Route: Guangzhou Baiyun Airport to Bangkok International Airport
Departure date and time of flight: 20:55am on the 3rd of October 2010
Flight Number: MS959
Flight duration: 2 hours and 50 minutes
Class: Economy Class
Aircraft type: Boeing 777-200ER
Punctuality of the flight:
The flight departed on time from Guangzhou, and landed around 10 minutes early at Bangkok Airport.
Any baggage issues:
No issues- the bags arrived on time and in one piece.
Comments on the check-in staff and any issues:
This was my 5th time I have travelled through Guangzhou Airport since it opened in 2004. Even though the architecture and the presentation of the airport’s layout is impressive, however, the attitudes and the unprofessionalism of some of the check-in staff is no different from what it used to be like say, 5 or even 10 years ago. Some of the Chinese check-in staff that are responsible for some international airlines (like Egyptair for example), hardly speak any English what so ever.
I arrived at Guangzhou airport from Shenzhen around 3 hours prior to take off. Normally I take the train from Shenzhen to Guangzhou and then a taxi or a coach to the airport. However, this time around I decided to take the coach from Shenzhen. I found it to be exceedingly punctual, clean and comfortable. The coach from Ba Gua Yi Lu station in Shenzhen’s Futian district costs only 88RMB for the 2 and a half hour journey and took my directly to the airport departure lounge.
Once I got to the check in area of Egyptair, I was confronted by a scene of confusion, angry passengers, most of them Egyptian or of Middle Eastern origin, exchanging heated comments with the Chinese check-in staff members. It wasn’t difficult to observe that the Chinese check-in staff were not treating their passengers with any respect what so ever. The senior lady in charge of the check in staff was exceedingly rude to the passengers and was clearly seen shouting words like “No, you cannot stand here!”, “Get back in the line at once!”. There was a certain air of discrimination too. Even though Guangzhou has a high population of African and Middle Eastern people, they are on the whole subject to open discrimination by the Chinese people.
The interesting point to note here is that when I spoke to any check-in staff member, they were very polite and kind to me, however when the same check in staff member was speaking to a passenger of Middle Eastern or African origin, they were rude. Therefore, on the whole I would have to say that the customer service of the check in staff at the Egyptair counter of Guangzhou Baiyun Airport was extremely disappointing to say the least. Perhaps Egyptair should consider employing locally based Egyptian (or Middle Eastern origin) check in staff to make life easier for everybody.
Comments regarding the pre-meal service:
Choice of drinks (standard- tea, coffee, orange juice, apple juice, lemonade or Coca Cola). No alcohol was served on this flight because this airline belongs to an Islamic country. Even in Business Class, Egyptair does not serve alcoholic drinks.
Comments regarding the first meal:
Dinner was served around an hour after take off from Guangzhou. The timing was good enough as I had not had a proper meal prior to take off. There was an option of either fish or chicken (Egyptair does not serve pork products on their flights because it’s an airline of a Muslim country). I went for the fish option. All the meat was Halal (again in accordance with strict Muslim customs). However, to my surprise the food presentation looked like as if someone had stamped on it, and also the taste was not as fresh as one would expect. I suspect that this was the food that was taken in from the previous flight from Bangkok because the fruit juices that were served were all Thai made (the orange “pulp” tasted sour for some reason).
The fish curry was served with boiled Thai rice and some lettuce. The rice was sticky, and tasted almost like softened starch. While the fish tasted as if it had been taken right out from a preserved can in the supermarket. In regards to the lettuce, it looked rather like seaweed that had been dragged onto the beach the previous night. It was tasteless. Really, I could not have asked for a more tasteless meal. However, for the experience I was thankful that it only lasted for around 30 minutes before the crew members came and took the plates away.
For dessert there was an apple crumble, however you could easily feel the sour taste of the apples’ and not much softness to the rather dead pudding. It tasted like as if it had been stored in the fridge for some time. The plastic cutlery on which our food was served also looked as if it had seen its better days of flying.
On a rather good note, I can say that I was very happy to get stainless steel cutlery in economy class,.
Comments regarding the drinks service:
A second round of drinks was offered after the meal- again no alcohol was served in accordance with Islamic laws. The air stewards continued to serve the drinks (tea and coffee) while the plane was under great turbulence. During this short flight there was a great deal of turbulence. I refused to accept the hot tea being served while the plane was going through turbulence.
Comments regarding the in-flight snacks (if any): None
Comments regarding the second meal (if any): None
Comments on the in-flight system (if any):
On the 777-200ER (Which is an older version of this plane), Egyptair does not have a personal seat in-flight entertainment but a large TV set in the front of each cabin. Small earphones are handed out at the beginning of each flight. The in-flight system was provided in the form of a Map of the route. However, my seat light was not working (and neither was the seat light of other nearby seats that I tried), the “Channel” and “Volume” button was not working either, and to make matters worse the “Flight attendant Call button” was not working either!
On a regular basis (every now and then) a small map with an arrow pointing towards Mecca was shown. This is so that Muslim passengers can face in the correct direction towards Mecca while they pray during the flight. This was interesting and I have never seen this before on a flight.
Another interesting aspect was that just prior to take off, while the plane was taxiing to the Runway, a prayer verse from the Koran was played on the PA system. Again I have never experienced this before on a flight.
Comments of professionalism of the cabin crew:
Professional staff and very friendly. They served in a true Egyptian style. In Economy Class the cabin crew were mostly Egyptian men, while there were a couple of Thai ladies as well (could not speak Arabic). In Business Class there were a couple of Egyptian air hostesses that were nearing their retirement age.
Improvements that could be made:
Egyptair should consider installing high quality in-flight entertainment system for every seat. As an airline that is part of the Star Alliance partnership, the in-flight meals need to be improved. The food that we got in both economy and Business Class could easily have been improved, and made to be fresher. The lettuce easily looked as if it had been stored in the fridge for days.
The salt, pepper, tissue paper, vinegar and the salad dressing were all non-branded and with Thai words. In other words, all of these things should be branded with the Egyptair logo and the colour scheme. Only the sugar and the creamer were branded with Egyptair colours and Logo.
The air stewards continued to serve the drinks while the plane was under great turbulence. I refused to accept the hot tea being served while the plane was going through turbulence. The interesting thing was that I had to politely tell the air hostess that drinks should not be served during turbulence. Should she know this anyways?! Her response was rather shocking- “Sir, sorry but since the Captain and the Senior Purser did not inform us, so we can continue to serve the drinks even if there is turbulence”.
Comments on the interior of the aircraft (including seat comfort):
The aircraft was clean in both the economy and Business Class cabins. In the Economy Class, the design of the Egyptian blue and yellow Horus was evident, while the Business Class was all yellow (with the Horus design). Each seat is provided with a Egyptair branded blue pillow and a blanket. The toilets were clean- though the hand cream and the soap had run out.
Overall rating 1-10 (worst-best): 5
About Airline PR
This is a special section on Airline Branding, and Airline Public Relations written by me on all the flights I have been fortunate enough to have been on. These are not records taken from somewhere else, but are actual flights I have been on. Most of the flight trips are officially sponsored by the airline companies in order to promote their certain routes, and aircraft. Airline promotion and PR related work in the aviation industry is one of my expertise.
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B777-300ER Cockpit Video 1
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