all the staff could speak adequate levels of English, and were very professional. No major problems what so ever.
Comments on the interior of the aircraft (including seat comfort):
Air China has a wide variety of aircraft- and the contrast between the good, the bad and the ugly cannot get any worse than with its range of aircraft types. To my surprise for an international flight this aircraft was not clean at all. As with most aircraft that are operated by Chinese airlines, for some reason the cabin had a stench of urine and an air of discomfort. It was the kind of smell you may have got on an old Russian Aeroflot Il-62 or Il-86 aircraft! The seats were comfortable but for some reason there was a smell of urine everywhere, and I wonder why. It did not really help me to sleep either. I asked the air hostess to put some air freshener but they did not have any. It just spoilt the whole mood of flying.
Overall rating 1-10 (worst-best): 7
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